Attendees

Prince Verma University of Virginia PhD in Chemical Engineering,  Prince Verma is a Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He works on the fabrication of thin films of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for applications in catalysis and separation. Specifically, Prince focuses on the crystallization of MOFs to improve the quality of MOF thin films. Prince aims to become a professor in the future and solve global problems using science. He completed his undergraduate degree at IIT Gandhinagar, India. 
HeeJin, Cheon University of Virginia PhD Candidate in Genomics HeeJin Cheon is a MD/PhD candidate at University of Virginia. Her research involves genomics studies on a rare T-cell malignancy. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, where she majored in Biological Sciences and minored in Biometry and Statistics. She founded Debate in Sciences and Health at Cornell, a forum where students debate on various scientific and related ethical issues. In her free time, she enjoys taking care of her herbs, variety of pothos plants, and string of hearts. 
Bethany Gordon University of Virginia PhD Student in Civil Engineering Bethany is a Civil Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia where she studies applications of behavioral science to improve equity through design of the built environment.
Mitra Kashani George Mason University M.S. Student in Microbiology Mitra Kashani (she/they) is an avid science educator, climate activist, and microbial ecologist.  She is currently a microbiology Masters student at George Mason University and a student researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey, where she recently defended her thesis on the impacts of illegal oil and gas wastewater dumping on soil microbial communities in the Permian Basin. When she’s not in the lab, Mitra serves as a youth leader in the environmental justice movement in her home state of Virginia, fighting for clean air, clean water, and a livable future for all with organizations like the Sunrise Movement and SustainUS. She’s also currently a social media intern for the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, and previously was a social media intern for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Prior to her Masters, Mitra received her B.S. in Biology from George Mason University, and participated in undergraduate research looking at parasitic disease prevalence in native Virginia pollinators, as well as on the impacts of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease on the gut microbiome of mouse models. In her free time, Mitra enjoys birding, learning how to skateboard, and making art. 
Kendra Liu University of Virginia PhD Student in Neuroscience Kendra Liu has a B.S. in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. To pursue her passion for research and interest in international collaborations, she moved to Hong Kong and worked with Karl Herrup at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. After obtaining a MPhil in Life Science, she joined Professor Sarah Kucenas' lab at the University of Virginia as a Neuroscience Ph.D. student. Her current research focus on how certain “eater” cells in the brain regulate proper neural development. Outside of the lab, Kendra enjoys cheese, cycling, and her 15-year-old cat named Twinkle.
Theresa Pfister University of Virginia PhD Student in Educational Psychology Theresa Pfister is a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Virginia. Her research projects and interests vary but include social-emotional learning in adolescence, prejudice-reduction, the discipline gap, and equity and access in institutions of higher education. When she's not in class or lab, she writes op-eds and policy briefs to help forge the connection between research and practice. Before pursuing her doctorate, Theresa volunteered in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps, taught 4th graders in Brooklyn, and worked as a college advisor for an education non-profit located in Manhattan.
Susan Chen Virginia Tech PhD Candidate in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise  Susan Chen (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech. Her research focus is on consumer food waste and sustainable food systems, specifically the intersection between food waste and food insecurity. Susan has a passion for teaching and has developed and taught classes on sustainable food systems for the M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics program at Virginia Tech. Susan is also a dedicated science communicator and co-organized ComSciCon-VaTech 2020. 
Jenn Campbell University of Virginia PhD Student in Civil Engineering I am a Ph.D. Fellow in the Behavioral Science for Sustainable Systems program at the Convergent Behavioral Science Initiative at the University of Virginia. I spent 9 years working at Trek Bikes in Wisconsin in a variety of roles in engineering and marketing, and my time in industry spurred my interest in behavioral science and how we can help people make better decisions. My research interests are still forming and broadly include designer behavior and design teams. I received my Master’s in Engineering Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.S in Mechanical Engineering and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame.
Kelsey Clayback University of Virginia PhD Student in Educational Psychology Kelsey Clayback is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral affiliate fellow in the Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. Kelsey’s research focuses on early childhood education and ways to promote social and emotional development in school settings. She is also interested in teacher well-being and determining how to best support educators to facilitate positive outcomes for themselves and their students. Prior to her doctoral work, Kelsey earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Dayton and her M.Ed. in Clinical and Developmental Research from Vanderbilt University. 
Vamika Perumal Indian Institute of Technology, Madras PhD in Engineering Design; Founder of Chaozinorder - A STEM Art initiative  Vamika is an interdisciplinary scientist working at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, on Nature Inspired Materials with a special focus on Product Design and Optimization. Specifically, she works on exploring the utility of natural fibers (primarily used as biomaterials) for structural applications. She has an extensive experience of 6+ years working in the academic and industrial spaces including the National University of Singapore and Titan Watches Company and many Tech startups. She is the founder of Chaozinorder - A STEM - Art initiative. She is an award-winning STEAM Educator and conducts workshops for children and parents. She has a special inclination for creating Illustrations in STEM and is a creative content specialist for STEM-based businesses. 
