Project Title: Biophysical Cues Shaping Macrophage and T-Cell FunctionsInstitution: Harvard UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM151568MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASM
Omokolade (Kolade) Adebowale has always been fascinated by the wonders of science. In middle and high school, his chemistry laboratory experiences captivated him with its colors, smells, and substances. His Nigerian immigrant family insisted that he get a good education and encouraged him to pursue his scientific interests. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Illinois Institute of Technology in chemical engineering and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. His predoctoral research sought to understand why and how physical cues promote cancer metastasis. Now a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, Dr. Adebowale continues to pursue his scientific interests while maintaining a strong commitment to educating and mentoring the next generation of scientists. His postdoctoral research is focused on understanding the importance of (bio)physical cues in shaping the body’s immune response. Dr. Adebowale is extremely grateful for the mentorship he has received over the years, going all the way back to high school, and he strives to pay it all forward. He’s passionate about K-12 STEAM outreach to underrepresented groups and has mentored several 7th grade students over the years. Furthermore, in the research setting, he continues to empower underrepresented groups to thrive and to achieve their full potential in science.
Project Title: Unlocking New Chemistries in Extant Enzymes for Synthesizing Bioactive MoleculesInstitution: California Institute of TechnologyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM152783MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Edwin Alfonzo grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a town rich in culture and diversity. Two exceptional teachers ignited his passion for chemistry and mathematics in high school. Edwin pursued these interests at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, earning degrees in both subjects. There, he developed a fascination for organic chemistry, a field that studies the structure, properties, and reactions of carboncontaining compounds and has wide-ranging implications in areas like medicine, agriculture, and energy production. This interest led him to Boston University for his Ph.D., where he developed total syntheses of Lignans, complex plant metabolites beneficial to human health. However, he soon realized that nature's method of molecule assembly, using enzymes, is far superior. Guided by this realization, Dr. Alfonzo began postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology, joining the Frances H. Arnold research lab to engineer enzymes for novel reactions. His career goal is to create catalysts that tackle humanity's significant chemical challenges. Dr. Alfonzo is an advocate for diversity, viewing it as the cornerstone of innovation and recognizing that groundbreaking ideas often come from diverse perspectives. Committed to inclusivity, he has consistently sought to integrate those often marginalized in the scientific community by actively recruiting and training them in the labs he has been part of and by volunteering to introduce young students to STEM fields.
Project Title: Targeting High-Risk Drinking Days With Mobile Treatment for Spanish-Speaking PatientsInstitution: Yale UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID: AA031032MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Bryan Benitez grew up in a second-generation Cuban American family in Miami, Florida. During his teenage years, he was fascinated by how the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, used inductive and deductive reasoning to make predictions about other people’s behaviors and motivations. Following these interests, he earned his B.A. in psychology and religious studies from Northwestern University, where he completed a psychology honor’s thesis comparing moral attitudes towards substance use among diverse religious groups. He then earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of South Florida. In his graduate research, he used mobile technology to measure and influence hourly fluctuations in alcohol expectancies that preceded real-world drinking. Dr. Benitez completed his clinical internship and postdoctoral research at the Yale School of Medicine, where he is investigating how computerized cognitive behavioral therapy influences daily alcohol and substance use among patients with addiction. He applies advanced Bayesian statistical analyses to clinical trial datasets to test complex hypotheses about treatment effects. His clinical practice and research at Yale have focused on addiction treatments for Hispanics who primarily speak Spanish. While serving on his graduate department’s diversity committee, Dr. Benitez helped coordinate and conduct a multiday training event funded by the American Psychological Association to promote underrepresented undergraduates’ pursuit of careers in psychology. He also served on the inaugural diversity committee of the Research Society on Alcohol and provides mentorship to underrepresented minority graduate students interested in addiction and other health sciences.
Project Title: Mitochondrial Fidelity in Mammalian NeuronsInstitution: Northwestern University at ChicagoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS126639MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Ewa Bomba-Warczak was raised on a small farm in Poland. Science and nature fascinated her from a young age, and she was accepted to a biology and chemistry track in high school. Intending to become a teacher, she didn’t have a science career on her radar until she attended college in the U.S., where she stepped into a lab for the first time and realized that research could be a career. She earned a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Illinois Chicago, where she studied genetic and molecular mechanisms that direct spatially defined expression of the Hox genes. Dr. Bomba-Warczak continued her training with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, investigating entry, sorting, and trafficking of Clostridial neurotoxins in neurons. Her thesis earned her a Jerzy Rose Award for the most outstanding thesis in neuroscience at the university. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. There, she combines stable isotope pulse chase labeling with mass spectrometry to investigate mitochondrial long-lived proteome in mammalian brains. Throughout her career, Dr. Bomba-Warczak has worked with outreach organizations and programs focused on low-income and potential first-generation students traditionally overlooked for college admissions. Additionally, as a scientist and mother, she is acutely aware of the lack of support, structure, and representation for parents in academia. She hopes to continue with advocacy initiatives that redefine academia so that women don’t have to choose between their families and their scientific contributions. Furthermore, she is a founder of MITOchats, a virtual seminar for young scientists whose career transitions have stalled due to COVID-19. Her own career goal is to create a laboratory environment where a diverse and inclusive group of researchers can tackle important scientific questions and also grow into future leaders and mentors.
Project Title: Developing, Validating, and Implementing an Epidemiological Instrument to Assess the Effect of Resistance Training on Measures of Cardiometabolic DiseaseInstitution: Northwestern University at ChicagoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL168338MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Robert Booker grew up in Ozark, Missouri. He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise and movement sciences from Missouri State University and returned to complete his master’s degree in health promotion and wellness management. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in kinesiology (exercise science) at Mississippi State University. Dr. Booker is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in the department of preventive medicine. His research focuses on how resistance training impacts cardiometabolic disease and the measurement of resistance training for epidemiological research. Dr. Booker has consistently been involved in efforts to promote diversity, including his time at the Jackson Heart Study Graduate Training and Education Center as a Robert Smith, M.D., Graduate Scholar, and at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Leadership and Diversity Training Program. He will continue promoting diversity in the sciences as a MOSAIC scholar and as an independent investigator.
Project Title: A Multi-Omic and Integrative Longitudinal Evaluation of the Role of Lipid, Antioxidant, and Osmoprotectant Metabolites in the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause by Race and EthnicityInstitution: Montana State UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID: AG081495MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Joanna-Lynn Borgogna grew up as one of nine siblings in a Hispanic family in the southernmost city in California. Her education pathway was unconventional—she had a home-based education where her mother fostered her natural curiosity by providing an endless supply of National Geographic magazines. Dr. Borgogna is a first-generation college student who began her formal education at Southwestern Community College. While the learning curve was devastatingly steep, she eventually earned her Bachelor of Science with a minor in computational biology at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), where she specialized in applied computational research under the mentorship of Dr. Ryan Botts. The PLNU community taught research as a collaborative effort to serve the community, introduced her to graduate school, and empowered her to earn her Ph.D. at Montana State University (MSU). At MSU, she studied the vaginal microbiome and metabolome of reproductive-aged women under the mentorship of Dr. Carl Yeoman and through collaborative relationships with the Ravel, Shardell, Brotman, and Holm research groups at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Tuddenham research group at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, respectively. Dr. Borgogna uses applied statistics, machine learning, and multi-omics to interrogate racial and ethnic disparities in urogenital health, focusing on postmenopausal individuals. She credits educational mentors, peers, and friends and their unwavering support for her success today. As such, she has made mentorship of underrepresented high school,undergraduate, and graduate students an integral part of her life. She intends to actively build an inclusive, supportive, and equitable lab and continue advocating for structural changes in academic training.
Project Title: Neurobiological Mechanisms of Fatigue in Health and After COVID-19Institution: Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy KriegerFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID:
NS133961MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Agostina Casamento-Moran’s passion for science arose during her competitive tennis years, when she developed a strong curiosity and desire to understand the adaptations that the body undergoes with physical conditioning and how to leverage these changes to enhance performance. To pursue her athletic and academic goals, she emigrated from Argentina to become a student-athlete in the U.S. She then realized that her career goals went beyond enhancing sports performance and that she wanted to use neuroscience principles to improve the quality of life of individuals with neurological disorders. So she obtained a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at the University of Florida to investigate the neuromuscular mechanisms that underlie and limit motor function. During Dr. Casamento-Moran’s postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University, however, she realized that her training had overlooked factors that affect people’s willingness to learn or move. Fatigue is one of these factors, and while it’s pervasive in the health care system, it remains poorly understood and undertreated. Her overarching career goal, therefore, is to elucidate the behavioral and neurobiological features of fatigue across different illnesses and develop effective clinical interventions. Dr. Casamento-Moran will do so by leading a research group that nurtures a culture of teamwork, respect, diversity, curiosity, and determination. She’s convinced that robust scientific advancements are generated in collaborative and enjoyable environments that provide constructive feedback and support throughout the scientific process. She promotes an environment that respects and embraces diversity of ideas and backgrounds, that satisfies curiosity through ingenious experimental designs, and promotes perseverance when challenges arise.
Project Title: Fecal Microbiota Transfer Attenuates Aged Gut Dysbiosis and Functional Deficits After Traumatic Brain InjuryInstitution: Northwestern University at ChicagoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS130277MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Booker T. Davis, IV, began as an army nurse before pursuing his B.S. in premedical biology from Chicago State University. He then obtained a master’s degree in biotechnology and a Ph.D. in pharmacology at Rush University in Chicago. His doctoral work focused on elucidating the roles of the circadian protein PER2 and receptor PPARy in the intestinal leakiness that is critical to the development of alcoholic liver disease. A 1-year NIH-funded fellowship followed, where he studied the contribution of stem cells to the development of environmentally derived and idiopathic lung fibrosis. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. Davis examined brain-gut-immune interactions following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). He placed an emphasis on determining the role of the microbiome in microglia activity. Dr. Davis is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the department of surgery at Northwestern University. He’s shown the ability of gut microbes to induce microglia-mediated protection of neurological tissues and cognition following TBI. This process involves utilizing microbiome-modulating techniques in research organisms after TBI to measure the effects on physiology and behavior. Dr. Davis’s independent research program will use an integrative approach combining advanced brain imaging techniques, analysis of microbiome metabolomics, and behavioral measurements to investigate the molecular mechanisms that underly microbiome-mediated protection of the brain in TBI.
Project Title: Delineation of Macrophage-Derived Transglutaminases Role in Adipose Tissue Health and Inflammation in ObesityInstitution: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseaseProject ID:
DK136921MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASM
Diana Elizondo was born in Texas and grew up in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico. Her interest for biomedical science began during childhood while experiencing the negative outcomes of untreated metabolic diseases disproportionately affecting her Hispanic community. She attended the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where she had her first biomedical research exposure studying medicinal herbs’ effects in obesity as part of the Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program. Because the experience was so rewarding and opened a new series of questions in the field of inflammation, she continued her training at Howard University. Its Ph.D. program in cell and molecular biology with a concentration in immunology allowed her to study diabetes from an autoimmune perspective. However, she remained committed to her training in endocrinology by joining the Endocrine Society’s Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology program. Currently, Dr. Elizondo continues to build her training in immunometabolism as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her research focuses on delineating the role of adipose tissue immune cells in obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. As part of her goals to promote diversity, she is a member of the Latinas in STEM Foundation, developing the skills and practices to bolster the identification, recruitment, and retention of underrepresented minority students. Importantly, her goal is to increase pedagogical and mentorship skills that foster an all-inclusive environment to maximize student success outcomes.
Project Title: The Role of the Protocadherin Gene Cluster in Neurodevelopment and the Implications for Neurodevelopmental DisordersInstitution: Columbia UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Mental HealthProject ID:
MH132889MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Erin Flaherty was raised in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and became interested in biology during high school. She pursued B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology and biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and later received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her dissertation research focused on how deletions in the NRXN1 gene identified in neuropsychiatric patients impacted transcription and neuronal activity. Dr. Flaherty is currently a postdoctoral research scientist in the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University, where she studies the role of the protocadherin gene cluster in neurodevelopment. During her training, she has enjoyed mentoring students from diverse backgrounds, particularly women, and providing advice and guidance as they shape their own careers in science. During the independent phase of her career, she aims to foster an inclusive and diverse laboratory focused on understanding the contribution of the protocadherin gene cluster to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project Title: Biogenesis of Herg1a/1b Ion Channels in Health and Disease Model CardiomyocytesInstitution: University of Wisconsin-MadisonFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL169909MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Lisandra Flores-Aldama is an Afro-Cuban raised in an only-women household. Her passion for science started in high school through her interest in how the laws of physics and chemistry regulate cellular processes. As a biochemistry student at Universidad de La Habana, Cuba, Dr. Flores-Aldama received training in proteomics and fell in love with proteins and their functional and structural diversity. After graduating summa cum laude, she moved to Chile, South America, where she pursued her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology, studying the biophysics of ion channels and transporters under the mentorship of Dr. Sebastian Brauchi. After finishing her Ph.D. summa cum laude, she joined Dr. Gail Robertson’s laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she currently studies the gating mechanism and the biogenesis of hERG1 ion channels. Her main project aims to uncover the molecular determinants for the biogenesis of hERG1 heterotetramers in cardiomyocytes, mainly focusing on the role of RNA structure during this process. Dr. Flores-Aldama co-founded Black in Biophysics, a movement highlighting Black biophysicists and their excellent science. She is a member of the Biophysical Society’s committee for inclusion and diversity, actively involved in organizing the Justice for Underrepresented Scholars Training in Biophysics (JUST-B) Poster Session that takes place at each Biophysical Society annual meeting. She is also a member of the Council of the Society of General Physiologists. Dr. Flores-Aldama has participated in multiple outreach activities to encourage Black and Hispanic teenagers to follow a career in science.
Project Title: Examining the Role of Structural Factors in Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular DiseaseInstitution: Stanford UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL169908MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Shawna Follis is an instructor and previously a postdoctoral fellow in the department of medicine at Stanford University. She is a social epidemiologist researching the role of structural and social determinants of health in cardiovascular disease risk factors. For example, her paper evaluating racial differences in social stress-associated adipose tissue patterning received the 2020 Aetna Award for Excellence in Research on Older Women and Public Health from the American Public Health Association. Societal equity resonates as a defining characteristic at the intersection of her scientific research and personal goals. Dr. Follis promotes inclusion of scientists from underrepresented groups through mentorship and teaching, having received a Stanford Medicine Teaching Award in 2023 and the Stanford Postdoc Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award in 2022. In her community, she has served in activism leadership positions for undocumented immigrant rights. Outside of research, she is a passionate futbolista and former National Collegiate Athletics Association Division 1 soccer player.
Project Title: Improving Phage-Based Medicine With ImmunoengineeringInstitution: University of Pittsburgh at PittsburghFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesProject ID: AI173544MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASM
Dr. Krista Gabrielle Freeman is the product of a family that works and plays hard. She grew up navigating the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio, and heeding her parents’ advice to do her best in school. She earned scholarships for high school and college, where she forged her love of science. Dr. Freeman received her B.S. in physics with honors and was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Cleveland State University. Research and teaching opportunities there opened her eyes to a career in academia, launching her professional trajectory. Eager to increase early access to science, she established Physics Fridays, a still-active outreach program for Cleveland public school students. Such leadership efforts continued throughout her Ph.D. candidacy in physics at Carnegie Mellon University. There she chaired the American Physical Society’s Forum on Graduate Student Affairs and CAM2017, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded international meeting by and for physics graduate students. NSF also funded Dr. Freeman’s doctoral research on the physics of viruses and her attendance at the 2015 Interdisciplinary Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Pursuing truly interdisciplinary training, she began her postdoctoral research with phage pioneer Dr. Graham Hatfull at the University of Pittsburgh. She is training there in the complementary arts of bacteriophage biology and is mentoring junior researchers. As a MOSAIC scholar, Dr. Freeman is establishing independence through structural and immunological investigations of bacteriophages. While she works toward building a research team specializing in bacteriophage immunoengineering, she will continue efforts at every scale to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in science.
Project Title: Characterizing the Role of Tumor Suppressor Phase Separation and Chromatin Organization in Maintaining Genomic IntegrityInstitution: University of PennsylvaniaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM151473MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Mikael Garabedian is a first-generation American son of parents who came to the U.S. escaping war, and a descendent of Armenian genocide survivors. Growing up in the U.S., he became fascinated with biology and the idea of large ensembles of many different proteins working together to execute specific functions. As an undergraduate student, he joined a lab and fell in love with basic research. He went on to earn a Ph.D. at Brandeis University, where he studied cell signaling and mechanisms of cytoskeletal assembly. As a graduate student, he uncovered mechanisms by which multiple proteins, in a shared compartment, could impart their regulatory effects on formin-mediated actin assembly to build a cytoskeleton with the correct length, architecture, and spatial organization. As a postdoctoral, multidisciplinary researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Garabedian focuses his study on biomolecular condensates. In particular, he’s interested in bioengineering synthetic condensates to control cell behavior and studying how endogenous protein condensates contribute to cellular functions. Throughout his youth and scientific journey, Dr. Garabedian has also engaged in efforts toward community building, outreach, and diversity, both within his home institutions and as a leader in outside scientific or local organizations. While a postdoctoral researcher, he became a co-chair of the postdoctoral diversity committee and departmental diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, and was elected to the board of the DuBois Postdoctoral Circle. He hopes to improve conditions for underrepresented groups in science and to foster a more inclusive environment in academia.
