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The program interested Pustilnik as a way to continue her education in ecology, broadening her understanding of sustainable development and its practical applications. Working in humanitarian response and social support projects in Ukraine raised her interest in the resilience of societies in response to change and uncertainty and the connectedness between social processes, economic development and the environment. The program also interested her because it is based at SRC, which conducts the latest research in social-ecological systems, especially in relation to food systems, agricultural ecosystems and land use, poverty and development.
Pustilnik has a MSc degree in ecology and environmental protection from Ukrainian University. Her thesis explored the environmental consequences of shale gas extraction in Ukraine, which raised my interest in sustainable development and connection between economic development, inter- and intra-generational equity and environmental protection. She was also shortly involved in research studying the effects of precipitation changes on the steppe ecosystems in southern Ukraine, which raised her interest in climate change and its consequences.
Her professional experience lies in program management. She has worked as a program director of the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment Program in Ukraine, an international science and education program, aimed at engaging students and the public in data collection and scientific process to better understand the Earth System. Her responsibilities included strategic development and planning, training workshops for teachers, development of materials for teachers and students, promotion and initiation of campaigns, international student projects, and events. She has also been a program coordinator at a non-governmental organization working in the sphere of public health and gender equality, helping crisis-affected communities and vulnerable populations in eastern Ukraine in partnership with such organizations as UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA.