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STEM Pathways

STEM Pathways

STEM World Classroom Guest Speaker Series

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Dr. Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD

Montgomery Dermatology, LLC
October 22, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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 Dr. Erum Ilyas focuses on adult and pediatric medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and skin cancer treatment. Dr. Ilyas grew up in Maryland and graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts and Science. She earned her medical degree from the MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society, and completed her Dermatology training at the Cooper University Hospital of UMDNJ, where she also served as Chief Resident of Dermatology. Dr. Ilyas has served as Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Ilyas has presented nationally and authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and textbook chapters.


Dr. Daniel Rubenstein

Professor of Zoology, Program in Environmental Studies, at Princeton University
October 23, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Dan Rubenstein is a behavioral ecologist who studies how environmental variation and individual differences shape social behavior, social structure, sex roles and the dynamics of populations. He has special interests in all species of wild horses, zebras, and asses, and has done field work on them throughout the world identifying rules governing decision-making, the emergence of complex behavioral patterns and how these understandings influence their management and conservation. In Kenya he also works with pastoral communities to develop and assess impacts of various grazing strategies on rangeland quality, wildlife use and livelihoods. He has also developed a scout program for gathering data on Grevy’s zebras and created curricular modules for local schools to raise awareness about the plight of this endangered species. He engages people as 'Citizen Scientists' and has recently extended his work to measuring the effects of environmental change, including issues pertaining to the global commons and changes wrought by management and by global warming, on behavior. Rubenstein is the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. He is currently Director of Princeton's Environmental Studies Program and is former Chair of Princeton University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director of Princeton’s Program in African Studies. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Michigan in 1972 and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1977 before receiving NSF-NATO and King's College Junior Research Fellowships for post-doctoral studies at Cambridge University. As the Eastman Professor, he spent a year in Oxford as a Fellow of Balliol College. He is an elected Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received Princeton University's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has just completed his term as president of the Animal Behavior Society and was most recently a Visiting Research Scholar at Merton College, Oxford and a Visiting Fellow at King's College, Cambridge. He just received the Animal Behavior Society's 'Exemplar Award' for a major long-term contribution to animal behavior and Sigma Xi's John P. McGovern Award for Science and Society.​


Gloria Diaz

Graduate Student at University of Michigan
October 27, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Epigenetics is the study of phenotypic variation without changes to the underlying DNA sequence. By altering DNA accessibility and higher order chromatin structure through epigenetic modifications, gene expression can be activated or repressed. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation with sequencing (ChIP-seq) is the gold standard for identifying loci associated with a specific target of interest. However, the limitations of ChIP-seq, including large cellular input (106-107 cells), user-to-user variability, and long overall temporal demands (at least 4 days), limit it from being implemented clinically. Adapting ChIP-seq to a droplet microfluidic platform would address these limitations as well as advance its integration into clinical settings. In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, we are working to streamline ChIP-seq utilizing droplet microfluidics through the development of sequential modules that perform standard steps in the protocol. Our initial module for this system simultaneously lyses whole cells, enzymatically digests chromatin, and delivers antibody-functionalized magnetic beads that target a mark of interest. The second module washes the magnetic beads with the bound target through a co-flow of four distinct wash buffers. Current work focuses on demonstrating the versatility of the droplet integrated ChIP system by incorporating a diverse range of epigenetic marks.​


Camila Gaspar Quinonez​ 

October 29, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Camila graduated with a first class with honours in Biochemistry at the University of Westminster. She then embarked on a MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London where she applied computational models to predict gene knockouts in E. coli to increase fatty acids production, and validated it experimentally. After completing her degree with distinction, she returned to University of Westminster to pursue her PhD in a multidisciplinary project that combines biochemistry and structural biology, microbiology and medicinal chemistry. Her research focuses on tuberculosis, both developing new inhibitors and understanding how the bacteria becomes tolerant to current antibiotics. During her second year of PhD, she was invited to spend the year working with her collaborators at University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, where she received full training to work in a Biosafety Level 3 facility. Throughout her academic life, she has been actively involved with science communications as she is an event ambassador at the Science Museum London, organizes events for PhD students called PubhD, and recently started communicating science through infographics on her Instagram account.​


Dr. Dan Saltzberg

Postdoctoral Scholar at UCSF School of Pharmacy, Dept. of Bioengineering
November 5, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Dr. Daphney Chery 

2020-2021 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research Office
November 10, 2020
12 - 1 p.m.
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Daphney Chery, PhD is a dedicated scientist, educator, and a supportive mentor that is eager to gain and share knowledge. She is a current 2020-2021 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow hosted at the Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research Office. There, she's working on key program initiatives geared towards diversifying the DoD workforce by focusing on strengthening the STEM departments of HBCUs and Mls. Prior to this position, she obtained her MS degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2012 and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems at Drexel University in 2018. She was also a post-doctoral researcher at the Orthopaedic Surgery department at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research expertise focuses on understanding the micromechanical environment as well as mechanobiology of connective tissues in health and in disease. She has over 6 publications in the field of musculoskeletal diseases and has been selected for over 14 scientific conference podium talks. 


