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Host University

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Host Researchers

Takahiko Miyazaki

Title: Professor. Department of Advanced Environmental Science and Engineering

University: Kyushu University, Japan

Pre-Visit Activates

May 7th - July 2nd

1. Online Leadership Training

2. Online Logistic Training

Visit to Kyushu University, Japan

July 16th- August 12th

1. Research and cultural activities in Japan

2. Summer workshop (August 7th- August 11th)



American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE) annual conference 2024

Date: TBD

Location: TBD

Host Third Cohort Tentative Program


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Amanda Worthy

Ph.D.  in Civil Engineering

University of Washington

BiographyAmanda Worthy is a second year PhD student in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her B.S in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder and completed her M.S. degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Amanda’s passion for environmental sustainability and management roots from her love of cross-country, which has taught her the importance of preserving natural lands. She is particularly interested in the interconnectivities between the built environment and natural world. Her research focuses on hybrid data-driven and simulation-based approaches for assessing building energy performance and its relationships to urban climate. She is enthusiastic about using data visualization techniques to make her research accessible to a wider audience and to promote greater awareness about responsible urban design.

Amanda is motivated to work with an international cohort of research experts and talented students who promote sustainability during the 2023 CLDBES program. She is excited to develop her leadership skills, her expertise in multidisciplinary collaboration, and to ultimately make a positive impact in building a more sustainable urban future.

Bethany Hager

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Ph.D.  in Leadership and Human Resource Development

Louisiana State University

BiographyBethany Hager is a Ph.D. student and research assistant in the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development at Louisiana State University. Her research focuses on critical human resource development and qualitative methods. She is an educator, fundraiser, and non-profit director with over 20 years working with Prek - 12 schools, creating and facilitating statewide educational programs, and most recently serving as the founding executive director for Louisiana A+ Schools, a whole school education transformation model that has trained 800+ teachers since its inception. Under her leadership, over $5,000,000 of funds have been secured to benefit Louisiana students. Bethany has served in numerous leadership positions, including arts education director for the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, mentoring director for the Big Buddy Program, and corps member with Teach for America. She has received numerous awards, including Baton Rouge Business Report 40 under 40 and the Lt. Governor’s Award for Art Education, and the Golden Apple Award from Volunteers in Public Schools. Her volunteer work has included serving on state and national panels, including the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts, and numerous boards, including LSU’s Writing Project. She has served as a girl scout leader and PTO president and a managing volunteer for Red Stick Together, a non-profit that feeds those in need of a hot meal. She received her Bachelor of Science from Suffolk University in 1999 and a Master of Science from LSU in 2021.

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Maya Mueller

Ph.D. in Architectural Engineering

Drexel University 

BiographyMaya Mueller lives in Philadelphia and is currently a PhD student at Drexel University. Her research focus covers how Machine Learning can be used to better understand and predict gentrification. She aims to identify built environment characteristics associated with gentrification susceptibility in order to develop geospatial forecasts for this type of neighborhood change. With a more quantitatively reliable depiction of how gentrification affects the urban landscape and the communities within it, she hopes to provide insight on how housing stock renovation and urban greening can be introduced to neighborhoods in ways that benefit existing residents. Previously, Maya applied Machine Learning models for predicting commercial, residential, and transportation energy use for the City of Philadelphia in the context of scenario planning. The results of her research provided spatially granular maps of future energy use at the household level, and give insight to how urban development, gentrification trends, and changes in employment can affect the city’s carbon footprint. Prior to Drexel, Maya received her bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she performed research on developing Bayesian epidemic models to forecast the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. In her free time, Maya enjoys volunteering at Drexel’s urban garden and for the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA). Maya is constantly picking up new hobbies and is currently getting into cards and board games.


