News & Events

New Institute Members, Summer 2021

Published: Wednesday, 18 August, 2021

This summer, the Earth Institute welcomed one new affiliate member, Dr. Rashedur Chowdhury, as well as five new members: Dr. Cara Augustenborg, Dr. Aura Istrate, Dr. Karen Keaveney, Dr. Akshit Puri, and Dr. Budi Zhao. 

Dr. Rashedur Chowdhury is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Southampton Business School at the University of Southampton, England. Dr. Chowdhury specializes in understanding the dynamic relationship between firms and marginalized groups, conceptualizing how marginalized groups influence firms and how firms respond. He does so, by immersing himself with marginalized people and their spaces, where they live, suffer or experience pain, reject dominant institutions, and aspire to thrive on their own terms or maintain non-conformist lifestyles.

Dr. Cara Augustenborg is an Environmental Policy Fellow at University College Dublin and co-host of the 'Down To Earth' slot on Newstalk FM. She was appointed to the advisory councils of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Dialogue for Climate Action by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and serves as an adviser to the Cool Planet Experience's Climate Champion programme. Dr. Augustenborg holds a Doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and completed her dissertation research in agri-environmental science as a Fulbright Scholar and Walsh Fellow at Ireland's Agriculture and Food Research Authority, Teagasc. 

Dr. Aura Istrate  is an Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy. Her research focuses on participative methods in urban design and planning, and mainstreaming nature-based solutions in cities. She previously assessed concepts of urban liveability and liveable streets in a Chinese context and derived implications for urban transformation. Dr. Istrate also looked into walkable environments in a shrinking East-European city.

Dr. Karen Keaveney is an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Science and has built an academic career focused on the interaction between rural development and rural planning in Ireland and internationally. Over the past 15 years, she has built partnerships with industry, accrediting bodies, colleagues in Higher Education Institutes, with national and local government, and local development companies and rural community organisations. These partnerships shape her research, which is focused on providing an evidence base for rural policy and decision-making at local and national levels; and her teaching which centres around community-based learning.

Dr. Akshit Puri is an Assistant Professor in Environmental and Applied Microbiology in the School of Agriculture and Food Science. He is a soil and plant microbiologist with an interest in understanding the ecology of microbes living in soils and various niches of the plant including the endosphere, rhizosphere and phyllosphere. Dr. Puri is passionate about working on microbes in diverse ecosystems including natural forests and grasslands, managed agricultural systems and anthropogenically disturbed environments. 

Dr. Budi Zhao is an Assistant Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and previously worked as a Research Associate in Imperial College London. His research mainly focuses on the hydro-chemo-mechanical processes in geomaterials to support the development of offshore foundations and carbon geology storage and mitigate climate change influence on embankment dams.