Dr. Esther Biswas-Fiss

Professor and Chair of Medical & Molecular Sciences at University of Delaware
November 12, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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"Our laboratory investigates the consequences of genetic variation on the structure and function of proteins, and their role in human health and disease. A major focus of the laboratory is studying the molecular genetics of inherited macular degeneration and translation of this information into genotype-phenotype correlations. Additional projects include understanding the role of genetic variation in virally mediated oncogenesis."


Dr. Sarah Bauer

Majors Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering
November 19, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Primary research interests are: water and wastewater treatment, renewable energy technologies and pollution prevention, as well as diversity and inclusion in engineering education. Dr. Bauer is currently exploring the sustainability of producing biofuels from organic waste feedstocks and the optimization of grit removal technologies in wastewater treatment.

Past Speakers​


Dr. Adrian Roitberg

University of Florida, Department of Chemistry​
September 17, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

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His main research interest is in accurate calculations of biologically relevant molecular systems and processes using proven methods from Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics and Molecular Dynamics. He is also interested in advanced visualization.


Kevin Metrocavage

NASA, ISS Operations Manager​
September 22, 2020
11 a.m.-12 p.m.

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He currently serves as the International Space Station (ISS) Operations Manager. In this role, he is responsible for maintaining overall situational awareness of the planning and execution of ISS complex operations for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters (HQ) in Washington, DC. Metrocavage manages ISS real-time and contingency support from the NASA HQ Space Operations Center and provides input and status to Directorate and ISS Division leadership as well as external agencies as appropriate.


Kyle Munson

Postodctoral Researcher
Penn State Chemistry DepartmentUsing Transient Absorption Spectroscopy to Examine the Electronic
Properties of Functional Materials​
October 1, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

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The growing demand for new technology also increases our need for improved functional materials. Consequently, intense efforts have been made in the scientific community to develop new materials that are capable of being used in a wide variety of applications, such as solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and fuel cells. One of the tools used for investigating the properties of functional materials is transient absorption (TA) spectroscopy. This technique is similar to time-lapse photography and enables physical chemists and materials scientists to analyze the properties of materials on “ultrafast” timescales. In this talk, I first give an overview of the basic principles of TA spectroscopy. I then describe several examples in which TA spectroscopy is used to examine the migration of electrons in solar cells and the structural organization of ligands on the surfaces of nanocrystals. Finally, I describe how TA spectroscopy can be used to answer new and exciting questions in the functional material’s research community.


Dr. James Grinias

Analytical Chemistry & Liquid Chromatography at
Princeton University
October 6, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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"My research background focuses on the fundamental development of liquid chromatography (LC) columns in capillaries and microfluidic devices. LC columns are at the heart of many analytical separation techniques across pharmaceutical, environmental, and biomedical research projects. Early work focused on the physical structure of the packed chromatographic bed inside a fused silica capillary and led to strategies that could be used to pack more efficient columns in capillaries and also miniaturized microfluidic devices. Other interests have included understanding the physical processes beyond bed structure that impact column performance (included extra-column effects and frictional heating) and applying LC and mass spectrometry (MS) instrumentation to solve analytical problems in neuroscience and molecular physiology.​"


​​​Melinda Einsla

Research Scientist at DOW Chemical
October 8, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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Melinda Einsla is a Senior Research Scientist in Core R&D Formulation, Automation, and Materials Science. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Bloomsburg University and a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech, where she studied polymeric proton conductors and polymer/inorganic nanocomposites for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Melinda completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory where she studied inorganic and polymeric proton conductors for proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

Stephanie Castillo

Science Communicator & Filmmaker
Vanderbilt University
October 14, 2020
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
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 Stephanie is a PhD Candidate in Science Communication at Vanderbilt University. She is also an aspiring science filmmaker and the founder of Phuture Doctors: a digital media company reinventing the way students explore careers in science while changing the face of science—one video again. Before practicing science communicator, Stephanie was an inorganic chemist researching nano materials and complexes for catalytic processes. Stephanie will be sharing her journey from studying chemistry for nine year to becoming a science communicator and filmmaker. We'll explore that value of having a scientific background when creating or producing art, and the importance of blending art with research to communicate science. ​
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​Dr. ​Valeria Kleiman

Associate Professor at University of Florida
October 15, 2020
12-1 p.m.
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Born in Argentina, Dr. Kleiman received her undergraduate Physical Chemistry degree from the University of Buenos Aires, and her PhD from the University of Illinois. After working in National Laboratories in Washington DC, Dr. Keliman moved to Gainesville to start her independent professorial career in 2001, where she is currently a faculty in the Department of Chemistry at UF. Dr. Kleiman has received several national and international awards.

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