Kevin Blackwood is a graduate student, adjunct instructor, and karst geoscientist who is actively involved in research concerning hydrogeology, geomorphology, geochemistry, and geophysics. He is the chairman of the Geology Section of the Oklahoma Academy of Science, and is also involved in minor studies involving subterranean and aquatic ecosystems. He is currently engaged in research involving the karst of the Arbuckle Mountains, geothermal features in the western United States, and select coastal karst and reef systems of the Greater Caribbean Basin. To date, he has more than 20 publications on his research in books, journals, and conference proceedings. He is an active reader and bibliophile, hoarding literature relevant to his research interests in order to stay in the forefront of scientific understanding in his fields of interest.
Rabindra Thapaliya is a research intern with The Oka’ Institute. Originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, Thapaliya is studying computer science at East Central University. He is also pursuing a minor in MIS. Thapaliya serves as the president of the International Student Connection Club and was awarded “Outstanding Student of Mathematics and Computer Science” by the mathematics and computer science department at ECU. He is a recipient of the Briles scholarship, and plans to become a software developer.
Dusty Quinalty is an Intern with The Oka' Institute and serves as an electronic technician and sUAS pilot. Quinalty has been in the field of electronics repair for 10 years; four of those were spent as an aviation electrician in the US Navy, where he learned flight operations and avionics troubleshooting. He participated in the evacuations in Japan during the Fukushima disaster and also aided in the UAV monitoring of the reactor radiation levels during the aftermath.
Quinalty is a certified aviation electrician, micro/miniature solder technician, network administrator, microcomputer technician, and commercial sUAS pilot.
Justin Harris is a specialty intern for The Oka’ Institute. He is a sophomore at East Central University, pursuing a degree in Molecular Biology. Harris spent the spring of 2016 researching plant embryology under the direction of Dr. Rahmona Thompson, and graduated from the Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Program at the Pontotoc Technology Center in May of 2016. Also in 2016, he was a finalist in the Genes in Space Competition, where he developed a research proposal for an experiment to be conducted on the International Space Station. Harris also enjoys traveling and has a fascination with plants as well as microorganisms.
Laramie Edens graduated from Northern Oklahoma College with an associate degree in Biology, where she received Outstanding Biology Student of the Year and was on the President's Honor Roll. She plans to continue her education at Friends University pursuing a degree in Health Science. Edens interests include dentistry and basketball.
Nick Sevedge is an intern with The Oka’ Institute and serves as a field geotechnician and UAV pilot. His major is Cartography with a concentration in Geotechniques, and his minor is in Environmental Health Science, with his expected graduation in May of 2019. Sevedge is a military veteran of 11 years and would like to pursue a career in wildlife conservation upon completing his degree.
Michael Linn started with The Oka’ Institute in August of 2016, and was the unmanned aerial systems intern until May of 2017. He maintained a fleet of UASs and was the primary pilot of systems in the field. Linn graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics in May of 2017. He was awarded a Certificate of Achievement for exemplary service as an Oka' Intern during its inaugural year.
Jack Langley served as a marketing intern for The Oka' Institute. He attends East Central University with plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing. He also intends to receive a Business Certificate in Promotions Management with a minor in Environmental Health Science. He was accepted in the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business Freshman Scholar's Program.
Austin Orr was an intern with The Oka’ Institute, with a specialty in policy. He studies at East Central University and is a political science/legal studies major. Orr was born and raised in Seminole Oklahoma, and joined The Oka’ Institute in August of 2016. He plans to further his studies at ECU with the Master of Science in Water Resource Policy and Management degree upon completion of his bachelor degree.
Linzi Bhatta, originally from Sulphur, Oklahoma, was an environmental research intern for The Oka’ Institute. In May of 2016, she graduated from East Central University with degrees in Environmental Health Science and Chemistry, with minors in Cartography and Math. She was the recipient of the 2016 George Nigh Award, and has conducted many environmental research projects at various institutions, most of which have been presented around the country. Currently, Bhatta is pursuing her masters in Environmental Engineering at Standford University.