Experts

Our Experts

Jane E. Barr

Board Director

Jane E. Barr, a Canadian Geographer and Environmental Consultant with an office in Montreal, Quebec, has worked on behalf of the environment since 1995. Ms Barr has developed an expertise in State of the Environment reporting and specializes in writing and editing concise educational and analytical reports, background documents, and communications outreach material about environmental issues for decision makers and the general public. She has thus acquired a broad and extensive knowledge of environmental issues at global and regional scales.

During her career, Ms Barr’s clients have included the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC); the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the National Geographic Society; Unisféra International Centre; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Environment Canada; UNESCO; and in particular, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Since 1998, Ms Barr has contributed the North American state and trends chapters to UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series as a Lead Author. In addition, she was a Coordinating Lead Author for the North American regional chapters in GEO-4 and GEO-5. Her work for UNEP includes the authorship of two books about environmental trends in North America: North America’s Environment: A Thirty-Year State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective on Priority Issues (2002) and Environmental Indicators for North America (2006).

 

Ashbindu Singh

Board Director

Ashbindu Singh joined as the President of EPI in 2014 after the retirement from UNEP in 2013. He is a leading authority on environmental sustainability issues and bridging the gap between science and policy. He has over thirty years of experience working at the local, national and global levels and recently retired from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) after over two decades of service in various capacities and finally as the Director of the Early Warning, Division of Early Warning and Assessment.

He has a strong multidisciplinary background with postgraduate degrees in physical and natural sciences and a Ph.D. in environmental science. Before joining UNEP he worked with the Indian Forest Service (1977-1990) which is one of the senior level civil services in India. He joined UNEP in 1990, and worked at duty stations Bangkok, Nairobi, Sioux Falls, New York and Washington D.C.

He has over 100 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and conferences, and 35 UNEP reports on various environmental issues. His scientific paper titled "Digital change detection techniques using remotely sensed data" is one of the top cited papers in the field of remote sensing. The team under his direction has produced highly influential reports on various environmental sustainability issues including global forests, threats to freshwater, coastal vulnerability, transboundary air pollutants, and the UNEP’s all time the best seller and award winning publication "One Planet many people: Atlas of our changing environment" and other regional, national and thematic Atlases including the "Africa: Water Atlas"

He represented UNEP’s on the United Nations Secretary General’s UN System wide Task Force on "Post 2015 Development Agenda which produced the report titled "The Future we want for all". The team under his direction was responsible for identification and communication of early warning of emerging environmental issues including the Foresight process, implementation of UNEP’s Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS), data and indicators, composite index for environment, and development of UNEP Live as an innovative web based platform for dynamic state of environment reporting.

He has won the prestigious UN 21 award for the “Team Productivity” in 2005 and the UNEP Baobab Award in 2008.

 

Veronica Grasso

Board Director

Since 2013, Veronica Grasso has been Project Officer at the Global Framework for Climate Services Office at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. Veronica is a civil engineer with more than 10 years experience in disaster risk-reduction both at national and international levels. Before joining WMO, she was Programme Specialist in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Team at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), providing technical support to UNDP country offices on disaster risk reduction (2010-2013). In 2006-2010, she worked as project and portfolio manager at the United Nations Environment Programme, the Group on Earth Observations at WMO, and United Nations Volunteers. She holds a Ph.D. in disaster risk reduction with a focus on early warning systems from the University of Naples, in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. She is the author of more than 30 scientific publications.

 

Associated Experts

EPI has a network of experts associated with the organisation to undertake relevant project work with matching expertise. Some of them are listed below:-

 

Ms June Thormodsgard

Senior Program Manager

Ms. June M. Thormodsgard recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) after a 40-year career in science and technology. Her educational background includes a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of South Dakota and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

Before joining the USGS, Ms. Thormodsgard worked as a mathematician in the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. where she conducted research on SKYLAB’s satellite radar altimeters and passive microwave instruments. SKYLAB was the world’s first space station. Following this early involvement in the exploration of Earth from space, she returned to South Dakota in 1979 to join the staff at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As Chief of the EROS Center Science and Applications Branch, she guided the science programs through a period of significant growth and change. Through her leadership, the range of science initiatives broadened and the size of the science staff doubled.

During her career, June has been involved in leadership and planning activities across the USGS. She served on the two most significant planning teams for the USGS in recent history. In 1992 the USGS Transition Team's focus was to integrate the disciplines (geography, biology, geology, hydrology) to more comprehensively address earth science problems. As part of the USGS Science Strategic Team in 2007, she helped frame the vision for the current scientific mission areas of climate and land use change, hazards, water, environmental health, ecosystems, and energy and minerals. During the last 15 years of her career, June took extended assignments across the USGS as the Chief Scientist for Geology, the Chief Scientist for Geography, the Deputy Director for Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area, and as the Regional Executive for Alaska. June has received many awards including the highest honor of the Department of the Interior, the Distinguished Service Award, and completed the two-year Senior Executive Service training program.

June is coordinating research projects with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other agencies.

 

Anil Kumar Ph.D.

Senior Land degradation/Environmental Engineer

A natural resources management specialist, he has more than 30 years of experience in sustainable land and water resources research and management, environmental assessment, project design, management and implementation. He has 10 years of international experience in project design, implementation, and project monitoring and evaluation on rehabilitation of degraded lands and watershed development in developing countries.

 

Wing Cheung

Wing Cheung is an Associate Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS), and the Coordinator of the GIS Degree program at Palomar College, California. His research focuses on ways in which GIS and citizen science can be leveraged by boundary organizations to engage stakeholders on climate change issues. His past research examined the effects of climate change on food insecurity in Ethiopia. He has directed U. S. National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects to promote GIS education at 2 year colleges, and is currently the Assistant Director of the National GeoTech Center of Excellence funded by the NSF. His experience with community service learning prompted his interest to demonstrate how GIS can be utilized to solve some of the world's pressing environmental problems, while empowering underserved populations and increasing the technical capacities of community boundary organizations.