Project Title: Elucidating the Epigenetic Regulation of Extracellular Matrix and Virus-Induced Fibroblast ActivationInstitution: Fox Chase Cancer CenterFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM148819MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
For as long as she can remember, Jaye Gardiner has been interested in both science and art. First wowed by science after placing celery in colored water in her Chicago classroom, she’d also spend her spare time learning to draw her favorite cartoon characters. She originally assumed she’d have to choose between passions, but graduating from Macalester College with her Bachelor of Arts degree showed her the value of interdisciplinary thinking. Moving on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Gardiner found ways to combine these two passions while obtaining her Ph.D. in cancer biology: through teaching undergraduates and co-founding the science comics initiative JKX Comics. Now a postdoctoral researcher at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she continues to pursue her multifaceted interests. At the bench, her research focuses on the fibrotic tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer and how the cells responsible (fibroblasts) are epigenetically regulated. When not pipetting, Dr. Gardiner continues to increase access and exposure to STEM by illustrating scientist trading cards and comic books, conducting STEM education research, and speaking publicly. As a MOSAIC scholar, she’s excited to continue this work and provide a counterpoint to the stereotype of who a scientist can be.
Project Title: Applying Construal Level Theory to Develop and Test an Interactive Text Messaging Adjunct Intervention to Reduce Heavy Drinking and HIV RiskInstitution: Brown UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID: AA031443MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Neo Gebru was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His passion for disentangling psychosocial factors related to substance use and HIV stems from his childhood experiences and as an immigrant in the U.S.—experiences through which he recognized the importance of social and environmental context in determining human health and the phenomenology of substance misuse and risky behaviors as universal problems. These realizations compelled him to understand common factors that underlie these public health problems and to devise interventions to address them. Dr. Gebru completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his master’s in clinical psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He then earned his Ph.D. in health behavior from the University of Florida (UF), where he focused on experimental, quantitative, and qualitative methods to identify psychosocial correlates of substance misuse and HIV risk. Dr. Gebru conducted postdoctoral research at Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. As a MOSAIC scholar, he will develop and conduct initial testing of a novel text-messaging intervention to reduce heavy drinking among young adult men at risk for HIV. Having lacked support and connections while navigating academia as an immigrant and first-generation student, Dr. Gebru works to increase support and connections for other students across the educational pipeline, including through mentoring high school students, undergraduates (e.g., for the McNair Scholar program at UF during all 5 years of his doctoral training) and graduate students (e.g., incoming doctoral students at UF). His role as an active member in several diversity committees are among his efforts to enhance diversity in biomedical sciences. For example, he’s chair of the diversity committee for the Collaborative Perspective on Addictions conference, where he helps ensure that the conference’s programming values diversity and advocates for travel funds for students from underrepresented backgrounds—efforts he seeks to maintain and expand throughout his career.
Project Title: Stress Response Signaling As a Metabolic Sensor in ReproductionInstitution: University of Pittsburgh at PittsburghFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM149982MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Lydia Grmai grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Her family immigrated to the U.S. from Eritrea and instilled in her a deep commitment to education, community, and service. Dr. Grmai discovered her love for biomedical research as an undergraduate Meyerhoff Scholar at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in basic medical sciences at the New York University School of Medicine. During this time, she grew curious about how an organism maintains reproductive potential. She conducted postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins University, where she described the role of local steroid hormone response in sexual development. This work inspired her to investigate the molecular underpinnings of reproduction from a systems-level perspective. Now at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Grmai is combining genetic, biochemical, and behavioral techniques to understand how tissues cooperate to ensure healthy reproduction even in the face of challenging or stressful conditions. Dr. Grmai is also a passionate educator and mentor who works to create additional entry points and mentorship opportunities for aspiring scientists, particularly for those from backgrounds that have been historically excluded from the STEM workforce.
Project Title: Targeted Neuroplasticity via Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Improve Urinary Dysfunction After Spinal Cord InjuryInstitution: University of Texas at DallasFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS135194MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Ana Hernandez Reynoso was born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. From a young age, she was fascinated by health sciences and medicine, but at age 15, her cousin introduced her to engineering. She decided to pursue both areas, earning a B.Eng. in biomedical engineering and then a M.S. in computer science. She attended Georgia Institute of Technology as an exchange student and discovered her passion for neural engineering. She later earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), developing a wireless neural interface for peripheral nerve stimulation. Dr. Hernandez Reynoso is determined to become an independent researcher and leader in the field, developing translational neural interfaces for novel therapeutic applications. She is currently a postdoctoral research scientist at UT Dallas, where her research focuses on the use of vagus nerve stimulation paired with bladder function to drive neuroplasticity changes and improve the symptoms of urinary dysfunction after spinal cord injury, a condition that often ranks as one of the highest priorities of affected individuals. Dr. Hernandez Reynoso led the formation of the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee within the postdoctoral association at UT Dallas and is consistently involved in outreach opportunities to introduce young students to the neural engineering field. Finally, she is committed to being an advocate against inequality and has actively searched for opportunities to empower minority students to pursue career opportunities within the biomedical engineering and sciences field.
Project Title: Understanding the Role of the Integrated Stress Response in tRNA Synthetase-Associated Charcot-Marie-Tooth DiseaseInstitution: Jackson LaboratoryFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS130151MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Timothy Hines grew up in Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where his father was stationed as an army combat medic. His father’s interest in medicine and his mother’s focus on Dr. Hines doing well in school influenced him from a young age. He graduated high school a year early and went to Appalachian State University for his undergrad, where he played on the rugby team for 2 1/2 seasons, received 2 years of experience with behavioral neuroscience research, and completed both a B.A. and B.S. in psychology with minors in German and chemistry. He then attended the University of South Carolina for graduate school, where he was fortunate to receive the Sloan Minority Ph.D. Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which allowed him to buy a computer, travel to conferences, and afford other important expenses. His dissertation research with Dr. Deanna Smith focused on the regulation of the microtubule motor, cytoplasmic dynein. In 2018, Dr. Hines moved to Bar Harbor, Maine, to do postdoctoral research (postdoc) with Dr. Rob Burgess at the Jackson Laboratory (JAX). His postdoc aims to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the rare neuromuscular disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), using mice and human iPSC-based models. He’s also a participant in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke-funded R25 Diversifying CNS program run through the University of Minnesota, which aims to increase diversity amongst tenure-track faculty using a longitudinal mentoring approach. Furthermore, Dr. Hines has mentored trainees in JAX's postbaccalaureate program, which funds individuals from underrepresented and underserved communities to gain research experience before applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs
Project Title: Sex Differences in Reward Neurocircuitry Underlying Alcohol Craving and Consumption in Trauma-Exposed IndividualsInstitution: Emory UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID: AA031333MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Cecilia Hinojosa is originally from El Paso, Texas, where she completed her B.A. in psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso. For graduate school, Dr. Hinojosa attended Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, for graduate school, where she received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology with an emphasis in clinical neuroscience. At Tufts, Dr. Hinojosa focused on determining whether pretreatment brain activation can predict treatment response to prolonged exposure therapy in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow working under the mentorship of Drs. Jennifer Stevens and Sanne van Rooij, where she focuses on better understanding the neurocircuitry of co-occurring PTSD and alcohol use disorder using neuroimaging techniques. Dr. Hinojosa is also passionate about increasing opportunities for underrepresented minority groups in science and mentoring these students to help them achieve their goals.
Project Title: Machine Learning-Enabled Classification of Extracellular Vesicles Using Nanoplasmonic MicrofluidicsInstitution: Ohio State UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioengineeringProject ID: EB033857MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Colin Hisey grew up in the small town of Grafton, Ohio, and became interested in science and engineering at a young age. He attended the University of Dayton for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, where he was part of the Minority Engineering Program, the first graduate of the Minority Leaders Program, and a volunteer EMT-Basic. His early exposure to nanomaterials research and medicine led him to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Ohio State University, where he developed microfluidic devices for cancer engineering applications. During his Ph.D., he was also a Whitaker International Fellow at the technology center CEIT in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, establishing his love for travel and interest in undertaking further training internationally. He then helped to create and run the Hub for Extracellular Vesicle Investigations at the University of Auckland before returning to Ohio State as a LEGACY Postdoctoral Scholar. Dr. Hisey’s research now involves the development of micro-nanotechnology for extracellular vesicle applications, primarily in cancer engineering. He has continually contributed to promoting diversity throughout his career by volunteering at engineering summer camps for minority students, mentoring several underrepresented students, and giving guest lectures on biomedical engineering from his unique perspective as a biracial scholar.
Project Title: The Role of Multicultural Identity Integration on Well-Being and Biomedical Science Pathway PersistenceInstitution: University of California, San FranciscoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM151640MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
K. Kanoho Hosoda is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco, working with Dr. Mica Estrada. She was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. Her strong bond with Native Hawaiian indigenous practices including Hula (Hawaiian dance), Olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language), and Aloha Aina (land stewardship), along with her inquisitive nature and aspirations to support her Indigenous community, motivated her to obtain conventional science training in her homeland. Dr. Hosoda received her B.S. in biological sciences, M.S. in molecular biosciences and biological engineering, and her Ph.D. in communication and information sciences, all from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr. Hosoda’s recent research in the behavioral science field examines the influence of positive psychological experiences (such as kindness), Indigenous community values (e.g., reciprocity, responsibility, respect, and relevance), and multicultural identity integration on individual and community well-being and persistence in the biomedical sciences. She employs quantitative research methods to validate culturally relevant measures for Indigenous populations, advancing the science of mentorship and inclusion. Dr. Hosoda is growing a research program that informs interventions and programs that support and amplify the knowledge of Indigenous scholars pursuing biomedical science careers.
Project Title: Computational and Neurodevelopmental Mechanisms of Memory-Guided Decision-MakingInstitution: Columbia UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Mental HealthProject ID: MH133994MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Katie Insel grew up in upstate New York and then moved to New York City as a teen. Her experiences during adolescence inspired her to explore how the brain develops from childhood to adulthood. For her undergraduate studies, Dr. Insel majored in psychology at Columbia University. During college, she taught middle and high school students, and her time in the classroom piqued her curiosity about how the developing brain influences motivation and learning. She studied these topics as a graduate student at Harvard University, where she received her Ph.D. in psychology. Her graduate research focused on how adolescents respond to incentives, like rewards and punishments, and how ongoing brain development influences goal-directed behaviors. Dr. Insel is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute, where she studies the computational and neural mechanisms of memory and decision-making. Her ultimate goal is to understand how these processes change with age during adolescence and how adolescent brain development relates to risk for mental health disorders. She’s dedicated to mentoring high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to promote diversity in the biomedical sciences. Beyond the lab, Dr. Insel is committed to reforming juvenile justice policies that disproportionately impact youth of color. She works with legal scholars and policymakers to translate neuroscience research on adolescent brain development to inform cases that shape national- and state-level policy.
Project Title: Regulation and Maintenance of Adipose Tissue T cellsInstitution: University of Michigan at Ann ArborFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesProject ID: DK136934MOSAIC Scientific Society:ASM
Ramiah Jacks is originally from Fishers, Indiana. She had an insatiable curiosity when it came to health and disease. Upon learning about the diagnoses of autoimmune diseases and type 2 diabetes within her immediate and extended family, she began asking questions on the mechanisms of diseases. Her quest for discovery was ignited as a teenager. From then on, she was committed to a career in research. Dr. Jacks earned her B.S. in biology from DePaul University and her Ph.D. in immunology at Loyola University Chicago. Her graduate research investigated immune regulation by studying the regulation of T cell activation and fate. Her work was supported by an F31 diversity predoctoral fellowship. During her graduate training, she also served as a mentor at the Science Club, a National Science Foundation-funded organization created to spark scientific interest and excitement in students who are underrepresented in STEM. To continue to align her research interests and passions for teaching and mentorship, Dr. Jacks pursued a postdoctoral fellowship in the Institutional Research Academic Career Development Award program at the University of Michigan. Here, her research centers on obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation. She also serves as the University of Michigan’s postdoctoral representative in the NIDDK-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center working group on diversity, equity, and inclusion to increase the retention of scientists from minoritized underrepresented groups. Dr. Jacks looks forward to fostering her own laboratory environment that values scientists of diverse backgrounds and implements equitable and inclusive mentoring.
Project Title: Decoding Synovial CD4+ T Cell Antigen Specificities in Rheumatoid ArthritisInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskelatal and Skin DiseasesProject ID: AR081896MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Ayano Kohlgruber was born in Japan and raised in cities across Japan, Canada, and U.S. From a young age she was drawn to different languages, having grown up in a German-Japanese household, and initially thought she would pursue linguistics. It wasn’t until her undergraduate courses at University of California Berkeley that she became fascinated by the immune system and its impact on human disease. She devoted further studies to better understand the language of the immune system and pursued a Ph.D. in immunology at Harvard University. Her graduate work focused on characterizing the adipose tissue immune system, where she discovered a surprising role for ?d T cells in body temperature regulation and anti-inflammatory responses. Dr. Kohlgruber is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the division of genetics at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her primary goal as an immunologist is to understand the antigen-specific basis of human diseases through the development and application of technologies that enable high-throughput analysis of the immune system. Specifically, she is focused on the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis and understanding the specificities of the T cells that infiltrate the inflamed joint using the genetic tools she has built as a postdoctoral researcher (postdoc). During her time as an undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc, Dr. Kohlgruber has participated in various teaching and mentoring opportunities to foster excitement for immunology research, improve science communication, and advocate for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. She particularly loves one-on-one mentoring and is excited to learn from other MOSAIC awardees who value and practice inclusivity in biomedicine so that she can continue to improve her skills as an advocate for young scientists.
Project Title: Delineating the Role of the Homocysteine-Folate-Thymidylate Synthase Axis and Uracil Accumulation in African American Prostate TumorsInstitution: Baylor College of MedicineFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesProject ID: MD018671MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Kimiko L. Krieger grew up on the south side of Atlanta, Georgia. Her interest in DNA biology grew from her experience in her 9th-grade biology class. She was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Hampton University and majored in cellular and molecular biology. Her summer research internship at Georgetown University sparked her interest in genetics and prostate cancer disparities in African American men and inspired her to apply to graduate school to continue research. After graduating from Hampton, she attended the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where her graduate work was focused on studying BRCT domain-mediated protein-protein interactions in the DNA damage response. Dr. Krieger graduated with her Ph.D. in cancer research and began a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she joined a laboratory focused on metabolism and altered metabolic pathways in cancer. Her research involves studying the intersectionality between DNA repair defects and nucleotide metabolism that drives prostate cancer disparities in African American men. She is a member of Black Scientist Collective at Baylor College of Medicine, American Association for Cancer Research, Minorities for Cancer Research, National Postdoctoral Association, and LS-PAC MODELS. Dr. Krieger is fully committed to continuing mentoring and supporting other young scientists from underrepresented backgrounds and creating a safe, inclusive environment conducive for research. She plans to pursue a career in academia as an independent investigator focused on the molecular underpinnings driving cancer health disparities, community-based participatory research, and the development of research and outreach initiatives in her community.
Project Title: Testing the Functional Consequences of Rapid Centromeric DNA and Protein EvolutionInstitution: University of PennsylvaniaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM152835MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Piero Lamelza grew up as the son of Mexican and Italian immigrants in Hawthorne, a city in the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area. He developed an interest in cell biology in high school and eventually majored in molecular, cell, and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. By the time he had earned his B.S. and worked as a research technician, he had developed an awareness of science as a powerful tool for understanding the natural world. While applying to graduate school, he was introduced to the concept of intra-genomic conflict, which occurs when different genetic elements within the same genome have competing interests. Dr. Lamelza was fascinated to learn how these conflicts originate and evolve, and the consequences they have on the genome, organism, and population. His thesis work was completed in Dr. Michael Ailion’s lab at the University of Washington, where his focus was on how divergent mitochondrial-nuclear conflict might contribute to reproductive barriers between populations of Caenorhabditis nematodes. Piero is currently a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Michael Lampson’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where he uses comparative molecular analysis and cell biology to study the functional consequences of rapid centromere evolution. Specifically, he measures interactions between evolutionarily mismatched centromeric DNA and proteins, two molecular players hypothesized to be locked in genetic conflict. As an underrepresented person in science, Dr. Lamelza knows how difficult being a leader in the unfamiliar landscape of academia can be. Motivated by an upbringing which emphasized appreciation of multiculturalism, he will continue to mentor and support underrepresented trainees in the lab.
