Workshop Organizing Committee

Krista Donis — Organizing Committee Co-chair

Krista DonisKrista is a doctoral student at Florida International University. Her research focuses on how colleges and universities can narrow achievement gaps in STEM for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Specifically, she studies how near-peer mentoring programs (i.e. Learning Assistant Model) can drive student success through mentoring, role modeling and community building in the classroom. She believes  SciComm is not just a hashtag, it's a community of researchers, teachers, and journalists that work together to improve the presentation and communication of even the most complex scientific concepts. Being a part of this diverse community challenges her to better disseminate her research in formal (i.e. classrooms, museums) and informal settings. Through SciComm, she hopes to contribute to bridging the gap between science and the general public.

Lee Seng Lau — Organizing Commitee Co-chair

Lee Seng LauLee is pursuing a PhD at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. 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.  Science communication allows scientists to share ideas and discoveries with the world. It provides an opportunity for collaboration, advancing science swiftly. As a former Teach of America Alumni and science teacher, she strongly believes in the power of awareness, and that is what SciComm gives us. As scientists, we aim to make extraordinary discoveries that impact society. Still, without learning to communicate the importance of our findings to others, especially the public, the meaning of our work will be lost.  ComSciCon Miami empowers graduate students from diverse backgrounds in south Florida to become better scientists and impact society by communicating relevant scientific findings to their colleagues and the public. This experience provides the necessary training for graduate students to become leaders in our community, allowing these students to hone the skills of oral communication and scientific writing. Scicom promotes awareness of existing research and its importance in addition to providing networking opportunities and supporting further research innovation.

Juan Alarcón — Venue Liason

Juan AlarconJuan is a doctoral student at Florida International University that uses computational chemistry to study the dynamics of chemical reactions. He is interested in SciComm because because science is awesome and the people need to hear the good news! He grew up in Miami and no one ever talked about grad school. Miami isn’t necessarily a science hub but through SciComm we can get the ball rolling. He decided to get involved in ComSciCon because grad school is rough! He believes that sharing experiences amongst peers can be insightful and remind us that we are not alone in this journey. He is passionate about contributing to SciComm to enable this interdisciplinary dialogue.





Anurag Acharya — Applications Review Manager

Anurag AcharyaAnurag is pursuing a doctoral degree at Florida International University's department of Computer Science. His research is focused around integrating cultural knowledge into Artificially Intelligent systems. He believes SciComm is important because a lot of budding scientists tend to focus entirely on their research work, but it is equally important to be able to communicate your work properly, especially so in work that directly involves the general populace. He believes SciComm provides an opportunity to learn those communication skills. In addition to learning effective Science Communication myself, he wanted to be involved in getting more people better at this, which is why he joined the ComSciCon team.

Colleen Brown — Breakout Session and Panel Leaders

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.


Akash Dodani — Accounting Team

Akash DodaniAkash is a masters student at Florida International University in the Construction Management department. He is an international student that is involved in SciComm because it provides an opportunity for him to be involved with different academic and social gatherings that will help in his career and personal growth.  ComSciConMIA provides him the unique opportunity to become involved in the organization large of academic events and it has provided him the platform needed to uses his skillset as best of his ability to contribute towards a larger goal.




Tolga Erbora — Breakout Session and Panel Leader

Tolga ErboraTolga is pursuing a doctoral degree at Florida International University in the Physics department. He is currently studying particle physics and am doing research on eta meson photoproduction with the GlueX Collaboration at Jefferson Lab. He believes that from the professional development side (grant writing, CV, elevator pitch, etc.) to the creative side (showing off what we do to Instagram or YouTube) it is important to effectively communicate our work as well as recent developments in a field that is very dynamic and also quite complex. He would like to see the community at large be able to relate to the sciences more as not only are there plenty of cool developments to share, knowledge is power and our future to some extent depends on knowing more in these fields.  Initially, Tolga was inspired to become involved in ComSciConMIA by finding the community of great minds who share the same interest in communicating what we do to our friends and the community online. Seeing the opportunities to develop the skills in delivering effective communication not only for himself but also as a collaborative also came across as inspiring. It is very nice and practically a blessing to have such a great group with which to work and grow together.


Anahita Esmaeilian — Catering

Anahita EsmaeilianAnahita is a Phd candidate in Environmental Chemistry at Florida International University.  Her dissertation project is entitled "Environmentally friendly humic acid coated magnetic nanoparticle as a potential adsorbent for remediation of emerging or soon-to-emerge environmental contaminants from aqueous media". Humic acid coated magnetic nanoparticle has great potential for removing different contaminants from the wastewater system. Her professional interests include water reuse, water treatment, water quality modeling, climate change, phytoremediation, the effect of hazardous materials on the environment, and human beings.  For as long as Anahita can remember, she has loved researching and finding out new things and was always driven to be a researcher in a large environmental institution. She loves the environment and nature. Anahita chose to peruse her education in environmental science and how to protect the environment. I had some experiences in water treatment when I did my Master and I learned how sweet it is when you discover something beneficial to all the people in the world. That was a great motivation to pursue my Ph.D. in water purification. She thinks as scientist it is important to be able to communicate with public about your research. When you’re passionate about your research, it’s a joy to share that passion with others. If you just talk in plain language, people are more receptive to what you’re saying. ComScicon is the BEST place to empower yourself to become ambassador for your field and improve your communication skills.


