This fall several interns and fellows will lend important support to our law, science, design, and communications work. Interns and fellows work closely with staff on issues related to water, infrastructure, and climate injustices affecting communities across greater Houston. Join us in welcoming them:
Mahnoor Ansari, Watershed Research Fellow
Mahnoor spent her childhood living in Houston and grew up in Lahore, Pakistan. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in Pre-Law and Psychology with minors in Environmental Studies and Film. After graduating in 2020, she spent a year working on Nisani Farm in Southern Virginia, learning and applying regenerative agriculture techniques. In pursuit of gaining more knowledge and global perspectives, she went to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to get a Masters of Science in Environment and Resource Management and conducted her final research project on the socio-environmental impacts of large dams on the Indus river basin in Pakistan. Mahnoor is now an AmeriCorps member of the Texas Conservation Corps in Austin and is excited to see how her work as a watershed research fellow will intersect with her experiences in the field.
Hamza Awais, GIS Fellow
Hamza was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and moved to Houston, Texas at the start of his teenage years. He lived in the area till it was time to leave for his studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he got his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Planning and Design with a concentration in Community and Regional Planning. Through his time in Albuquerque, he gained experience in community outreach and community-led disaster preparedness while working with various organizations, such as Keep Albuquerque Beautiful to UNM4NEPAL. From the start, his passion for mapping, disaster preparedness, and environmental consciousness has geared his career path to focus on the betterment of living in a sustainable community. After returning back to the Houston area he has been a part of Northeast Action Collective to help with our area’s disaster preparedness. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, hiking, and enjoying Houston’s multifaceted experiences. Hamza hopes to utilize his skills here at Bayou City Waterkeeper as a GIS Fellow to promote clean water and environmental consciousness through the creation of maps.
Elizabeth Cabrera, Legal Intern
Elizabeth was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Texas A&M University. Her studies of global relations combined with her concern for global climate change led her to pursue a career in environmental justice. Her service year in AmeriCorps confirmed not only her passion for service, but her commitment to improving underserved communities in Texas and beyond. Her education and background led her to Houston where she is currently a 2L at South Texas College of Law. She is excited about the opportunity to work with Bayou City Waterkeeper and to help advance their goals of giving communities power and justice for issues stemming from environmental pollution.
Shivani Gollapudi, Watershed Research Fellow
Shivani grew up in the Dallas metro area and lives in Houston. She is a senior at Rice University double majoring in cell and molecular biology and sociology and minoring in global health technologies. In Dallas, she was actively engaged in the climate strike movement and youth activism for environmental justice. At Rice, she investigates environmental justice issues from both scientific and social justice focused contexts. She has been involved with environmentally focused programs and projects with Rice’s Center of Civic Leadership, such as Alternative Spring Break, where she led students to New Orleans to engage in advocacy efforts regarding petrochemical industries’ violent impact on Black and Brown communities. As a part of the inaugural cohort Gulf Scholars Program, she worked with Bayou City Waterkeeper to map and contextualize Houston’s open drainage ditches. She has also worked with Community Lattice to create communication materials regarding the cancer cluster in Fifth Ward and map Houston’s brownfields. This summer, she is interning with Cantaro Azul in Chiapas, Mexico to investigate water quality issues through chemical research methods. Her goal is to continue learning about and engaging in efforts to address the impact of environmental justice issues on human health. She is so excited to continue her journey with Bayou City Waterkeeper this fall!
Tasnim Islam, Social Media Intern
Tasnim Islam (she/ her) joined Bayou City Waterkeeper Fall 2023, driven by her deep passions for spirituality, healing, and their deep connections to protecting our lands and waters. She is an alumna of UT Austin, where she studied Women & Gender Studies and Plan II, and she received certificates in LGBTQ+ Studies, Portuguese, and Pre-Health professions. Tasnim also brings over five years of experience in community organizing, focusing on transformative and restorative justice, with a particular emphasis on the QTBIPOC (Queer Trans Black Indigenous and People of Color) community. As a queer Bangladeshi woman and a multidisciplinary artist, Tasnim is known for her expertise as a mehndi & henna tattoo artist. In addition to her artistry, she leads healing and meditation classes, along with working as a LGBTQ+ Training Specialist & Youth Advocate at the Hetrick Martin Institute. Although Tasnim now calls New York home, she was raised in Austin, Texas, where she holds cherished memories of frequent trips to Houston to savor the rich South Asian food and culture. She is committed to utilizing her organizing and media skills to give back to the Texas community and waters that raised her. This social media internship at Bayou City Waterkeeper resonates deeply with Tasnim‘s unwavering connection to and care for our precious waterways and the diverse plant and animal species that they sustain.
Iliana Martinez, Legal Intern
Skyler Smith, Watershed Design Fellow
Skyler is a landscape designer and researcher interested in how landscape can be used as a medium to design and build capacity for the Just Transition. After graduating from Utah State University with a bachelors degree in Landscape architecture and environmental planning, they moved to Houston to work as a landscape designer for an international design and planning firm and contributed to projects of multiple scales – from streetscapes to eco-tourism centers – all with a concentration on plant material and user experience. While working, they also volunteered with Plant It Forward as a veggie educator and farm steward and served as the Hub Coordinator for Sunrise Movement Houston. Skyler recently graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Alongside their studies, Skyler has collaborated with The Houston Climate Justice Museum since its beginnings in 2021. Skyler joins BCWK with a keen interest in building community power and capacity to guide the energy transition towards just ends. They hope to use design and planning to unearth opportunities that can uplift the vital infrastructural role watersheds and wetlands play in the Houston region.