Project Title: Retina-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Diabetic Retinopathy: Their Potential Role in Pathogenesis and TherapyInstitution: University of California, IrvineFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Eye InstituteProject ID: EY034928MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Emma Lessieur Contreras was raised in El Mante Tamaulipas, a small town in the rural countryside northeast of Mexico City. A high percentage of the population has diabetes, and blindness is a common complication in patients of this small community. So, while growing up, Dr. Lessieur Contreras was always intrigued with diabetic retinopathy and ways to prevent it. She attended medical school at the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas in Mexico and earned her Ph.D. in molecular medicine with an emphasis in ophthalmology from Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. For her graduate studies, she received support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Med into Grad Initiative and a minority supplemental graduate fellowship from the National Eye Institute (NEI). She was a member of the Molecular Medicine Diversity Initiative Group, a student-driven diversity group focused on supporting and educating other minority students pursuing graduate school and careers in science. Currently, Dr. Lessieur Contreras is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Her research focuses on understanding the role that the immune system plays in the development of diabetic retinopathy. For her postdoctoral studies, she has received a minority supplemental postdoctoral fellowship from NEI. Dr. Lessier Contreras is committed to leadership, mentoring, and outreach activities to enhance diversity in the biomedical sciences. She is a chair of the Chican@/Latin@ Staff Association mentorship program, which aims to inspire, guide, and support the next generation of UCI undergraduate Latinx students to pursue further training. She is also a member of the Committee of Women in Vision Research, seeking to empower women of all backgrounds to achieve full potential in their careers as researchers, clinicians, and leaders.
Project Title: Age and Sex Differences in the Immune Response to Synthetic MaterialsInstitution: Johns Hopkins UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID: AG081564MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Joscelyn Mejías was raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She became interested in bioengineering at a unique summer outreach program between high school and Rice University?. She received her B.S. in bioengineering with the distinction in research and creative work at Rice University and went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in the joint program at Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) and Emory University. Dr. Mejías is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on the interface of immunology and biomaterials. Because of the impact that outreach programs had on her own career, Dr Mejías has worked with multiple programs in mentoring and engaging students from diverse backgrounds with interests in STEM. She has been in leadership positions for associations to better the experiences of trainees—as co-chair of the Cell Manufacturing Technologies Student Leadership Council at GT and co-chair of the biomedical engineering postdoctoral committee at Johns Hopkins. She is committed to establishing a training policy that promotes inclusivity and equity in the scientific community.
Project Title: Investigating the Pathological Features of Clonal Hematopoiesis-Derived MacrophagesInstitution: Stanford UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL166780MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Shaneice Mitchell is originally from Colerain, NC. Her first formal introduction to STEM was through an ecological research program for rural high school students. Following her interest in science, she pursued a B.S. in biochemistry at North Carolina State University, where she also took on various research opportunities in environmental toxicology and molecular biology. She subsequently received a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at Ohio State University. Her dissertation research involved the development of preclinical therapies for acute myeloid leukemia by targeting tumor metabolic processes. Dr. Mitchell is currently an instructor in the department of pathology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. Her research interest focuses on the effect of clonal hematopoiesis (CH) on human biology and its impact on disease outcomes that commonly affect the older population. More specifically, she is investigating the effect of CH-derived macrophages on heart disease. Apart from her research, another intersection of her learning and curiosity is the engagement of minorities in science. Dr. Mitchell is the co-president of the Stanford Black Postdoc Association, co-organizer for #BlackInCardioWeek, and former research mentor for Stanford’s historically Black medical college summer program. Ultimately, she would like to lead a diverse investigative team that will study the pathogenic function of clonal hematopoiesis.
Project Title: Catheter-Injectable System for Local Drug Delivery After Myocardial InfarctInstitution: Stanford UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL169844MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Renato S. Navarro is a first-generation and nontraditional student from Guadalajara, Mexico. Before pursuing a formal education, he undertook a career in the military that sparked his passion for engineering and regenerative medicine. Dr. Navarro began his higher education at San Antonio Community College before moving to St. Mary’s University, where he majored in biochemistry. After receiving an M.S. in chemistry at Texas State University, Dr. Navarro attended the University of Michigan, earning a Ph.D. in macromolecular science and engineering. During this time, his research focused on developing sustainable biomaterials for cardiovascular engineering and drug delivery. As a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, Dr. Navarro’s interest has been developing injectable hydrogels for drug delivery. Besides his research, he has a passion for mentorship and service. At Stanford University, he has mentored students from the Stanford BIO-X summer research program, Stanford Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Foothill Community College, earning him the BIOX-Star Mentorship Award. He also serves as a board member for the Stanford Latinx Postdoc Association. Additionally, he assists in recruiting efforts for underrepresented minority postdoctoral trainees through the Stanford Postdoctoral Recruitment Initiative in Sciences and Medicine program. Ultimately, his goal is to lead a research team that pursues comprehensive solutions to cardiovascular clinical challenges via chemistry and materials science and engineering approaches.
Project Title: Development of a 3D Neurovascular Unit for In Vitro Modeling of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage and Screening TherapiesInstitution: Vanderbilt UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS133399MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Austin, Texas, Brian O’Grady developed a passion for science when he built a computer alongside his father. His interest in the science behind how everything works—including the human brain—led him to pursue his B.S. and M.S. in neurobiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. To further his academic journey and expand his scientific expertise, he completed a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Vanderbilt University. His thesis centered on the design and development of bioreactors, pump perfusion systems, and biomimetic hydrogels to differentiate stem cells in a three-dimensional environment and generate differentiated cells. Currently, Dr. O'Grady is a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt, where his research efforts are channeled into the development of engineered neurovascular units and blood-brain barriers. In his career, Dr. O'Grady has actively contributed to promoting diversity within STEM fields. He has volunteered in outreach initiatives aimed at promoting community engagement and introducing middle and high school students to STEM careers and has provided mentorship to underrepresented students. As he continues his scientific pursuits, Dr. O'Grady remains committed to cultivating a laboratory environment that emphasizes inclusivity and diversity and welcomes all ideas, backgrounds, and experiences to support the next generation of scientists throughout their training.
Project Title: Dysregulation of Epithelial Metabolism and Regeneration by Sulfite Exposure in Pediatric Ulcerative ColitisInstitution: Stanford UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesProject ID: DK136971MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Babajide Ojo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in small towns across Ekiti State, Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Ekiti State University before moving to the United States. He became interested in academic research during his final-year honors research in undergrad when he came across studies that described the then-emerging concept of the gut microbiome's role in health and disease. Fascinated by this concept, he pursued his M.S. and Ph.D. training in nutritional sciences at Oklahoma State University, where he studied diet and gut microbiota interplay in diet-induced obesity. As a graduate student, he was selected as a Top 5 Young Minority Investigator by the American Society of Nutrition and received the Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research Award at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Ojo's postdoctoral work at Stanford University involves leading the generation of a pediatric colon organoid biobank. His current research uses patient-derived colon organoids to identify metabolic anomalies during colon epithelial differentiation in pediatric ulcerative colitis. He’s also passionate about diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. He has served as a graduate college ambassador, where he had several opportunities to encourage and draw underrepresented students into academic research. He also co-founded Bestman Academy to provide resources and mentoring to young minority students to position them for rewarding careers via graduate education and for contributing to STEM-related interests.
Project Title: Cerebrovascular Mitochondria as Mediators of Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s DiseaseInstitution: Temple UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID: AG083227MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Rebecca Parodi-Rullán was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She has always been fascinated by science, and from a young age imagined having a secret laboratory under her bedroom. During her school years she enjoyed participating in all science-related laboratory classes and activities. This curiosity led her to pursue a B.S. in genetic biology with a minor in psychology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. It was there where she had her first research experience and where she found the channel to fuel her passion. She worked on a project that studied inner ear development in chickens. She then went on to obtain her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, where she studied the role of mitochondria in post-infarction heart failure. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple University, Dr. Parodi-Rullán utilizes her expertise on the study of mitochondrial function to understand how Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy impact cerebrovascular mitochondria. Dr. Parodi-Rullán is also passionate about advocating the amazing work from Puerto Rican scientists in academia, which led her to create “BoriCiencia,” a short, lay-language column in a Puerto Rican newspaper designed to highlight the work of scientists and its potential impact to health and science. As a MOSAIC scholar, she will continue to learn how to best promote and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment that further supports and encourages the development and success of a diverse group of students in the field.
Project Title: Racism-Related Stress and Birth Outcomes Among Latinas: New Tools for Maximizing Conceptual and Methodological ValidityInstitution: University of California, BerkeleyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesProject ID: MD018629MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Amanda D. Perez is a proud Angeleno, coming from one of Los Angeles' many diverse yet under-resourced neighborhoods. Growing up there, she saw up close the structural challenges that marginalized communities face, sparking her passion to understand and address these inequalities. Choosing to delve deeper into these interests, Dr. Perez earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). During her graduate studies, she developed a keen interest in the multifaceted realm of racism and its profound effects on health, which led her to bridge the gap between psychology and public health. Dr. Perez is currently conducting postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, where she’s investigating the impact of anticipatory racism on the physical and mental health of women of color. She’s deeply committed to mentoring and guiding the next generation of scholars, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds. Drawing from her own academic challenges, she understands the transformative power of mentorship. As a member of the MOSAIC program, she’s excited about expanding mentorship opportunities and championing diversity in academia.
Project Title: Genomic Regulation of Immune Response by a Stat1 Gain of Function MutationInstitution: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin DiseasesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesProject ID:
AI177758MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASM
Rachael Philips grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach town in Los Angeles County. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree in physiological science. Building upon her love of puzzles there, she realized her passion for biomedical research while working as a volunteer and later lab assistant. So she pursued a Ph.D. in immunology at the Mayo Clinic, studying how gene expression is regulated during T cell development. Dr. Philips then transitioned to the National Institutes of Health, where she was selected for the Postdoctoral Research Associate Training Program. She studied STAT1 gain-of-function syndrome to understand basic principles of a STAT1 signaling and potential treatment options for patients. Currently, her research aim is to understand how perturbations in cytokine signaling have downstream and long-term effects in immune response. As a MOSAIC scholar, Dr. Philips is committed to promoting diversity through mentorship, leadership, and service roles to support underrepresented trainees on their career paths.
Project Title: Identifying the Mechanism of Olfactory Receptor Gene Regulation in Olfactory Neurons with Live-Cell ImagingInstitution: Columbia UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersProject ID: DC021219MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Joan Pulupa grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Although she originally intended to be a journalist, she fell in love with microscopy during her undergrad. She graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, with degrees in physics and biological sciences. Following her fascination with molecular machines, she developed new ways to monitor protein dynamics in living cells with polarized light microscopy to reveal nuclear pore biology during her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University. Now at Columbia University, Dr. Pulupa is using live-cell microscopy to study gene regulation and genome organization in olfactory sensory neurons. Throughout her career, Dr. Pulupa has mentored many students with diverse backgrounds and is committed to building an inclusive laboratory where students and trainees can come together to do science, learn from each other, and grow into future leaders.
Project Title: Methods for Enantioselective Spirocycle Synthesis and Radical Hydroamination of Trisubstituted AlkenesInstitution: California Institute of TechnologyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM152819MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Melissa Ramirez was born in Los Angeles, California, and is first-generation Mexican American. She became interested in science after participating in the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during high school. She obtained her B. A. in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in 2016. While at UPenn, Dr. Ramirez received scholarship support from the Gates Millennium Program and American Chemical Society Scholars Program and conducted undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Molander. Thereafter, she attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), for graduate school, where she was trained as a computational and synthetic organic chemist in the laboratories of Drs. Ken Houk and Neil Garg. While at UCLA, she was awarded Ruth L. Kirschstein and Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellowships, obtaining her Ph.D. in organic chemistry. In 2021, Dr. Ramirez joined the laboratory of Dr. Brian Stoltz as a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Presidential and a National Science Foundation MPS-Ascend Postdoctoral Fellow. Her postdoctoral research focuses on reaction development using a combination of experiments and computations. Her involvement in STEM diversity initiatives have included leadership roles in the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering, the Research Universities Alliance, the Diversity in Chemistry Initiative at Caltech, and Científico Latino. Additionally, she has served as a mentor for the Caltech WAVE Program and has worked with the Caltech Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach to lead outreach efforts in the local community.
Project Title: Stress tolerant annual killifish: a new model for the cellular stress responseInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM142262MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Growing up in Portland, Oregon, playing with pill bugs and riding bikes, Claire L. Riggs took an interest in the natural world from a young age. She attended Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts school in Michigan, where courses and summer research experiences grew her interest in biology. Dr. Riggs earned her Ph.D. in biology at Portland State University studying the role of small noncoding RNAs in anoxia-tolerant vertebrates. She then studied anoxia-tolerant turtles as a postdoctoral researcher at Saint Louis University before moving to Boston to focus on cellular responses to environmental stress. In her current postdoctoral position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Riggs uses human cells and anoxia-tolerant cells from the annual killifish
Austrofundulus limnaeus to study the role of RNA granules and small noncoding RNAs in the stress response. Throughout her training she has enjoyed teaching and mentoring students from diverse backgrounds, including through the McNair Scholars and National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation programs. As a woman in science, she has prioritized and especially enjoyed mentoring young women. She looks forward to building and fostering an inclusive lab, supporting and learning from her trainees, and pursuing institutional grants and initiatives to improve inclusive excellence in STEM.
Project Title: Investigating Molecular Mechanisms of Endocytosis of the Activated B Cell Receptor in Health and DiseaseInstitution: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: cGM152952MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Aleah Roberts is originally from Manassas, Virginia. Biology and nature have fascinated her for as long as she can remember. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, where a course that she took on the biology of infectious diseases sparked a long-lasting interest in microbiology and immunology. Dr. Roberts went on to obtain a Ph.D. from the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, where she studied molecular parasitology of malaria parasites. This exciting work inspired her to continue with molecular biology in her postdoctoral studies at NIH. As a postdoctoral fellow, she has focused on the structural cell biology of B cell receptor endocytosis. Shifting her focus from parasite to immune cell biology has allowed her to gain experience in both microbial and human cell biology experimental methods and research. She plans to merge these interests in the independent phase of her career and focus on how dysregulation of B cell receptor function plays a role in chronic disease settings, including cancer and, in the future, infectious diseases.
Project Title: Dissecting the Synaptic and Circuit Mechanisms Underlying Olfactory-Driven Social BehaviorInstitution: Columbia UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Mental HealthProject ID: GM153720MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Erica Rodriguez, a Latina and first-generation American, grew up in Queens, New York. Her interest in neuroscience stems from a particular appreciation for the biological mechanisms of human behavior that developed during high school, and a passion for tinkering from a young age. Erica pursued a major in neuroscience & biology and psychology through Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Queens College. As a NIH MARC U-STAR fellow, she investigated the effects of auditory feedback on new neuron incorporation and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. As an NIDCR NRSA Diversity predoctoral fellow, she conducted work determining how neural activity processing sensory information contributes to emotional/motor output. She led a multidisciplinary effort uncovering the neural circuits processing affective facial-specific pain perception and caloric-sufficient satiety. Driven by her curiosity about how external cues influence affective behavior, she joined Columbia University as a Helen Hay Whitney and NIH T32 postdoctoral fellow. Her research focuses on understanding the processing of social sensory cues and their impact on socially driven emotional behavior. Alongside research, Erica has mentored students from diverse backgrounds, engages in community outreach in Harlem, and works to increase inclusion within the institute through participation in clubs and working groups. Notably, Erica had co-organized an extramural postdoctoral seminar series focused on promoting women and gender minority postdoctoral researchers in their final stages of training. With her passion for neuroscience, commitment to mentorship, and efforts to foster inclusivity, Erica strives to inspire the next generation and promote diversity in academia.
Project Title: Mechanisms of Endosomal Dysfunction at Synapses in A-Synuclein PathologyInstitution: Marine Biological LaboratoryFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS126575MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Cristina Roman-Vendrell, born and raised in Puerto Rico, discovered her passion for science at an early age when her parents gifted her a microscope, igniting her scientific curiosity. Her passion for research began during her undergraduate years, when she became interested in biochemistry and cell biology. She earned her B.S. in microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. She then worked as a laboratory technician at the Institute of Neurobiology in Puerto Rico, which was a pivotal moment in her career. The experience inspired her to pursue a doctoral degree in physiology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. During her Ph.D., she studied the regulation of G protein-coupled receptor signaling and membrane trafficking. Currently, Dr. Roman-Vendrell is a postdoctoral fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory. There, she leverages the lamprey model to explore the impact of neurodegeneration-related proteins on neuronal function, particularly at synapses. Beyond her scientific pursuits, she’s a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM. She actively participates in promoting diversity by mentoring students from various backgrounds. Additionally, she is a member of the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee at her institution, ensuring a supportive and inclusive environment for all. She’s excited to lead her own independent research group and strives to create an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion, where all voices are heard and valued.
Project Title: Defining the Interactions Between Microglia and Synapses in Brain Development and DiseaseInstitution: University of California, San FranciscoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS130018MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Nicholas Silva was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of southern California. Science fascinated him as a child, and he would spend hours at play with the creatures found in his backyard pond. Academics didn’t come easily to him; he credits his high school teacher Binnie Hung for encouraging him to pursue his passion for biology. Following high school, Dr. Silva worked at a medical billing office for several years before enrolling at Los Angeles Mission College. He transferred to San Francisco State University (SFSU) to complete his undergraduate and master’s degree in biology with a concentration in physiology. While at SFSU, he entered the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) and Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement programs, which transformed his research training. Dr. Silva earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Michigan investigating inflammatory mechanisms governing photoreceptor regeneration. He’s currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, studying microglia-synaptic interactions during development and disease states. Throughout his scientific training, Dr. Silva has been committed to promoting diversity in STEM through his involvement in the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the Mentoring Youth and Early Leaders in Neuroscience organization, as well as both the MARC and the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award programs at SFSU. As a MOSAIC scholar, he looks forward to integrating his experiences to enhance diversity in STEM through mentorship and leadership roles to foster a strong and encouraging community among trainees, researchers, and mentors.
