Speakers and Panelists

Sue Ellspermann

Sue Ellspermann, PhD

Keynote Speaker

President of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, former Lieutenant Governor of Indiana

Dr. Sue Ellspermann has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, economic and workforce development, and public service. In January 2018, under Ellspermann’s leadership, Ivy Tech launched its new five-year Strategic Plan, “Our Communities. Your College. Pathways for Student Success and a Stronger Indiana.” The plan’s vision is for Ivy Tech students to earn 50,000 high-quality certifications, certificates, and degrees per year aligned with workforce needs.

The plan aligns with Indiana’s goal to equip 60 percent of the workforce with a high-value, post-secondary degree or credential by 2025. Through achievement of this goal, the College will help increase Hoosier per capita income and support the transformation of the state’s advanced industries economy. The plan development covered 18 months, including a restructure of the College, comprehensive fact finding conducted internally and externally, including thousands of faculty, staff, students and statewide stakeholders.

In May 2016, she was selected to serve as President of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. She is the ninth individual to hold the position and first female president for the college. She replaced Thomas J. Snyder who announced his retirement in September of 2015 after serving as President since 2007. Ellspermann assumed the role of President on July 1, 2016. Prior to officially assuming the role as President, Ellspermann visited all 14 regions and 22 different locations in June of 2016 as President-elect. She convened 52 small groups meeting with an estimated 750+ faculty and staff on a listening tour prior to July 1.

She most recently served as Indiana’s 50th Lieutenant Governor from 2013 until March of 2016. As the vice chair of the Indiana Career Council she led efforts to align Indiana’s education and workforce development system to meet the needs of employers which is her continued focus at Ivy Tech. Her public service began in 2010 when she was elected as the State Representative for District 74.

Ellspermann formerly served as the founding Director of the Center of Applied Research and Economic Development at the University of Southern Indiana and also owned and operated Ellspermann and Associates, Inc, an independent consulting firm licensed in the training and facilitation of Simplex Creative Problem Solving.

Early in her career she spent time with Frito-Lay and Michelin Tire Corporation. Ellspermann holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Louisville in Industrial Engineering and a B.S. from Purdue University also in Industrial Engineering. She is married to James Mehling, a former high school principal. She has a blended family of four daughters, three sons-in-law, three grandsons and two granddaughters.

Nina V. Fedoroff, PhD

Nina V. Fedoroff, PhD

Keynote Speaker

Emeritus Professor of Biology, Pennsylvania State University

Nina V. Fedoroff received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Rockefeller University and has served on the faculties of the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Johns Hopkins University, the Pennsylvania State University, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Fedoroff has published three books and more than 160 scientific papers. She is a member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences and a 2006 National Medal of Science laureate. Fedoroff served as the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State and to the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2007 to 2010.

Steve Fetter

Steve Fetter, PhD

Keynote Speaker

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, University of Maryland

Steve Fetter is associate provost, dean of the Graduate School, and professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. His research and policy interests include nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, nuclear energy and releases of radiation, and climate change and low-carbon energy supply. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists board of directors, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board, and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control.

Fetter has taken leave from Maryland to work in government five times. Most recently, he served in the White House Office of Science and Technology for five years during the Obama Administration, leading the national security and international affairs division and the environment and energy division. Previously, he served as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy and he worked in the State Department as an American Institute of Physics fellow and as a Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow. He has been a visiting fellow at Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and a member of the Director of National Intelligence’s Intelligence Science Board and the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee; and a consultant to several U.S. government agencies. He also served as president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs and vice chairman of the Federation of American Scientists. Fetter is a recipient of the American Physical Society’s Joseph A. Burton Forum Award, the Federation of American Scientists’ Hans Bethe ‘Science in the Public Service’ award, and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. He holds a Ph.D. in energy and resources from UC Berkeley and a S.B. in physics from MIT.

Suresh Garimella

Suresh V. Garimella, PhD

Keynote Speaker

Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, Purdue University

Suresh Garimella is Purdue University’s inaugural executive vice president for research and partnerships and the Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Appointed by President Donald Trump, he is a member of the National Science Board and continues to direct the Cooling Research Center, a graduated National Science Foundation I/UCRC which he founded in 1999.  Garimella oversees Purdue’s $660 million research enterprise, including Discovery Park, an interdisciplinary complex for grand-challenge research. He also is responsible for Purdue’s international programs and its global and corporate partnerships endeavors. 

Under his leadership, the University has experienced consecutive record years in research funding, formed significant new partnerships around the world, and established two new life sciences institutes on integrative neuroscience and on inflammation, immunology and infectious disease. In addition, he and Purdue’s Provost partnered to initiate the Integrative Data Science Initiative which is focused on applying data science research to pressing fundamental and socially relevant issues while establishing an educational ecosystem of data fluency to prepare students for the rapidly expanding future of a  data-driven, knowledge economy. 

