Research Assistant Professors
Sheila Christopher is a Research Assistant Professor working with Dr. Jennifer Tank on the Land use and Water Quality program at ECI. Her research interests are in Watershed Hydrology and Biogeochemistry. Her research is driven by a need to understand the effect of land use change, global climate change, and other disturbance on biogeochemical cycling and water and solute transport through watersheds. She has worked in natural, agricultural, and mixed land use systems and has used both field measurements and models to answer research questions. At ECI, she will use hydrologic models and watershed monitoring to understand how water resources are affected by best management practices (BMPs) at the watershed scale. Sheila received her BS from Allegheny College and her PhD from State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Christopher Jerde is a quantitative ecologist and has worked on stochastic models of invasive species introduction and spread. He recently joined ND-ECI as a Research Assistant Professor and leads projects on environmental DNA applications of invasive species surveillance in the Great Lakes, the spread of invasive species through the bait trade, and the economics of emerging infectious diseases. Chris earned his Undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Montana State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta.
Greg Ragland, from the University of Florida, is a Research Assistant Professor working with Dr. Michael Pfrender and Dr. Jeffrey Feder on the Environmental Genomics project. His research integrates studies across biological levels of organization, from genes to population, and addresses questions about adaptation to changing environment - particularly how animals synchronize their life cycles with seasonality.
Thanuka Wickramarathne is a Research Assistant Professor working on ECI's Transportation Networks Project with Dr. Nitesh Chawla. He was previously a Network Planning Engineer at Celltel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., Colombo, Sri Lanka. His main area of research is data fusion and knowledge discovery from imperfect data domains. His developments include advanced machine learning techniques that exploit mathematical modeling and fusion techniques, data fusion strategies applicable to imperfect data, convergence analysis techniques for complex fusion networks, data validation techniques and computational optimizations and approximation techniques. His research interests are in the general areas of uncertainty quantification, data fusion, sensor networks, graphical models, statistical signal processing, systems theory and optimizations. Thanuka received his B.Sc. degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering in 2006 from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He received his PhD and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL in 2012 and 2008 respectively.
Melissa Berke is a new assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. She investigates past climate and associated global ecosystem change using organic molecular biomarkers to measure and quantify changes through geologic time. At Notre Dame she has set up a lab to extract and measure these diagnostic chemical signatures of past life. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota’s Large Lakes Observatory, where she studied changes in the climate of East Africa using sediments from the East African Rift Lakes.