Project Title: Regulation of Oxidative Stress Signaling by Tyrosine Phosphorylation of Antioxidant EnzymesInstitution: Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM152834MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
Tigist Tamir is originally from Ethiopia and immigrated to the U.S. during her teenage years. Science fascinated her because it fostered a deep sense of curiosity, creativity, and a lifetime of learning. She embarked on her STEM journey through undergraduate research at the College of William and Mary and through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s EXceptional Research Opportunities Program and NIH’s Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program. These experiences exposed her to developmental biology, cell signaling, and cancer biology, sparking her interest in unraveling cellular mechanisms that orchestrate life and their disruption in diseases. Dr. Tamir completed her Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her doctoral work delved into unraveling kinase-mediated regulation of oxidative stress response. In her present work, she employs a multidisciplinary approach utilizing biochemistry, multi-omics, and computational models to investigate the intricate regulation of oxidative stress response within complex signaling and metabolic networks. As a scientist who has benefited greatly from excellent mentorship and STEM outreach, she values the opportunity to share her love of science and pay it forward. Dr. Tamir is dedicated to enhancing diversity in academia and research by mentoring students through initiatives like the Black in Cancer Mentorship Program and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. She also helps foster inclusive peer communities such as the National Black Postdoctoral Association and MIT Black Postdoc Group. Committed to amplifying underrepresented voices, Dr. Tamir is passionate about sharing the narratives of scientists from diverse backgrounds via her video miniseries, "Edges & Nodes." Her aim is to not only inspire upcoming generations but also to forge a more inclusive scientific community.
Project Title: Nucleus Reuniens of the Thalamus as a Target for Driving Network-Wide Memory StatesInstitution: Florida International UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS128718MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Tatiana Viena is an accomplished neuroscientist and an inspiring role model. Her academic journey began when she emigrated from Costa Rica to the U.S. with the dream of becoming a neuroscientist. Despite the challenges of adjusting to a new country, she earned her A.A. at a local community college while balancing work to help support her family. As an undergraduate, she authored her first scientific publication, showcasing her early dedication to research. She obtained an M.S. in experimental psychology from Nova Southeastern University and later completed her Ph.D. in complex systems and brain sciences at Florida Atlantic University. Presently, Dr. Viena is a distinguished postdoctoral scholar at Florida International University, where she continues to excel in her research. Her primary interest is focused on understanding the fundamental circuit and network-level mechanisms regulated by the nucleus reuniens of the thalamus, particularly those related to prefrontal-hippocampal memory-related rhythms during wake and sleep states. Aside from her academic pursuits, Dr. Viena has dedicated a substantial part of her career to mentoring students, especially those who are women and Hispanic, through her research work. Her guidance has empowered numerous students to gain acceptance into graduate schools, secure STEM-related positions, and become co-authors in her publications. In addition to mentoring, she has actively served in various leadership capacities ranging from organizing public outreach activities to being a university club advisor and creating professional development opportunities for her peers and other STEM students. Dr. Viena’s research and mentoring have positively impacted the academic community, providing valuable insights into memory-related mechanisms and fostering the development of future scientists.
Project Title: Studying the Modulators and the Physiological Functions of RNA Tailing in the
C. elegans OocyteInstitution: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM149822MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Karl-Frédéric Vieux was born and raised in Pétion-Ville, Haiti, where his parents fostered his curiosity and sense of problem-solving from a young age. He spent his youth looking at dirt samples under his first microscope and watching a lot of
Dexter’s Laboratory and
Pinky and the Brain. Dr. Vieux also credits his STEM teachers from the Lycée Alexandre Dumas school for his love of science. He went on to complete both undergraduate and graduate degrees at McGill University in Canada. He conducted his Ph.D. thesis research on mechanisms of post-transcriptional regulation in oogenesis. His current research investigates RNA tailing by terminal nucleotidyl transferases and its function in
C. elegans fertility. He has a long track record of supporting underrepresented minorities in academia, particularly women of color. He is committed to diversity outreach and produces a science podcast in Creole for the Haitian community here and abroad. As a MOSAIC scholar, Dr. Vieux will continue democratizing access to science education and creating a safe and inclusive space for a diverse next generation of scientists.
Project Title: Investigating Relationships Between Naturalistic Light Exposure and SleepInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL166700MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Originally from Massachusetts, Danielle Wallace loves spending time in nature and developed an early interest in environmental health after reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” After working as a teacher for a few years, her curiosity for how environmental exposures shape health inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in public health at Emory University, with a focus on environmental health and maternal and child health. It was during graduate school that she fell in love with research and first considered it as a possible career path. Fortunate to work with two fantastic Ph.D. mentors, Drs. Carmen Marsit and Machelle Pardue, she investigated the influences of light exposure and circadian disruption on health and development as a doctoral student. She has continued this work in environmental sleep and circadian epidemiology as a postdoctoral fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Wallace’s efforts to work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion in science include community outreach efforts, service on institutional committees, and mentorship of students and colleagues. Partly informed by her experiences living with epilepsy, she aims to cultivate communal belonging, to continue developing mentorship and teaching skills to support learners as they launch their careers, and to build effective coalitions to ensure that people with diverse thought, experiences, and backgrounds thrive in the academic research environment.
Project Title: Understanding and Rewiring Cellular Behavior with Synthetic Biology ApproachesInstitution: University of California, San FranciscoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM147825MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Zara Weinberg grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she occupied herself breaking and fixing old computers. As a student at Reed College, she learned that science had a lot in common with her childhood pastime and that she could make a career out of breaking things to understand them. As she pursued her scientific training, she became fascinated by how multiple signals can act on the same physiology to produce distinct outcomes. Her undergraduate thesis research revealed an interaction between feeding signals and drugs of abuse, and her Ph.D. studies at Carnegie Mellon University revealed novel mechanisms by which hormones and drugs of abuse produce different responses through the same cellular receptors. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Weinberg is using her studies of signaling to build synthetic tools for controlling cellular behavior and using these tools to better understand how different cell types repurpose the same proteins to generate unique functions. Throughout her years in science, Dr. Weinberg has seen and experienced how research environments can exclude and marginalize people, and she has made mentorship and teaching integral parts of her career, devoting considerable effort to mentoring and supporting other scientists with marginalized identities. As she works toward leading her own independent research group, Dr. Weinberg is excited to build a diverse and supportive environment in her own lab and to continue fighting for structural changes in scientific training.
Project Title: Anti-Inflammatory Signaling of RNA-Binding Protein, Tristetraprolin, During Myocardial InfarctionInstitution: University of Hawaii at ManoaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID: HL168433MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Jonathan Yap was born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. As a native Hawaiian who’s culturally inclined to interact with the world around him, Dr. Yap spent much of his time outdoors, developing an interest in science at a very early age. He earned a B.A. in biology and an M.S. in physiology from the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa. During his graduate work, he specialized in both cardiac pathophysiology and bioinformatics. His predoctoral research sought to elucidate the relationship between production of CHIT1 from pro-inflammatory macrophages and the progression of atherosclerosis. Dr. Yap went on to receive a doctorate from UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. He’s currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Hawaii Center for Cardiovascular Research. There, he’s utilized spatial transcriptomics to begin characterizing a novel protein and its capacity to modulate inflammatory tissue damage during the early stages of myocardial infarction. As part of his commitment to promote native Hawaiian participation in science and health care-related fields, he’s a member of the Native Hawaiian STEM and Engineering Mentorship Program, which provides mentorship for native undergraduate students. Dr. Yap is also collaborating on a larger effort to design a research/health sciences summer module involving research and medical resources at his institution.
Project Title: Nuclear and Chromatin Aberrations During Non-Apoptotic Cell Death in c. elegans and MammalsInstitution: Rockefeller UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM151467MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Olya Yarychkivska was born in Nadvirna, Ukraine, and grew up in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. She was inspired to pursue a career in science by her grandmother, a biology teacher, and her high school science teacher, who initiated her into basic research. At age 16, Dr. Yarychkivska moved to the U.S., completing her undergraduate studies at Manor College and Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree from Columbia University, performing her thesis work in the lab of Dr. Timothy Bestor, where she studied novel functions of a DNA methyltransferase enzyme. Dr. Yarychkivska is now a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Shai Shaham at Rockefeller University and is currently investigating a nonapoptotic cell death program known as linker cell-type death. Throughout her training, Dr. Yarychkivska mentored many students from backgrounds underrepresented in science, and she’s especially passionate about empowering mothers in science. In 2014, she co-founded the nonprofit organization Razom, which helps build civil society in her native Ukraine. In 2021, she helped raise $2 million for a gene therapy treatment for a 3-month-old Ukrainian infant with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and since then has become a global advocate for SMA patients, co-organizing an event at the United Nations, raising awareness worldwide. Through this work, Dr. Yarychkivska became acutely aware about accessibility issues, driving her mission to make science more accessible to people with disabilities.
Project Title: Immuno-Stromal Axes Regulate Fibroblast Heterogeneity in Tissue Fibrosis and Regeneration?Institution: University of VirginiaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM146111MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Daniel Abebayehu grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. His interest in the biomedical sciences began early but deepened as a freshman in college, where he gained his first research experience working in a lab learning about tissue regeneration. After receiving his B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia (UVA), he went on to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dr. Abebayehu is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UVA in the department of biomedical engineering and a fellow with the Cardiovascular Research Center. His research focuses on how inflammatory cytokine signaling regulates fibroblast subpopulation dynamics in tissue fibrosis and using novel biomaterials to determine how that differs during tissue regeneration. Dr. Abebayehu has consistently been involved in efforts to promote diversity in STEM, including mentoring underrepresented undergraduate students at VCU and UVA and serving on his department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee. He plans to continue promoting diversity in STEM as a MOSAIC scholar and in the future as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Identifying Neural Circuits That Support Effortful ListeningInstitution: New York UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersProject ID:
DC020570MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Kelsey Anbuhl is an auditory neuroscientist interested in how developmental hearing loss contributes to sensory and cognitive processing. She grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where she attended a small liberal arts college. Summer research programs at the Universities of Colorado and Oregon allowed her to gain first-hand experience with science research and solidified her interest in neuroscience. Dr. Anbuhl graduated magna cum laude with a degree in cell and molecular biology and received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at New York University, where she is addressing the perceptual and cognitive changes following adolescent hearing loss. Dr. Anbuhl’s interest in hearing loss research stems from both her professional and personal experiences; she was diagnosed with a significant hearing loss early in life. Navigating the academic path with hearing loss has given her a greater sense of purpose for her work and motivates her involvement in a peer-mentorship group for scientists with disabilities as well as with the Hearing Loss Association for America, advocating for deaf and hard-of-hearing young adults.
Project Title: Investigating the Role of Traumatic Injury in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia (ALS/FTD)Institution: University of PittsburghFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID:
AG75363MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Eric N. Anderson was born in Guyana, South America, before migrating to Brooklyn, New York. He attended the City of New York University-Medgar Evers College and developed a passion for biomedical sciences after successfully completing summer research at California Institute of Technology and Ohio State University. He earned a Ph.D. in biology/neurobiology at the University at Buffalo. Dr. Anderson currently holds a postdoctoral (postdoc) position at the University of Pittsburgh and is a recipient of several awards, including the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration postdoc fellowship, Kennedy Disease Association postdoc fellowship, National Institutes of Health T32 fellowship, and travel awards. Dr. Anderson is interested in understanding how genetic factors and traumatic brain injury alter neurodegenerative disease-related proteins' normal functions and pathways critical for cell survival. He aims to find therapeutic targets for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and traumatic brain injury. He passionately believes that diversity is an integral part to the advancement of science because it will improve innovation, creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, and many other aspects of science. Upon assuming an independent academic career, Dr. Anderson will remain committed to recruiting and mentoring a diverse pool of candidates in his laboratory, as well as participating in the recruitment of underrepresented students at the high school and college levels into the STEM field.
Project Title: Investigation and Application of Hydrocarbon-Degrading Enzymes Using Cryo-Electron Microscopy and Directed EvolutionInstitution: Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM145910MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Mary C. Andorfer grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After high school, she attended Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, and there she developed an interest in chemistry and teaching. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where she used directed evolution to engineer site-selective halogenases capable of chlorinating and brominating a wide array of aromatic small molecules under mild conditions. She worked with Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research both during her Ph.D. and before starting her postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There Dr. Andorfer studied anaerobic enzymes found within the human gut microbiome using a variety of biophysical techniques. She has also investigated anaerobic enzymes found in crude-oil-polluted environments though biochemical assays and cryo-electron microscopy, which she will continue during her independent career. Dr. Andorfer is committed to building an inclusive and diverse community both within her own lab and within the larger university community. She will continue to work toward making science more approachable to a wider variety of younger students outside of the academic community.
Project Title: Structural Consequences of PKC-Dependent Phosphorylation of Kv7.2Institution: University of Texas Health Science CenterFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM146028MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Crystal R. Archer grew up in New Mexico and Oklahoma, where she was raised with stories of strong women in her family history and was always out in nature. She was curious about everything and, during her undergraduate studies, was also interested in practically every major. However, she found her true passion for studying membrane proteins in a summer internship at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Archer earned an M.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and later a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Her research focus is understanding the mechanisms of ion channel regulation. Dr. Archer’s activities usually focus on the issues and solving problems while creating an environment that is open to many different perspectives and ideas. She regularly mentors students of all backgrounds and has organized workshops to help scientists throughout her institution learn new technology and lab skills. Dr. Archer recently founded Women Inspiring Productivity in Science, a local science group dedicated to helping write grants and manuscripts. As a MOSAIC scholar, she looks forward to helping shape the field of ion channel research.
Project Title: Comprehensive Computational Analysis of Genetic and Regulatory Differences Between Individuals With African and European Ancestries Across Four Brain RegionsInstitution: Lieber Institute, Inc.Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID:
MD0169640MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Born and raised in a large extended family from Indianapolis, Indiana, Kynon Jade Benjamin is proud to be the first doctor in his family. Science has always been a passion for Dr. Benjamin, and he remembers his family encouraging his interest by giving him a microscope and lab coat for Christmas when he was 10. He earned his GED with the support of his family before moving on to Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). At IUPUI, Dr. Benjamin completed his work study at a neuroscience research laboratory. This started his neuroscience research journey, leading to several undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research awards, as well as poster and oral presentation awards. His current research at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine focuses on the improvement of therapeutics for underresearched communities (i.e., personalized medicine) via investigating ancestry genetic and epigenetic differences for neurological disorders in relevant tissues. Throughout his research path, Dr. Benjamin's experiences have reinforced the critical need for diversity and creating inclusive spaces. As such, he has worked to provide mentorship and representation as well as advocate for opportunities for other underrepresented minorities.
Project Title: Identity Influences on Psychosocial Traits, Biologic Age, and Cardiovascular Disease DisparitiesInstitution: University of North Carolina at Chapel HillFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingGrant ID:
AG075327MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Ganga S. Bey hails from Cleveland, Ohio, where she was raised along with her nine siblings. Named after a holy river known for its healing waters, Dr. Bey has always felt a calling toward the healing professions. A medical anthropology course during her sophomore year at Princeton University sparked a passion for understanding and addressing the social causes of illness, particular among marginalized populations. She ultimately majored in anthropology and African American studies before receiving her M.P.H. from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts. As a social epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she draws on her love for social science, centering on advancing theoretical frameworks for health disparities research through strengthening the integration of social, social psychological, and biological approaches in epidemiologic methods. Dr. Bey’s research currently focuses on understanding psychosocial and epigenetic mechanisms that influence disparate aging rates between dominant-status and marginalized persons with the goal of identifying novel points of intervening on the health consequences of structural inequity. Recognizing the multigenerational effort required to achieve this goal, Dr. Bey is enthusiastic to continue advocacy for and mentorship of scholars underrepresented in the sciences as a MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: The Genetic Control of Neuronal Number and BehaviorInstitution: Harvard UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM146243MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Jenny Chen grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Bay Area of California. She attended college at Stanford University, where she first learned computer programming and became excited about using computational tools to “decode” the human genome. She earned a Ph.D. in bioinformatics and integrative genomics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Chen is interested in taking advantage of natural animal diversity to disentangle the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Her current research focuses on understanding how the genetic control of neuronal population sizes can mediate differences in innate behaviors across mammalian species. Dr. Chen is committed to increasing diversity in the biomedical sciences through mentorship of students from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as through identifying and dismantling structural biases throughout the biomedical enterprise.
