Organizing Committee

Chair: Graycen Wheeler  (@grrriosa and @BuffsTalkSci)

I’m a fifth-year biochemistry graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. I study a protein that makes cancer cells resistant to drugs. If we can figure out how exactly this protein works, we can shut it down and make cancer therapies more effective. As a writer for Science Buffs and co-host of Buffs Talk Science, I try to remind folks that science can be goofy or gross or spooky or lovely and above all that it's important. Otherwise, I like to tool around on my bike, brag about how good I am at crossword puzzles (really good, you guys), take care of bees, and play tabletop RPGs.


Dilara Kiran  (@dvmphd2be)

I am currently in my sixth year of the combined DVM/PhD program at Colorado State University (CSU). My thesis research focuses on how infection with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis alters immune cell function. I was a participant at ComSciCon-RMW 2017 and this will be my second year on the organizing committee. I serve as an officer for the Northern Colorado Chapter of Graduate Women in Science, a science policy group at CSU called Science in Action, and am active in my departmental graduate student organization. I have also attended a legislative fly-in with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and have worked as an extern with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington D.C. I am passionate about the interface between animal and human health and hope to have a career impacting global health policy. In my spare time, I play the French horn with a community orchestra and help facilitate a local board game group.


Kelsie Anson  (@kelsie_anson)

I am a fifth-year PhD student in the biochemistry department at CU Boulder. I use fluorescent sensors to study the metal ion zinc and how it affects cell signaling. I am interested in helping kids form positive associations with science, and when I’m not in the lab I like doing science outreach activities with local schools. I write for Science Buffs, usually writing about things that scientists do outside of the lab. In my free time you’ll often find me mountain biking, making pottery, reading a book, or baking.



Max Levy  (@laxmevy)

I am a fourth year PhD student in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Since  my earliest years growing up in Florida, I have been interested in how invisibly small things can yield fascinating visible, and tangible effects. Now, I study the use of nanoparticles to treat drug resistant infections. When not in lab or writing for Science Buffs, you can find me playing basketball, climbing fake rocks, or stumbling down ski slopes that far exceed my skill level.


Anastasia Nickerson

I am a fourth year PhD student in environmental engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. My research deals with a class of environmental contaminants that do not degrade easily, are present in way too many peoples’ drinking water, and can be harmful to human health. I investigate how these compounds move through the environment and how they might transform. When I get away from the lab, I love hiking, running, volunteering around Denver, cooking up a storm, or just reading on the porch with a giant cup of tea.



Alison Gilchrist  (@AlisonAbridged)

I am a sixth-year PhD student in the Sawyer Lab, studying how viruses evolve to infect different species. I’m especially interested in how dengue virus changes from infecting monkeys to infecting humans instead. When not doing science, I can often be found talking or writing about science: I’m currently Editor in Chief at the Science Buffs STEM Blog and cohost of the Science Buffs podcast, Buffs Talks Science. But when not doing any of those things, I’m probably reading, cooking, or trying to convince my cat that my lap is comfortable enough to nap on.



Amanda Grennell  (@AmandaGrennell)

I graduated in 2017 with a PhD in Chemistry as a NSF fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder. In graduate school I used ultrafast lasers to study the heck out of a nanoparticle-enzyme system that acts like an “artificial leaf” -- much like plants use the energy of the sun to grow, this system can turn sunlight directly into fuel. I also acted as a senior editor for the graduate student-run blog Science Buffs and artistic director for the first annual ComSciCon Rocky Mountain West. I got hooked on sharing the excitement and passion researchers have for science with a broad audience, which lead me to the AAAS Mass Media fellowship in 2018. For ten weeks I wrote science stories at PBS NewsHour and gained essential experience in journalism. Now I’m starting a career as a science writer and fly fishing the wild streams of Montana.



Anna Fagre  (@AnnaFagre)

I am a public health veterinarian (DVM/MPH) specializing in infectious diseases. I am currently working on a PhD at Colorado State University studying bat viruses - more specifically, viruses that are transmitted by ticks, insects, and other blood-feeding arthropods. I am chairing the ComSciCon-Rocky Mountain West 2018 committee, and was a co-chair last year for the first annual ComSciCon-RMW. My experiences in veterinary public health communicating science and medicine to both clients and the public have helped me realize my passion for science communication and outreach. Following my PhD, I hope to integrate my studies in infectious disease in a realm affecting health policy, helping make biomedical research tangible and accessible to the public. In my spare time, I play synthesizers in a band and create science-inspired collage art.



Alexandra Barbour  (@BioChemBarbour)

Alex is a third year PhD student in the Biochemistry Department at CU Boulder in the Wuttke Lab. She studies protein-nucleic acid interactions and how binding specificity confers biological function. In her research she also uses electron microscopy to gain structural information of DNA binding proteins. Alex’s interests include comedy, historical fiction, and leisurely bike rides.

Jackson Watkins  (@jacksonprobably)

Jackson is a first year MS student in the department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University. His work aims to characterize bacterial inactivation techniques for Mycobacterium spp. and Yersinia spp., with a focus on genomic and transcriptomic shifts caused by UV damage to riboflavin saturated cells. He also likes to play music, and is in a couple of touring bands as a guitar player, songwriter and vocalist.



Clara Tibbetts  (@ClaraTibbetts)

Clara is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Colorado State University Chemistry department. Her research in the lab of Dr. Amber Krummel focuses on studying the chemical dynamics of electrolyte solutions used in sodium and lithium ion batteries using a combination of linear FTIR and 100 kHz 2D IR spectroscopy and microscopy. She hopes to learn about how chemical dynamics impacts the formation of the solid electrolyte interphase on electrode surfaces. She is involved with the Northern Colorado Graduate Women in Science group, a science policy group at CSU, Science in Action, and the Graduate QT’s group. In her free time she enjoys cooking, rec league sports, and hiking.