Organizing Committee

Andrés Rodríguez Rey (Chair)

Andrés is a Ph.D. student in the Mathematics Department of Mathematics at UC San Diego. Currently he is interested in applications of differential geometry to machine learning problems. Outside of his research, Andrés enjoys teaching, reading, and dancing.
Personal website:


Elena Blanco-Suárez, Ph.D (Write-a-thon Organizer and Coordinator)

Elena is a neuroscientist, originally from Spain, based in San Diego. She is starting her lab at Jefferson University in Fall 2020 to research stroke and long-term recovery. She is very active in science communication mainly through her blogging in different platforms including Nature, NeuWriteSD and Psychology Today. She is an advocate for inclusivity in sciences through many projects with the local science museum, and other activities especially for the Spanish-speaking communities. For her scicomm and outreach efforts, she received the Next Generation Award by the Society for Neuroscience in 2018.
Twitter @westboundsigned Instagram @neurocosas


Nick Colmenares (Panel Organizer: “Responsibility when Communicating Science”)

Nick is a recently graduated doctoral student of Physics whose research focused on experimental gravity using lunar laser ranging. In addition to contributing to outreach activities, he helped organize and execute a “Mindfulness Retreat” pilot program for UCSD graduate students to improve leadership skills and moderate feelings of burnout. He is passionate on the importance of communicating scientific implications of policy decisions to policy makers and the broader public. He seeks to contribute to interdisciplinary research and/or policy impact assessments related to sustainable development, energy/water infrastructure or natural resource/ecosystem conservation. His other interests include yoga and meditation, video games, hiking and loving his cat Juno.

LinkedIn: Email:


Jenny He (Website and Social Media)

Jenny is a PhD student in the Neurobiology section of Biological Sciences. She studies the mechanisms of opioid signaling in the mouse brain. Outside of lab, Jenny is an avid rock climber and she is passionate about diversity and representation in the outdoors as well as in academia. Instagram: @jennyxinyi, Email:


Phoebe He (Panel Organizer: “Who’s in Charge of Communicating Science?” Website and Social Media)

Phoebe is a Ph.D candidate in the Biomedical Sciences department at UCSD. Her thesis is on the genomic landscape of human precancer, in which she hopes to learn about the causes and the earliest events in tumor malignant transformation. Phoebe is enthusiastic about science communication, she has previously written a featured guest article on artificial intelligence in cancer genomics study on the official page of a Grand Challenge project funded by the Cancer Research UK. Outside of cancer genomics and science communication, Phoebe enjoys music, cooking and many outdoor activities.


James Howe (Panel Organizer/Moderator: “Who’s in Charge of Communicating Science?”)

James is a PhD student studying the genetics of innate emotional response in the brain. He has actively communicated science for the entirety of his PhD all the way back to undergrad through blogging and teaching, and his writing has been published at Salon, Massive Science, and NeuWrite SD, among others.
Twitter @jamesrhowe6 Website


Jiwandeep Kohli (Panel Organizer/Moderator: “Using SciComm to Foster Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Science and Beyond”)

Jiwan does interdisciplinary research using multimodal neuroimaging techniques, neuropsychological assessment, and advanced quantitative methods to study both etiology and outcomes in neurodevelopmental disorders across the lifespan. The overall aim of his doctoral research is to examine changes in brain anatomy, function, and cognitive and behavioral abilities as individuals with autism enter middle and older age. Outside the lab, he’s an avid baker and photographer.
Personal Website:; Twitter: @jiwandeepkohli; Instagram: @jiwankohli


Alannah Miranda (Panel Organizer: “Using SciComm to Foster Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Science and Beyond”)

Alannah is a PhD student in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences department, where she studies the genetics of bipolar disorder using neural stem cells as a model. She volunteers through the Fleet in Balboa Park and is on the advisory board of the Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BeWise) program. Apart from research and outreach activities, her passions include jiu jitsu, yoga, hiking and spending time with her dogs, Helix and Tristan. Email:


Nicole Mlynaryk (Panel Organizer: “Who’s in Charge of Communicating Science?”)

Nicole is a PhD student studying the neural circuitry of decision making. Outside of lab, she enjoys teaching, volunteering with the UCSD Neuroscience Outreach Program, and writing for NeuWrite SD. She’s also on the organizing team for Taste of Science-SD. Email:


Avaneesh Narla (Panels and Breakout Sessions)

Avaneesh is a PhD student doing research in theoretical biophysics at UC San Diego. He is also very interested in Physics Education Research and does research on active learning in STEM. He started his own podcast, Kugelblitz, which is a talk show with other PhD students on their research interest. Editing audio was too much work, so he now works with Useful Science as part of their podcast team, bringing scientific results to the general public.


Catie Profaci (Write-a-thon Organizer and Coordinator)

Catie is a PhD student studying the blood vessels in the brain and how they interact with other brain cells in health and disease. She has been actively involved in science communication throughout her PhD including writing for the NeuWriteSD blog and helping organize ComSciCon-SD since its inception in 2016. Last year she co-founded a new project, Stories of Women in Neuroscience (Stories of WiN) to highlight the journeys and achievements of women neuroscientists. Twitter: @cprofaci


Paul Wang (Panel Organizer: “Using SciComm to Foster Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Science and Beyond”)

Paul is a PhD student researching physics informed machine learning and the application of machine learning to neural systems. He is passionate about communicating the role of science in our society within the classroom. Currently, he’s developed an interest in cooking and baking food that’s difficult to take out and is hoping to be able to travel again soon.