Project Title: Visualizing the Divergent Conformational Dynamics of KCNH ChannelsInstitution: University of Maryland BaltimoreFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM144684MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Sara J. Codding is from a small town in Northern California. She is a first-generation college graduate who has taken a nontraditional path to graduate school. Dr. Codding earned a B.S. in chemistry from Humboldt State University (HSU) and then entered the pharmaceutical industry for 2 years. She then went on to earn her doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University (OSU). Dr. Codding is now a postdoctoral fellow at University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), in the department of physiology. Her current work focuses on measuring the short-range dynamics of the potassium ion channel hERG using noncanonical amino acids as FRET donors to visualize protein movement on the Angstrom level. Dr. Codding’s desire to promote diversity in sciences is multifactorial. It stems from wanting to be a scientist that others can see in themselves and from knowing that collaborative approaches from varied perspectives fuels the best science. She has served as a conference organizer for Expand Your Horizons (HSU), and as a graduate student union representative and member of the contract bargaining team (OSU). She now is a diversity and inclusion representative for UMB’s program in neuroscience. Dr. Codding will continue promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM fields as an early career scientist and MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: Identifying Determinants of ADAR-Dependency in Triple-Negative Breast CancerInstitution: Washington UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID:
Kyle A. Cottrell grew up in a small town in southwest Missouri. He began his undergraduate studies at Ozarks Technical Community College before transferring to Missouri State University. It was there while volunteering in a laboratory that he became interested in biomedical research. He earned his B.S. and M.S. at Missouri State and his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). His doctoral studies focused on posttranscriptional regulation by miRNAs and RNA-binding proteins. As a postdoctoral research associate at WUSTL, Dr. Cottrell studies the RNA editing enzyme ADAR and its role in breast cancer. As a first-generation student from a low-socioeconomic background, he is keenly aware of the challenges those from disadvantaged backgrounds face in academia. Dr. Cottrell has taken an active role in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in biomedical research, both at the individual level through his mentorship of trainees from underrepresented backgrounds and at a larger scale through his work outside of the laboratory. As a member of the Washington University Postdoc Society, he has organized several events focused on career development. Dr. Cottrell founded First-Gen Scholars to provide mentorship, community, and other resources for trainees who are first-generation students or who are from low-socioeconomic backgrounds so that they will be better equipped to navigate careers in academia.
Project Title: Protein-Driven Dynamics of Pre-mRNA Splicing Catalysis Through Single Molecule MicroscopyInstitution: University of Michigan at Ann ArborFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM144735MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Elizabeth C. Duran grew up in Miami, Florida, after immigrating from Cuba with her family at the age of 8. She decided to pursue a science career after discovering a deep curiosity about protein-nucleic acid interactions while working as an undergraduate researcher at Florida International University (FIU). After completing her B.A. in chemistry at FIU, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan (UM), where her research is focused on characterizing protein-driven spliceosome rearrangements that govern splice site selection during mature RNA production. Throughout her scientific training, Dr. Duran has shown a deep commitment to promoting diversity in STEM by co-founding the Outstanding Women in Science Seminar Series at UAB, participating in outreach and mentorship programs at UM, and teaching at community colleges serving underrepresented populations through the UM Institutional Research and Academic Career Development program. As a MOSAIC scholar, she is looking forward to integrating these equity, diversity, and inclusion practices and experiences with efforts to increase parity in STEM and fulfill her vision of a diverse and just scientific community where all are welcome.
Project Title: Epigenetic Mechanisms Linking Lifetime Social and Environmental Exposures to Cognitive AgingInstitution: University of Southern CaliforniaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID:
AG076964MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Mateo P. Farina attended high school in rural Oklahoma, where he became interested in health and aging after volunteering with a local hospice organization. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, during which he became interested in the impact of social and policy contexts on health as well as how historical processes have shaped racial inequalities in the United States and Brazil. Dr. Farina completed his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on demography and the social determinants of aging through a life course perspective. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Southern California’s school of gerontology. As a sociologist, demographer, and gerontologist, he seeks to understand how life course exposures impact physiological and cognitive aging with attention to differences in life course pathways across racial and ethnic groups. Dr. Farina is also excited about promoting and supporting diversity in the sciences; he currently mentors several graduate students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Project Title: Utilizing a Human Stem Cell Model of the Esophagus to Understand Racial Disparities During Injury RepairInstitution: University of Michigan at Ann ArborFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesProject ID:
DK133804MOSAIC Scientific Society:
An abundance of curiosity, the challenge of solving problems, and perseverance led Daysha Ferrer-Torres to where she is today and where she wants to go in science. At an early age in Puerto Rico, Dr. Ferrer-Torres became involved in science when her parents bought her a microscope. From then on, she marveled at the complexity of the structures she could see through the lenses and how science helps describe and explain the processes we observe daily in nature. For over a decade, Dr. Ferrer-Torres has spent her time in academic training and working in evolutionary genetics, cancer biology, tissue modeling, and stem cell biology. She obtained a bachelor’s in science at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and a Ph.D. in cancer biology from the University of Michigan, where she’s been training in stem cell biology and tissue modeling. Her passion lies in answering the scientific questions that can shape how we prevent or delay the onset of cancer with a focus on racial disparities. Dr. Ferrer-Torres strongly believes that the evolution of medical care and preventive medicine lies in our ability to perform interdisciplinary, diverse research and to be inclusive at all levels of scientific advancement.
Project Title: In Vivo Inflammatory Challenge to Elucidate the Role of the Toll-Like Receptor 4 Pathway in DepressionInstitution: Laureate Institute for Brain ResearchFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Mental HealthProject ID:
MH126950MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Leandra K. Figueroa-Hall grew up on the island of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, with her Puerto Rican father and Trinidadian mother. It was a privilege to be the first person in her family to receive a Ph.D. Her interest in science began with her participation in an after-school program called Medical Explorers. She earned an M.Sc. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine with a focus on molecular mechanisms of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and a Ph.D. from the Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences focused on characterization of TLR4 neuroinflammatory signaling. After a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University gaining experience in translational-based research and cutting-edge techniques, Dr. Figueroa-Hall is now a postdoctoral research associate at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR). Her cumulative training in TLR4 has led to her current interest in defining the role of TLR4 signaling in major depressive disorder. During her graduate studies, she participated in STEM mentorship and outreach activities with elementary school children. Dr. Figueroa-Hall is currently a member of LIBR’s Diversity Committee and the Philanthropy and Community Engagement subcommittee, and she is committed to continuing her work mentoring underrepresented students and young scientists.
Project Title: Toward Accurate Cardiovascular Disease Prediction in Hispanics/Latinos: Modeling Risk and Resilience FactorsInstitution: University of ArizonaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteGrant ID:
HL157611MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Melissa Flores grew up in Midland, Texas, and has always been avidly curious about the natural and social world. Her undergraduate research experiences at the University of Texas at Austin and early community work in behavioral health spurred her interest in social dynamics and health. She continued her education at the University of Arizona, where she earned a Ph.D. in family studies and human development and a minor in biostatistics. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the University of Arizona, working with Dr. John M. Ruiz. As a developmental scientist, she aims to understand both social and structural factors associated with the persistence of health disparities in Latina/o/x populations using a resilience-focused lens. She is interested in novel and advanced quantitative methods to model complex social environments as they relate to cardiovascular disease. Dr. Flores is enthusiastic about and committed to strengthening the academic pipeline for diverse scholars. She is an active mentor across several academic domains spanning middle (6th to 10th grade) to graduate school.
Project Title: Investigating the Role of Neuronal SYNJ2 in mRNA Transport and Mitochondrial FunctionInstitution: Boston Children's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS126722MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Whitney S. Gibbs was raised near Charleston, South Carolina, and began her undergraduate studies in biochemistry at the College of Charleston. It was there she first experienced working in a research laboratory and learned that research could help answer intriguing questions—even if they were deemed “crazy.” Dr. Gibbs earned a Ph.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina in biomedical sciences with a focus on mechanisms of mitochondrial biogenesis. She continued her training at Brigham and Women’s and Boston Children’s Hospital. Her postdoctoral training as a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke T32 and Harvard Medical School Lefler fellow focuses on specialized mechanisms that deliver mitochondrial mRNA to distal parts of the neuron to maintain mitochondrial health as neurons develop and age. Dr. Gibbs is a first-generation college student who is energized by her own experiences to improve diversity and inclusion opportunities for underrepresented students interested in STEM careers. Dr. Gibbs’ commitment is exemplified through her work as cochair of the Harvard Medical School Black Postdoctoral Association’s outreach committee and through establishing mentorship programs to encourage, support, and uplift underrepresented students as they navigate their academic journeys. She will continue to actively advocate for diversity in science and academia as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Stress-Induced Transposon Mobilization In the Human Fungal Pathogen CryptococcusInstitution: Duke UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesGrant ID:
AI166094MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Asiya Gusa first developed a passion for biological research in high school through a summer research apprenticeship program for underrepresented minorities at Ohio State University in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio. She majored in microbiology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, as a UNCF/Merck fellow. Dr. Gusa studies stress adaptation in human fungal diseases as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University. Prior to this, she taught high school science, where she encouraged students to pursue STEM careers. She also served as the diversity coordinator for the school, leading initiatives to support students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and to promote equity and inclusion. Dr. Gusa is an advocate for strengthening relationships between universities and middle and high school students to increase education and access to STEM careers, especially for those in historically underrepresented groups.
Project Title: Developing Lectins as Inhibitors of Coronavirus Spike ProteinsInstitution: University of PittsburghFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM145970MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Alex J. Guseman grew up outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and became interested in science while in high school, during which time, he interned at a local biotech company. Dr. Guseman developed a desire to understand life at the atomic level, leading him to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his B.S. in biochemistry. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Pielak. There, he used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to understand how the cellular environment influences protein structure and biophysics. For his postdoctoral training, Dr. Guseman joined the laboratory of Dr. Angela Gronenborn, where he’s worked on numerous projects, including elucidating the mechanisms of cataract formation, developing new methods for in-cell NMR spectroscopy, and understanding how lectins inhibit viral glycoproteins. He’s been a leader in numerous diversity-focused organizations and is passionate about training the next generation of scientists, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Project Title: Restoration and Preservation of Hepatic cardiolipin Levels Promotes Liver Regeneration in AHInstitution: University of LouisvilleFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID:
AA030627MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Josiah Hardesty was born in Hartford, Kentucky. His interest in biomedical research started in college, where he worked in a lab focused on identifying mechanisms of cancer. After earning his B.S. in biology at the University of Kentucky, he obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Louisville. Dr. Hardesty is currently a postdoctoral research associate there, studying the mechanisms contributing to compromised liver regeneration in alcohol-associated liver disease and evaluating novel metabolic interventions. He continues to actively mentor and train individuals from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds in science. He hopes to continue his research and to promote diversity in science as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Tissue Structure and Mechanical Function Relationships of the Human Temporomandibular Lateral Capsule-Ligament: Investigation of Sexual and Racial DimorphismsInstitution: Clemson UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial ResearchGrant ID:
DE031345MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Cherice N. Hill grew up in Cary, North Carolina, surrounded by family, friends, and mentors in science and engineering. She participated in precollegiate STEM programs and a research internship in high school, which fueled her interest in scientific research and encouraged her to continue her STEM training. Dr. Hill discovered her passion for biomechanics while completing her B.S. in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. She continued her training with an M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Virginia Tech, focusing on movement mechanics. Currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Clemson-Medical University of South Carolina bioengineering program, she studies the structural and mechanical influence of ligamentous structures on temporomandibular joint function and related health disparities. In addition to participating in conferences, seminars, and programs aimed at diversifying representation and academic approaches within higher education, Dr. Hill has mentored a diverse set of trainees in support of creating a more diverse academic workforce. Her commitment extends to her research, with the aim of improving diversity within research and optimizing research translational equity to mitigate health disparities.
Project Title: Native Spirit: Culturally Grounded Substance Use Prevention for Indigenous AdolescentsInstitution: Northern Arizona UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Drug AbuseGrant ID:
DA056842MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Amanda M. Hunter is a proud citizen of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Her interest in public health research ignited after working in the medical field and recognizing the great need for prevention of chronic disease that often brought patients into the office and pharmacy. Dr. Hunter received her M.P.H. and Ph.D. in health behavior and health promotion from the University of Arizona. She’s currently a postdoctoral researcher at Northern Arizona University’s Center for Health Equity Research. Since 2015, she has worked with Indigenous communities in Arizona to develop, implement, and evaluate a culturally grounded after-school program. The program aims to strengthen cultural identity, self-esteem, and resilience while decreasing substance use in Indigenous youth. As an Indigenous person, Dr. Hunter is deeply invested in the advancement of Indigenous peoples and unable to separate her identity from her work. For this reason, all of her research, service, work experience, and teaching has centered around health promotion and disease prevention for Indigenous communities. Any future funding she receives will go toward Indigenous students at various education and community members to guide research priorities and to serve as community researchers.
Project Title: Developing Tools to Probe DnaJB6 Dynamics in Spinobulbular Muscular AtrophyInstitution: University of California, San FranciscoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID:
NS128717MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Oleta T. Johnson is from Charleston, South Carolina, and grew up fascinated with dynamic movement due to her training in dance. She earned her B.S. in biochemistry at Florida A&M University, where she learned that proteins—like dancers—rely on dynamic movements to function and that these dynamics are often altered in disease. Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in chemical biology at the University of Michigan studying conformational change in the disease-associated, intrinsically disordered protein 4E-BP1. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where her goals are: 1) to discover molecules that act as “chemical choreographers” of molecular chaperone proteins and 2) to use these molecules to alter the conformation of chaperone protein substrates in neurodegenerative diseases. At UCSF, Dr. Johnson has mentored graduate and high school students from diverse backgrounds. She has also advocated for Black and Indigenous postdoctoral (postdoc) researchers of color as a member of the Postdoctoral Scholars Association and the co-founder of Underrepresented Postdocs Realizing an Inclusive Scientific Environment. Dr. Johnson will continue supporting an inclusive training environment for diverse scientists as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Machine Perception Nanosensor Array Platform to Capture Whole Disease Fingerprints of Early Stage Pancreatic CancerInstitution: Sloan Kettering InstituteFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioengineeringProject ID:
EB033580MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Mijin Kim grew up in South Korea. She became interested in material science and physical chemistry while working as an undergraduate research assistant in the analytical spectroscopy laboratory at Hanyang University in Korea. Dr. Kim moved to the United States to earn a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park. During her Ph.D. studies, she investigated the methods of chemical modification to improve the quantum efficiency and functionalities of carbon nanotubes. Now in her postdoctoral training in molecular pharmacology at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, Dr. Kim utilizes the chemically modified carbon nanotubes to address challenges in cancer diagnostics and biomedical research tools. She’s developed a machine-learning enabled nanosensor array platform to identify a disease fingerprint of ovarian cancer from patient sera. Dr. Kim currently investigates the molecular mechanism of sensor response and works on validating the methodology for another clinical target. Throughout her training, she’s been committed to promoting diversity in science and engineering through outreach at a local high school and through mentoring students from underrepresented minority and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Project Title: Investigating the Mechanism of Self-Organized Cortical Patterning in an Artificial CortexInstitution: University of Michigan at Ann ArborFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM147826MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Jennifer Landino grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned her B.S. in cell and molecular biology from Grand Valley State University. As an undergraduate, she researched mechanisms that control cell division in yeast, and this experience sparked her fascination with the beauty and complexity of cytokinesis, the final stage of cell division. She continued her education at Vanderbilt University, where she earned a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology, studying cytoskeletal crosstalk during anaphase and cytokinesis. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, where she investigates cortical patterning during cytokinesis and mechanisms that regulate epithelial cytokinesis. Dr. Landino is committed to supporting scientists from historically excluded backgrounds, and she has mentored undergraduate and graduate students in the lab and in the classroom, including through a teaching internship at Fisk University. She is eager to continue mentoring and advocating for underrepresented scientists as a MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: Tspan14 Expression and Function in Cardiovascular DiseaseInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteProject ID:
HL163411MOSAIC Scientific Society:
An Oklahoman by birth, Vivian S. Lee-Kim was raised in Oklahoma and Washington, where her passion for science and nature sprouted from her childhood summers spent collecting and observing insects. Dr. Lee-Kim’s first foray into biomedical research began through the undergraduate research program at the University of Washington, where she majored in biochemistry and performed independent research on nanoparticle toxicity in pulmonary cells. With the support of strong mentors and collaborative colleagues, her zeal for science continued to accelerate, inspiring her to pursue and obtain her Ph.D. in developmental, regenerative, and stem cell biology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her thesis focused on identifying and validating novel mutations for familial thoracic aortic aneurysms. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital studying noncoding variants associated with coronary artery disease. Throughout her scientific career, Dr. Lee-Kim recognized the diversity challenges within the scientific community and dedicated herself to the recruitment and empowerment of young scientists from underrepresented groups through various outreach programs. As a MOSAIC scholar, she is committed to magnifying diversity and entrenching inclusion as a pillar of her future research program, institution, and wider scientific community.
Project Title: Event-level Antecedents of Heavy Drinking Among Bisexual and Heterosexual Women With and Without Histories of Sexual AssaultInstitution: Brown UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID:
AA030079MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Gabriela López was raised in Chicago, Illinois, by Mexican immigrant parents. Her close ties to family kept her local for her undergraduate education, and she completed dual bachelor’s degrees in applied psychology and gender and women’s studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. While an undergraduate student, she became interested in mental health disparities among women, particularly among sexual minority women. Dr. López earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of New Mexico, where she examined mental health disparities and protective factors among Black, Latina, and White bisexual and lesbian women. She completed her clinical internship at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, expanding her skillset in women’s mental health. She then completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University’s School of Public Health, where she focused on further understanding mental health and alcohol use disparities among bisexual+ women with histories of sexual assault. Dr. López is very interested in promoting diversity in higher institutions. She serves as mentor at Brown University’s mentoring program and as a member of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging subcommittee, which gathers, examines, and maintains data on the recruitment and retention of persons from diverse backgrounds across all levels of training for both the university’s department of psychiatry and human behavior and Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
Project Title: Investigating Novel Methods to Combat Urinary Tract InfectionsInstitution: University of WashingtonFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM141364MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Pearl Magala was born and raised in Uganda. Her interest in science was sparked by seeing millions of people dying from preventable and treatable diseases in her home country due to lack of health care access. As such, she developed an interest in medicine from a young age. She received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, where she worked in several laboratories and became curious about scientific questions. She realized that she could contribute to medicine by understanding the molecular basis of disease to then develop effective treatments. Dr. Magala received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. There, she studies the structures and conformational dynamics of bacterial adhesion proteins primarily through using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. She hopes that through elucidating the mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, her research can aid in developing novel, low-cost therapeutics to combat bacterial infections that impact communities worldwide. In addition to her research, Dr. Magala actively promotes diversity initiatives through mentoring students from minority groups and low-income communities.
