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2017-18 MPS Cohort

Photo Name and Bio
Adiam Asfaha Adiam Asfaha

Adiam Asfaha is a professional master’s student studying international development. His research at Cornell is in science and technology policy focusing on barriers to innovation, technology transfer and commercialization in agrarian economies. After working as a policy analyst for federal and municipal entities of the Ethiopian Government, he co-founded a start-up providing research advisory and product development services to artisans, farmers, and small businesses. Before moving back to Ethiopia, he served as a Corpsman in the United States Navy Reserve and at the CTBTO supporting the UN’s nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Adiam is a graduate of Old Dominion University where he double majored in international studies and French. He was born in DC, grew up in Addis Ababa, and enjoys drinking coffee, cycling, and camping.

Caitlin Baumhart Caitlin Baumhart

Caitlin Baumhart is pursuing a professional Master’s degree in International Development in the field of Global Development from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell and is hoping to focus on Maternal Health. After attending Oakton Community College for two years she transferred to Cornell University and competed her Undergraduate Studies in Biological Sciences. In July of 2013 she joined The Peace Corps and moved to Tanzania for 27 months where she taught Chemistry and Biology at an all female Secondary School in the southern region of Lindi. In January 2016 she began her Peace Corps Extension with Health Improvement Project Zanzibar, HIPZ, where she began working as the Community Outreach Volunteer in order to help coordinate and improve maternal health projects and services. While bridging the gap between the hospital and community, she worked closely with the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) on the island.

Juliana Bayona Juliana Bayona

Juliana Bayona is a candidate for a professional master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in development policy. Juliana is interested in exploring the potential benefits of promoting the strengthening of smallholder agriculture in Colombia, as a means to foster socioeconomic development and contribute to building lasting peace in the country. Prior to her studies at Cornell, Juliana worked for two different organizations in the non-profit sector in Bogotá, Colombia. As a Project Manager at Compartamos con Colombia, Juliana led and developed capacity building consulting projects for other social sector organizations and then she moved on to Fundación Mario Santo Domingo, where she led the project for the transformation of the microfinance area and coordinated the organization-wide strategic planning. Juliana graduated from Universidad de los Andes, where she majored in Business Administration and minored in Development Studies.

Maria Castro Duenas Maria Castro Duenas

Maria Castro is a Master of Professional Studies candidate in International Development with a concentration in Development Policy. She is interest in developing social projects that have long-term impacts on society and climate change awareness. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Universidad del Pacifico. Prior to her studies at Cornell, she worked at MicroRate where she evaluated the financial and social performance of microfinance institutions in Latin America for two years. Also, she worked at MegaPlaza for three years, a retail company located in Peru that opens malls where people do not have access to entertainment, as a Financial Chief. Additionally, she has served as a volunteer at Crea+ NGO and Ruwasunchis NGO where she was a story teller and an English teacher, respectively.  She was born in Peru and enjoys travelling and learning about different cultures.

Barbara Chami Barbara Chami

Barbara Chami is a Master’s candidate in International Agricultural and Rural Development, specializing in trade agreements and policy. She is interested in economic, environmental, and social implications of international development. Prior to her start at Cornell, Barbara worked as a Program Associate with the World Education Foundation on its pilot program in rural Myanmar. Barbara earned a Master of Science from New York University where she studied Global Affairs and Peacebuilding. For her final thesis, she did field research and wrote a case study assessing the current peace process in Myanmar. Barbara is from California and enjoys swimming in the ocean, hiking, and camping.

Leigha Crout Leigha Crout

Leigha Crout is a Master of Professional Studies candidate in international development. As a licensed international human rights attorney, she received both her J.D. and an LL.M. in Civil & International Human Rights Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Her primary areas of research include the practical implementation of international human rights standards in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, international environmental law, women’s rights, and international protections for persons with disabilities. Prior to Cornell, Leigha worked in the Civil Rights Division of the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, handling cases of employment, housing, and public accommodations discrimination. As a West Virginia native, she feels right at home in the New York mountains.

Amarachi Emeziem Amarachi Emeziem

Amarachi Emeziem is a Professional Master’s Studies candidate in International Development, specializing in International policy and rural development with interest in the role of Education in global development and agriculture in South Eastern Nigeria. She received her first degree in Computer Science with honors from Anambra State University Nigeria. Upon her graduation and in furtherance of her belief that education is a major tool of development, she participated for one year in the Nigerian National Youth Service program. During that one year, she taught Computer skills and general computer appreciation to High School students in the Niger Delta are – Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Since 2012 she has been a High School teacher, employed by the Imo State Ministry of Education Nigeria. Through this she has been mentoring youngsters – especially girl students – as to the need to embrace self-development through education, skills acquisition, smallholder agro-engagement and rural community development. As an International Development student, pursuing an M.P.S in International Development, she hopes her graduate studies at Cornell University will help her develop the further skills needed for policy making, mentoring, community development, advocacy and engagement.

