Meet the students


Name: Irma O. Caraballo Álvarez

Education info: B.S. Geology, UPR-Mayagüez; M.S. Environmental Sciences, Interamerican University - Metropolitan Campus; PhD Candidate Environmental Sciences

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: Geology, Oceanography, Hydrology, beachrocks, river sediment transport, sea-level changes, GIS and Remote Sensing

Email address: icarabal@gmail.comirma.caraballo@upr.edu

Advisor: Dr. Maritza Barreto Orta


Name: Joel O. Meléndez-Díaz

Education info: B. Sc., Marine Biology, May 1998: University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus; MP, Environmental Planning, May 2004: University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus; Ph. D. Candidate, Environmental Science:University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.  Certified GIS Professional by the GIS Certification Institute and a Professional Planner License of the department of State of Puerto Rico.

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: Watershed Management, public policy, land cover and land use change, water management, marine invasive species, renewable energy, GIS and Remote Sensing.

Email addressjmelendez@prxtreme.comjoel.melendez@upr.edu

Advisor: Dr. Jorge Ortiz-Zayas


Name: Laura Lucia Fidalgo De Souza

Education info: BS in Biology and MS in Environmental Management of Natural Resource Conservation.

Country of origin: Caracas, Venezuela.

Academic interest: My Master’s studies in the San Juan Bay Estuary: Urban estuaries as waterbird habitat and social participation in wetlands monitoring. The San Juan Bay Estuary metropolitan development had deteriorated both the wetland habitat and biodiversity. The remaining mangrove forests convey the cost to our natural resources of pursuing our economic interests. The largest extent of mangrove forest in Puerto Rico preserved by local government is situated at the heart of the capital of San Juan. But most of this preservation occurs with few financial and human resources. The clash between economic and environmental interests that I have witnessed drives me to continue my doctoral degree in urban wetland ecology and management. In particular, I am interested in mathematically modeling ecosystem services provided by waterbirds. My research consist on studying the biochemical effects of colonial birds guano on estuaries ecosystems productivity.

Advisor: Dr. Joseph Wunderle


Name: Eva Holupchinski Ordahl

Education info: B. S. in General Natural Sciences, 2013, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, PR. Current Graduate Student in the Environmental Science Department at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

Country of origin: Minnesota, USA

Academic interest: Hydrology, Water Quality, Watershed Management, River Restoration

Email addresseva.holupchinski@gmail.com

Advisor: Dr. Jorge Ortiz-Zayas


Name: Brenda L. Martínez Quiñones

Education info: BS in Environmental Design and MS in Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico. PhD student at the Environmental Sciences Department of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: sustainable materials design, green infrastructure, sustainable architecture and urban ecologies.

Email addressbrendabymass@gmail.com

Advisor: Prof. Gary Gervais

Name: Glorynel Ojeda-Matos

Education info: B. Sc., Civil Engineering, 2008: Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, San Juan Campus; Master in Urban-Territorial Planning, 2012: University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

Country of origin: Las Piedras, Puerto Rico

Academic interest: Tropical Ecosystems, Regionalization, Bioclimatic Design, Sustainability

Email addressglorynel.ojeda@gmail.com

Advisor: Jorge Ortiz Zayas


Name: Abelardo F. Colon Nieves

Education info: BS in Interdisciplinary program of Natural Sciences, UPR RP

Country of origin: Ponce, Puerto Rico

Academic interest: My areas of interest are water management and research materials.  My research focus is carbon nanoparticles as Reusable Nontoxic water disinfection Material that can be use or replace current disinfection water treatment process.  I also do research on social – environment impacts of current water disinfection method in PR and the US and its health implication on urban society and marginal communities.

Email address: ab.y.08@hotmail.com

Advisor: Dr. R. Ríos & Dr. G. Morell.


Name: Ana V. Arache

Education info: BS in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: My research is focused on human ecology and the sustainability of food and water systems through the recycling of organic materials. The main goal of my work is to improve human-environment relationships promoting research, education and technology transfer in schools and communities.

