Workshop Organizing Committee

Steffanie Munguia - Co-Chair

Steffanie MunguiaSteffanie is a doctoral student in the Department of Earth and Environment. Her current dissertation research focuses on coastal wetland management in the Caribbean - assessing how these sites are currently managed, and understanding how human dimensions (like policy, participatory processes, and cultural connections to the landscape) influence decision-making. She believes science communication is doubly important to her because she communicates her research to a scientific and general audience here in the states, and also to a variety of stakeholders and collaborators in the Caribbean. She views scicomm in her research as a tool for decolonizing science and that this is especially important for communities in the basin that have long and painful histories of exploitation and exclusion by foreign scientists. She believes science is meant to be an inclusive space. 

Stephanie C. Campo - Co-Chair

Stephanie C. Campo

Stephanie is an Earth Systems Science PhD candidate. Both her work and research aim to guide groups toward resilient practices. Cultural inclusion and environmental education are the foundation on which she is developing these guidelines. She believes that these two aspects are detrimental for bringing about the socio-ecological balance current and future generations depend on. A passion of hers is working with young children, their teachers, and schools to teach them about these concepts. She wants to make sure that she can give those she works with the best tools and skills to carry forth with implementing their own resilient practices. This is part of the reason she decided to pursue her PhD. She says science communication is important to her because we often fail when trying to communicate important information and forget that we are speaking in languages understood within our fields. She says that these languages do not translate to the outside world and when scientific information is misunderstood, this negatively impacts many groups. She believes it is our responsibility to make sure that messages about our work are clear so that we can help one another advance in a resilient manner. 

Sam Morejon - Accounting Liaison

Samantha MorejonSam is a born and raised Miami native that is currently pursuing a Professional Science Masters in Environmental Policy and Management at Florida International University. She is passionate about engaging in the research and management strategies necessary to ensure effective conservation efforts in natural ecosystems, particularly using GIS and water resource assessments. Sam aims to further her experience in the field and with the community to leave a lasting impact on South Florida's biodiversity. She believes that science thrives when communicated effectively. Science communication educates, brings awareness, and gives people the opportunity to make well-informed decisions with unbiased information.

Helen Wagner Coello - Web Manager

Helen Wagner CoelloHelen is a current graduate student at FIU pursuing a PhD in Biology. She studies mosquito behavior and genetics. Specifically, she studies circadian rhythm and insecticide resistance. Topics she’s currently focused on include genomics, bioinformatics, GIS, and transcriptomics. She has been running an undergrad internship since summer 2018 which is ongoing on mosquito control and surveillance. She is working on getting her science communication graduate certificate in order to make a broader impact in the science field. She believes that a big goal of science is being able to share findings with varying audiences and that communication will allow for other STEM and non-STEM audiences to interact with our fields and contribute to both accessibility of science and engagement. She also believes that this expansion of an audience can also help scientists reach younger students who may be interested in doing STEM work in the future. 

Mariangelica Banasco - Panel Leader

Mariangelica BanascoMariangelica is currently pursuing her Professional Science Masters degree in Environmental Policy and Management at FIU, aiming to further her career in coastal management. She strives to effectively aid in the implementation of impactful environmental policies and, conservation and restoration efforts in South Florida. Currently, she interns with FIU in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) center and is working on the 2020 Miami-Dade Urban Tree Canopy Detection and Change Analysis project. As an environmental professional and activist, she recognizes that science is the backbone for the implementation of effective policies. She believes that in order to solve some of humanity's greatest problems, we need to seek our answers from science discussions between each other. She believes that everyone, regardless of their field, has the opportunity to contribute to the solution, and starting a conversation is the very first step. Saving the world is a team effort!