Project Title: Multiplex Imaging in Therapy Refractory Tumors: Understanding the Spatiotemporal Facets of an Immunosuppressive EnvironmentInstitution: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM147841?MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Vivien Ileana Maltez grew up in Glendora, California, a small suburb in the Los Angeles County area. As the daughter of STEM teachers, she has fond childhood memories of making mouse-trap race cars with her parents. She majored in molecular biology at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and then jumped coasts when she was selected to join the 2nd cohort of UNC Chapel Hill’s Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). She chose to stay and earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology studying bacterial pathogenesis and cell death. Dr. Maltez transitioned to the National Institutes of Health, where she was selected for the Postdoctoral Research Associate Training Program. Her research aims to mechanistically understand the fine-grain cellular interactions that dictate tumor responsiveness to immunotherapy, leveraging cutting-edge imaging techniques that retain crucial spatial information. Dr. Maltez has mentored PREP and underrepresented minority students and been actively involved in K-12 outreach programs during her graduate and postdoctoral work. As a MOSAIC scholar, she remains committed to promoting diversity and outreach within her own research program and the broader academic environment.
Project Title: Epigenomic Regulation of Oxidative Stress-producing innate immunity in neuroinflammationInstitution: J. David Gladstone InstitutesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID:
NS126707MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Andrew S. Mendiola is a neuroimmunologist whose research centers on discovering the basic molecular mechanisms underlying brain immune cell dysfunction in neurological diseases. He started his research career in his home state of Texas at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), where he earned a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology. As a first-generation college student supported by an NIH-funded UTSA Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Ph.D. fellowship, Dr. Mendiola studied the contribution of microglia to neurodegeneration in research organisms of central nervous system inflammation. Dr. Mendiola is currently a postdoc scholar at Gladstone Institutes. He has received several additional honors and awards including an NIH University of California, San Francisco, immunology T32 fellowship; a National Multiple Sclerosis Society postdoctoral fellowship; and the 2020 Gladstone Dorman Prize for Best Postdoc Published Paper. Dr. Mendiola’s long-term career goal is to launch an independent academic research program to make seminal contributions to the understanding of immune dysfunction for targeted treatments in diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. As a MOSAIC scholar, he will continue to enhance diversity in biomedical research through mentorship and leadership roles to support underrepresented students on their career paths.
Project Title: Regulation of Zinc-Dependent Lysosome Morphological Restructuring, Zinc Trafficking, and Low Zinc Homeostasis in C. elegans and Human Model SystemsInstitution: Washington UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM146016MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Adelita D. Mendoza grew up in Colorado, where her proximity to the Rocky Mountains and nature fueled her desire to study biology. She earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder in environmental, populations, and organismic biology and in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. She earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Northwestern University and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University, where she studies zinc metabolism and trafficking, as well as zinc-dependent lysosomal restructuring in C. elegans and human model systems. Dr. Mendoza has worked closely with multiple organizations to promote diversity efforts, including the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and Graduate Students' Association. She loves mentoring trainees and works tirelessly to improve the academic setting so all scientists can thrive.
Project Title: Improving Access to Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Care Services for Latinx Individuals at Community Health Clinics. A Multiphase Mixed Methods Study.Institution: University of Wisconsin-MadisonFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID:
AG076966MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Maria Mora Pinzon was born and raised in Venezuela, where she attended medical school at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Escuela José María Vargas. After immigrating to the United States, she completed a master’s degree in clinical research from Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, and in 2017 she completed her residency in general preventive medicine and public health at the University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison. She also completed a T32-funded primary care research fellowship at the UW–Madison department of family medicine and community health and is currently a scientist with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute. Dr. Mora Pinzon has a leadership position in the American College of Preventive Medicine and is co-founder of the Twitter community #LatinasInMedicine, which serves to amplify the voices of Latinas in the health care field. Her work in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias seeks to improve access to care for Hispanic/Latino older adults, particularly those whose primary language is Spanish. To achieve this goal, she works with stakeholders and communities to improve services in ways that are culturally appropriate and sustainable.
Project Title: Peroxisomal Impacts on Cellular Quality Control
Institution: Rice UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM146026MOSAIC Scientific Society:
DurreShahwar (Durre) Muhammad is from Chicago, Illinois, and grew up near the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. She often visited these museums by getting the free City of Chicago museum passes from the neighborhood library. By high school, Dr. Muhammad was volunteering at the Museum of Science and Industry, solidifying her love of science through engaging with visitors about exhibits. She received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago and went on to work as a research specialist in the university’s department of cell and developmental biology. She earned a doctorate from North Carolina State University in the department of plant and microbial biology. Dr. Muhammad is a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University in Houston, Texas, in the biosciences department, where she works to elucidate the mechanisms that maintain cellular health through accurate organelle degradation. She is seeking to uncover signals and pathways that govern peroxisome dynamics and communication with other organelles in Arabidopsis thaliana. Dr. Muhammad has mentored several undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who have gone on to pursue advanced STEM degrees.
Project Title: Pathways Linking Negative Self-Views of Aging to Physical Activity in Daily Life: An Intensive Within-Person ApproachInstitution: Pennsylvania State UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingGrant ID:
AG075259MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Erica L. O'Brien has lived in various parts of the United States, as well as abroad. Her interest in science emerged from her undergraduate research experience, which focused on older adults and the experience of aging. She earned her B.S. in sociology from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis on lifespan development from North Carolina State University. In 2019, she began her postdoctoral training as a T32 fellow in the center for healthy aging at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests are in understanding and promoting the everyday psychological and behavioral pathways that lead to healthy aging. Dr. O'Brien has consistently sought to integrate her scientific training with mentoring, education, and outreach activities aimed at engaging students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in STEM work. She looks forward to continuing initiatives designed to promote diversity in science and academia as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Fibrin-CAR-T Cells Therapies to Enhance Efficacy in Glioblastoma TreatmentsInstitution: University of North Carolina at Chapel HillFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID:
NS128716MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Edikan Archibong Ogunnaike was raised in Nigeria. Her lifelong passion for science resulted from growing up with chronic asthma as well as losing family members to cancer. Dr. Ogunnaike earned her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Florida A&M University. For her master's thesis, she studied chemosensors toward food and water security. She earned her Ph.D. from the department of chemical, biological, and materials engineering at the University of South Florida, focusing on a point-of-care platform to lower morbidity in pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders. Dr. Ogunnaike is a postdoctoral researcher within the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, she’s working at the nexus of nanotechnology and cell engineering on a smart biomaterial for delivery of engineered t-cells against solid tumor interfaces to treat glioblastoma. Throughout her career, she’s worked to foster a sense of belonging and to create safe spaces in science for historically underrepresented students. Her efforts include mentoring undergraduates in the laboratory, giving talks on her journey, and organizing a STEM outreach program during the Biosensors conference in 2018. As a MOSAIC scholar and beyond, Dr. Ogunnaike aims to advance therapies that will improve clinical outcomes and lead initiatives to increase diversity in biomedical science.?
Project Title: Corticolimbic Circuitry in Adaptive Stress Coping Behavior and Subsequent Alcohol DrinkingInstitution: University of North Carolina at Chapel HillFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismProject ID:
AA029730MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Laura C. Ornelas was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, which started her research career in addiction neuroscience. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in the department of psychology and neuroscience. Her dissertation work provided a foundation and long-term goal of understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie sex differences in comorbid alcohol use and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Ornelas is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies in the lab of Dr. Joyce Besheer ?at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She was previously supported by a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism diversity supplement and later by the Center for Alcohol Studies T32 training grant. Her current research investigates how dysfunctional corticolimbic activation is associated with maladaptive or adaptive responses to stress and how this dysfunction can be modulated by the endocannabinoid system. In addition, Dr. Ornelas is committed to leadership, mentoring, and outreach activities to enhance diversity in the biomedical sciences. As a Hispanic female, she is strongly motivated to mentor and educate young individuals of all underrepresented minority groups to overcome adversity in science. She is involved in several programs and opportunities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at professional meetings, within the community, and at the university level.
Project Title: Bacterial Anti-Inflammatory Lipid MediatorsInstitution: St. Jude Children’s Research HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesGrant ID:
AI166116MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Christopher D. Radka is a Honduran-American biochemist and protein crystallographer. Raised in central Florida, Dr. Radka learned the importance of education and community engagement through serving in his family’s nonprofit, the HopeNow Foundation. During his undergraduate education at the University of Central Florida, he realized his passion for science, which grew during his doctoral training in microbiology and structural biology under the co-mentorship of Drs. Stephen Aller and Lawrence DeLucas at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Radka received a predoctoral UAB Equity and Diversity Enhancement Program fellowship and participated in a NASA project examining microgravity’s influence on protein crystal growth. He also worked with the UAB Center for Community Outreach Development to galvanize interest in science among local intercity students. Dr. Radka is currently a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, training in lipid biochemistry and studying anti-inflammatory lipids that enable bacteria to thrive in a host. He is a founding member and co-chair of the St. Jude Black Employees and Allies Resource Group. Upon completing postdoctoral training, he plans to become an independent investigator and continue promoting diversity and inclusion in science, education, and career advancement.
Project Title: Allostatic Load and Race: Implications for Cardiovascular Health in Pregnancy and BeyondInstitution: University of PittsburghFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Nursing ResearchGrant ID:
NR020215MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Mitali Ray was born to Indian immigrants from Kolkata, West Bengal, in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, where she grew up. Her deep love for science was sparked during an undergraduate prerequisite biology course when she learned about the structure and function of the protein, ATP synthase, in cellular respiration (yes, really!). Dr. Ray earned a B.S. in biology from Towson University, a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and an accelerated B.S. in nursing from West Chester University. Her ongoing postdoctoral training has taken place at University of Pittsburgh, where she has been supported by T32 programs in omics and cardiovascular disease epidemiology in the Schools of Nursing and Public Health, respectively. Dr. Ray is strongly committed to developing a diverse research workspace and creating inclusive spaces for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and neurodivergent communities in science. She is currently a postdoctoral representative for the Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy Committee of the University of Pittsburgh senate and a board member for Queer Family Planning Project, a nonprofit dedicated to offsetting family planning costs for the queer community in Pittsburgh.?
Project Title: Dynamic Mechanisms of Transcriptional Coactivator Function in Notch SignalingInstitution: Harvard Medical SchoolFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM144750MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Julia M. Rogers grew up in New Jersey, where her high school biology teacher fostered her childhood interest in science. She first performed laboratory research as an undergraduate at Yale University and completed her B.S. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. She obtained her Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard University, where her work on complexity in protein-DNA interactions in Dr. Martha Bulyk’s lab was supported by a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship. As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. Stephen Blacklow, Dr. Rogers now studies the mechanisms by which transcriptional coactivators induce gene expression in notch signaling. Her postdoctoral work has been supported by a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fellowship. Dr. Rogers has been committed to mentoring women in science throughout her training. She co-chaired the Harvard graduate women in science and engineering mentoring program in graduate school and now serves as a mentor through the program. Additionally, she served on committees drafting and evaluating Harvard’s Title IX policies while in graduate school. She continues to actively work in her department to increase representation of trainees from underrepresented backgrounds.
Project Title: Mechanisms of CRISPR-Mediated Immunity and Applications Beyond EditingInstitution: Montana State UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM147842MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Andrew Santiago-Frangos, a Puerto Rican-Cypriot, grew up on the island nation of Cyprus, where his mother and uncle fostered his innate childhood interest in the sciences. After high school, he pursued his passions for science and travel, interning at a biotech in San Diego, completing a B.Sc. in biochemistry at the University of Leicester, interning at GlaxoSmithKline, and pursuing a Ph.D. in biology at Johns Hopkins University. During his Ph.D., he determined the role of the intrinsically disordered domain of the bacterial RNA chaperone protein Hfq in RNA binding and RNA annealing. As a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow (sponsored by the Simons Foundation) and recipient of a Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, he now works at Montana State University. Dr. Santiago-Frangos combines bioinformatics, biochemistry, and cryo-EM structural biology to study how bacteria regulate their antiphage CRISPR adaptive immune systems, and he has coinvented a novel CRISPR-based diagnostic. Further, Dr. Santiago-Frangos has interwoven his research and mentoring goals and is committed to engaging the next generation of underrepresented high school and undergraduate students interested in science, in both classroom and one-on-one settings. Two of his most recent undergraduate mentees were awarded the Goldwater Scholarship in 2021 for their research.
Project Title: Functions of PRDM Histone Methyltransferases during Cartilage Development in the Craniofacial SkeletonInstitution: University of Colorado DenverFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial ResearchGrant ID: DE031349MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Lomeli C. Shull grew up in the small town of Moriarty, New Mexico, and always had an innate interest in science and biology. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and after several undergraduate research experiences, she decided to pursue graduate school. She received her Ph.D. from the biochemistry and molecular biology program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she studied the function of histone deacetylases during long bone development. Currently she is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. Her research focuses on understanding the epigenetic regulation of gene regulatory networks and signaling modules controlling neural crest development, particularly during the formation of the craniofacial skeleton. Her own diverse socioeconomic upbringing has provided her with an understanding of the barriers trainees from disadvantaged backgrounds face while pursuing scientific careers, and she is committed to actively mentoring and supporting underrepresented high school students and undergraduates interested in science.
Project Title: The Structural Basis of TAM Receptor Oligomerizarion and Co-Receptor InteractionsInstitution: Yale UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM144683MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Chrystal Starbird grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her early interest in science grew out of her love of nature, which prompted her to start a nature club in second grade. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, where she worked in multiple labs before graduating with a B.S. in biology. Dr. Starbird spent a few years working in academic and industry labs before returning to UNC-Chapel Hill to complete a year-long postbaccalaureate research education program. Then she completed her graduate work in chemical and physical biology at Vanderbilt University. She’s currently a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, where her research focuses on the structural basis for activation of TAM receptor tyrosine kinases. As a nontraditional student in many ways, Dr. Starbird is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her efforts in promoting diversity include co-founding of the Yale Black Postdoctoral Association and Intersections Science Fellows Symposium.
Project Title: Contribution of DNA Replication to Epigenetic Inheritance In a Model Multi-Cellular OrganismInstitution: Johns Hopkins UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID:
GM145973MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Jennifer Urban was raised in northern New Jersey and is the first in her family to earn a doctoral degree. Growing up, she immersed herself in music and the arts. She played piano, sang, and performed in school musicals. While it seemed she was on a trajectory for a career in music, she couldn’t ignore her love for math and science. It was during her undergraduate studies at William Paterson University that she was introduced to developmental biology. Her undergraduate research on Xenopus laevis sparked an interest in understanding how the diverse cell types in multicellular organisms are created. Motivated by this fundamental question, Dr. Urban completed her Ph.D. dissertation at Brown University. There, she studied epigenetic regulation of the Drosophila melanogaster male X-chromosome. In her postdoctoral research, she is developing tools to study how DNA replication contributes to the maintenance and changing of epigenetic information in a developing organism, Drosophila melanogaster. Her goal is to understand how different epigenetic landscapes are formed and how this influences cell fate. Dr. Urban is committed to giving back to the institution that helped shape her research career and supports her undergraduate alma mater by judging posters at the annual undergraduate research symposium and serving on career panels. She hopes to inspire first-generation students of their potential to succeed in a career in the sciences and guide students toward the realization that such a career is an option for them.
Project Title: Investigation of Cerebrovascular Notch as a Novel Modulator of Cognitive FunctionInstitution: University of Illinois at ChicagoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID:
NS126732MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Stephanie R. Villa-Niemczyk grew up in a small town in Arizona, where a community college professor ignited her passion for STEM during an introduction to biology class she took as a requirement for her business administration major. Her interaction with this professor, along with undergraduate research opportunities offered at her community college, led Dr. Villa-Niemczyk to change her major to biology. She earned a B.S. from Arizona State University, becoming a first-generation college graduate, and later earned a Ph.D. in life sciences from Northwestern University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she is investigating the interaction between cerebrovascular biology and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Her own educational experiences have highlighted the barriers that students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds face in pursuing higher education and scientific careers. As a result, she is committed to supporting and mentoring underrepresented high school and undergraduates, as well as advocating for the expansion of undergraduate research opportunities in community colleges.
