Meet our fall fellows and interns

Bayou City Waterkeeper
September 1, 2022

Join us in welcoming the fellows and interns who are working with us this fall:

Aiyana Baptiste, Water Policy Fellow 

Aiyana is continuing her work as a Water Policy fellow, which began over the summer. Aiyana was born and raised in Houston. She attended Texas A&M University and received her Bachelor of Science in Renewable Natural Resources, with an emphasis in Policy and Management, and a minor in Philosophy. During her time as an undergraduate student, she studied ecological tactics that are helpful in conservation. Currently, she focuses on the relationship between people, natural resources, conservation, and connections to environmental justice. 



Emelia Forbau, Legal Intern, University of Houston Law Center

Emelia grew up in the Houston area, where she continues to live and pursue her education. She graduated from Houston Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Business Management and is currently a 2L at the University of Houston Law Center. Her perspective is shaped by the volunteer work she began with her mother when she was very young and continues to enjoy today, including clean-up days along the San Jacinto River, Lake Houston, and Buffalo Bayou. Her passion for the community she has lived and served in led her to law school, where she will gain the knowledge and skills she needs to help develop policies that will improve the lives of Houstonians. Emelia is excited to begin using her legal education to advocate for clean water for Houston communities with Bayou City Waterkeeper.



Mihir Kulkarni, Texas Southern University — Thurgood Marshall School of Law (2L)

Mihir is continuing his work as a Legal Inter, which began this summer. Mihir is a 2L at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Mihir moved to Houston, Texas when he was five years old, and considers himself to be a proud Houstonian. As an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, Mihir majored in BioEnvironmental Sciences, where he learned how issues relating to the environment, energy, and technology are intricately related to the health of humanity. For the latter half of his undergraduate career, he also served as a research fellow within the department, where he had the opportunity to work on plant-microbiome research in a traditional lab setting. After graduating from Texas A&M, Mihir had the opportunity to serve as a Legislative Aide in the Texas House of Representatives during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. These experiences shaped Mihir’s desire to pursue a career in environmental law. Mihir hopes to impact policy change in the future to further environmental conservation. Mihir is excited to continue his work with Bayou City Waterkeeper and contribute to their initiatives.



Andy McCoy, Legal Intern, University of Texas School of Law

Andy is a third-year law student at UT Austin. Prior to law school, he worked on several energy and environmental justice issues, including authoring a just transition proposal for coal communities across northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico. Andy previously worked for Bayou City Waterkeeper as part of UT’s Environmental Law Clinic. There, he helped investigate policy changes to stormwater discharge rules to limit pollutant runoff into Galveston Bay and to incorporate green infrastructure to control urban flooding. He’s eager to help protect and restore Houston’s wonderful, wild places, and to advance environmental justice efforts in the heart of the oil and gas industry.





Aqsa Mengal, Water Policy Fellow

Aqsa was born and raised in Quetta, Pakistan. She is a graduate of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, where she earned a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Sociology. She is currently working as a Program Assistant in the Water Division of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and is based in Chicago, IL. In the past, she served as a Research Assistant for the Ministry of Climate Change and UNDP in Pakistan, and as a member of the Projects Committee for Ecologists Without Borders (EcoWB). She is passionate about water justice and developing strategies for climate adaptation and resilience for vulnerable communities. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with her family. 





Ava Ortiz, Microplastics Research Fellow 

Ava is continuing her work as a Microplastics Research fellow, which began over the summer. Ava is a recent graduate of Texas A&M Corpus Christi with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy and Regulations and a minor in Geology. Ava has hands-on experience with oyster reef restoration projects as well as experience in water quality testing. She was born in the Rio Grande Valley, though has lived all over south and central Texas, which is how she developed love for the varied environments of Texas. When not working on environmental issues, she enjoys live music and spending time with her family, friends, and beloved elderly dog, Shaggy. 



Shelby Riney, Legal Intern, University of Houston Law Center  

Shelby is a 2L at the University of Houston Law Center where she is pursuing her JD. Shelby graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2020 with a BA in Spanish Literature. She became interested in environmental law after learning about the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act. Shelby worked as a research assistant for UH Energy at the University of Houston researching legislation to promote carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration. She is eager to work with Bayou City Waterkeeper to promote conservation in the Houston community.




Carrie Smith, Watershed Research Fellow, The University of Texas at Austin

Carrie is continuing her work as a Water Research Fellow, which began this spring. Carrie is a Masters in Community and Regional Planning graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. In her studies, Carrie is focusing on ways to foster climate and water justice through equitable environmental planning. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a Civil Engineering degree and has since worked as a water resources engineer in Austin, Texas. Carrie‘s work as a water resources engineer has centered on watershed protection, water resources planning, and water and wastewater treatment. In her work at Bayou City Waterkeeper, she applies her technical knowledge of water resources and planning to advocate for equitable development outcomes in the greater Houston area.