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Congratulations to our 2017-2018 MESSA Officers!

  • President - Ashton Basar
  • Vice President - Rachel Wiser
  • Treasurer - Megan Shearer
  • Secretary and Public Liaison - Nirav Gandhi
  • Social Chair - Hannah Kuhl
  • Volunteer Coordinator - Amanda Voges

MESSA Officers are here to make our graduate career a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. They are elected at the beginning of each year, and are responsible for all the exciting inner workings of MESSA along with organizing social events, coordinating volunteer activities, seeking out community involvement, working with the student government association, and anything else they can come up with. If you want to make something happen in MESSA, this is the place to start.

MESSA has a constitution to follow, which includes a brief description of each officer's duties. You can read the MESSA Constitution here. For a more detailed description of the roles of each officer, see the biographies of everyone below.

You can e-mail your questions, ideas/suggestions or comments to MESSA, or you can e-mail officers individually (see emails below). We'd love to hear from you!


President: Ashton Basar

A man is washing his car with his son when the boy goes, "Dad, can't we use a sponge?"

Ashton's duties as MESSA President are to attend meetings, to call and organize special meetings, to appoint ad hoc committees, and to communicate concerns of the student body to the MES Program staff. Ashton is in the Concurrent MES/MPA Degree Program and comes to us from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in Molecular/Cellular Biology from Carlow University. Currently, Ashton is working as a teaching assistant in the Physics Department. The title of her research projects is "The Effects of Temperature on the Seasonality of the Annual Flu and the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic". Her favorite thing about Charleston? The sunshine and the beach.


Vice President: Rachel Wiser

What do bees use to style their hair? Honey combs.

As Vice President, Rachel performs all duties of the president in his/her absence, chairs ad-hoc committees and aids officers when needed. Originally from Maryland (DC suburbs), Rachel is in the MES Program. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from University of St. Andrews and the College of William and Mary in 2015. Rachel is currently working in the Disability Services Office on-campus. She is conducting her research on the willingness to pay for local and organic flowers. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Folly Beach days with her dog.


Treasurer: Megan Shearer

What did one tidepool say to the other tidepool? "Show me your mussels!"

Megan's duties as treasurer are to keep accurate and complete records of all monetary transactions, to collect dues and social event fees, and to chair the finance committee. Megan joins us from her hometown of Clarksville, Maryland and is completing the concurrent degree program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Art History from Washington & Lee University. Currently, Megan is working with South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium while she identifies her thesis/internship research question. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Living near the beach!


Secretary and Public Liaison: Nirav Gandhi

One wind turbine says to the other, "I love country music, how about you?" The other one says, "I'm a big metal fan."

As secretary, Nirav is responsible for keeping accurate, permanent records of the minutes and proceedings of the organization and to take charge of all correspondence, to notify all members of meetings and to help promote MESSA organized activities. Nirav's role as public liaison involves promoting awareness of MESSA, on CofC’s campus and in the local community, through participation in community service projects, promotion of environmental education, and other related activities. Nirav is originally from Greenville, South Carolina, and is currently in the MES Program. He received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences and a minor in Political Science from the University of South Carolina Columbia. Nirav has always been much more interested in the policy and economics side of the energy industry than the science half, and is hoping to one day work in the world of corporate social responsibility and energy consultation. He holds a graduate assistantship in the Graduate School Office. Nirav's research is with the Southeastern Wind Coalition - he is building an index of social factors that inhibit or assist in the construction of wind farms, focused on Kentucky. His favorite thing about Charleston? Living on the coast and taking in the sea breeze when it rolls into downtown.


Social Chair: Hannah Kuhl

Why is the ocean so salty?? Because the Earth won’t wave back.

Hannah's duties as social chair include organizing and executing MESSA social functions. Hannah joins us from Austin, TX and is in the MES program. She received a BS in Biology and Environmental Studies with a Spanish minor from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Currently, Hannah has a research assistantship with Dr. Tim Callahan which allows her to work on her thesis project related to tidal creeks. She has enjoyed exploring Charleston over the last year—in particular, Hannah loves the laid-back, coastal vibe of the city, having easy access to the beach, and trying new restaurants, bars and breweries.


Volunteer Coordinator: Amanda Voges

What did the girl mushroom say to the boy mushroom? "Well, you look like a FUNGI!"

As volunteer coordinator, Amanda is responsible for promoting awareness of MESSA on the College of Charleston campus and in the local community through participation in community service projects (such as Adopt-a-Highway, and Beach Sweep), promotion of environmental education, as well as any other related activities. Amanda is so happy to be a part of the MES program at the College of Charleston. She graduated from Clemson University (Go Tigers!) in 2014 and received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management. Hailing from the small town of good ole Clover, South Carolina (which is close to Charlotte, North Carolina), Amanda has lived in Charleston for more than three years now. She's in awe of the many amazing people she has met since moving here. Initially relocating for a job in Environmental Project Management, Amanda joined our program. Since starting the MES Program, she has been serving at Poogan’s Porch and recently secured a Graduate Assistantship with the Office of Professional Development at the College of Charleston. She is looking forward to interning with Robinson Design Engineers this coming spring semester.  Amanda's project will be focus on restoration opportunities on the lower peninsula and she will be learning more about sustainable project design. Her favorite thing about Charleston? The city has a unique ecosystem and always has fun events going on. Amanda enjoys getting out and about and exploring the area, whether it's paddle boarding on Shem Creek or going to concerts at Riverfront Park or Pourhouse. She's slowly but surely crossing things off her bucket list but Charleston has so many things going on that it actually seems like the list keeps getting longer!