Congratulations to our 2020-2021 MESSA Officers!

  • President - Amanda Namsinh
  • Vice President - Kayli Patterson
  • Treasurer - Sara Brunner
  • Secretary - Julie Wright
  • Social Chair - Kaylee Smith
  • Volunteer Coordinator - Zach Srubinski
  • Public Liason - Nick Smillie

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: Amanda Namsinh

Amanda Namsinh

As MESSA President, Amanda is in charge of scheduling official meetings, calling and ordering special meetings, appointing ad hoc committees, communicating concerns of the student body to the EVSS Program staff, and organizing professional development opportunities. Amanda is an EVSS/MPA concurrent student coming from Spartanburg, SC. She studied Marine Science at the University of South Carolina, where she conducted research in a paleoceanographic lab for 3 years of her undergraduate career and a year after graduation as a lab manager. Amanda also minored in Geography and worked in another research lab studying coastal dune systems. Amanda serves as a Graduate Assistant for the EVSS Program and a Coastal Outreach Intern for SC Sea Grant Consortium. Her thesis research focuses on citizen science as a tool to foster community building and to cultivate scientific literacy in the Charleston area. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Taking her dog to the farmers market on Saturday’s! (see picture above)

Fun Fact: She runs a houseplant Instagram with her fellow EVSS colleague!


Vice President: Kaylie Patterson

Kayli Patterson

As MESSA Vice President, Kayli is here to support the President and other board members with any projects or activities they may need help with. She also helps to organize fundraising and other event opportunities. Kayli is a concurrent EVSS/MPA student from San Francisco, CA. As an undergraduate student, she studied Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University focusing her studies on sustainable process engineering. After graduating from Oregon State University she worked as a process engineer at Gallo Winery and then as an Electronics Technician for the United States Coast Guard. Her current research pursuit is with Dr. Beckingham studying the efficiency of stormwater systems in preventing microplastics from entering the environment.

Fun Fact: Kayli has a strong interest in linguistics and is currently studying both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in her free time.


Treasurer: Sara Brunner
Sara Brunner

As Treasurer, Sara oversees and maintains MESSA’s budget, coordinates grant awards, and attends GSA meetings. Sara is originally from Toledo, Ohio, and is currently in the EVSS program. She received a Bachelor’s in Environmental Biology with a minor in Medical Humanities from the University of Dayton. Sara’s research interests include bridging the social-ecological systems by incorporating indigenous local knowledge to better understand natural systems. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Living so close to the beach and getting to go swimming in the ocean. 

Fun Fact: Sara is the current apprentice beekeeper at Stono Preserve!


Secretary: Julie Wright

Julie Wright

As MESSA Secretary, Julie is responsible for keeping accurate, permanent records of the minutes and proceedings of the organization, ensuring that meeting minutes are accessible, and keeping the MESSA calendar up to date. She grew up in Lansdale, PA, and is completing the MES program. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. She currently teaches labs as a Physics TA and is an Intern with Charleston County Government. Her thesis research focuses on flooding and real estate value in downtown Charleston.

Fun Fact: She has 2 Siberian Huskies!


Social Chair: Kaylee Smith

Kaylee Smith

As Social Chair, Kaylee is responsible for organizing and executing all MESSA social functions with students and faculty, networking and professional development events, and coordinating with other student associations for related events. She grew up in Carmel, California and Naples, Florida, and received her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Art from Brevard College in Brevard, NC.  Kaylee is in her second year in the EVSS program and works as a Research Assistant in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences. Her thesis/research is focused on assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Kiawah Island, SC to coastal hazards.

Fun Fact: Kaylee has 58 plants in her apartment!  


Volunteer Coordinator: Zach Srubinski

Zach Srubinski  

As volunteer coordinator, Zach is in charge of planning and facilitating volunteer events, promoting awareness of MESSA on the College of Charleston campus and in the local community through participation in community service projects, advocating for environmental education in the community, as well as any other related activities. Zach is from Long Island, New York, and is currently completing the EVSS program. He received his bachelor's degree in Biology from St. John’s University. His research interests include coastal and wetland ecology and sustainability. His favorite thing about Charleston? The diverse wildlife and amazing restaurants.

Fun Fact: Zach and his family own a brewery!


Public Liaison: Nick Smillie

Nick Smillie

As Public Liaison, Nick helps promote awareness of MESSA, on CofC’s campus and in the local community, through social media and other marketing tools. He aims to encourage others to participate in MESSA events like community service projects, fundraisers, networking opportunities, and professional development. Nick is in his second year in the EVSS program and researching citizen science mobile applications in the context of fisheries management institutions. He grew up in Charleston and received his Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Favorite thing about Charleston? The diverse availability of water activities: surfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and diving!

Fun Fact: Nick has two webbed toes and speaks fluent dolphin.