Project Title: Immuno-Stromal Axes Regulate Fibroblast Heterogeneity in Tissue Fibrosis and RegenerationInstitution: University of VirginiaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM146111MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
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: 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: ASBMB
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: AAMC
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: The Genetic Control of Neuronal Number and BehaviorInstitution: Harvard UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesProject ID: GM146243MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
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: Identifying Determinants of ADAR-Dependency in Triple-Negative Breast CancerInstitution: Washington UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID: MD016946MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
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: ASCB
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: AAMC
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: 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: AAMC
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: AAMC
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: ASCB
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: ASBMB
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: Epigenomic Regulation of Oxidative Stress-producing innate immunity in neuroinflammationInstitution: J. David Gladstone InstitutesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Neurological Disorders and StrokeProject ID: NS126707MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
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: ASCB
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: AAMC
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: ASBMB
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: AAMC
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: 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: ASBMB
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: 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: ASCB
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: 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: ASCB
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: ASBMB
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: ASCB
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: ASCB
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: 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: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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 with Dr. James Fraser. Drawn by the unique opportunity to use cryo-electron tomography to study proteins in their cellular context, Dr. Woldeyes joined Dr. Wah Chiu’s lab at Stanford’s 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: Synthesizing Trial and Real-World Data on the Use of Biologics in Patients with Severe AsthmaInstitution: Johns Hopkins UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health DisparitiesGrant ID: K99MD015767MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
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 generalization of trial findings to individuals—commonly racial and ethnic minorities—underrepresented in trials. Dr. Akenroye is also interested in career transitions from clinical fellowships to faculty, especially for individuals underrepresented in academia. She has been involved in multiple initiatives for minorities, andlooks 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: Vanderbilt UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Drug AbuseGrant ID: K99DA052641MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
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 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 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 hopes to continue these efforts as an independent investigator.
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: AAMC
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: ASCB
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: ASCB
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: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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: LSU Pennington Biomedical Research CenterFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on AgingGrant ID:K99AG070273MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
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 under the direction of Dr. Andrzej Bartke. Her training included a heavy focus on the mechanisms of biological aging. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where her research 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 trainee vice-chair and secretary of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunities Committee of the American Aging Association trainee chapter, and is now its co-chair. 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: K99AA029467MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
Anel A. Jaramillo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and she was 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. Currently, Dr. Jaramillo continues her biomedical training as a postdoctoral scholar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. 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 deep 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: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID: K99GM140220MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
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 Ithaca, 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 is currently a Nancy Nossal postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jenny Hinshaw at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Dr. Jimah's research focuses on determining the molecular mechanism of membrane remodeling processes in human cells and eukaryotic parasites primarily using structural biology (cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography), cell biology, and biophysical approaches. He has also been active in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in biomedical research and was part of a group of trainees who started the TREaDS (Trainees Recognizing Excellence and Diversity in Science) seminar series within the NIDDK intramural research program.
Project Title: Dopamine Circuit Regulation of Morphine Reinforcement Across the Opioid Exposure CycleInstitution: University of WashingtonFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Drug AbuseGrant ID: K99DA054265MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASCB
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 now conducts her postdoctoral research at the University of Washington in Seattle and has 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: ASCB
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: ASCB
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: 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: ASCB
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: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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: ASCB
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: Tulane UniversityFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung and Blood InstituteGrant ID: K99HL155841MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Benard Ogola is a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University in New Orleans. He currently works under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Lindsey, an associate professor in the department of pharmacology. 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 the interplay of sex hormones and sex chromosomes in vascular oxidative stress and arterial stiffening. As a MOSAIC scholar, he is dedicated to promoting diversity in biomedical research by mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds in the challenges and successes of basic research. Dr. Ogola plans to continue engaging with minorities through his transition to academic independence.
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: ASCB
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: Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaFunding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical SciencesGrant ID: K99GM145411MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Mallory A. Perry 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 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’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
Grant ID: K99GM140070MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
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: ASBMB
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: ASCB
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: ASCB
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: K99GM141365MOSAIC Scientific Society: ASBMB
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 in Evanston, Illinois. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the department of cellular and developmental biology at the University of Michigan, 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 helping to organize the first Black in Microbiology Week. 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: K99HL155845MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
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, mentoring minority students, and serving as a member of the education committee of the North American Vascular Biology Organization. As a MOSAIC scholar, she is eager to continue championing diversity and inclusion in the scientific community.
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: ASBMB
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: K99MD015736MOSAIC Scientific Society: AAMC
Evan J. White 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: ASCB
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: ASBMB
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: ASCB
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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