The co-author of over 525 widely cited archival publications and 13 patents, Garimella has supervised over 90 graduate students, 25 of whom are now faculty members in prestigious universities. He has served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State and as a senior fellow of the State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).  Garimella serves in editorial roles with leading energy-related journals. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and has received numerous awards for education and research. 

Garimella received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. from The Ohio State University, and a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.  The University of Vermont has selected Garimella to be their next President effective July 1, 2019. 

Dr. Lee Schwartz

Dr. Lee Schwartz

Keynote Speaker

The Geographer, U.S. Department of State
Director, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues

As Geographer of the United States, Lee Schwartz holds the position of the Director of the Office of The Geographer and Global Issues in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.  Dr. Schwartz is the State Department’s 8th Geographer, a position that was established in 1921 and bears the statutory responsibility for providing guidance to all federal agencies on questions of international boundaries and sovereignty claims.He also oversees the Humanitarian Information Unit – a U.S. government interagency organization focused on unclassified data coordination for emergency preparedness, response, and mitigation.

Schwartz earned his Ph.D. in geography from Columbia University, with a focus on political and population geography. Prior to joining the Office of The Geographer, he was a member of the faculty of The American University’s School of International Service.  At the Department of State, he has directed research and analysis on global issues primarily related to complex humanitarian emergencies and has coordinated related fieldwork and applied geography projects overseas, in particular in the Balkans, Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti, Syria, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Burma. His work has focused on ethnic conflict, refugee flows, peacekeeping operations, strategic warning, sustainable development, food and water security, human and wildlife trafficking, and conflict mitigation and response – with an emphasis on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing information coordination.  

Current projects under his leadership focus on Participatory Mapping and Volunteered Geographic Information applications, and include MapGive, Secondary Cities, and the Worldwide Human Geography Data Working Group – with a combined budget of between $4-5 million annually.

Dr. Schwartz received a 2018 Presidential Rank Award, was the State Department’s 2005 winner of the Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs, and the 2012 recipient of the Association of American Geographers’ Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography. He was awarded the 2014 James Cullum Medal from the American Geographical Society – in recognition of his distinguished service to the profession of geography; previous winners of the Cullum Medal include Neil Armstrong, Robert Peary, Prince Albert I of Monaco, and Rachel Carson.

Melba Crawford, PhD

Melba Crawford, PhD

Inaugural Jefferson Science Fellow (2004)

Associate Dean of Engineering for Research, Purdue University
Purdue Chair of Excellence in Earth Observation

Dr. Melba Crawford holds the Chair of Excellence in Earth Observation at Purdue University, where she is the Associate Dean of Engineering for Research and a professor in the Schools of Civil Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Agronomy.  Professor Crawford received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and the Ph.D. degree in Systems Engineering from Ohio State University, Columbus.  Her current research interests focus on development of advanced methods for image analysis, including: manifold learning, active learning, classification and unmixing, and applications of these methods to hyperspectral and LIDAR data.  She is currently co-leading a joint initiative between the Purdue colleges of agriculture and engineering in development of advanced sensing technologies and analysis methodology for wheeled and UAV platforms, focused on high throughput phenotyping.

Dr. Crawford is a Fellow of the IEEE, Past President of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, an IEEE GRSS Distinguished Lecturer, Treasurer of the IEEE Technical Activities Board, and an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing.  She was a member of the NASA EO-1 Science Validation team, which received a NASA Outstanding Service award.  She also served on the NASA Earth System Science and Applications Advisory Committee and was a member of the advisory committee to the NASA Socioeconomic Applications and Data Center (SEDAC).  Professor Crawford was a Jefferson Senior Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, where she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO.

Barrett Caldwell

Barrett Caldwell, PhD


Professor and 2016 Jefferson Science Fellow

Director of the Indiana Space Grant Consortium

Purdue Systems Collaboratory Leadership team

School of Industrial Engineering, Purdue University

Concetta DiRusso

Concetta C. DiRusso, PhD


George W. Holmes University Professor and 2014 Jefferson Science Fellow

College of Arts and Sciences, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Meredith Gore

Meredith Gore, PhD


Associate Professor and 2016 Jefferson Science Fellow

Michigan State University Global Research Academy Fellow

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

Michael Hamburger

Michael Hamburger, PhD


Professor and 2015 Jefferson Science Fellow

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington

Karen Lips

Karen Lips, PhD


Professor and 2016 Jefferson Science Fellow

Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park

Daniel Oates

Daniel Oates, MEPP


Former Science and Technology Policy Officer, Office of the Science and Technology, U.S. Department of State

Esther Obonyo

Esther Obonyo, PhD


Associate Professor and 2015 Jefferson Science Fellow

Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, College of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Vaughan Turekian

Vaughan Turekian, PhD


Executive Director of Policy and Global Affairs at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Former science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State

Curtis Weller

Curtis L. Weller, PhD, P.E.


Head and Professor and 2011 Jefferson Science Fellow

Food Science and Technology Department, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln