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Current TIFO Students


Marina Steiner

Research Intern

Marina is as a Masters Student in the Water Resources Graduate Program at the University of Idaho. For her research project, she will be supporting TIFO with the Uzbekistan Aral Sea project. 


Marina was born and raised in Minnesota then received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences with a certificate in Global Health from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most recently, Marina worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where she supported the implementation of drinking water infrastructure projects in response to PFAS-contaminated groundwater. Marina is passionate about bridging the gap between human and environmental health, especially through addressing water quality issues.

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Mason Burns

Research Intern

Mason is a junior at Washington State University studying Architecture. He is developing an in-depth global plan to address the climate crisis titled The Climate Recovery Plan which evaluates environmental, economic, and moral concerns. He is collaborating with TIFO to develop a new section focusing on responsible mining internationally. He hopes to work with other organizations and communities to enhance the document by creating a policy representative of people’s needs and rooted in scientific fact. He believes that by uniting to provide such a plan, we may have a better chance of saving our Earth and ensuring a safe future for all.

Past TIFO Students


Yvette Bonney

Administrative / Research Intern

Yvette is a U of I senior pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and International Studies with a minor in French. Ms. Bonney has worked for TIFO for nearly two years, supporting project outreach and research. She traveled to Uzbekistan to assist with preliminary sampling and project development in October 2022. Ms. Bonney also assisted with research at the UI Animal Veterinary Food Sciences & Biotechnology Lab. She plans to study abroad in Pau, France in fall 2023.


Yoni Rodriguez

Senior Research Student

Yoni's graduate thesis investigates the use of precision agriculture to minimize pesticide drift exposure among tree fruit workers in the Yakima Valley.  Yoni has worked with the King County Public Health Hazardous Waste Management Program and the UW Environmental Health Laboratory in developing a new method to estimate lead exposure concentrations in aluminum cookware brought to the US by refugee and immigrant communities, with the goal of preventing lead poisoning in children. He plans to continue to collaborate with TIFO and other global researchers to work with communities to improve occupational and environmental health outcomes in vulnerable populations.


Madi Thurston

Research Intern

Madi graduated from the University of Idaho in May 2021 with a degree in environmental science and minor in Spanish. While at UI, she completed a research internship with TIFO using spatial analysis to explore patterns of soil lead exposure in rural mining villages in Nigeria. She presented her work at multiple conferences including: the Idaho Undergraduate Research Conference, the University of Idaho College of Science Student Research Exposition, the University of Idaho Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the 30th International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air, where she was recognized as the first place winner of the student poster competition. She received funding to do complete her undergraduate research with TIFO through the University of Idaho Summer of Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). 


Luke Kawano

Research Intern

Luke Kawano is a senior at the University of Idaho studying Environmental Science with a certificate in climate change. He worked with the City of Moscow, Idaho to develop their first greenhouse gas assessment using modeling software. He is originally from Boise, Idaho. For fun, he enjoys camping, fishing, and spending time with family and friends.

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Piper Christian

Research Intern

Piper Christian is a Senior at the University of Utah double-majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a certificate in GIS. In collaboration with TIFO, Piper has conducted GIS analysis of artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo and mapped the social and environmental impacts of lithium mining in Peru. Outside of her work with TIFO, Piper has studied how prolonged droughts associated with climate change displace subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and published a piece about environmental contamination caused by copper mining in the United States and Chile. Piper is deeply grateful to TIFO staff for providing networking opportunities, research guidance, and mentorship to support her and other young people interested in environmental careers.

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Astrian Horsburgh

Research Intern

Astrian graduated from UC Berkeley in with a degree in geography, after completing a cartography-based senior honors thesis project on the socio-environmental impacts of lithium mining in Chile's Atacama Desert. This project was drawn from research into lithium in Latin America, especially Peru, that Astrian pursued as a TIFO intern. Presently, Astrian is planning to enter the public health field.


Natalie Davies

Social Media Intern 

Natalie is starting her career in Digital Marketing at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. She has a background in social media, content creation, and photography. Natalie is a Public Relations graduate from the University of Idaho. She is a feature writer and photographer at Blot Magazine, and former photo editor. When she's not working, she enjoys freelance photography and spending time with her family. Her work for TIFO includes social media and marketing assistance.

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