Metcalf Institute's executive director, Sunshine Menezes. Photo by Mary Murphy.

Metcalf Institute’s executive director, Sunshine Menezes. Photo by Mary Murphy.

The Metcalf Institute staff bring diverse experiences in scientific research, environmental policy development, teaching and curriculum development, media production, research, journalism, and communication to their work. As a result, Metcalf Institute programs are robust professional development opportunities for participating journalists and scientists.

Meet our student employees and interns, an important part of our team, and learn about student job opportunities.

Sunshine Menezes, Ph.D. has served as executive director of the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island since 2006. Menezes became a Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Communication in the URI Department of Natural Resources Science in 2017. She was associate director for communication in the URI GSO Office of Marine Programs from 2006-2017. Prior to focusing her communication efforts on improving news coverage of the environment, she developed national and state-level environmental policy, first as a Dean John Knauss National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and later as part of a multidisciplinary team at the URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant. Menezes received a B.S. in zoology from Michigan State University, a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, and was a Rhode Island Foundation Fellow from 2013-2014.

Menezes frequently gives lectures about the importance of science communication, working with the news media, and how to become a more effective science communicator. Read a blog post by Menezes on Ten Communication Tips for Translational Scientists. She also wrote an article on Science Training for Journalists: An Essential Tool in the Post-Specialist Era of Journalism and guest column by Menezes in Crains NewsPro: Why Niche Fellowships and Programs Are Increasingly Critical.

See Sunshine’s speaking engagements.

Read profile of Sunshine Menezes


Katharine McDuffie

Katharine McDuffie, Metcalf’s program director, has been with Metcalf Institute since 2000. She is responsible for program development and implementation, operations for the institute, liaising with University of Rhode Island and overseeing data management and student assignments. Before this, she was library media specialist for the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center. Her career in education began with secondary school social studies and English teaching assignments and an appointment as library media specialist in New York and New Jersey. She was an independent video producer and director and website developer, and she taught and developed educational materials in English as a Second Language and taught conversational English in Japan. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from the University of Rochester and a Master’s degree in educational communication and technology from New York University.


Karen Southern is communications director at Metcalf Institute, where she began in February 2011.  She previously served as press secretary for former Mayor David N. Cicilline, now a U.S. Congressman, during his two terms in office. Prior to that, Southern was a general assignment reporter for WPRI TV in Providence, Rhode Island, where she covered a wide range of issues including health, science, business, education, politics and court proceedings.  Southern held a similar position at WLKY TV in Louisville, Kentucky.  She has reported for public radio stations in Peoria, Illinois and Syracuse, New York.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Syracuse University.


Margaret HaydenMargaret Hayden is research assistant for Metcalf Institute, where she started in June 2014. She previously worked as a production manager and post-production supervisor at WGBH in Boston, for a children’s television series about engineering. Prior to that, she was associate producer for several programs for National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. Hayden has also been a health policy researcher at a national center focused on children with special health care needs. She has a Bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a certificate in documentary filmmaking from George Washington University.


Student Opportunities

Our student interns and employees add vital support to Metcalf Institute in a variety of capacities including science communication, marketing, development and research. Students receive hands-on experience in a professional environment and gain valuable skills that complement what they’ve learned in the classroom while helping to prepare them for the workforce. Learn more.