Dr. Ozzie Abaye
Dr. Ozzie Abaye is currently a Professor of Agronomy at Virginia Tech, where she has a research, teaching and global outreach appointment in the area of alternative crops, grassland management, and international research and development. Abaye earned her B.S. from Wilson College, PA, and M.S. from the Pennsylvania State University in Animal and Dairy Science (The effect of temperature and light intensity on chemical composition and digestibility of temperate and tropical grasses). She earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 1992. The title of her dissertation was: “Influence of grazing sheep and cattle together and separately on soils, plants and animals.” Her graduate research emphasized improving the feeding value forages and animal utilization. Currently, she is conducting experiments in Virginia in the areas of new and established forages.
Dr. Abaye has expertise in alternative crops: alternative forage species adaptation, use and management; worked with other crops such as sorghum, cotton, durum wheat, lupine and mung bean. The ecological adaptation/ management and end use of these crops were investigated in collaboration with other scientists in the US. Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria. Other research includes establishment and maintenance of forage grasses and legumes on reclaimed coal-mind sites. Dr. Abaye is also heavily involved with undergraduate/graduate teaching and has taught five courses ranging from freshmen to senior/graduate levels. Current interest include: grassland management, forage-livestock, alternative crops, and international research and development.
Bineta Khalla Guisse
Bineta Khalla Guisse is currently the National Director of the newly USAID-funded Feed the Future, Senegal Youth in Agriculture project. Previously, Bineta served as the Gender & Youth Integration in Community Economic Development - Programs Coordinator at USAID/Education and as the Gender and Community Outreach Officer in the same project. In these positions, Bineta specialized in strategic planning and organizational policy development/implementation with a focus on innovative approaches to securing child well being and women’s empowerment through education and micro enterprises. She was the architect of the project’s Gender Strategy, and spearheaded USAID/ERA’s efforts at promoting gender equality and integrating Youth Programming through a variety of new programs, most notably the Positive Youth Development, Senegal 4-H program.
Prior to joining USAID/ERA, she was a consultant, activist, and community organizer with over 15 years of experience in community-based programs in government and non-government organizations. Notably, she served as a consultant for more than 10 years offering on-going training and technical assistance to community development institutions across the country and assisted local municipalities to build economic development initiatives within economically depressed areas of target cities.
Dr. Akshay Sharma
Dr. Akshay Sharma is Associate Professor and Chair of Industrial Design, School of a+d, Virginia Tech. He is passionate about using design as a catalyst for the empowerment, specifically for women in emerging economies. With his students, he has created solutions for micro financing with an NGO in India; the use of cell phones for creating a more efficient process in maintaining immunization records for developing countries; and cell phone charging solutions for people living in areas without regular supply of power. His website, www.ID4Learning.com has documentation about the projects his students have worked on as well as the collaborative relationships he has developed. His students have won numerous international design awards and have been recognized at national and international level. He obtained his B.Arch from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi and his Master of Science in Design from Arizona State University.
Ashley Taylor, MS, MPH, is a doctoral candidate in engineering education at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as director of Pathways for Future Engineers, a program in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity designed to support first generation students and their families on the pathway from high school to college. Within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ashley has also worked as an advisor for international senior design projects at the intersection of public health and engineering, focused largely in Malawi.
Ashley received her MS in Mechanical Engineering, MPH in Public Health Education, and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include expanding access to engineering education, the integration of engineering education and international development, and building capacity in low and middle income countries through inclusive STEM education.