Local Organizers

 Stephanie HamiltonStephanie Hamilton (Chair) - Stephanie is a Physics Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, though she considers herself an adult-onset astronomer. She is studying the orbits of the small bodies beyond Neptune in order learn more about the Solar System's formation and evolution. As an additional perk, she gets to travel the world as part of the Dark Energy Survey Collaboration and has acquired several new stamps in her passport over the past few years. When she’s not neck-deep in research or filling her system with coffee, Stephanie enjoys playing tennis, practicing yoga, planning future adventures abroad, or forcing her cat to cuddle with her. Find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


JessiJessica Chenca Chen (Co-chair) - Jessica holds a BS in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California and is currently working toward her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Michigan. She is an NSF GRFP scholar with a passion for science communication. She likes to write blogs and hold science discussions on various forms of social media, but her current favorite form of scicomm is skyping into K-12 classes across the nation as a guest speaker. Her goal is to use her passion for science to inspire others. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter!


Sarah KearnsSarah Kearns  - Sarah is working towards getting her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at the University of Michigan, Sarah studies molecular roads and roadsigns of the cell using microscopes. Outside of research, she's active is science communication and outreach through Michigan Science Writers, American Institute of Physics, her blog Annotated Science, and Portal to the Public. Sarah also loves to bake bread, take photos, make playlists, and drink lots of coffee. Connect and chat about science, #scicomm, or open access with her on Twitter!


Chelsie Boodoo

Chelsie Boodoo - Hi, my name is Chelsie Boodoo. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry from Florida International University. I moved to East Lansing, Michigan to go to Michigan State University (MSU). When I moved to MSU, I started working in a research lab where I learned how to tissue culture bladder smooth muscle cells. I study what happens when the bladder is overstretched. I am curious about what happens to the extracellular matrix and the metabolism of the cells after they are stretched. After my Ph.D. I am interested in pursuing a career in science communication. I am involved in COGS, AGEP, GWIS and I founded MSU SciComm. I am also the Co-Host for Impact 89 FM SciFiles where I interview graduate students on their research so that everyone can hear about the incredible research that occurs at MSU! Follow me on Twitter @SciWithChelsie


     Ellen KW Brennan - Ellen is a 3rEllen KW Brennand year PhD candidate in the U-M Neuroscience Graduate Program. As an NSF GRFP scholar, she studies the electrophysiological properties and connections of cortical circuits involved in memory. Outside of the lab, she is passionate about both science communication and breaking down stigmas about mental health, actively working with multiple groups such as Publications to the Public and The PhDepression, LLC. Her dream is to work in science communication, bridging the gap between universities doing cutting-edge research and the public who funds them. When she isn't focusing on science, you'll find her outside playing with her dogs, enjoying a bonfire, and trying to create the next best cocktail.


Jennifer WattsJennifer Watts - Jennifer is a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University (MSU) in the Physiology Department. She works with Dr. Amy Ralston on the effects of sexually transmitted Zika virus in early embryo development. Before coming to Michigan, Jennifer earned a BS in Biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In addition to her research studies, she is the president of the Physiology Graduate Student Council and a member of the Alliance For Graduate Education and Professoriate (AGEP). Jennifer is excited about outreach, having experience in teaching middle school students for Girls Math and Science Day to training undergraduate students in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at MSU. Jennifer loves listening and making music and playing mediocre tennis. Find her on Twitter (@jleticiawatts).


sara hugentobler

Sara Hugentobler - Sara is a 3rd year PhD student in the Integrative Biology program, pursuing dual degrees in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior as well as Environmental Science and Public Policy at MSU. She is a member of the Meek Lab, looking at how anthropogenic change affects genetic diversity in Chinook Salmon. Before she started her PhD, she worked in all manner of science jobs, including work as lab technician at Myriad Genetics, a School Outreach Educator with the Living Planet Aquarium, and an academic advisor at Utah Valley University. She got her MA in Marine Conservation and Policy at Stony Brook University in New York. Sara occasionally tweets her scientific thoughts and hopes to use her science communication skills to one day affect national fishing policy.


