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In the past 25 years of DEVELOP, we have seen the deep impact the program can have not only on communities across the globe but also on DEVELOPers themselves as they build their capacity and grow into the leaders, educators, and ambassadors of tomorrow. As part of our anniversary activities, we are highlighting the many pathways alumni take on their career journey after DEVELOP. Here we spotlight alumni who have gone on to work in academia.

Akshay Agrawal

"True progress is achieved through collective effort."
Man in blue striped shirt smiles in portrait

DEVELOP Time & Location: 2021 Fall at Arizona - Tempe (Participant), 2022 Spring at the UVA Pop-Up Project (Participant)

Project Impact: Studied urban heat distribution in order to better understand the inequalities associated with certain illnesses that disproportionally affect neighborhoods historically subjected to race-based housing segregation & created tools to help others do the same. (link)

DEVELOP's Impact: DEVELOP gave Akshay an understanding of how municipalities and advocacy groups effectively communicate their findings to the broader public, while also helping him deepen his research skills by learning how to formulate insightful questions.

Where is he now?: Since leaving DEVELOP, Akshay has worked in research and data science. He is currently an Analytics Coordinator at the University of California Santa Barbara Library.

25th Anniversary Wishes: “Happy 25th anniversary, NASA DEVELOP! Your unwavering dedication to curiosity, innovation, and service to our planet has sparked a transformative journey. Here's to continued exploration and creating a brighter future for all.”

Kiersten Newtoff

"I feel it’s my duty to share with students about this world."
Woman with long hair sits behind a desk with NASA logo on it

DEVELOP Time & Location: 2014-2015 at NASA Goddard (Participant, Center Lead)

Project Impact: Studied the impacts of habitat fragmentation on bird abundance and diversity which are often indicative of underlying changes and threats to their habitats.

DEVELOP's Impact: DEVELOP taught Kiersten a lot about the technology that we can (and do!) use to answer ecological questions. “Students don’t even know these tools exist. They don’t even know this is a field they can go into. I know when I was a student, I didn’t know...”

Where is she now?: Kiersten became an Assistant Professor of Biology at Montgomery College, Maryland where she teaches ecology, evolution, and environmental Science and continues to spread the good word of GIS to others.

25th Anniversary Wishes: “I look forward to seeing all the wonderful things DEVELOP does.”

Cheila Cullen

"DEVELOP was kind of like the apex of learning."
Woman in patterned dress stands with arms crossed in front of starry background in black and white

DEVELOP Time & Location: 2018 Summer at NASA Goddard (Participant)

Project Impact: Quantified grassland changes over time to understand and hopefully mitigate increased wildfire risk caused by the Spruce Beetle. (link)

DEVELOP's Impact: DEVELOP introduced Dr. Cullen to many different people, including scientists she always admired- such as the person who wrote the NDVI formula. “When we found out, we were starstruck. We were like oh my God, the guy wrote the formula!”

Where is she now?: Dr. Cullen became an associate professor at the City University of New York where she teaches earth and environmental sciences. She is a member of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), where she facilitates EO data capacity-building to increase disaster resilience.

25th Anniversary Wishes: “I am eternally grateful to DEVELOP. It was a great experience and if you ever need anything, I'm always here for DEVELOP. As they used to say back then, once a DEVELOPer always a DEVELOPer!”

David Minovitz

"DEVELOP was such a transformative and valuable time in my life that led to a major turning point for me."
Man with curly hair uses remote control to view underwater images on two screens

DEVELOP Time & Location: 2014 Summer at NASA Ames (Participant)

Project Impact: Built a management tool to assess coral reef vulnerability using land use, hydrology, water quality, and coral reef cover in American Samoa to help conserve these at-risk reefs.

DEVELOP's Impact: David says DEVELOP gave him the space to learn and the confidence to know he could take on similar tasks in the future. “I don't know how to do this, but I’ve got support here and I know I can figure it out”. That boost in confidence was really important to him in the academic and professional challenges he faced after DEVELOP.

Where is he now?: David is a lecturer at California State University Monterey Bay in the Department of Applied Environmental Sciences after starting out as a Grad Student and TA. He also teaches at the summer Upward Bound program with local high school students- helping to inspire our next generation of higher education hopefuls.

25th Anniversary Wishes: “I would not be where I am today without DEVELOP. Thank you DEVELOP for being such an awesome program and inspiring a young grad student like me to believe in myself and do more than I ever thought I could do.”

Jose Ochoa-Brito

"I think it's the dream of everyone, every kid."

DEVELOP Time & Location: 2019 Spring at Idaho - Pocatello (Participant)

Project Impact: Validated and implemented different models so that partners in Argentina can use their best-suited model for studying evapotranspiration. (link)

DEVELOP's Impact: For Jose, it was very important to participate in DEVELOP because as a child he always had a dream of working for NASA. He enjoyed working under the guidance of NASA scientists and leaders.

Where is he now?: After DEVELOP, Jose returned to his home country of Ecuador. He worked for Special Informatics Group, a research organization in California, and as a professor at the University of Cuenca. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Want to read more about where alumni go? Visit DEVELOP alumni featuring...

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