Brenda Guerrero — Photographer

Brenda GuerreroBrenda is a Phd Student at Florida International University in the Teaching and Learning department. Her research takes a deeper look into the impacts of science communication on scientists and post-secondary STEM students, with the intention of promoting accessible, equitable SciComm learning experiences and training in higher education. Brenda was lucky enough to engage in SciComm activities as an undergraduate Chemistry students, leading to her interest in teaching and education. Brenda's experiences had a profound impact on her academic development, leading her to wonder what potential benefits SciComm could have for others pursuing STEM careers. She feels that SciComm should be more widely accessible to STEM students in academia because it provides an outlet outside of research for scientists to see the impact and value of their work. Brenda heard of ComSciCon through conversation with other students also interested in SciComm. After learning that ComSciCon was a national, graduate student led initiative, she was incredibly excited to hear Miami had its own chapter. There are so many rapidly developing socio-scientific issues facing South Florida, necessitating productive dialogue with the community to understand the severity of these problems and discuss the most sustainable solutions we can enact as a whole. Brenda got involved with ComSciConMIA because it mobilizes graduate students to take action beyond academia and brings together open-minded folks who collectively share deep interest in communicating science.


Anastasiya Plotnikova — Photographer

Anastasiya PlotnikovaAnastasiya is a Phd Student at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). Her dissertation is focused on studying the role of serotonin in the development and function of the toadfish heart. She has drawn so much of herinspiration to do science from the incredible narratives of films about the natural world. There is so much power in the ways we tell our stories, and it is humbling to be able to contribute to that artform.  After attending her 1st ComSciConMIA, Anastasiya understood that she felt at home surrounded by like-minded people discussing how science comes to life. Naturally, she was interested in becoming a member of the organizing committee! 





Rachel Prokopius — Breakout Session and Panel Leader

Rachel ProkopiusRachel is a PhD candidate at Florida International University in the Biological Sciences Department. Her research focuses on studying frogs with high parental care and their ability to avoid being infected by fungal pathogens.  Scientists are doing amazing work to acquire knowledge about our planet and work towards sustainability of man and nature, but so much of it is kept in the small sphere of research and isn't effectively communicated to those who can use it to enact change. Scientists need to be given the tools to be better communicators about their science, and there is a great need for some scientists to be full-time communicators!! Rachel want to be part of this communication process, to get scientific information where it needs to go so it can be used effectively! She attended ComSciConMIA 2020 and heard from some absolutely amazing speakers about sharing science past the world of academia, whether it be to make a tree scientist Barbie Doll or bring nature pictures to prisoners who aren't able to interact with it. Everyone on this planet needs to care about the planet, and Rachel wants to work on her leadership skills when it comes to this kind of communication.

Julian Ramelow — Applications Review Manager

Julian RamelowJulian is a doctoral student at Florida International Univeristy in the department of Biomedical Sciences. He is at the end of my second year and his current work is on identifying new molecular mechanisms between proteins inside the Anopheles gambiae mosquito and the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The ultimate goal is to elucidate a new mechanism of interaction, make a more efficient vaccine and eliminate this disease in the future. Julian believes  SciComm is important as it brings young researchers together and creates long lasting connections. Science is not only about being in the lab and doing research, it is also about making connections with fellow scientists and go to meetings/conferences to discuss your work. It is very important for young scientists in order to get a sense for where they stand and establishing collaborations in research. Julian got involved in ComSciConMIA because of his close friend Lee, who is also in the Biomedical Science PhD Program at FIU in Miami. Lee mentioned ComSciConMIA a few times and that there were positions open. Following this he did some research and it simply is a great opportunity for grad students to become involved and be part of something big. Hence, Julian decided to join!



Thomas Shannon — Breakout Session and Panel Leader

Thomas ShannonTommy is a PhD student at Florida International University in the department of Biological Sciences. He studies the algal-microbial communities of the Everglades and the effects of sea level rise on those communities.  Tommy believes that science communication is the veins of science, carrying facts from the beating heart of research out to the rest of the body. Without a way to deliver new information and discoveries to the people who would benefit from it, the whole body withers. This makes it crucial for scientists to communicate results to audiences in a way that is clear, engaging, effective, and makes people care. And conversely, scientists need to keep in mind that effective communication goes both ways: we must listen and engage with the managers, litigators, and residents that our work pertains to if we want that same attention and respect. In a world where misinformation and doubt runs rampant, effective science communication can shed light in dark corners. This is Tommy's first year working with ComSciConMIA; he got involved in order to share what he knows and learn from others.

Yeidy Vargas — Social Media Team

Yeidy VargasYeidy is currently pursuing her masters degree in Forensic Science at Florida International University, focusing on microsatellite analysis of Protophormia terraenovae. SciComm to her means expanding the border of science and communication. It's about highlighting the importance of knowing how to communicate science and sharing the tools to help researchers and scientists communicate and reach various audiences. Yeidy became interested in joining ComSciConMIA when she was teaching middle school students and she saw the difficultly students had understanding and enjoying the beauty and complexities of science.


Matthew Woodstock — Social Media Team

Matthew WoodstockMatthew is a PhD candidate at Florida International Univeristy in the department of Biological Sciecnes. His dissertation research is focused around developing ecosystem-based models to assess the trophic structure and services provided by marine ecosystems, particularly deep-sea ecosystems. SciComm is important to him because it is an opportunity for researchers to reach a broad audience and inform non-scientists about the cool research that is going on. However, researchers are often not trained on how to effectively communicate science with people outside of the scientific community. Matthew became interested in ComSciConMIA when he attended to 2020 virtual workshop and learned plenty of new SciComm strategies from the speakers and the other attendees. This encouraged him to get involved in the organizing committee for this year's event.