ISTF Leadership 2016
Erika Drazen (Co-Chair):
Erika Drazen is jointly pursuing a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an MBA from Yale School of Management. Her academic interests include political ecology, environmental anthropology, community management of natural resources and conservation of tropical rainforests. For her masters research, she is examining the factors that enable successful upscaling of GEF Small Grants Programme projects, as well as studying women’s inclusion in REDD readiness in Sri Lanka. Currently at Yale, she works with The Forests Dialogue. She has worked on environmental issues in India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Australia, Panama and the United States. She received her B.A. in Anthropology with minors in Art History and Geography & Environmental Studies from UCLA. Follow her @ErikaDrazen
Ruth Metzel (Co-Chair):
Ruth Metzel is jointly pursuing a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Her research interests at Yale lie in exploring the agriculture-forest interface and understanding ways in which actors from multiple sectors interact to achieve integrated landscape management objectives. In addition to working on the ISTF Conference, she works with Yale’s The Forests Dialogue and Yale’s Governance, Environment and Markets initiatives. Ruth has a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with concentrations in International Relations, Latin American Studies and Environmental Studies from Princeton University. Her environmental research experience includes work with projects in Panama, Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, and the United States. Follow her @Rngolela
Jacob Bukoski (Treasurer):
Jacob Bukoski is a Master’s of Environmental Science candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. While he received his undergraduate degree focusing on energy and sustainability, Jacob has reverted to the Amazon-poster-adorned walls of his childhood bedroom for his graduate studies. While at Yale, he is working with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the United States Agency for International Development and International Union for Conservation of Nature to develop a predictive model of carbon stocks in Southeast Asian mangroves. He has significant experience working in the forests of Southeast Asia, as he was previously a key member of a snake ecology team tracking king cobras in Northeast Thailand. When he’s not turning cups of coffee into Program R scripts, Jacob enjoys football (the real kind), jazz, and complaining about cold weather.
Pooja Choksi (Logistics co-Director):
Pooja Choksi is a first year Masters of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with a focus on wildlife and habitat conservation. Prior to her arrival at Yale, she worked on a community based wildlife conservation model in the Pench Tiger Reserve, India. She is currently working on an Integrated Landscape and Livelihood Management System (IL2MS) at Yale. In addition, she continues to work as a freelance writer for environmental and wildlife websites. Pooja holds a bachelors degree in Banking and teaching experience in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, which she fondly calls her second home. She is interested in everything involving tigers, forests, education and travel that includes tents and no cell phone reception. Follow her @Poojation
Michelle Mendlewicz (Logistics co-Director):
Michelle Mendlewicz is a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES). Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, she was working as a legal advisor for the Environmental Agency of the State of Rio de Janeiro (INEA/RJ), Brazil, primarily with issues regarding the “Brazilian Forest Code,” environmental infractions and protected areas. She also worked at private law firms representing clients in different industries regarding environmental licensing and permitting procedures. In addition to working on the ISTF Conference, she works with Yale’s The Forests Dialogue (TFD) as Project Coordinator for the Brazil Land-Use Dialogue (LUD) Initiative. Currently at Yale, her main interests are on Forest Policies and Business and the Environment. Michelle holds a Law Degree from Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where she also completed a specialization program in Environmental Law.
Latha Swamy (Communications Director):
Latha Swamy is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She has worked in India and Nepal for the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) evaluating social networks to promote sustainable agriculture technologies, and in West Kalimantan, Indonesia conducting an independent program evaluation at a clinic (Health in Harmony - Klinik Alam Sehat Lestari) that provides healthcare services in return for forest stewardship. Prior to Yale, Latha pursued an M.D. in clinical medicine and a Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience. She holds an M.Sc. in Neuroscience and Clinical Investigation from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a B.S. in Cellular Biology from the University of Georgia. Follow her @LathaSwamy
Camille Delavaux (Student Interest Group Coordinator):
Camille Delavaux is a Master’s of Environmental Science candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is the SIG (student interest group) coordinator of ISTF; she manages all school SIG activities and relations. Camille studies nutrient enrichment effects of mycorrhizal fungi, fungi that form symbiotic relationships with most plants on earth. Her research focuses on nitrogen and phosphorous enrichment in a tropical montane forest in southern Ecuador. She plans to continue her mycorrhizal research and develop her science communication in the future.
Alissa Thuotte (Web & Design Coordinator):
Alissa Thuotte is an MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management. Her non-profit background includes working for Partners In Health on projects spanning childhood malnutrition, infectious disease prevention, and healthcare technology implementation, as well as for Root Capital, where she focused on the Women in Agriculture and sustainable coffee programs. Her coursework at Yale SOM focuses on sustainability, social enterprises, and wherever possible, food and wine. She hopes to pursue a career in sustainability in the for-profit world upon graduation. She holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Mariana Vedoveto (ISTF Prize Coordinator):
Mariana Vedoveto is a second year Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She grew up in Brazil and has been working inthe Brazilian Amazon region since 2005. She is interested in policies and financial and market incentives to stop deforestation and promote forest restoration in tropical areas, with emphasis in the Amazon. She is also looking at the role of REDD+, deforestation free agreements and greener supply chains to tackle deforestation in Latin America. For her masters’ research, she focuses on the Soy Moratorium and its impacts on forest preservation, corporate sustainability and public policies in the Brazilian Amazon. Her professional experience also includes work with projects in Mexico, Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana. Mariana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry Engineering and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
Chris Martin (ISTF Prize Coordinator):
Chris Martin is a first year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is interested in conservation finance and tropical forest conservation (particularly in the Amazon). Prior to coming to Yale, Chris worked as Program Associate of the Andes-Amazon Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and as a consultant for business development in the Rio de Janeiro office of Pro-Natura International. Chris is from Connecticut, but spent nine years of his childhood in Singapore and London. He graduated summa cum laude in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Chris is fluent in Portuguese and proficient in Spanish.
Veronica Chang (Outreach Coordinator):
Veronica is a first year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, with a keen interest in conservation of tropical forests, particularly in South America. She is a native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics. Prior to her arrival at Yale, she worked as an environmental educator at Cerro Blanco Tropical Dry Forest in Guayaquil, and as farm director of the “Don Pablito” organic farm in Manabi, Ecuador. At F&ES she is focusing her studies in forest ecosystems conservation and management. Additionally, she is working as a research assistant for WWF US Forest Degradation Project. Veronica enjoys traveling, cooking Ecuadorean dishes and dancing salsa. Follow her @Born2VMild
Irene Montes (Social Media Coordinator):
Irene Montes MFS’17 is a Master’s student at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Irene comes from a long lineage of coffee farmers from the Andean foothills of Colombia and grew up in an agroforestry farm. Her interest is to contribute with positive, scalable and transformational changes needed in rural policies and agricultural practices in order to improve the quality of life of farmers in her country and in the Latin American region. Her research focuses in advancing the knowledge on the the ecological functions and performance of Neotropical native tree species in agroforestry and silvopastoral systems, and disseminating this knowledge in order to enlarge the acceptance and adoption of indigenous species in agroforestry projects.Prior to her arrival at Yale FES, Irene spent two years training farmers on sustainable agricultural practices and developing agroforestry projects in her region. Afterwards, she spent two years in Panama working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Then, she moved to Washington D.C where she worked with The Nature Conservancy (TNC).