Caleb Calfa

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

Texas A&M University

BiographyCaleb Calfa graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2017. He worked for an automotive air-conditioning manufacturer called Hanon Systems for three and a half years as a Product Development Engineer prior to deciding to come back to school. As of now, Caleb is currently a 3rd year Direct PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University working under Dr. Zheng O'Neill. His research covers a range of different domains, but his main focus is the development and validation of grid-interactive efficient heat pumps through hardware-in-the loop experimental testing. He has one published conference paper which he presented at the 2022 Annual ASHRAE Conference in Toronto. The paper is titled "Development of A Water Source Heat Pump Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) Testing Facility for Smart Building Applications," and won the top student paper award. He also has a couple of journal publications which are currently both under peer review. It's a bit difficult at the moment to have a lot of hobbies while in school, but in his free time, he really enjoys reading novels, going for short hikes, and cooking/eating. Caleb also really loves animals, in particular dogs. Unfortunately, however, he's stuck with a cat.


Nathaniel Smith

M.S in Mechanical Engineering

Texas A&M University

BiographyNathaniel is currently an M.S. thesis student studying Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He previously worked at the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) at Texas A&M, where he developed his passion for energy. At the IAC he analyzed industrial manufacturing systems in an effort to reduce their energy consumption. Wanting to become more versed in energy-consuming systems, he is currently researching commercial/residential building HVAC systems. Specifically, he is interested in more efficient methods of dehumidification using desiccant materials to decouple the sensible and latent loads of a building. Currently, he is designing an experimental testbed to evaluate the performance of such a system. Additionally, he is also developing a simulation model of the system to help facilitate the development of the control strategy to operate the dehumidification system. When he's not researching desiccant-based systems, Nathaniel enjoys spending some time with friends. It could be a simple pickup basketball game, a weekend trip to a neighboring city, or even a night playing board games. Looking at the state of the world's climate, Nathaniel hopes to make an impact through his research into energy efficiency/sustainability. He looks forward to collaborating with other professionals interested in sustainability and hopes to cultivate his intercultural communication and research skills throughout his time with CLDBES.

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Rachel Gray

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

George Washington University

BiographyRachel Gray is a Ph.D. student studying mechanical engineering with a focus on fluid mechanics, thermal sciences, and energy systems at The George Washington University. Her research goals are to model urban communities with diverse energy generation and storage portfolios, to decrease energy costs, and increase sustainability, reliability, and resiliency. She has a strong passion for promoting energy literacy to all ages and advising energy policy. Rachel obtained her Bachelor's of Science in mechanical engineering at The George Washington University, where she was named a Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholar, a GWU Duke Energy Fellow, and a GWU NSF Nanotechnology Fellow. She conducted research at the LeBlanc Lab, and The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, during her undergraduate career. Her research focused on characterizing advanced materials for additively manufactured next-generation energy technologies, namely thermoelectric generators and hydrogen fuel cells. Rachel has had a passion for energy efficiency and urban planning ever since she was young and has taken many steps through her university and professional networks to grow this passion. She sees the CLDBES program as a way to build on her current knowledge through new cultural experiences, and push herself to refine her research and leadership skills. Rachel values an international perspective on energy, and she has already worked on research projects with teams from Sweden and the Netherlands. She believes that the CLDBES program will be an opportunity for continual growth and newfound relationships.

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Jennifer L Gil Acevedo

Ph.D. in Environmental Science

University of Puerto Rico 

BiographyJenny Gil-Acevedo is a phycologist, educator, and National Geographic Explorer from Puerto Rico. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Environmental Science with a focus on Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico.  As an environmental science major, sustainability has always been her core value. And after taking the course Urban Environment and Sustainable Urbanism with Dr. Moreno, she became fascinated with how to make the urban setting more sustainable, especially using microalgae as a core. She is interested in being part of CLDBES to apply her environmental science skills to a discipline that is not mine, which is learning more about engineering, designing, and modeling. Her current research projects are all related to algae. In her thesis project, she experiments with different microalgae which have the potential to grow in space. She was awarded a Collaboration Grant with NatGeo to give workshops to the community about how to do other products with Sargassum sp. She also volunteers in many nonprofits related to conserving the ocean. She has been a Special Olympics volunteer since 2009. As a Fulbright-Nat Geo Fellow, she traveled to Panama’s Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facilities, collecting microalgae samples. She displayed an exhibit where visitors used their senses to discover the invisible world of microalgae. She studied interdisciplinary science at the University of Puerto Rico and did her master's in environmental science at Florida International University.


