Core Team


Maria Ivanova

Maria Ivanova is an international relations and environmental policy scholar specializing in governance and sustainability. She works on global environmental governance, US environmental policy, financing for the environment and the performance of international environmental institutions. Her academic work has been recognized for bringing analytical rigor and innovative input to the international negotiations on reforming the UN system for environment. As assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and co-director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability, she co-leads a U.S. National Science Foundation project on Coasts and Communities. In 2013, she was appointed to the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board.


Melissa Goodall

Melissa Goodall is  External Advisor for Strategic Planning to the Global Environmental Governance Project. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree from Antioch University New England. The topic of her research is Polycentric Approaches to Governing the Global Commons: the role of higher education. Ms. Goodall is also the Assistant Director of the Yale Office of Sustainability, where she oversees a portfolio of projects related to sustainability strategic planning. Before joining the Office of Sustainability, she was the Associate Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.  Previous to her arrival at Yale, Melissa spent five years as a project consultant, mainly working for UNDP on projects related to climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. She holds an MS from Antioch University New England in Natural Resource Management and Organizational Administration, and a BFA from New York University.

Alexander Gritsinin

Alexander Gritsinin serves as Management and Governance Advisor to the Global Environmental Governance Project. He is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the College of Science and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Alexander has over 15 years of international experience in scientific research institutions, corporations, and international organizations including Yale University, Coca-Cola, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UNESCO, and the Nature Conservancy. He holds Master’s Degrees in Biophysics and Ecology from Uzbekistan National University and in Environmental Management and Policy from Yale University. He is fluent in Russian and English.


Negusu Aklilu

akliluNegusu Aklilu is currently working as a climate change advisor for DFID-Ethiopia where he moved after serving as director of Forum for Environment (FfE), a local NGO, for almost eight years. As director of the Forum for Environment and one of Ethiopia’s most influential environmental advocates, he provided strategic leadership for environmental awareness-raising campaigns. He serves as the editor-in-chief of Akirma: A Magazine on Environment and Development and coeditor of the Ethiopian Environment Review, which he launched in 2010. Aklilu has also successfully spearheaded and played key roles in national and international initiatives for conservation and sustainable use of environmental resources. He co-founded and currently co-chairs the Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate Change, which comprises 60 organizations, and co-chairs the United Nations Environment Programme’s Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance. He was selected as one of 13 Emerging Leaders of the Global Environmental Governance Project. In 2011, Negusu received The Yale World Fellowship award and spent the fall semester at Yale University.

Jeremiah O. Asaka

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Jeremiah O. Asaka is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Global Governance and Human Security at University of Massachusetts Boston. He holds a Masters in Environmental Studies from Ohio University. His thesis focused on climate variability adaptation among Kenya’s Samburu pastoralists and the influence of emerging technologies e.g. mobile phone technology on the same.  Mr. Asaka has written for New Security Beat blog of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program as well as Adelphi’s Environment, Conflict and Cooperation online platform among others. His current research interests include global environmental governance, environmental security and climate change adaptation in the developing world context and in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gabriela Bueno

Gabriela BuenoGabriela Bueno obtained her Master of Laws degree in International Law from the University of São Paulo Law School in 2011, and concluded her LL.M. studies at Yale Law School in 2012. In 2009-2010, she was a Fox International Fellow at Yale University, where she conducted research about deforestation in the Amazon Forest and climate change, looking at the relationship between the forest and climate change regimes. She has worked as an environmental attorney in São Paulo and, more recently, as a consultant for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Her research interests include global environmental governance, and the relationship between the international and domestic legal and political systems. She is currently a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a research associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

Murray Carroll

Murray Carroll is a master’s degree candidate in International Relations at Harvard University. He looks forward to continuing his research into strengthening environmental governance institutions and increasing the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement mechanisms in the environmental regimes. He is currently a Director of the International Court for the Environment Coalition and has worked with the International Maritime Organization, the Environmental Law Foundation, Sustainable Future Consulting at the LSE, the Government of Canada, and Scotia Capital, a Canadian Investment Bank. Murray has a law degree from the London School of Economics, has studied Alternative Dispute Resolution at Queen Mary University of London and Harvard Law School, and graduated “with Distinction” from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor’s degree in Political Studies.

Laurence Delina

Laurence  L Delina is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, an Earth System Governance Research Fellow, and a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research interests are in international environmental finance and the future relationship between climate change and governance. He has published on issues surrounding these issues in Asia and beyond. Laurence held roles at the United Nations, the University of Manchester, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Japan, Land Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine National Irrigation Administration. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in public administration from Mindanao State University in General Santos City, Philippines. He also holds a master’s degree in development studies (first class honours) from the University of Auckland.

Michael Denney

Michael DenneyMichael Denney is a scholar and a practitioner of international development. He focuses his research on agricultural economics, land governance, land-use planning, and value chain development. Currently, he conducts research in Ethiopia, where he also actively participates in agricultural value chain projects. He graduated with his BA from McGill University and his MSPA in international relations from University of Massachusetts Boston. He is currently a doctoral student in Global Governance and Human Security at UMass Boston and an IGERT Fellow in the Coasts and Communities program.