Taylor, Patrick University of Virginia PhD Student in Electrical Engineering I am an Electrical Engineering PhD student interested in bio/medical applications. My research focuses on the development of a cognitive assistant to improve the safety of emergency medical responses. Our approach aims to reduce the risk of safety-critical medical operations and treatments in real-time through application of explainable AI models.
Maria Rossetti University of Virginia PhD Student in Civil and Environmental Engineering Maria Rossetti is a PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia. Her work focuses on developing sustainable stormwater runoff best management practices. She is interested in understanding how soil amendments affect the fate and transport of nutrients in stormwater runoff. Outside of the lab, she enjoys running, baking, and crocheting. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. 
Abril Gaona University of Virginia PhD Student in Neurobiology and Behavior Abril Gaona (she/her)  is a mexican  Neurobiologist interested in adult neurogenesis, memory and cognition. She got a bachelor diploma in Biology presenting her research about the role of hippocampal neurogenesis in the recovery of conditioned fear in rodents. This work was published in 2019 in Scientific Reports with Abril Gaona as coauthor. In 2019 she obtained a MsC degree in Biology at Eotvos Lorand University  in Budapest, evaluating the cell line U87 as model to study the endocytosis of Glutamate receptors (GluA1). After 2 years, She went to Paris, France, to spend one year as ERASMUS intern studying the connective relationship between diverse brain structures in long-term olfactory memory using optogenetics at PSL Research University. Currently, she is first year PhD student in Biological Sciences at the University of Virginia.
Outside of science her hobbies are working out (crossfit, pole fitness, running and walking) Reading, painting and spending time with her family and dogs.
Xueying Zhao University of Virginia PhD Student in Chemical Engineering I am a chemical engineer interested in environmental remediation and sustainability using bacteria. My work focuses on the transport process of bacteria with the presence of hydrocarbons and metal ions, both of which exist in the crude oil, where hydrocarbons are attractant to bacteria and metal ions are repellent to bacteria. I approach this by modeling the signaling transduction mechanism inside a bacterium, with the use of a microfluidic device. The purpose is to assess whether bacteria will still be attracted to hydrocarbons and further degrade them in the presence of metal ions. I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia in Chemical Engineering. I received my Master degree in Chemical Engineering (Penn State) in 2016.
Elizabeth Thomason Virginia Commonwealth University MS in Anatomy and Neurobiology Elizabeth Thomason is pursuing her degree in neuroscience at Virginia Commonwealth University where she recently underwent a PhD to MS transition. She has spent the past four years in the field of glial biology researching the mechanisms of oligodendrocyte differentiation and how these may fail in multiple sclerosis. Passionate about communicating science to non-scientists and attaining equity in STEM education, Elizabeth engages in scientific outreach efforts within VCU and the local community in her spare time.
Xueying Zhao The University of Virginia PhD student in Chemical Engineering I am a chemical engineer interested in environmental remediation and sustainability using bacteria. My work focuses on the transport process of bacteria with the presence of hydrocarbons and metal ions, both of which exist in the crude oil, where hydrocarbons are attractant to bacteria and metal ions are repellent to bacteria. I approach this by modeling the signaling transduction mechanism inside a bacterium, with the use of a microfluidic device. The purpose is to assess whether bacteria will still be attracted to hydrocarbons and further degrade them in the presence of metal ions. I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia in Chemical Engineering. I received my Master degree in Chemical Engineering (Penn State) in 2016.
Meltem Yucel UVA PhD candidate in Psychology Meltem is a sixth-year Developmental Psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia. She is also a fellow of the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE Academy).

Meltem is primarily interested in the development of social cognition and morality, specifically focusing on how and when children become moral beings. Using behavioral, eye-tracking, and pupillometry methods, her research investigates how children and adults understand and enforce norms, and the role of affect in moral decision-making.
Benedict, Lenhart University of Virginia PhD candidate in Biology I am a biologist interested in metabolic adaption to environmental change. My research considers how allele variations impacts population ability to plasticly adapt to stressors. I make use of broad genomic tools in concert with experimental manipulation to observe response to environmental alterations. The purpose is to provide a better understanding of metabolic adaption toward improved dietary health. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia, and I received my Bachelors from William and Mary.
Fatima Quddos Virginia Tech PhD Student (First year in TBMH) I am a researcher, mainly interested in immunology and how the immune system interacts and is affected by other systems such as nervous system. I am currently a first year PhD student in the Translational Biology, Medicine and Health at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech. I received my Masters in Biology from William and Mary in 2020 and my Bachelors in Applied Bio-sciences from National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan.