Project Title: The Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside Upon Cognition and Sleep in Older VeteransInstitution: State University of New York at BuffaloFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID:
AG079117MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Carleara Weiss grew up in Miracema, a small town in rural Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was raised in an intergenerational household, surrounded by strong and driven women. Her great-grandmother was a doula and ignited her curiosity in biomedical sciences. As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. Weiss joined the Federal Fluminense University Nursing Program in Brazil, hoping to become a midwife. However, the influence of her intergenerational household steered her toward a career as a geriatric nurse to improve quality of life of people with dementia. She earned an M.S. in health care from Federal Fluminense University and a Ph.D. from University at Buffalo School of Nursing in New York, studying the impact of sleep disturbances on fatigue and quality of life of older adults. She then pursued a National Institutes of Health T32 fellowship, exploring mouse models of circadian disruptions and cognitive impairment. Currently, Dr. Weiss combines laboratory and clinical expertise to explore biomarkers associated with cognition and sleep in older adults, with particular interest in racially minoritized communities. She founded the Brazilian Students and Scholars Conference to support the networking and career development among Brazilian scientists in the United States. She also regularly mentors biomedical science students from diverse backgrounds. As a MOSAIC scholar, she hopes to continue empowering diversity in science.
Project Title: Quantifying Enteric Metabolism of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Relation to Other Dietary and Microbiota NutrientsInstitution: Duke UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesProject ID: DK132554MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Ian Williamson was raised in Broward County, Florida, by Jamaican immigrant parents, where his childhood interests in wildlife and automobiles grew into a biomedical engineering career. He started performing gut research as a student athlete at the University of North Carolina. There he earned a B.S. and Ph.D. developing organoid-based assay platforms. His postdoctoral training at Duke University began in its gastroenterology T32 program studying enteric metabolism. Currently he is researching enteric involvement in neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Williamson has sat on the diversity, equity, and inclusion board of the Duke University engineering school, where he advocated on behalf of his fellow postdoctoral trainees. As a MOSAIC scholar, he will continue to support other researchers from underrepresented backgrounds and those pursuing nontraditional career pathways.
Project Title: Role of Macrophages in CBD Mediated Attenuation of SEB-Induced ARDSInstitution: University of South Carolina at ColumbiaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM147910MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Kiesha Wilson grew up in West Columbia, South Carolina, where a middle school field trip to her local hospital’s pathology lab ignited her interest in science. Her research experience began at Clemson University, and she completed a B.S. in microbiology. The birth of her daughter led to her having a brief tenure in industry before returning to research at the University of South Carolina in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program. She then earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of South Carolina as a Grace Jordan McFadden Professors Program scholar. Dr. Wilson’s postdoctoral research focuses on inflammatory diseases and treatments with natural plant products. She strives to promote diversity at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia by volunteering as a mentor for the Support for Minority Advancement in Research Training program. She also volunteers with other local organizations including the New Hope Leadership Academy and Empowerment Strategies, LLC, as a mentor to minority students from middle school to the undergraduate level. She will continue her commitment to promoting diversity in STEM throughout her tenure as an independent investigator.
Project Title: Cryo-Electron Tomography to Determine Crosstalk Mechanisms of Calcium Channels in CardiomyocytesInstitution: Stanford UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteGrant ID:
HL161392MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Rahel A. Woldeyes is a cellular-structural biologist interested in adapting cutting-edge structural biology techniques to accelerate our understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to cardiovascular diseases. Her research career started in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she earned her B.S. in biochemistry and chemistry. As a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, she studied protein structural heterogeneity and its impact on biological mechanisms. Drawn by the unique opportunity to use cryo-electron tomography to study proteins in their cellular context, Dr. Woldeyes conducts research at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. There, she studies the structure and cellular organization of proteins that maintain a healthy heartbeat in health and lead to arrhythmia in disease. Dr. Woldeyes is passionate about making lasting contributions to diversify academia, and she has mentored, taught, engaged, and empowered underrepresented students toward biomedical research as a career option. Dr. Woldeyes will continue to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.?
Project Title: Role of IFN Kappa in Psoriasis-Mediated Diabetes DevelopmentInstitution: University of Michigan at Ann ArborFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesGrant ID:
DK133828MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Sonya J. Wolf-Fortune grew up in Cypress, Texas. She developed a passion for research throughout college at Prairie View A&M University (PVU), working in a lab learning about the immune response of corneal epithelial cells following infection. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from PVU, she pursued a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Michigan (UM). During graduate school, she became fascinated with studying skin inflammation. Her current postdoctoral research at UM furthers this interest by focusing on elucidating the mechanisms by which psoriasis promotes metabolic dysfunction, with a particular interest in epigenetics and structural-immune cell crosstalk. Dr. Wolf-Fortune is passionate about increasing diversity in science. Her efforts have included mentoring and teaching at community colleges with diverse student populations to assist in exposing students to scientific careers. Additionally, she is vice president of program development for Legacy Avenue Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering underrepresented students as they pursue higher education. She is committed to teaching, mentoring, and establishing diversity-focused science programs that can benefit generations and assist in creating an inclusive scientific community.
Project Title: Synthesizing Trial and Real-World Data on the Use of Biologics in Patients with Severe AsthmaInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID:
MD015767MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Ayobami Akenroye grew up in Ile Ife, Nigeria, where she graduated at the top of her medical school class prior to arriving in the U.S. to pursue an M.P.H. from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is a trained internist and allergist/immunologist. Her research interests include the use of innovative statistical designs on establishing the comparative effectiveness and predictors of response to biologics in the treatment of asthma. As part of her work, she has uncovered disparities in the use of biologics for asthma treatment and continues to work on uncovering factors associated with these disparities. Dr. Akenroye is also interested in career transitions from clinical fellowships to faculty, especially for individuals underrepresented in academia. She looks forward to continuing as a role model and mentor to undergraduate and postdoctoral trainees.
Project Title: Sex Differences in Cholinergic Regulation of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Modulation of Local Nucleus Accumbens Circuitry Underlying MotivationInstitution: University of Alabama at BirminghamFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Drug AbuseGrant ID:
DA052641MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Lillian Brady's interest in science began while growing up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and intensified after her family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where she participated in her first research laboratory experience while still in high school. She received a full academic scholarship to Alcorn State University, a historically Black university in Mississippi, graduating with a B.S. in chemistry and then an M.S. in biotechnology. Dr. Brady earned her Ph.D. in cell, molecular, and developmental biology, with a concentration in neurobiology, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) before entering Vanderbilt University as an Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of pharmacology and the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research. Her current research focuses on sex differences in cholinergic regulation of dopamine release mechanisms underlying reward learning as it relates to substance use disorder. She has been active in numerous activities within her department to promote diversity, including serving as the co-chair of the Inaugural Gathering of Pharmacology and Cell Signaling Researchers postdoctoral seminar series, and is an active member of her department's diversity, equity, and inclusion committee. Dr. Brady has consistently volunteered with local organizations throughout her career to promote STEM education to middle and high school students and truly enjoys the time she spends mentoring and training undergraduate students. She’ll be continuing these efforts as a tenure-track assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurobiology at UAB in May 2023, where her lab will study sex differences and hormonal regulation of neural circuit activity underlying context-reward associations in substance use disorder.
Project Title: The Neural Basis for Aging-Dependent Decline in Taste FunctionInstitution: Florida Atlantic UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingGrant ID:K99AG071833MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Elizabeth Brown grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and became interested in research as an undergraduate volunteer in a lab at Florida State University. There, she received her B.S. degree in anthropology and then went on to receive her Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Brown is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University, where her current research interests broadly focus on understanding the genetic and neural circuits that regulate chemosensory function. As the first person in her family to graduate college, Dr. Brown is committed to advocating for and mentoring trainees from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.
Project Title: Evolution of Cargo TransportInstitution: The University of California, San DiegoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM140269MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Jenna R. Christensen grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, and received her B.A. in molecular biology from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. She received her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Chicago and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California (UC), San Diego. Her research is focused on understanding when and why different organisms use different modes of microtubule-based transport. Dr. Christensen has been active in mentoring and integrating undergraduate students, specifically those historically excluded from the biological sciences, into her research through both the Faculty Mentor Program and Biology Undergraduate and Master’s Mentorship Program at UC San Diego.
Project Title: Integration of Metabolism and Chromatin in Regulating Gene Expression In VivoInstitution: Rockefeller UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:K99GM143550MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Leah A. Gates grew up in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and developed a strong interest in science during childhood. Her research experiences at the University of Minnesota during her undergraduate and master’s studies cemented her interest in research, particularly in molecular biology. Dr. Gates received her Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, in the lab of Bert W. O’Malley, and she is currently pursuing her postdoctoral studies at Rockefeller University in New York, in the lab of C. David Allis. Her research focuses on how metabolism regulates the chromatin landscape and impacts gene expression. Dr. Gates has been committed to diversity through both advocacy and mentorship activities, in part through serving on the Rockefeller Inclusive Science Initiative and on the executive board of the Postdoctoral Association. She is committed to continuing activities to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion during her transition to independence and beyond.
Project Title: Development of Multimodal Agents from Natural Spider Peptides for Prostate Cancer via Sodium-Channel NaV1.7Institution: Sloan Kettering Institute of Cancer ResearchFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:K99GM145587MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Junior Gonzales was born in the Amazon rainforest of Iquitos, Peru, and grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He attended Queensborough Community College, majoring in chemistry. He then became a
Maximizing Access to Research Careers award scholar, continuing his education at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he received his B.A. degree in biochemistry. In 2017, he obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY. Dr. Gonzales sees promoting diversity as an equalizer of merit, and he motivated minority students through teaching chemistry at a community college. Now a research associate in the radiology department of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he works with fluorescent and radioactive synthetic probes to image the peripheral nervous system and/or cancer. Dr. Gonzales has started efforts to build a bio-natural laboratory to support minority students on their way to becoming scholars.
Project Title: Structural and Functional Characterization of Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia Associated NucleasesInstitution: National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM143534MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Cassandra K. Hayne’s interest in science grew from her experiences as a childhood cancer survivor. She received her B.S. in biology and B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Northern Iowa before completing her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where she studies RNA processing factors that are linked to a rare neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Hayne has been actively involved in leadership activities, community outreach, and mentorship to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biomedical sciences. She loves sharing her science through outreach activities, particularly those aimed at making meeting a scientist accessible to all students across North Carolina. She is also actively mentoring students, including many from underrepresented backgrounds. Dr. Hayne looks forward to continuing and growing these skills and activities through the MOSAIC program and in her future research group.
Project Title: Small Host GTPases: Direct Targets of Vibrio vulnificus MARTX Toxin EffectorsInstitution: Northwestern University at ChicagoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesGrant ID:
K99AI167819MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Alfa Herrera was raised in Rock Island, Illinois. After high school, she enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked in the lab of Dr. Rachel Whitaker, which incited her fascination for microbiology and its involvement in everyday life. She then received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa where her studies in the lab of Dr. Patrick Schlievert focused on the S. aureus ß-toxin and its role in infective endocarditis. Dr. Herrera is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in the lab of Dr. Karla Satchell, where she is working on characterizing the function and mechanism of action of the Vibrio vulnificus MARTX-toxin MCF effector. V. vulnificus rapidly causes severe and life-threatening infections, and understanding its toxins may help develop therapeutics. Dr. Herrera hopes to use her findings and project she has developed to start her own independent research group. She has been and is committed to continuing as a mentor for future scientists—in particular, for women and minorities. In her own research group she plans on working with scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds to promote their inclusion and equality in science.
Project Title: Dietary Protein Restriction Remodels Adipose Tissue to Defend Against Age-Related Metabolic DeclineInstitution: University of Southern CaliforniaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingGrant ID: AG070273MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Cristal M. Hill grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, with ambitions in veterinary medicine, but a strong interest in endocrine diseases developed while working at a local veterinary clinic during high school. Dr. Hill received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in animal sciences from Tuskegee University, with a thesis centered on inflammatory responses during cardiovascular disease. She then moved to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where she earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Her training included a heavy focus on the mechanisms of biological aging. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is currently an assistant professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, where her lab focuses on the effect of dietary protein restriction on the cellular and molecular changes in adipose tissue that impact metabolic health during aging. Dr. Hill’s commitment to fostering diversity includes teaching at all levels and mentoring undergraduates at various minority-serving institutions. She has held the positions of co-chair, trainee vice-chair and secretary of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and opportunities committee of the American Aging Association trainee chapter. Dr. Hill continues to support diversity by endorsing an environment of institutional inclusion in the biomedical research workforce for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.
Project Title: Neuropeptide-Dependent Parabrachial Control of the BNST During Alcohol Abstinence-Induced Negative AffectInstitution: Vanderbilt UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismGrant ID:
AA029467MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Anel A. Jaramillo was born from Mexican-immigrants and raised in a diverse urban community in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Jaramillo found an outlet for her curiosity in science while doing addiction neuroscience research at the University of Texas at Austin. Following her newfound interest in the alcohol research field, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and obtained her Ph.D. in neuroscience. She continued her biomedical training as a postdoctoral scholar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Currently Dr. Jaramillo is an assistant professor in the pharmaceutical sciences department at the University of Kentucky. Her research focus is to understand how neurocircuits integrate stress and negative affective states during alcohol abstinence. Additionally, Dr. Jaramillo’s cultural and economic backgrounds provide her with a diverse understanding of the barriers that underrepresented scientists face when navigating a biomedical career. Thus, she holds leadership positions and regularly participates in outreach and mentorship opportunities to encourage the retention of diverse scientists.
Project Title: Structural Basis of Dynamin-Mediated Membrane Fission, Actin Bundling and Interaction with Binding PartnersInstitution: Princeton UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM140220MOSAIC Scientific Society:
John R. Jimah grew up in Ghana and moved to the U.S. to attend college. He earned his B.A. in molecular biology from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, and his Ph.D. in biology and biomedical sciences from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, as a fellow of the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Program. He was a postdoctoral fellow (postdoc) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), where he was a Nancy Nossal fellow and an NIGMS MOSAIC scholar. Dr. Jimah is currently an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. His laboratory studies the structural cell biology of human cells and parasites using structural biology (cryo-electron microscopy and tomography), cell biology, biochemical, and biophysical approaches. He’s also been active in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in biomedical research. In graduate school he served in leadership positions for the Association of Black Biomedical Graduate Students and participated in STEM outreach events for high school students. As a postdoc, he was part of a group of trainees who co-founded the TREaDS (Trainees Recognizing Excellence and Diversity in Science) seminar series within the NIDDK intramural research program. Dr. Jimah is committed to continuing with his diversity and inclusion efforts at Princeton.
Project Title: Dopamine Circuit Regulation of Morphine Reinforcement Across the Opioid Exposure CycleInstitution: University of Maryland, BaltimoreFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Drug AbuseGrant ID: DA054265MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Barbara Juarez is a neuroscientist interested in understanding the neural basis of affective disorders. She was born in Miami, Florida, and attended Florida International University for her B.S. degree in biological sciences. She was selected to participate in Icahn School of Medicine’s
Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program in New York City, where she then enrolled in graduate school. Dr. Juarez led investigations that helped explain how the brain’s dopamine system regulates individual behaviors. She performed her postdoctoral research at the University of Washington in Seattle and is now a tenure-track assistant professor in the department of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her lab is interested in the regulators of cellular excitability and behavior. Dr. Juarez has also been an advocate for initiatives that promote diversity, inclusivity, and equity in academia throughout her research tenure.
Project Title: The Role of Host mRNA Cleavage by RNase L in Viral InfectionsInstitution: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesGrant ID:
K99GM143484MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Agnes Karasik grew up in Hungary and developed an interest for molecular biology when she was 14 years old. She graduated from Eötvös Loránd University and completed her M.Sc. thesis research on the working mechanism of a subset of ABC transporters at the Institute of Enzymology in Hungary. Then, she moved to the U.S., where she obtained her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. During her Ph.D., she characterized a novel group of precursor tRNA processing enzymes from various eukaryotic organisms in the laboratory of Dr. Markos Koutmos. Currently, Dr. Karasik is a fellow at the
NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate Training Program and works in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Guydosh. Her research focuses on the role of an antiviral factor (Ribonuclease L) in protein translation and cell physiology. Additionally, she is devoted to enhancing diversity through mentoring and advocating for changes that benefit underrepresented persons at her institute.
Project Title: Epigenetic Regulation of the Hypoxic Response in the Mouse HeartInstitution: University of Hawai'i at ManoaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:K99GM145410MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Andrew Kekupa'a Knutson was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He became interested in science during high school through a unique program that integrated the scientific method and with traditional knowledge of Hawaiian medicinal plants. After high school, he earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and a Ph.D. in molecular, cell, and developmental biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, where he uses mouse genetics and next-generation sequencing technologies to study chromatin factors in the mouse heart. Dr. Knutson has worked with the Hawai'i Academy of Science, serving as a head judge for high school science fairs and symposia. Acknowledging his deep connection to Hawaii’s people, history, and culture, he hopes to give back to his community through various outreach activities. One goal is to develop a series of workshops for Hawaiian immersion schools that teaches genetics through an Indigenous lens using Hawaiian concepts and language.