Di Wu (Lyla)

Ph.D. in Design

Florida International University

BiographyDi Wu is a DDes (Doctor of Design) student at Florida International University and an NSF fellow. Her passion and research focus on material system design for coastal resilience and sustainable construction. Prior to joining FIU, she pursued her studies at the National University of Singapore, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sciarc), and the University of Applied Arts Vienna for her undergraduate and master's degrees. Following her graduation, she gained valuable experience working for various architecture firms worldwide, including AEDAS, Greg Lynn Form, and Graft, before establishing her own design practice, Neuni. As an educator, she has held positions such as Adjunct Associate Professor at Tongji University, Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, and Study Abroad program advisor for Art Centre College of Design Pasadena. Her teaching and research endeavors encompass a wide range of subjects, including CMF design, material for designers, digital design and fabrication, sustainable design, plastic and biomass recycling, and building material recycling. Being part of the CLDBE program, which involves participating institutions from both American and Asian organizations, aligns perfectly with her diverse background. She feels honored to contribute her design, teaching, and entrepreneurial experience to a global platform like CLDBE. Her aim is to further develop her research project while seeking partners and communities who share her interests. Simultaneously, she hopes to enhance her leadership skills and learn to collaborate effectively with different stakeholders.

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Anyela de las Traviesas

M.S in Architecture

Florida International University

BiographyAnyela is a student working towards a Master of Architecture at Florida International University. She was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, and moved to Miami when she was 15, where she continued and finished high school. She has always had a passion for the natural world, and she enjoys kayaking, hiking, and learning about other regions and cultures, whether through travel or through digital content. She decided to pursue architecture with the goal of contributing to the preservation of the natural environment and its integration into the urban landscape in a sustainable way. Taking several design studio classes in the Architecture program has allowed her to explore the subjects of public space and nature, with a focus on sustainability and promoting a healthy environment in cities. In one of her projects, she participated in the “Miami Floating Housing” competition by Arch Out Loud where her team and she designed a floating community aimed at mitigating the effects of gentrification and sea level rise in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, for which they were awarded Director’s Choice. In the summer of 2022, she participated in an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program where she was able to collaborate with fellow students from other disciplines like engineering, chemistry, and biology. This experience sparked an interest to learn from other fields and take valuable lessons from them to improve her own. She strongly believes that multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to building a sustainable future while facing the challenges posed by climate change. The skills she would gain from CLDBES would be an important factor in her development as a professional and a leader that is able to collaborate with and learn from researchers in other regions of the world to apply sustainable practices to design.

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Eliza Searles

M.S Construction Management

Michigan State University

BiographyWhile studying sustainable business as an undergraduate student, Eliza learned about the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.  She was very intrigued by the program, specifically in the way that it linked the built environment to sustainability and well-being.  While gaining career experience in both business and nonprofit, she earned the LEED Green Associate credential.  Working in the residential real estate field, she continued her pursuit of incorporating sustainability into business by gaining the National Association of Realtors’ Green Designee credential.  With a desire to gain knowledge and credibility in the field of construction and apply greater effort toward the advancement of green building, she applied to the construction management program at Michigan State University, where she is now a graduate student.  She is also the Program Manager at the GreenHome Institute, a nonprofit with the mission of empowering professionals and homeowners to make healthier and more sustainable choices in the places we live.  Along with the many connections she has made both locally and internationally through work and education, she is excited to expand her perspective more through the CLDBES program along other scholars with both similar and diverse goals.

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