Email address: anaveroa@gmail.com

Advisor: Jorge Ortiz Zayas


Name: Sofia Olivero Lora

Education info: BS in Biological Sciences with an Emphasis on Ecology and Sustainable Management; MS in Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: Local perception and provision of ecosystem services by urban residential green infrastructure, particularly by urban yards.

Email address: sofia.olivero@gmail.com

Advisor: Dr. Elvia Melendez-Ackerman


Name: Arelis I. Arocho-Montes

Education info: B. Sc., Marine Biology, May 1997: University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus; MP, Environmental Planning, June 2007: University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus; Ph. D. Candidate, Environmental Science:University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: As a marine biologist and planner, my major research interests include different but integrated themes such as marine conservation, gentrification of traditional coastal communities, changes in environmental public policy, the uses of land on coasts and the effects of degradation of marine habitats on the human coastal communities.

Email address: arelis.arocho@gmail.com

Advisor: Alberto Sabat



Name: Rohit K. Sharma

Education info: MSc. in Biotechnology from HNB Garhwal University, India. Candidate of PhD in Environmental Science.

Country of origin: India

Academic interest: Renewable energy and Non-aqueous enzymology.

Email address: investigations7@gmail.com

Advisor: Dr. Kai Griebenow



Name: Xianbin Liu

Education info: BS in Horticulture at Agricultural University of Hebei Province, China; MS in Horticulture at Agricultural University of Hebei Province and Botanic Garden in Chinese Academy of Science; Phd in Environmental Science in UPR-RP

Country of origin: China

Academic interest: Wild fire pattern and frequency in tropical primary forest. The effect of soil calcium heterogeneity on plant diversity in tropical primary forest.

Email address: liuxianbin002@gmail.com

Advisor: Xiaoming Zou



Name: Wilmer O. Rivera De Jesús

Education info: B.A. Educación Secundaria, Especialidad en Biología y Ciencia General, UPR-Río Piedras, M.S. Manejo Ambiental, Universidad Metropolitana; Actualmente estoy en mi segundo año de Ph.D. en Ciencias Ambientales con enfoque interdisciplinario.

Country of origin: Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Academic interest: Me interés se basa en la aplicación de la ecofisiología vegetal en procesos de rehabilitación de humedales urbanos y el re-establecimiento de servicios del ecosistema.

Email address: wilmer777@gmail.com,wilmer.rivera2@upr.edu

Advisor: Dr. Elvira Cuevas



Name: Jessica Castro Prieto

Education info: BS in Biological Sciences at Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo-Uruguay. MS in Ecology in the University of Puerto Rico.

Country of origin: Uruguay

Academic interest: I am interested in understanding urban growth dynamics in adjacent lands of protected areas and how this land use affect natural ecosystems, ecosystem services and biodiversity inside protected areas. Also, I am particularly interested in measuring the perception that neighbors have from living next to a national park, a wildlife refuge or any other kind or protected area.

Email address: chechiasp@gmail.com

Advisor: Jess Zimmerman and William Gould (co-advisor)



Name: Molly Ramsey

Education info: Bachelor of Arts in Biology at College of Wooster, Ohio; Masters of Science in Environmental Science at University of Maryland, College Park

Country of origin: United States

Academic interest: As a step towards building the adaptive capacity of urban coastal watersheds to flood risk, I am studying the social-ecological dynamics that have created vulnerability to flooding within the highly urbanized Rio Piedras watershed in Puerto Rico. Drawing on theory and analytical approaches from social-ecological systems, urban political ecology, hydrology, and knowledge systems, I will examine how changes in the hydrological regime are related to urban transformationsand assess the flooding vulnerability of a particular community with the Rio Piedras watershed.