Lisa Mitchem UVA PhD candidate in Biology I am a PhD candidate at UVA who studies animal behavioral. I use forked fungus beetles as a system to ask how the environment affects the way animals interact with each other. An animal’s environment is subject to change both within their lifetime and across generations. These changes can be due to seasonality, human disturbance, climate change, or just random chance. Behavior is the only trait that can immediately respond to these changes, so one might expect behaviors to have a large impact on an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce in new environments. My research asks about the factors that determine how an animal reacts to their immediate environment. Behavior as a study system is extremely relatable. Most people think about their own behavior and behavior itself is easily observable. I love this because it allows me to open up the conversation about my research to all audiences. Outside of science, I love running and playing video games. I obtained my bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and my Master’s from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Malina Loeher Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary MS Student in Aquatic Health Sciences I am currently a Master's student in Aquatic Health Sciences at VIMS where I study disease ecology and evolution. I previously completed a B.S. in Environmental Toxicology from University of California, Davis and worked several technician jobs before entering a graduate program. My graduate work examines how the fish pathogen IHNV has evolved and adapted to new host species. My broader academic interests include making science accessible to the public and bringing greater scientific rigor to natural resources management and policy.
Alexis Yang University of Virginia PhD Candidate in Politics I am a PhD Candidate interested in the study of political violence and conflict dynamics. My work currently focuses on identifying the conditions under which alliance between militant organizations (i.e. insurgent, terrorist groups) break down. A significant implication of this research is that it will inform policy development in areas of counterinsurgency strategies.    
Beverly, Miller UVA PhD in Chemical Engineering I am a rising 4th year in the Chemical Engineering PhD program. My work involves designing biomaterials to address human health discrepancies in orthopedic and gynecological care. 
Devanshi Gupta University of Virginia PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering Devanshi Gupta is a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at University of Virginia, where she is specializing in the design of grid-scale battery storage. Her current work focuses on material research, processing conditions, and safety of organic flow batteries. She is passionate about environmental conservation through renewable energy integration. In her free time, she makes oil paintings.
Minah Kim University of Virginia PhD Student in Psychology Minah Kim (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in Psychology at University of Virginia. She studies individual differences in social processing. Currently she is examining the relationship between oxytocin receptor gene methylation and brain connectivity patterns at rest. Prior to graduate school, she worked at an eye-tracking lab at the Yale Child Study Center and Seattle Children’s, studying social behavior in neurodivergent and neurotypical children. She studied Psychology and Environmental Studies at Macalester College. She is involved in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and active within international student communities.  
Katelyn Stenger University of Virginia PhD student    
Leti Beltran University of Virginia PhD student in Biophysics  I'm a PhD student in Biophysics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Briefly, I'm interested in applying Cryo-electron microscopy to study structures of simple and complex biomolecules. Currently I'm working on a collaborative project that involves structurally investigating Phenol-soluble modulin alpha3, a fibril shaped toxin that is associated with highly aggressive Staphylococcus Aureus infections. 
Jordon aragom University of virginia Phd student   I am a PhD student interested in regenerative medicine applied to helping cardiovascular diseases. I have a background in science education, working 2 years at in a STEM focused americorps program, working in a biotechnology start up and in academia! 
Tyler Spears University of Virginia PhD Student in Computer Engineering Tyler Spears is a PhD student at the University of Virginia in Computer Engineering. He performs research in biomedical image processing with machine learning, especially with deep neural networks, contributing to both the theory and application of such machine learning models. In particular, he is interested in designing algorithms to help neuroscientists perform their experiments in a fraction of the time, in order to understand the neural underpinnings of cognition. He received his MFA in Psychology from UVA in 2019, and bachelors' degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from McNeese State University in 2016. His other professional interests include designing user-centered software tools for computational researchers, mentoring students in research, teaching computer science and mathematics courses, and critically examining the mentoring and teaching processes as they are in modern academia.
Hope Wolf Virginia Commonwealth University PhD Candidate   Hope is a Ph.D. candidate in quantitative genetics, researching pregnancy, parturition, and health disparities in birth outcomes. She is part of a unique dual-degree program at Virginia Commonwealth University that enables students to simultaneously earn a Ph.D. in Genetics and an M.S. in genetic counseling.

From a young age, Hope knew she wanted to be a scientist and has trained in many branches of science and medicine, including chemistry (earning a B.S. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), molecular genetics (training in a research lab), and clinical and translational science (working as a research coordinator in cardiology clinical trials). In 2019, she earned several accolades at VCU, including the Elizabeth Fries Young Investigator Award for Women’s Health Research. She enjoys science in her everyday life while experimenting in the kitchen and the garden, and exploring the great outdoors.
Adrienne, Williams University of Virginia PhD Candidate in Biomedical Engineering Adrienne is a PhD Candidate at Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia.
 She is excited about her research developing computational models of the calf muscles of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients in order to determine the relationship between fat infiltration and damage. Adrienne is from Kingston, Jamaica and is an alumnus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica (BSc) as well as North Carolina A&T State University (MS).