Samuel Urkato Kurke

Samuel Urkato Kurke is a PhD candidate of Environment and Development Studies at Addis Ababa University (AAU). He attended PhD exchange study in the Department of Resource and Agricultural Economics at Kangwon National University in South Korea. Currently, Samuel is attending PhD exchange study in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance of McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at Umass Boston. Moreover, Samuel is an Associate Fellow of IGERT Program as a member of students in the Horn of Africa that collaborates to the program. He received his MSc degree from Mekelle University in 2010 in Economics (Development Policy Analysis), and has a BA degree in Economics from Hawassa University.

Tse Yang Lim

Tse Yang Lim is a degree candidate for a Masters of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He has an obsession with large-scale interactions and linkages, particularly between environment and development and between science and policy. He has previously worked at the Marine Conservation Institute in Washington, DC, on marine protected areas and the high seas, from whence developed his interest in international environmental governance. Most recently he worked at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations, assisting the 2nd (Economic & Financial) Committee and Ambassador’s Office. Tse Yang hails from Singapore, and graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a B.S. in Biology.

Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy

Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy is a Colombian International Business professional, with a degree certificate in Political Studies and a MSc degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She worked for several public administrations in Colombia, including the Governor’s Office of Antioquia as General Manager and Deputy Director for International Business and Cooperation. She has also worked as an advisor to Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 38 General Assembly of the Organization of American States. Since 2009 she has worked for Universidad EAFIT in Medellín, Colombia where she joined a project to offer new elements to Colombia’s foreign policy from the perspective of biodiversity international governance. She has authored articles published in Colombian public policy journals and a project oriented to evaluate the participation of developing countries on the Convention of Biological Diversity. Currently, she is a PhD student in the Global Governance and Human Security program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She looks forward to continue working on the impact of environmental governance in developing countries.

Mikael M. Pyrtel

Mikael PyrtelMikael M. Pyrtel is a Research Fellow with the World Engagement Institute (WEI) in Chicago. At the Center, Mr. Pyrtel is focusing on U.S. foreign environmental policy and supporting project management initiatives. Mr. Pyrtel’s research interests include diplomacy, national security, global economic relations, global food and agriculture, and country risk analysis and management.  Earlier, Mr. Pyrtel’s academic tenure included work at the Embassy of Iraq in Washington, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Mr. Pyrtel earned a Master of Arts in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor of Science in International, Resource, and Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.

Uttam Shrestha

Uttam Shrestha is a doctoral candidate in Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He is currently working on assessing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and livelihoods both at local and regional levels in the Himalayas. After receiving two masters’ degrees, one in Geographic Information Technology from Northeastern University, Boston and the other in Botany from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, he worked as a Research Associate at Harvard University Herbarium and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.

He is a recipient of the graduate academic excellency award at Northeastern University, a research fellowship from Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and research grants from the Rufford Foundation. He has published 5 peer-reviewed papers, one book, and several articles in popular press. His research interests are biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation, environmental governance, land use and land cover change.

Björn Stengel

Björn StengelBjörn Stengel is an MBA candidate at the College of Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He graduated from University of Freiburg, Germany, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, and he holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Peace & Conflict Studies from the University of Darmstadt, Germany. His research focused on security policy and transatlantic relations. Björn was an exchange student at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies in 2010, as a scholarship holder of the Hessen-Massachusetts state program. Before returning to UMass Boston in January 2014, he conducted political risk assessment for the asset management unit of a major German insurance company.

Jacey Taft

Jacey Taft Jacey Taft graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in August of 2014. She received a B.A in Psychology, a minor in Biology, and was a graduate from the University Honor’s College. During her senior year, she conducted independent research for her honors thesis. Her topic was on revitalizing the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas through a sustainable farming plan. During the winter semester in 2014, she traveled to Sadhana Forest in India to work on an independent study project focused on permaculture. Her interests are on food and water sustainability and environmental policy. She is currently a Research Associate for the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

Wondwossen S. Wondemagegnehu

wondemagegnehuWondwossen S. Wondemagegnehu was the head of Policy and Laws Directorate of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in Ethiopia before he joined UMass Boston in September 2013. At the EPA he was instrumental in the initiation and development of the Green Economy plan that has the intent to enable Ethiopia achieve a middle income status before 2025 with a zero net carbon emission. Wondwossen represented the country at various fora including the ongoing climate negotiations where he also served as co-chair to the open ended meetings of the parties to the UNFCCC regarding Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions and the reporting requirements in connection with them.  Between 2011 and 2013, Wondwossen was commissioned by the African Union Commission to support the team of African negotiators on the development of a global legally binding instrument on Mercury which culminated in the Minamatta Convention opened for signature in October 2013.

Daniel Zaleznik

Daniel_ZaleznikDaniel Zaleznik holds a Master’s degree from the International Relations Graduate Program at the McCormack Graduate School. He is currently researching the operation of science-policy interfaces in global environmental governance, especially with respect to the United Nations Environment Programme. Other research interests include IR theory. He holds a BA in philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and grew up in Lexington, MA.


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