Project Title: Flexible and Wireless Bioelectronics for Continuous Monitoring of Intracranial PressureInstitution: Arizona State UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and BioengineeringGrant ID:
EB031178MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Layla Khalifehzadeh received a dual Ph.D. in chemical engineering and nanotechnology and molecular engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle. During her graduate studies, she obtained training in biomaterials design, polymer chemistry, and tissue-implant interactions. She also learned about Food and Drug Administration regulations and the clinical translation process of medical devices. Her research focused on developing new classes of degradable polymers for cardiovascular stents. Dr. Khalifehzadeh then pursued a unique interdisciplinary path during her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, working on designing bioelectronic platforms for early diagnosis of cancers, with an emphasis on brain tumors. After completing this program, she joined Arizona State University as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. Her current interdisciplinary research lies at the interface of engineering and translational medicine and focuses on the development of polymer-based, wireless, implantable or wearable bioelectronic platforms for disease diagnosis and therapy. Dr. Khalifehzadeh was a member of the Diversity Initiative Center at Stanford and has been consistently leading efforts to promote diversity among underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. She serves on various diversity committees and plans to continue her efforts by creating and leading outreach programs as an independent investigator. ?
Project Title: Deep Cell History Tracking: Engineering Cells That Write Their Detailed Life Stories Into Their DNA to Study DNA DamageInstitution: University of California, IrvineFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM140254MOSAIC Scientific Society:
While attending high school in Phoenix, Arizona, Theresa B. Loveless found out that the growth and behavior of multicellular organisms can be explained by chemical reactions occurring in cells, and has been primarily interested in biology ever since. From then through to the end of her Ph.D., she studied basic cell and molecular biology, with a focus on how cells respond to DNA damage. As a postdoc, she has turned to synthetic biology, making "cellular flight recorders" that convert transient events in a living cell into permanent records in the cell's DNA. A disabled scientist, Dr. Loveless has ample experience determining which accommodations will make it possible for her to perform her research. Now she works with others in the disability community, pooling their experience and knowledge to make scientific research more accessible to disabled people, who are still significantly underrepresented in STEM.
Project Title: Elucidating the Structural Determinants of Odor Specificity in Insect Olfactory ReceptorsInstitution: Rockefeller UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersGrant ID:
K99DC019401MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Josefina Inés del Mármol grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and first developed an interest in science during high school, where she participated in after-school research programs and local biology competitions. She obtained a Licenciatura degree in biology from the University of Buenos Aires and moved to the U.S. to conduct graduate studies at Rockefeller University in New York City, where she obtained a Ph.D. in molecular neurobiology and biophysics in the laboratory of Dr. Roderick MacKinnon. As a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr. Vanessa Ruta at Rockefeller University, Dr. del Mármol studies the structural mechanisms of odorant recognition by olfactory receptors. She participates in initiatives that aim at improving retention and recruitment of women and historically underrepresented groups in STEM, including volunteering for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, mentoring through the ‘Científico Latino’ initiative, and serving as committee member of the Graduate Women in Science Fellowship program. Locally, she has served since 2018 as head of the neuroscience seminars committee at Rockefeller University, where she works to ensure the participation of a diverse group of speakers.
Project Title: An Activity-Based Biomolecule Labeling Platform for the Imaging of Cells and Tissues Under Oxidative StressInstitution: University of California, BerkeleyFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:K99GM143573MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Marco S. Messina grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, and became interested in science during his undergraduate organic chemistry courses and laboratory research at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where his research merged synthetic polymer chemistry, main-group chemistry, and organometallic chemistry with an emphasis on biological applications. His ongoing research at the University of California, Berkeley, involves developing molecular probes for the activity-based sensing of reactive oxygen species and small molecules involved in biological signaling and oxidative stress. Throughout his graduate career, Dr. Messina held officer positions in multiple organizations and efforts—such as the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science and the Scientific Excellence through Diversity Seminar series at UCLA—with the goal of increasing diversity in science. He is currently involved in the Científico Latino Mentorship Program and is excited to continue mentoring and developing programs to promote diversity within STEM and in his independent career.
Project Title: The role of Mitochondrial/ER Contacts in the Regulation of mtDNA Release from Mitochondria, Innate Immune Signaling, and Responses to Viral InfectionInstitution: Salk Institute for Biological StudiesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM141482MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Laura E. Newman grew up in Indiana and discovered her passion for scientific research while volunteering in a research lab during her undergraduate studies in biology at Indiana University Bloomington. She completed her Ph.D. in the biochemistry, cell and developmental biology program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California. Her research interests focus on the roles of mitochondria within innate immune signaling pathways. Dr. Newman is an advocate for postdocs and graduate students within her current institution, with an emphasis on diversity and mental health. She has also been active in mentoring students, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, both in the lab and through the Biology Undergraduate and Master’s Mentorship Program at the University of California San Diego. She plans to continue mentoring and advocating for diverse trainees as she transitions to an independent investigator.
Project Title: Interplay of Sex Hormones and Chromosomes in Vascular Oxidative Stress and Arterial StiffeningInstitution: Augusta UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung and Blood InstituteGrant ID:
HL155841MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Benard Ogola is an assistant professor in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Georgia. He received his B.A. in biochemistry from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. Dr. Ogola’s research focuses on vascular biomechanics and the role of sex hormones and sex chromosomes in arterial stiffening. Through the MOSAIC Postdoctoral Career Transition Award, he is dedicated to promoting diversity in biomedical research by mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds in the challenges and successes of basic research. He is also a summer scholar of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Ogola plans to continue engaging with underrepresented minorities while establishing his lab.
Project Title: Unraveling the Neural Basis of Female Aggression and Dementia-Related Aggression: A Systems Biology ApproachInstitution: Harvard Medical SchoolFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM141449MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Caroline B. Palavicino-Maggio grew up in Washington Heights in New York City, and her scientific curiosity began by observing insects—specifically how cockroaches lived in social groups and why they were most active at night. As she grew older, these interests remained prominent, and ultimately matured into a deep-rooted curiosity for understanding the neural circuits that mediate complex behaviors. At 13 years old, she experienced a life-altering event when her sister died by suicide. She began to seek out an explanation for this apparently inexplicable event, which focused her scientific interest in studying neural circuits of human behaviors, specifically to investigate what happens in the brain during these acts of self-aggression. She received her B.S. degree in behavioral neuroscience from Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and her Ph.D. in neuropharmacology and neurophysiology from Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School as an Alfred P. Sloan scholar. Her current research focuses on understanding the neural basis of female aggression and its relevance in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Palavicino-Maggio has been consistently involved in activities to promote diversity in many K-12, undergraduate, and graduate pipeline outreach programs. Her latest project includes the creation of a mini-Ph.D. program, whereby middle and high school students from underserved communities in the local Boston area complete independent science projects and publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal. She also serves on various diversity committees at Harvard University Medical School and plans to continue promoting diversity in the sciences as a future independent investigator.
Project Title: Pediatric Recovery After Sepsis Treatment in the Pediatric Intensive Care UnitInstitution: University of ConnecticutFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
GM145411MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Mallory A. Perry-Eaddy grew up in Connecticut, where she developed her inquisitive nature and love for science. She found her passion as a pediatric critical care nurse in Hartford, caring for children and their families in their most vulnerable and life-changing moments. These experiences led her to pursue a Ph.D., for which she examined the underlying biopsychosocial factors associated with the transition from acute to chronic pain in children recovering from spinal surgery. Her current postdoctoral research focuses on the outcomes of children who survive critical illness in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). As a MOSAIC scholar, Dr. Perry-Eaddy aims to explore the potential association of inflammation in post-PICU physical outcomes, especially in children who survive sepsis. She is committed to advancing science and increasing diversity in all its forms. Mentorship has been pivotal in Dr. Perry-Eaddy’s career; as such, giving back is foundational. She has served as a mentor to diverse biomedical students, including nurses interested in research and pediatric critical care, where diversity is greatly needed.
Project Title: Strategic Molecular Activations for the Selective Synthesis of 2-Deoxy-Beta-Glycosides, and for the Synthesis of Novel Donor-Acceptor Stenhouse AdductsInstitution: Harvard UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical Sciences
K99GM140070MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Elias Picazo grew up in California’s Central Valley. He received his B.S. in chemistry with a minor in mathematics as a Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Picazo then received his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an NIH predoctoral fellow. His doctoral studies primarily focused on the total synthesis of complex natural products. Recently, he began his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is developing new organocatalytic reactions. His activities to promote diversity have included serving UCLA’s Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science as the social chair, and sustaining community connections to introduce students from underrepresented groups to scientific careers, and Dr. Picazo plans to continue these efforts as a professor of chemistry.
Project Title: Unraveling the PTEN Interactome: Modeling Structural and Functional Dynamic Network Architecture for Therapeutic Modulation in Cancer and AutismInstitution: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine - CWRUFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM143552MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Although Iris Nira Smith developed an interest in science at a young age while growing up in Houston, Texas, it wasn’t until she was personally affected by endometriosis at the age of 19 that her passion for scientific research began. She received both her B.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry with an emphasis in computational biophysics at the University of Houston, where her research on the structure-function mechanism of PTEN somatic mutations leading to endometriosis and cancer was supported by the NIH NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship. A serendipitous encounter with her current mentor Dr. Charis Eng led her to the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. Her research currently investigates the structure-function mechanism of germline PTEN mutations which can lead to different outcomes such as cancer, the seemingly disparate autism spectrum disorder, or sometimes both. Committed to enhancing diversity in STEM, Iris has led STEM outreach and mentoring programs throughout her scientific career, including a Cleveland Clinic-wide outreach initiative with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services for underprivileged, at-risk children and teens. She plans to continue her outreach and mentorship efforts to individuals in STEM from disadvantaged backgrounds as an independent researcher through the training she receives as a MOSAIC K99/R00 scholar.
Project Title: Understanding Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation by Chromatin Adaptor ProteinsInstitution: Rockefeller UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM140265MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Yadira M. Soto-Feliciano grew up in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and her first research experience was during her freshman year in college, when she had the opportunity to work in a physical chemistry laboratory. It was there where she learned that a professional career in life and physical sciences was possible. She received her B.S. in chemistry at the University of Puerto Mayagüez as Maximizing Access to Research Careers award scholar and National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation scholar. She then earned her Ph.D. in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. Her research focuses on understanding how chromatin and transcriptional regulatory mechanisms maintain tissue homeostasis and how these processes become disrupted during the course of human diseases. Dr. Soto-Feliciano has been active in efforts to promote diversity in science, including mentoring summer students from underrepresented backgrounds while at MIT, by participating in Rockefeller University's RockEDU Science Outreach initiatives. She will continue this work as a MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: Analysis of Environmentally Sensitive Epigenetic Machinery During Osteogenic DifferentiationInstitution: The University of California RiversideFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesGrant ID:
K99ES032486MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Nicole R. Sparks is from San Bernardino, California, and the premature birth of her children and family’s smoking history fueled her interest in developmental toxicology. She received her B.S. in biology from La Sierra University in Riverside; her M.Sc. from California State University, San Bernardino (SCUSB), as a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Bridges scholar; and her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Dr. Sparks was a recipient of the University of California Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the changes of stem cell fate due to toxicant exposure that associates with skeletal developmental toxicity. Specifically, her findings have uncovered regulatory factors—necessary for bone differentiation—negatively impacted by compound exposure. Her work has potentially uncovered an underlying mechanism between maternal compound exposure and skeletal birth defects. Dr. Sparks is committed to diversity and inclusion, serving on the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee, and mentoring underrepresented students at UCR and CSUSB. She plans to further promote DEI as a MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: Hijacking Host Cellular Motors for the Nuclear Entry of PolyomavirusesInstitution: University of MichiganFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID: GM141365MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Chelsey C. Spriggs grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and although her interest in science began through participation in local and state-wide science fairs, it deepened with her first undergraduate research experience. After receiving her B.S. in microbiology from Michigan State University, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in microbiology-immunology from Northwestern University, Chicago Campus, in Illinois. She is currently an assistant professor in the departments of cellular and developmental biology and microbiology and immunology as well as a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute, where her research is focused on understanding the virus-host interactions required for DNA tumor virus entry. Dr. Spriggs has shown a commitment to enhancing diversity in STEM by participating in outreach and mentorship programs and more recently through the co-founding of the Black Microbiologists Association. She plans to continue these efforts as an independent researcher and MOSAIC scholar to create inclusive research environments for all.
Project Title: Mechanism of Pulmonary Endothelial Cell Heterogeneity and Its Role in DiseaseInstitution: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung and Blood InstituteGrant ID:
HL155845MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Lisandra Vila Ellis’ interest in medicine began as a child growing up in Cuba, offering “medical services” to her family and neighbors, such as taking their blood pressure at home. She received her medical degree at Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Monterrey, Mexico, and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research focuses on the development of blood vessels in the lung, and how the disruption of this process can lead to disease. Dr. Vila Ellis' commitment to diversity has included teaching at an undergraduate institution that serves underrepresented populations and mentoring minority students. She serves on different committees of the North American Vascular Biology Organization, where she also started a podcast for the scientific community to discuss relevant topics, including diversity and inclusion. She will start a faculty position at Northwestern University in the fall of 2023.
Project Title: Biochemical, Structural and Molecular Dissection of Androgen Receptor Transcriptional ActivityInstitution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer InstitutionFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM140264MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Elizabeth V. Wasmuth grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, an urban community rich in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. She received her B.S. from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, majoring in both animal science, and development sociology, with a focus in inequalities. She received her Ph.D. from the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in New York City, employing structural, biochemical, and genetic tools to study fundamental processes related to RNA decay in the lab of Dr. Christopher Lima. She is currently a joint postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with Dr. Charles Sawyers and at Rockefeller University in New York City with Dr. Sebastian Klinge, where her work explores defining key molecular interactions that influence prostate cancer progression. Throughout her scientific career, Dr. Wasmuth has mentored and performed outreach to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is excited to further develop these skillsets as a MOSAIC scholar.
Project Title: Neuroscientific Exploration of Cultural Protective Factors in American IndiansInstitution: Laureate Institute for Brain ResearchFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID:
MD015736MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Evan J. White is a principal investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research and director of Native American research and the electroencephalography core. He is a member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and also descendant from the remaining federally recognized bands of Shawnees—the Eastern Shawnee Tribe and Shawnee Tribe. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in quantitative methods at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and completed his predoctoral clinical internship at the Charleston Consortium in South Carolina. His research focuses on utilizing tools of psychophysiology and neuroscience to understand the neural underpinnings of risk and resilience factors for psychopathology. Dr. White is currently seeking to delineate the neural correlates of the protective role of cultural engagement against poor mental health outcomes among American Indian populations.?
Project Title: Ethnoracial Impact on Blood-Based Biomarker Detection of Alzheimers in Primary Care PatientsInstitution: The University of California, San DiegoFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingProject ID:
K99AG070390MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Charisse Winston-Gray was raised in Richmond, Virginia, and her first science job was working in a genetics lab at Virginia Commonwealth University during the summer. As she earned her B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, she volunteered as an emergency medical technician at the Charlottesville fire department, which helped her realize that practicing medicine wasn’t the right path for her but that she wanted to remain in science. So, she began as a technician in an electrophysiology lab at UVA, earned an M.S. in biochemistry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and furthered her training as a postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award fellow at the National Institute for Mental Health. Dr. Winston-Gray returned to Georgetown to earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience, where she studied molecular mechanism of repeat mild traumatic brain injury. Currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, she investigates blood-based biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. Her passion for science is matched by her drive to cultivate a new generation of future scientists. She routinely mentors undergraduate and graduate students in the lab. Moreover, Dr. Winston-Gray is equally committed to increasing STEM awareness and access to opportunities for underrepresented minorities. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; serves as the ResearcHER Liaison for The Scholarly Sewist; and regularly volunteers with local organizations that promote STEM activities to middle and high school students.
Project Title: Quantitative Characterization of the Extracellular Matrix Components of Connective Tissue: Fingerprinting Macromolecular Components Through Low-Field Magnetic ResonanceInstitution: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM140338MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Velencia J. Witherspoon fell in love with science's enlightening challenges while completing her secondary education in Jacksonville, Florida, leading her to receive a B.S. in chemical engineering as a Life-Gets-Better scholar at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee. This foundation positioned her to obtain a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, where her research concerning molecular motion in adsorbent materials was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the UC Chancellor's Fellowship, and the D.A.A.D. (German NSF). Dr. Witherspoon has promoted diversity in STEM fields as an outreach volunteer and coordinator for minority-serving STEM organizations (e.g., National Society for Black Engineers, Black Graduate Engineering and Science Society) and has spent significant time training and actively mentoring undergraduate students. Currently, she is excited to partner with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to continue diversifying the landscape of those participating in the biomedical sciences.
Project Title: Delineating Epigenetic Coordination of Regenerative Cell PlasticityInstitution: Brigham and Women's HospitalFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID:
K99GM123456MOSAIC Scientific Society:
Yvon L. Woappi’s passion for life sciences ignited during his childhood in Douala, Cameroon, and was magnified after his family immigrated to Hanover, Pennsylvania, during his middle school years. He went on to receive his B.S in biology at the University of Pittsburgh, and his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences as a Grace Jordan McFadden Fellow at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. His current research focuses on developing multifunctional gene-editing platforms to understand how epithelial cells epigenetically coordinate with local immunity during tissue repair. Dr. Woappi served on the steering committee for the Maximizing Student Development and Postbaccalaureate Research Education programs as a graduate student and is currently a mentor in the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences program at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. As an independent investigator, he will continue to lead and promote university-wide efforts to foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
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