Scott Kalafatis


Dr. Scott Kalafatis started a year in residence at the Sustainable Development Institute in August. He is postdoctoral researcher sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant that SDI shares in partnership with researchers at Michigan State University.

Scott will be continuing the work he started this past year at Michigan State studying collaborations between Federally-Recognized Native American Tribes and climate scientists that are intended to help Tribes throughout the United States deal with climate change. The goal of this work is to understand these collaborations better so that they may be as effective, ethical, and supportive of Tribal communities’ interests as possible. Before beginning his work on this project, Scott received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.


Sara Smith


Sara Smith is the Midwest Tribal Climate Science Liaison hired by the College of Menominee Nation as part of the Sustainable Development Institute. Sara will be stationed at the US Forest Service’s Northern Forest Research Station on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul, Minnesota along with our Deputy Director, Olivia LeDee. In this capacity, Sara will serve as a direct liaison between Tribes in the Midwest, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and climate science researchers to identify and address research gaps in climate, natural, and cultural resources as well as improve outreach and capacity building.

Sara is a direct descendent of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology (Ecology and Conservation) and First Nation Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay as well as a Master’s of Science degree in Ecology from the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her experience is in research and development, natural resources, ecology, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and working with indigenous communities in the Midwest. Sara’s interests include forest ecology and dynamics, bridging the gap between science and indigenous knowledge, climate resilience education, and community outreach.