Melissa Goldman Melissa Goldman

Melissa Goldman is a Master of Professional Studies candidate in International Development with a focus in nutrition. She is interested in sustainable food systems and nutritionally sensitive agriculture. She holds a Master’s of Public Health from the University of South Florida where she focused in disaster management and humanitarian relief. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Prior to her start at Cornell, Melissa was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal from March 2015 – June 2017. Here she lived in a rural village as an agriculture and health extensionist. She implemented strategies for rice intensification, facilitated a women’s group community garden, taught mushroom cultivation and established a local coffee cooperative. She has also been involved in a field study in San Ignacio, Belize where she surveyed 200 homes to learn about community nutrition and, based on analyzed results, developed and implemented a public health program focusing on chronic disease.

Tara Hammonds Tara Hammonds
Tara Hammonds is pursuing her Masters of Professional Studies in International Agriculture and Rural Development, with an interest in developing smallholder livestock farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her MPS research is focused on index-based livestock insurance in Kenya. She completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell in IARD as well, which included work and studies in Madagascar and Malawi, as well as short-term research projects on artificial insemination initiatives within the dairy sector in Madagascar (which was published in the School for International Training Digital Collections) and on tropical field crop pests and insects. She has interned with the International Livestock Research Institute, the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Farm Credit East, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Cornell Small Farms Program, and spent four summers working on a small educational dairy farm. She currently works as a graduate assistant for the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Cornell.
Chris Harris Christopher Harris

Chris Harris is a candidate for a professional master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in development policy.  Chris is interested in exploring the power of international institutions to influence policy in developing countries and how these policies are devised to facilitate an atmosphere conducive to capital investment. Prior to his studies at Cornell, Chris served for three years in the Peace Corps in South Africa.  During his first two years, he taught full-time English and Science, coordinated community projects with local and US-based NGOs, and focused on teacher trainings and female empowerment.  He extended his service for a third year to run outreach programs from the University of Zululand Science Center, where he developed the Girls of Tomorrow program, a female empowerment program as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative.  He graduated summa cum laude from Rider University with a B.A. in Philosophy.

Bo Ram Kim Boram Kim
Boram Kim is a professional master’s degree candidate specializing in international development. She looks forward to focus her master’s research on development implications of temporary migrant labor at national and individual levels. She came to be interested in the foreign workers’ issue as she has been working for the Korean government. Prior to Cornell, Boram conducted field research at Kampala, Uganda to analyze participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) in slum upgrading projects for completing a master’s degree in development administration and planning at UCL, UK. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations at Ewha Womans University in Korea where she was born and raised.
Jefferson Mecham Jefferson Mecham

Jeff is an MPS candidate in International Agriculture and Rural Development specializing in forest/land restoration and regenerative enterprise. From 1991-2016 he was engaged as a project coordinator and consultant with indigenous and rural organizations, local governments, foundations, and landowners in Ecuador, with occasional assignments in other Latin American countries, India, and the Philippines. He has extensive experience with integrated conservation and agroforestry projects and recently facilitated the participation of Cornell scientists in the Municipality of Quito’s ‘Andean Bear Corridor’ program and the MOU of Cornell-CALS with the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar.  Jeff’s research is focused on creating applied research, service learning, and economic partnerships with marginalized communities to develop enterprises that improve their lives while reversing deforestation and land degradation. Jeff grew up in the Rocky Mountains and holds undergraduate degrees in Environmental Studies-Forestry and Geography-International Development from Utah State University, and worked as a forest technician, farm hand, and river guide in the western U.S., Mexico, and New Zealand.

Alex Meckley Alexandra Meckley
Alexandra Meckley is a professional master’s degree candidate specializing in international agriculture and rural development. Her master’s research interests are knowledge sharing as it pertains to sustainable small holder farms and the effect this transfer has on community members. These interests began while she was serving as an agricultural extension agent in Peace Corps Cameroon from 2014-2016. During this time, her main project focused on sustainable food security in the off season of crop production. Prior to beginning her program at Cornell and joining the Peace Corps, Alexandra attended the University of Florida. There she earned her B.S. in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences while minoring in Organic and Sustainable Crop Production as well as Nonprofit Organizational Leadership. She was born and raised in Tampa, FL where she enjoys going to the beach and water sports. 
Ellen Nevers Ellen Nevers
Elle (Ellen) is studying International Agriculture and Rural Development in the MPS Global Development program. Her research interests include the sustainable farming methods of isolated communities and the impact an individual's degree of integration in their food system has on their relationship with their environment. She holds a BA in Chinese Language and Literature and a BA in French Studies from Boston University. Outside of academics, Elle is an avid distance runner and triathlete.
  Gaga Nikabadze
Maia Tserediani Maia Tserediani

Prior to Cornell, Maia worked for many years in the development sector in her home country of Georgia. Her past work has focused on election transparency, civil society, policy and advocacy development. Her most recent position was at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on a project aimed at creating National Animal Identification and Traceability System in Georgia. Maia holds a bachelors degree in International Relations from Free University of Tbilisi, and a masters degree in International Negotiations and Foreign Languages from Ilia State University. In addition to her native Georgian, she is fluent in English, Russian and Spanish. Her international work and study has taken her to Cyprus, India, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and now Ithaca, New York. Maia is currently pursuing a Masters of Professional Studies in International Development at Cornell University. Her research interests include internally displaced peoples, vulnerable communities in conflict prone areas, and women's empowerment in developing world.