Attabey Rodriguez BenitezAttabey Rodríguez Benítez (Web and Material Manager) - Attabey completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Currently, she is a doctoral student in the program of Chemical Biology at the University of Michigan. After her first year she joined the labs of Prof. Alison R.H Narayan and Prof. Janet L. Smith. She focuses on using enzymes as chemical tools for the synthesis of natural products and elucidating their mechanisms of action through structural biology. Attabey has a Spanish science blog, En Arroz y Habichuelas, where she writes about science for the general public and in Spanish! She also enjoys reading comics (Saga, Paper Girls, Bitch Planet, etc.), watching movies with a scoring above 7 on IMDB, and making/editing Wikipedia pages (Attabey_rodz)! You can follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.


TRiggins HeadshotTi’Air Riggins is a current Biomedical Engineering PhD student at Michigan State University.  She received her bachelors in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2011 as the first black undergraduate BME student, and proceeded to earn a master’s from the University of Cincinnati in 2013.  Her research focus is integrating tissue engineering with implantable electrodes to tune immune response in the brain, in the REIL lab under the direction of Dr. Erin Purcell. She is heavily involved in the BMES, NSBE and is in the speaker’s bureau for the Rape And Incest National Network.  She has also served in the community under her platforms of sexual assault awareness and exposing underrepresented students to STEM as Miss Indiana United States 2015 and has received awards for her Social Justice in 2016 and Humanitarianism in 2018.  She was named a fellow in the Society for Neuroscience from 2016 – 2018. Her future goals include managing her own lab and being a successful entrepreneur and mentor for students who are underrepresented students in neuroscience and engineering. You can follow her on Twitter and connect on Linkedin.


Zoe HansenZoe Hansen - Zoe earned a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College in 2016 and is currently at Michigan State University working towards a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, with a dual-major in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. As a second-year PhD student, she is studying how bacterial infection impacts antibiotic resistance in the human gut microbiome. Zoe is an active member of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of Graduate Women in Science and is currently a co-chair for Girls Math and Science Day, an annual outreach event which gives middle school-age girls an opportunity to interact with women scientists while doing hands-on activities. In her free time, Zoe enjoys being outdoors whenever possible, adventuring with her black lab, Pearl, playing a variety of sports, and having fun with her friends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


headshotAlyssa Preiser is a doctoral candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University. She is a part of the Sharkey lab and studies the regulation of alternative pathways around the Calvin-Benson cycle.
When not in the lab, she works on co-hosting the Speaking Science podcast and using graphic design to create science infographics, logos, and other types of visual communication. You can follow her on Twitter, visit her website, or listen to her podcast about science.  



headshotDavid Ferland is a 4th year PhD student in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State. He studies how obesity intersects with high blood pressure with the hopes that one day, it will lead to a specific treatment for those people who suffer from both but don’t respond to other therapies. In his spare time, he likes to hike, especially in the Adirondack mountains near his hometown in Upstate New York. David has writing experience as a previous attendee of ComSciCon-MI and publishes with the Lansing State Journal. He also likes working on scientific grants and is interested in a future career in research development. You can follow him on Twitter, or connect with him on Linkedin.



Daniel Puentes

Daniel Puentes is a 2nd year graduate student in the department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. Daniel's research is based in the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), where he works with the Low Energy Beam and Ion Trap (LEBIT) Group. The LEBIT group performs high-precision mass measurements of radioactive ions, with applications from constraining nucleosynthesis processes to understanding the structure of the nucleus. Daniel co-hosts a graduate student radio show called "Sci-Files" on MSU's Impact 89FM radio station, which airs every Sunday around 9:40 AM. He is also one of the founders and the serving Treasurer for a new organization on campus called MSU SciComm.