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Board of Advisors

  • Professor Robert Giles, Director: Since January 2003, Giles has been travelling biannually to Haiti. Immersed in the culture and community dynamics, he has been submitting proposals to foundational funding agencies establishing faculty/student project teams as a University research center.
  • Mrs. Connie Barna, Program Coordinator: Since 1993, Mrs. Connie Barna has been travelling to Haiti and responsible for travel groups including all trip preparation and planning. Fluent in Haitian Kreyol and knowledge-able in the culture of Haiti, she has led over 350 person-trips of students and volunteers for a wide range humanitarian projects and cultural exchange programs. Mrs. Barna has extensive international experience in administration and human resources in the country of Haiti.
  • Brian Corr: has been the Executive Director of the Peace Commission – that promotes peace and social justice, and has responsibility for Cambridge’s sister city relationships – since April 2008. Starting in September 2010, he has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) since 2012, and currently serves as the association’s Vice-President. In his community, Brian is a member of the board of directors of the José Mateo Ballet Theatre and also serves on the board of the DiDomenico Foundation, Until 2013, Brian served on the board of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute while doing education and advocacy work to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of violence on individuals, families, and communities. Nationally, Brian served on the national board of directors and the executive committee of the American Friends Service Committee from 2007 to 2010, and as co-chair of the national board of directors of Peace Action from 2003 through 2007. Brian graduated from the University of Michigan in 1986 with a BA in Russian literature and language. A trained mediator, he is a NACOLE Certified Practitioner of Oversight, and he has completed the Negotiation and Leadership course at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
  • Henry Valcour, P.E. Having graduated from MIT in 1956 with a degree in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, Henry Valcour shifted to the water field after the U.S. ship building industry declined in the early 1960's. He spent most of his career with Ionics Inc. (now part of the GE Water Tech. Group) traveling to North Africa and the Middle East designing, installing and selling water desalting equipment. Valcour later worked as Marketing Manager for high purity water systems in the United States and Europe with main targets being nuclear power plants. He finished his career doing contract engineering for the new MWRA 17 mile water tunnel and 115,000,000-gallon storage facility in Weston, Mass. Henry Valcour is a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts.
  • Professor Wil Ngwa, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Buea in Cameroon, has a developing country background. He later received his Masters and Doctorate at the University of Leipzig Germany as a Physicist with specialties in Biophysics and Material Science. Serving at Harvard in the field of Medical Physics, Ngwa is a strong advocate for initiatives like UMass Lowell’s Haiti Development Studies Center that can foster science and technology in low-income countries like Haiti. As Abdus Salam, the Nobel Laureate in physics observed, science in developing countries is often treated as a "marginal activity'' and perceived even as an "ornament'.' Although some developing countries are aware of the importance of science and technology as a driver to sustainable development, this awareness does not necessarily make it easy to develop, and popularize science. Factors like inadequate scientific infrastructure, opportunity and mentorship create strong barriers to the path of advancement.
  • Professor Soumitra Satapathi, Ph.D.: Having graduated with a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Physics from UMass Lowell in 2012, Satapathi started working on biomedical optics at Tufts University, Boston. In 2014, he moved back to India to join as an Assistant Professor in the Physics department of India’s premier research intuition Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Satapathi’s research is mainly focused on the development of advanced materials and their use in organic electronics including organic solar cells, LEDs and sensors. For more than 7 years, Satapathi is working on renewable energy sectors emphasizing on development of low cost solar panels for rural applications. He is also interested in technology development for clean and potable water, low cost wearable biomedical devices, nanomaterials based drug delivery systems and on different bio-imaging modalities. Satapathi is a highly adaptable scientist who has published several international journal papers and worked closely with industry.
  • James Eliscar holds a Master of Science in Public Affairs from John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His specialties include sustainable development, stakeholder’s participation, policy analysis and framework process, project management, and monitoring and evaluation. Mr. Eliscar lectured in higher education institutions, both in the United States and Haiti, and held visiting research fellowships. For the past 6 years, Mr. Eliscar held positions as Director in some Boston-based nonprofits where he used his experience in coordinating resources mobilization and strategic planning. Presently, he serves as Director of Strategic Planning and Research at the Organization of Support to the Development of Plateau Central. His work focuses on grants research, project management, and, strategic and development initiatives. Mr. Eliscar has led research teams in Haiti on innovative research initiatives and community-participatory design processes. He co-founded Organisation pour la Protection de l'Environnement et le Traitement de Detritus (OPTED), a Haiti-based nonprofit and research tank in 2009. Mr. Eliscar is now leading efforts to create a center to focus on climate change adaptation strategies and policy development framework in Southern Haiti. As an entrepreneur, he founded Industrie Agro-Geologique Meridionale (INAM), an agribusiness startup investing in production of affordable biofortified foods, and connecting and leveraging regional markets to reduce poverty. Mr. Eliscar helps startups and nonprofits to develop innovative projects, business models, and leverage resources.
  • Rachel Paquette is a 2014 University of Massachusetts Lowell graduate of the Honors College with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Within the context of attending HDSC’s Seminar Course ("Science and Technology in the Impoverished World”) during the Spring of 2013, Ms. Paquette chose to address water purification with a Bio-Sand Filtration Technique using only materials indigenous to Haiti and readily available to the local population. With her proposal focused on education, implementation of Paquette’s filter project was easily scalable and sustainable even in the poorest communities. Fall 2013, Paquette provided the template for executing the prototype units in the city of Les Cayes, Haiti. Visiting Haiti during January 2014 and working with four college preparatory Haitian students at UMass Lowell’s Haiti Development Studies Center, Rachel oversaw the fabrication and setup of these filters, established the water testing procedures and oversaw the collection and organization of the water sample data. By mid-summer, Rachel was then working on simple diagrams and documentation detailing filter construction in the local language, “Kreyol”, for distribution to the community. Ms. Paquette had also completed her Honors thesis, Spring 2014, “Education and Implementation of the Biobubbler in Haiti”, documenting the program.