SEAS Advisory Board

School of Environment, Arts and Society Advisory Board

The mission of the School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) Advisory Board is to provide counsel, guidance and leadership to the Executive Director of SEAS in support of the school’s teaching, research and public service missions.

By contributing their vision, expertise and support, Advisory Board members work together to strengthen ties between SEAS, the community, the private sector and alumni. SEAS Advisory Board members help to enhance and enrich the quality of the school’s educational programs, research endeavors and service activities through advising, ambassadorship, participation and philanthropy.

SEAS Advisory Board Members


Brian Machovina, Ph.D.

Dr. Brian Machovina received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FIU (’92, ’94), where he studied reptiles and amphibians in Everglades National Park and then seagrass communities in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as a research assistant. Brian moved to Los Angeles to establish Oasis Preserve International, a conservation organization founded by actor Woody Harrelson, which protected rainforests in Costa Rica and Peru. Subsequently, he worked for several years with Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products, where he helped pioneer a rainforest-harvested tea, Guayaki Yerba Mate, as a model of market-driven conservation and reforestation. He was also the Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, a coalition of environmental advocacy organizations protecting coastal ecosystems. As an owner and manager of Essential Living Foods, he imported organic and wild-harvested commodities from Latin America. Brian also co-invented Yonanas®, a kitchen appliance sold worldwide that churns out a dessert with the taste and consistency of ice cream using only frozen fruit. He returned to FIU to complete a doctorate in biology (’14) where he studied ecological issues related to human diets and agriculture in the lab of Dr. Ken Feeley. He is currently studying similar topics a Postdoctoral Associate at FIU in the lab of Dr. Eric von Wettberg, teaching Conservation Biology, and continuing to develop entrepreneurial ventures.


Olga Melin

Olga Melin has long been an advocate of education. She believes in its power to help students reach their full potential. Especially in FIU, she has seen tremendous value in fostering an environment where people of many religions and background can relate to one another. She and her husband, David Melin, are well known for their altruism, providing time, dedication, and financial support to numerous charitable organizations. Having served on many boards over the years, Olga Melin is heavily involved with the board of the Funding Arts Network, which provides grants to visual and performing arts organizations in Miami-Dade, and WXEL TV/radio, among other organizations. She also has supported the Florida Grand Opera, the Florida Philharmonic, and the Women’s Fund of Dade County, which raises funds for agencies that address the needs of women in distress.


Stephen E. Davis, Ph.D.

Stephen Davis, a native of Ohio, earned a Ph.D. from Florida International University in 1999 with research on Everglades mangrove biogeochemistry. In his role as Wetland Ecologist at the Everglades Foundation, Davis draws upon his research and teaching experience that dates back two decades—most recently at Texas A&M University where he was a professor of wetland ecology. Among his Foundation duties, Davis leads science efforts focused on Everglades restoration planning, ecological forecasting of restoration scenarios, and impact of sea-level rise.


Nancy G. Maynard. Ph.D.

Dr. Nancy Maynard is a NASA Emeritus Scientist and a Visiting Scientist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science with an interest in the use of remote sensing to observe changes (environment, climate, snow, land use/cover) in the Arctic and their impacts on indigenous populations in the region. She has been working as part of a team of scientists and indigenous reindeer herders from the US, Norway, and Russia on a program to observe changes in reindeer pasture state/quality, migration routes, and sustainable reindeer husbandry in response to the changes in climate, snow, environment, and development. She led the first NASA Environment and Health Program to apply the use of NASA’s Earth science data to public health issues and also served as Project Manager for the NASA Tribal College & University Project. She has worked on remote sensing of ice edge biota as well as science policy at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP). She was a Lead Author on the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) WG2 “Polar Regions” chapter, Convening Lead Author of the US National Climate Assessment’s chapter on “Indigenous Peoples, Lands, and Resources”, and is a member of the Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences/NRC.


Jennifer Tisthammer

Tisthammer is not new to the Deering Estate, nor new to executive management. Most recently serving as the director of the Deering Estate, Tisthammer brings more than seven years of experience in natural and cultural resource management to the community and more than 19 years of experience in financial management, nonprofit governance, strategic planning, fundraising, and community engagement to the position.


Kirsten Hines

Kirsten Hines is a writer and photographer based in Coconut Grove, Florida. She received her M.S. in biology from Florida International University in 2001, studying Strawberry Poison Frogs in Costa Rica. She has since published 30 journal articles and technical reports on flora and fauna, mostly from South Florida and the Caribbean. One of Kirsten’s focuses has been the impact of tourists feeding endangered iguanas in The Bahamas; she is a member of the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group. Locally, Kirsten advocates for the re-greening of South Florida’s urban corridor. She gives wildlife gardening lectures and exhibits her South Florida Birds and Gardens photography collection throughout the region, both based on the award-winning books Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens and Birds of Fairchild for which she is co-author and photographer. Kirsten is also co-author of the Institute for Regional Conservation’s online plant resource Natives for Your Neighborhood and the award-winning book Key Biscayne. In addition to her bird books, Kirsten’s photography has been featured in magazines, juried exhibitions and galleries. Her work can be seen at

Manya “Terry” Blechman

Biography coming soon.

For more information on the SEAS Advisory Board please contact:
Karen Keene
Director of Advancement Relations
College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Phone: (305) 348-7602