Email address: ramsey.molly@gmail.com

Advisor: Elvia Melendez-Ackerman and Tischa Munoz-Erickson



Name: Xian Wang

Education info: BS in geographic information system at Anhui Normal university, Phd in Environmental Science at University of Puerto Rico

Country of origin: China

Academic interest: Land use and land change in China, especially, build visual criteria estimating land use/land cover classes

Email address: ahunwx@gmail.com

Advisor: Qiong Gao



Name: Dieunel Derilus

Education info: BS in biology at the “ Université d’ Etat d’Haïti “

Country of origin: Haiti

Academic interest: I’m working on characterization of the structure and microbial community dynamics in saltwater anaerobic digesters by using next sequencing generation technology.

Email address: dieunelderilus@yahooo.fr , dieunelderilus@gmail.com

Advisor: Steven Massey, PhD


Name: Chao Wang

Education info:BS in geographic information system at Anhui Normal university, Master in GIS at Anhui Normal University?Phd in Environmental Science at University of Puerto Rico

Country of origin: China

Academic interest: My research interest is in using mid-high resolution remote sensing to study the effects of land use and land cover change and climate change on ecosystem function and biosphere-atmosphere interactions. Currently, I am working on land cover change detection using MODIS and TM data.

Email address: waynechao128@gmail.com

Advisor: Mei Yu

Name: María José Andrade Núñez

Education info: BS in Biological Sciences, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. 2004; MS in Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. 2009; MS Student. Geographical Information Systems On-line program. Lund University, Sweden. PhD Student. Environmental Science Department. University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

Country of origin: Durazno, Uruguay.

Academic interest: Throughout my career as a biologist one of my major concerns has been how human activities affect biodiversity, and how knowledge and technologies can be applied to minimize the negative impacts of human activities on natural ecosystems and wildlife. Specifically, for my PhD dissertation I will evaluate the effect of urban expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean to determine its spatial location, drivers, and implications for biodiversity conservation, food supply and ecosystem service provision.

Email address: mj_andradenunez@yahoo.com

Advisor: Mitchell Aide


Name: MANOJ SAXENA

Education info: B.Sc. at HNB Garhwal university India , MS at Pennsylvania State University, USA.

Country of origin: India

Academic interest: Environmental pollutants are the leading cause of cancer. My interest is in developing cancer drug delivery systems using protein modifications.

Email address: mks131@gmail.com

Advisor: Dr. Kai Griebenow


Name: Luis Villanueva-Cubero

Education info: BS Computer Science (Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus; 1997); MP (Master in Planning), Environmental and Economics concentrations (Graduate School of Planning, UPR Rio Piedras; 2011)

Country of origin: Aguadilla, PR

Academic interest: Land Cover / Land Use Change (LCLUC) in coastal vegetative wetlands in Puerto Rico from the period of decline in large-scale agriculture to present (1940-2010).

Advisor: Mei Yu, PhD


Name: Shweta Sharma

Education info: BS in biotechnology at Ranchi University (India); MS in biotechnology at Garhwal University (India)

Country of origin: India

Academic Interest: Learn basic methodologies for protein engineering toward generating novel enzyme constructs so as to enhance biofuel production.

Email address: shwetasharmabio@gmail.com


Advisor
: Dr. Abel J Baerga Ortiz

Name: James Aaron Hogan

Education info: BS in Ecology and Biodiversity at The University of Denver, MS in progress in Environmental Sciences UPRRP

Country of origin: Colorado, USA

Academic Interest: Tropical Plant Ecology, Tropical Forest Ecology, Climate Change, Statistics

Email address: jamesaaronhogan@gmail.com

Advisor: Jess Zimmerman

Name: Xiucheng Zeng

Education info: BS in Science of Environment and Resources at South China Agricultural University, MS in progress in Environmental Sciences UPRRP

Country of origin: GuangDong, China

Academic Interest: Soil Chemistry; Biodiversity; Forest Ecology; Plant Nutrition; Mathematical Modeling and Statistics.

Email address: zeng.xiucheng@gmail.com

Advisor: Xiaoming Zou

Name: Hagmel Vega

Education info: BS in Wildlife Management. University of Puerto Rico, Humacao. M.P. Environmental and Urban Planning. University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.

