e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Graduate Student Ambassadors

Graduate student ambassadors are available to answer questions about graduate student life, academic programs and student activities. They are happy to share their own personal experiences as graduate students at SUNY-ESF. The ambassadors also lead the campus tours. Feel free to connect with them through the email addresses below.

Chellby Kilheffer

Madhuri Dinakar

Email: mdinakar@esf.edu

Hometown: Bengaluru, India

Undergraduate Education: B.E Biotechnology, PES Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, India

Graduate Education: Masters in Ecological Engineering, SUNY-ESF (Expected Graduation May 2019)

Leadership/Professional Experience:

  • Secretary at Graduate Students Association, SUNY-ESF (2018-2019)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant. SUNY ESF (2016-Present)
  • Research Assistant. SUNY-ESF (2018 Summer)
  • Project Assistant. Indian Institute of Science (2015-2016)

Interests/Hobbies: My mom being very artistic has led to some artistic qualities in myself. I enjoy playing the alto recorder and one day wish to play in an orchestra. Currently I am learning the flute as well. I also find coloring mandalas and listening to music very relaxing. As a sport I find swimming to be a lot of fun! Professionally, I am a strong advocate of biomimicry and believe that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

Quote: ESF’s strong community and like minded thinking is really unique. Despite the school being small, the research and networking opportunities do not fall behind. The small classroom sizes and the supportive nature of our professors provides a great learning environment.


Blake Neumann

Dominique S. Derminio

Email: dsdermin@syr.edu

Hometown: Rome, NY

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Biology in Biochemistry (Keuka College, 2011)

Graduate Education: Master’s by Research in Psychiatry (University of New South Wales, 2014)
Ph.D. in Biochemistry, SUNY ESF (expected graduation date, May 2019)

Leadership/Professional Experience:

  • Chemistry Representative of the Graduate Student Association (2017-Present)
  • Research Assistant. SUNY ESF (2015- Present)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant. SUNY ESF (2015-2016)
  • Adjunct Instructor. Keuka College (2013-2014)
  • Research Assistant. University of New South Wales (2011-2013)
  • Student Tutor. Keuka College (2008-2011)

Interests/Hobbies: I enjoy many different sports, but my favorite is beach volleyball where I play at Sharkey’s in Liverpool. Also, I enjoy doing lap swimming. In my spare time, I like to read, play board games, videogames, and cooking/baking. I would also like to travel internationally more.

Quote: As a small school, SUNY ESF excels in research, networking with leaders in academia and industry worldwide. This university is a close-knit community that focuses on conserving, understanding, and protecting our environment from the biological, chemical, and engineering points of view.


Sara Velardi

Jordon Tourville

E-mail: jtourvil@syr.edu

Hometown: South Hero, VT

Undergraduate Education: BA Biology, University of Vermont (2013)

Graduate Education: MS Natural Resources, University of Michigan (2018)
PhD Ecology, SUNY-ESF (2023 expected graduation)

Leadership/Professional Experience:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (SUNY-ESF, 2018)
  • Research Assistant and Contractor (University of Michigan/National Park Service, 2017-2018)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (University of Michigan, 2017-2018)
  • Student Tutor and Representative for Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society (University of Vermont, 2012-2013)

Interests/Hobbies:My current research is focused on aspects of forest and community ecology as well as how native plant species become successful in novel environments. In my spare time (which is rare these days), I really enjoy hiking in the backcountry, fishing and reading.

Quote:SUNY-ESF may be small, but it is a giant in the realm of environmental conservation and sustainability. What makes it so unique is the eclectic blend of talented people who create an atmosphere of research excellence as well as fostering a sense of belonging within its community.