Meet Metcalf Institute’s Newest Advisory Board Members

Photos Nogoc Nguyen, Dr. C. Brandon Ogbunu and Dr. Heidi Cullen

The appointments will advance key provisions of new strategic plan

The University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute announced the appointments of three new members to its Advisory Board. Ms. Ngoc Nguyen, Dr. C. Brandon Ogbunu and Dr. Heidi Cullen bring unique perspectives and deep knowledge to the Board in a variety of areas including the ethnic media landscape, the intersection of scientific research with science communication, culture, and social justice, and public engagement with climate change.

“I’m thrilled to welcome these three talented individuals to Metcalf Institute’s Advisory Board,” said Fraser Lang, Advisory Board chair. “Ngoc, Brandon and Heidi join the Board as Metcalf begins to implement key provisions of its new strategic plan including leveraging its commitment to inclusive science communication and expanding training programs to serve a broader range of audiences.

“I would also like to thank our departing board members, Dr. Kendall Moore, Ms. Annie Sherman and Ms. Cornelia Dean, for their strong commitment to the Metcalf mission and invaluable guidance. Their expertise, assistance, and insightful feedback helped shape and advance Metcalf Institute in countless ways.”

Ngoc Nguyen is partnerships and ethnic media editor for Kaiser Health News and California Healthline where she leads an initiative to develop and expand editorial collaborations with ethnic media. Before joining KHN, she was environment editor for New America Media, a national nonprofit news service for ethnic media, where she codirected a health and environment reporting fellowship program for California ethnic media journalists. Nguyen is an award-winning journalist, whose reporting has appeared in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and national public radio programs. Her investigative report on the health impact of wartime Agent Orange exposure among Vietnamese Americans ran on the cover of the Mercury News and other newspapers, and won a 2014 national journalism award from the Asian American Journalists Association. She has worked as an environment reporter for the Sacramento Bee and an assistant producer for Marketplace. Nguyen is an alumna of Metcalf Institute’s 2007-2008 Environmental Reporting Fellowship Program and the 2011 Marine Science Seminar for Journalists. She’s a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and California State University, Northridge.

Dr. C. Brandon Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University and is currently a visiting professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown. As an evolutionary systems biologist, he uses experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computational biology to better understand the underlying causes and consequences of disease, across scale. Ogbunu is also a science writer, writing about the intersection of science and culture. He’s also a science educator interested in the development of educational learning devices for teaching math and genetics at all levels. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Howard University and a Master of Science and Ph.D. degree in microbiology from Yale University.

Dr. Heidi Cullen serves as the Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives and Director of the Information and Technology Dissemination Division at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Before joining MBARI, Cullen served as Chief Scientist for Climate Central—a non-profit science communication organization she helped found in 2008. Cullen also served as The Weather Channel’s first on-air climate expert and helped create Forecast Earth, a weekly television series focused on issues related to climate change and the environment. Prior to that, Cullen worked as a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. She received the NOAA Climate & Global Change Fellowship and spent two years at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society working to apply long-range climate forecasts to the water resources sector in Brazil and Paraguay. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University and went on to receive a Ph.D. in climatology and ocean-atmosphere dynamics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.