Country of Origin: Puerto Rico.

Academic interest: An integrated approach is essential to the development of green cities, which combines social values, the built environment, and the natural elements of urban green spaces in regional planning in order to achieve a better quality of life for the citizens. I’m interested in urban environment and urban planning issues, particularly in green urban spaces and the relationship between these spaces and the people in the city, and the importance of these spaces in the development of livable cities. I would like to study urban green spaces from several perspectives: (a) How urban planning has influenced their development? (b) What are the relationships between these green spaces and the city's population? (c) What are their ecological services?

Email address: hagmel.vega@upr.edu

Advisor: Gabriel Moreno Viqueira Ph.D

Name: Benjamin Branoff

Education info: B.S., Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida M.S., Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University Ormond Beach, Florida, USA

Country of origin: Florida, USA

Academic Interest: My current research will focus on urban mangroves ecosystems, in their function compared to those of relatively pristine conditions, as well as in their relationship with surrounding human communities and metropolitan areas. I hope to answer questions regarding the influence of human activities on specific mangrove function, such as: habitat provision, nutrient processing and/or shoreline stabilization. I also hope to gauge human perceptions of the above listed functions (services) in these ecosystems.

Advisor: Ariel Lugo

Name: Christopher Nytch

Education info: BA in Geology from Oberlin College; MS in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont

Country of origin: United States

Academic Interest: My research is focused on the interconnected hydrological functions of green and gray infrastructure in urbanized contexts. In particular I am studying/modeling stormwater runoff and flooding in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Email address: chris.nytch@ites.upr.edu

Advisor: Elvia Meléndez-Ackerman

Name: Elvis Torres Delgado

Education info: BS in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.

Country of Origin: Puerto Rico

Academic interest: Mainly interested in atmospheric sciences. Specially interested in mineral dust and how it can affect the optical and microphysical properties of clouds, how can it affect the radiative budget, and how can it affect local climate.

Email address: elvis.torres810@gmail.com

Advisor: Olga L. Mayol Bracero, PhD

Name: Marianne Cartagena Colón

Education info: Environmental Sciences, BS and Sciences Demography Periti, MS

Country of origin: Guayama, P.R.

Academic interest: My research experience is in urbanism process and human population dynamics as well as watersheds and land use planning through population statistics data process with Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Other of my interests is the background history of the natural resources related to Remote Sensing analysis.

Email address: mcartagena82@gmail.com

Advisor: Prof. Gabriel Moreno, Phd

Name: Osé Pauléus

Education info: Bachelor's degree in Agro-Forestry and Environmental Sciences at the American University of the Caribbean, Southern Haiti. Master's degree at agronomy department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

Country of origin: Haiti

Academic interest: I am interested in understanding the different factors that affect Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) in the tropics. Generally, I am interested in restoration ecology, Biodiversity conservation and human impacts on the environment.

Email address: paulose81@gmail.com

Advisor: Mitchell Aide

Adail Alicea Martinez

My interests are related to the resource of water, specifically on private potable water systems in rural communities. In Puerto Rico there exists around 250 private potable water systems that constitute 3% of the population in the island. These communities use a rudimentary system to make water suitable for human consumption using chlorination. There is no extensive investigation on the effects of chlorination in rural communities in Puerto Rico. What motivates me is seeing that todays world is being shaped through the industrialization of the environment, but I want to dream of industrialization being shaped by environmentalism.
Nora Alvarez

My research interest focuses on understanding human factors in environmental change. I am interested in studying land use and land cover changes in the humid tropics that are related to anthropogenic causes; for example, socio-economic changes and land use patterns around protected areas. I am also interested in the use of remote applications to track and analyze landscape transformations and patterns. I have participated in research projects relevant to these subject matters in the tropical regions of Peru, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

Natalia Alvarez Negron

My research interests revolve around studying the composition of communities around natural areas, in multiple and interdisciplinary ways in order to determine the impacts on the natural resource related to their presence in the vicinity. The goal would be to find better alternatives for community integration in different aspects of the management of the area. My interests also include studying problems arising as a consequence of the poor planning strategies that prevail on our island in terms of defined or not well defined buffer zones in our forests and the implication this has on the problems arising on the protected areas boundaries and the land uses prevailing in these areas.

