Manisit Das is the chair of the ComSciCon Triangle 2019 organizing committee and a 4th year Ph.D. candidate of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill. His current research focuses on immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer using nanoparticles for drug delivery. Manisit is passionate about cross-cultural leadership development, promoting a culture of effective scientific communication, and advocating for graduate student professional development. He is the Vice President of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) Student Chapter at UNC, the Senator for Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNC Graduate and Professional Student Federation (GPSF), and an advisory board member of UNC Training Initiatives in Biomedical & Biological Sciences (TIBBS). He recently co-founded OncoBites, a science communication blog focusing on cancer research, to share the latest advancements in oncology with a broader audience.
Ashish Kapoor received his M.Tech degree in Textile Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India in 2015 and is currently in the Ph.D. program at Wilson College of Textiles, North Carolina State University majoring in Fiber and Polymer Science along with a minor in Electrical Engineering. His research focuses on the development of fiber based active sensory textiles and photoresponsive polymer based actuators for soft robotics applications. He received the NC State University’s Provost Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship for 2015-16 and DAAD RISE Professional Scholarship in 2018.
Laura Mudge is a PhD candidate in the Biology Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research is focused on understanding how disturbances (like tropical storms) interact and drive changes in coral reef communities. She recently interned with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program in which she helped develop coral reef status reports- documents aimed at communicating the conditions of coral reefs to the general public. When not working on her dissertation, Laura competes in local weightlifting competitions- a hobby she has developed during her PhD.
Ben Zeldes, Ph.D.
Ben Zeldes is a recent graduate from NC State, where he did his PhD in Chemical Engineering. Now at UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, he is working on new drug formulations while trying to learn the jargon of medical research. Ben loves talking about science, whether presenting his own research at conferences and the Three Minute Thesis competition, or asking questions as a judge at high-school and undergraduate science fairs.
Jessica Griswold is a 5th year graduate student in the Chemistry Department at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research is focuses on enantioselective catalysis, or the development of reactions that give a single three-dimensional structure of a molecule. She also studies ways to make known chemical reactions cheaper, safer, and greener. Outside of the lab, she is the former VP of Internal Affairs for the Science Policy Advocacy Group (SPAG) at UNC and has traveled to Washington DC to advocate to policymakers on behalf of science funding. She is also a member of the executive board of Science in the Stacks (SITS), which organizes science demonstrations for elementary school students at the local public library. In her free time, Jessica likes watching any TV show starring Guy Fieri and scouting out the best chicken parm in the Triangle.
Erin Viere is a Chemistry PhD student at Duke University. She studies what happens when energy in the form of light interacts with metals, and how those systems could be used to transform sunlight into electricity. A graduate of Villanova University and native of Charlottesville, VA, Erin loves basketball and all things hiking. She is passionate about diversifying science and revolutionizing the scientific research process to consider political and social impacts.
Becca Van Hoeck
Becca Van Hoeck is a PhD Student in Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. She is broadly interested in the role of sound in the life history of marine fishes. Her current research uses passive acoustic methods to understand the ecology and soundscapes of marine hardbottom habitats. As a ComSciCon-Triangle attendee last year, she gained valuable skills in communicating her research to a general audience. She is excited to help organize this years workshop and inspire other graduate students to participate in science communication. When not thinking about marine soundscapes, or troubleshooting code, Becca spends her time exploring nature, reading fiction, and listening to lots of podcasts!