 

Min Feng, Ph.D.

Dr. Feng completed his Ph. D. degree of Cartography and Geographic Information System at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2008. He has been working at the Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF), University of Maryland, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) . The majority of his current research is in modeling and mapping global forest dynamics over four decades primarily using Landsat data. His research involves extensive integration of data, models, and computing, based on understanding of the data and their uncertainties. Dr. Feng has been the PI or Co-PI of projects funded by the National Nature Science Foundation of China, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Global Environment Facility. Dr. Feng is leading or co-author of more than 50 papers published in journals of remote sensing, environmental sciences, and computer sciences. He is also the leading patentee of 2 patents in China. He was also certified as Advanced Programmer by the Ministry of Information Industry of China in 2002.

 

Don Ohlen

Senior Research Scientist

Don had a long career as a senior remote sensing scientist with USGS/EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and used remote sensing to map wildland fuel in the United States. He was instrumental in using Landsat satellite data and ecological models to create geospatial data layers showing vegetation composition and structure, surface and canopy fuel characteristics, and historical fire regimes. He has a large number of scientific publications in various journals and conferences. Don is associated with a USGS project related to carbon and fire mapping and modelling.

 

Gyde Lund

Senior Forestry Specialist

Gyde has Over 40 years of experience in forestry information gathering and sharing, data collection, multipurpose resource inventory design, non-wood forest products, remote sensing research, and resource inventory policies and strategies. He is involved in the Global Environment Facility (GEF)/UNEP project titled “Pine Islands - Forest/Mangrove Innovation and Integration" (Grand Bahama, New Providence, Abaco and Andros).

 

Eugene Ochieng Apindi

Remote Sensing,GIS and data visualization expert

Eugene is a remote sensing and GIS specialist with expertise in data visualisation. He has Master's degree from the South Dakota State University, USA and has a background of consulting experiences with UNEP.

 

Rohan Shanbhag

System Analyst (Volunteer)

Rohan has an academic background in international politics (BS) and communications, culture and technology (MA) from Georgetown University. He is currently pursuing a degree in management and systems from New York University (MS, expected 2016). His previous work experience includes over two years of web design, web development, social media and on-line advertising for UNEP in addition to working independently as a freelancer.

 

Tejaswi Giri

Project Manager (Volunteer)

Tejaswi has a Master's degree in geography and working experience with a number of international organizations and in the private sector.

 

Kim Giese

Treasurer (Volunteer)

 

Denis Rugege Ph.D

Dr Denis Rugege is Chairman and Managing Director of the Green Economy Advisory an Research – GEAR Ltd. .Dr Rugege spent his formative years as a research fellow in the early 1990’s at the Institute of Natural Resources of the then University of Natal that later became the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He took up an academic appointment with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the January 2003 and taught geo-information science subjects in the post-graduate Centre for Environment and Development until he came to Rwanda in July 2009.

Dr Rugege took up a position with UNDP Rwanda as technical Advisor for REMA and MINIRENA on Environmental Management, Green Growth and Climate Resilience until March 2016. He has advised on the mainstreaming of the programmes of the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy into the medium term Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy - EDPRS 2 and on necessary harmonization with the Sustainable Development Goals. He had gained substantial scholarly and technical experience as lead author and technical coordination team member in the preparation of the biennial State of Environment Reports for Rwanda for 2011, 2013 and 2015.  Dr Rugege holds a Master of Science in Rural and Land Ecology Survey from the International Institute of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation and a PhD from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. 

 

Elizabeth Gowa Kironde

A Ugandan national with training in environment management, information science and education. Her work experience spans the areas of information management, environmental assessment (including post-conflict assessment), scenario development and writing, policy analysis, environment communication and teaching. She has worked with international organizations, communities, schools, NGOs, research institutes and people in government at regional, national and sub-national levels. Some of the projects she has worked on include state of the environment reporting, natural resources atlases and post-conflict environmental reporting. She currently lives and works in Kenya.

 

Markandey Rai Ph. D. 

An Indian national, Dr. Markandey Rai has served UN-HABITAT on various positions in the twenty-two years of his service to the United Nations. He was recruited to develop Urban and city Statistics. He was pioneer for establishing Global Urban Observatories and publications of the Compendium of Human Settlement Statistics and Atlas periodically. He is Ph.D. in Statistics and has taught in many universities before joining UN-HABITAT in January 1992. He has written and published several academic and scientific papers related to urban issues. 

 

Naga Manohar Velpuri  Ph. D. 

Dr. Velpuri’s is working as a contractor to the United States Geological Survey in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. His research focuses on hydropower, dams, application of remote sensing and water management issues in USA and Africa. He has published a number of papers in scientific journals including related to the Nile basin and the Sudd Wetlands and also authored an UNEP report on impact of GIBE III dam on water level in Lake Turkana.

 

Kouassigan Tovivo 

Kouassigan was a Fulbright scholar from Togo till recently worked with PYXERA Global- an international NGO based in Washington, DC., where he served as the International Development Fellow working on corporate social responsibility, local content development and community and enterprise development programs. Before joining PYXERA Global, Kouassigan served as an Environmental Policy and Research consultant at the UNEP Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) where he focused on West African countries transition to the Green Economy in the energy sector, Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP on SCP) in North America and the post-2015 Development Agenda. Kouassigan holds two master’s degrees: one in International Environmental Policy with a focus on Business, Sustainability and Development form the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in California, and the other one in American Politics from Lome University (Togo) and Poitiers University (France).