Colleen Brown - Panel Leader

Colleen BrownCollen believes her role as a scientist is an environmental disaster detective and resolver using biogeochemistry. She uses water and sediment chemistry to trace pollution to its source and determine how anthropogenic influences impact ecosystems. She is currently a U Miami Ph.D student in Marine Geosciences focusing on coral reef biogeochemistry and investigates how coral reefs have formed in the past and assess their geochemical signals to compare to modern reefs which indicates how modern climate and pollution affects these ecosystems. She believes that science communication is crucial in this modern environment to provide everyone with scientific information to accept as fact and not fiction ans that effective science communication will progress our society together to tackle issues with a multidisciplinary approach. Ultimately, she believes that everyone should have equal access to easily understood science.

Krista Donis - Materials Manager

Krista DonisAs a Biology PhD student, Krista studies how educators can stimulate student persistence in STEM fields through more inclusive teaching practices. She is currently interested in how Learning Assistants (LAs) drive student success in higher-education spaces. As a former high school science teacher, she is excited to see how reformed science curriculum can empower and equip the next generation of STEM leaders. Krista is also passionate about giving back to the community, and has actively been involved  in non-profit organizations and summer programs that target at-risk youth in South Florida. She is excited to be part of the ComSciCon Miami team and looks forward to learning practical skills that will help her be an effective communicator in and out of the classroom.

Laura Garcia Barcia - Applications Review Manager 

Laura Garcia BarciaLaura is a PhD candidate in the Predator Ecology and Conservation Lab. Her research focuses on the conservation biology of sharks, specifically on identifying the drivers and effects of heavy metal pollution accumulation in coastal species. Part of her research takes place in Hong Kong, where she collaborates with local NGOs to make analyze the mercury levels of shark derived products such as shark fin soup. Her goal is to protect consumers rights and inform them of the potential health risks of consuming different shark species. Laura has a true passion for raising awareness on science-related topics. Being originally from Barcelona, Spain, she started a partnership with the Spanish International Parents Association (SIPA) in Miami-Dade through which she gives marine biology lectures in Spanish to kids 7-16 years old. Whenever possible, she likes to bring citizen scientists and local students out on her shark tagging trips, so they can have a hands on experience in the field of shark conservation.

Silvina A. Di Pietro - Photographer

Silvina A. Di PietroSilvina is currently a Ph.D. candidate in environmental chemistry, with hopes of graduating Spring 2021. She is a Department of Energy (DOE) Fellow at the Applied Research Center (ARC). At ARC, she is currently assisting in development of ammonia gas injection for uranium remediation at the DOE Hanford Site in Washington State. Her dissertation project is titled Uranium Fate and Mineral Transformations upon Remediation with Ammonia Gas. She believes that Science Communication is a way for scientists to reach out to the general public and vice versa as a way for the general public to relate to science professionals. She believes that like in all walks of life, without communication, there is no relationship. Communication = relationship.

Naznin Akter - Breakout Session Leader

Naznin AkterNaznin Akter is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Florida International University at INSYST Integrated Nanosystems Research Lab. She recently completed her Master's degree at ECE, FIU. Her research  mainly focuses on investigating and exploring novel materials such as graphene to design a high responsivity, low noise, tunable, compact size, faster response time, room temperature operations, and lower cost THz detectors and sources. During Fall 2019, she served as the chairperson for the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) affinity group for the Miami section. She is currently volunteering as a Student Editor for the IEEE Photonics Society Newsletter, founding committee member of the IEEE Nanotechnology Council (NTC) Miami Section, Treasure for the Sigma-Xi society, and Content Developer for the South Florida PMI (Project Management Institute) Chapter. She believes that having a science communication platform like ComSciCon will help her develop leadership and communication skills and meet with a wide variety of graduate students.

Lee Seng Lau - Breakout Session Leader

Lee Seng Lau

Lee is a current graduate student at FIU HWCOM pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. She is also a Mcknight fellow and hopes to one day provide STEM access to underserved communities and produce meaningful research in the hopes that her work will aid in the development and advancement of medical conditions. Currently, she studies how sugars or "glycans" and glycan-binding lectins affect cancer progression and adaptive immunity. Her current research embarks on how glycans can improve adoptive T cell therapy. Lee believes that science communication allows scientists to share ideas and discoveries to the world by providing an opportunity for collaboration, advancing science swiftly.