Arelis Arocho

As a marine biologist and planner, my major research interests include different but integrated themes such as marine conservation, gentrification of traditional coastal communities, changes in environmental public policy, the uses of land on coasts and the effects of degradation of marine habitats on the human coastal communities.

Daniel Davila Casanova


Nilda Luhring Gonzalez

Research interests: Understanding the dynamic of the hydrologic cycle as a continuum phenomenon focusing on groundwater systems; the study of a groundwater system with low anthropogenic impact, in order to set a baseline for use in the assessment of a similar complex system with varying levels of human impact. Knowing and comprehending the functioning of natural water resources is essential for the education of society and represents one of the main steps for reaching sustainable planning.

Aristides Martinez Cintron

My primary research interests are in the impacts of climate change and human's response, and their interaction, on the dynamics of tropical urban forest communities. I also like to conduct research on tropical land cover histories and restoration ecology, in order to assess how human activity in the urbanizing tropics affect local, regional, and global climate.

Betzaida Ortiz Carrion

My areas of interest are the study of the relationship between land use and the hydrology of the Southern Aquifer in the areas of Juana Diaz, Santa Isabel and Salinas, Puerto Rico. As a certified teacher I am also interested in making the importance of environmental issues clear to students and to all citizens. In particular, I am interested in creating awareness among policy makers of the imperativeness of considering the environment in their decision making process.

Dionisio Perez-Montes

The IGERT program has afforded me the opportunity to integrate a wide variety of disciplines. The integration of the principles of environmental science with economic science, has opened a field of holistic recovery of natural resources and the environmental services they produce. Finding the balance between the sustainable use of economic developments and ensuring the general welfare of current and future generations that inhabit the globe is my area of interest.
Catherine Vargas Marrero

My main research interests are sustainable development, urban ecology, ecosystem management and vulnerability of communities to the effects of climate change.
Angélica Erazo-Oliveras

My research interest focus on water quality improvement using slow sand filters. I am interested in studying slow sand filters and how they can be introduced to communities with low income and limited water accessibility. My previous research project involved the use of slow sand filters to improve the water quality in El Verde Field Station and a workshop in Chiapas, Mexico to members of an indigenous community to introduce slow sand filters.

Eileen Cruz-Pastrana
Joel Melendez

My research interest focuses on the environmental and economic impacts of the invasive lionfish in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As part of the work we are preparing a management plan that would provide a framework to coordinate activities among government agencies, non-governmental agencies, local individuals, businesses and organizations to control the invasion of lionfish into Puerto Rico waters. The management plan includes five main areas: outreach and education; detection and removal; monitoring and data gathering; data analysis and reporting; and market development.
Karleen Wagner

My research interests are mostly from an ecosystem point of view, related to how human activities through the watershed system affect the costal environments/oceans, specially the mangroves. I have noticed the scientific literature how there are gaps between studying the watershed and coastal systems as a unit (its usually studied individually) and my main goal is to be able to study both terrestrial and coastal environments as a unit and be able to address issues such as sustainable agriculture for healthier oceans, aquaculture to restore marine ecosystems, preservation of Marine Biodiversity, etc.
Odalys Martinez

As a meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Juan Forecast Office, I found an interest in climatology, climate change and air pollution meteorology. My research interests are devoted to understanding the interrelationships among population growth and climate change with a focus on characterizing their effects on ambient air quality.
Xochitl Perez

Concern about pollution in our environment is my main interest. There are sources of radioactive contamination in hospitals and other industries that must be tested for the impact on humans and nature. I would like to study the concentration and impact of these pollutants in water, soil and air as part of my research.