Fall 2016 Newsletter Volume 24 Issue 4

This issue of the Newsletter will be available as a PDF:


For archived versions of previous newsletters, go here.


Dear AWIS-SD Members & Friends,

The Association for Women in Science, San Diego chapter (AWIS-SD) Open House on Thursday, October 27th was a huge success, thanks to the committee members who organized it.  Food and drink were enjoyed by all.

Many new people attended to see what AWIS-SD is all about.  We welcome all those who have joined AWIS-SD as new members or renewed their membership.  If you have not yet joined AWIS-SD, please visit this page, and consider joining us. 

To work on a skill that you would like to develop, such as leadership, organizing, explaining science, or writing, consider becoming a part of an AWIS-SD committee.

For me the best part of the Open House was handing out the awards for our outstanding volunteers.  Here are the AWIS-SD outstanding volunteers for 2016.

Achievement in InnovationFor initiating the best new idea to advance and enhance the Chapter events, activities, and community service and for demonstrating initiative, promotion and follow-through with implementation of the idea:

  • Anne Kornahrens
  • Robyn Wygal
  • Joanna Redfern










Left to right:  Robyn Wygal, Anne Kornahrens, DeeAnn Visk, Dominique Lenoir, and Joanna Redfern

Photo credit:  Sophie Muscat-King and Elizabeth Jacobs

Anne and Robyn worked on updating the mission statement for the Outreach Committee to be more inclusive.  Joanna got a new Coffee Club, Academia to Industry, off the ground; she and her co-organizer, Juliati, have set up tours of local biotech companies.

Rookies of the Year.  For the new Chapter member who demonstrated a commitment to advancing the goals of the organization by volunteering efforts, providing ideas, and promoting the organization

outside of AWIS:

  • Elizabeth Jacobs
  • Ksenya Cohen-Katsenelson










Left to right:  Ksenya Cohen-Katsenelson, Elizabeth Jacobs, and DeeAnn Visk

Photo credit: Sophie Muscat-King

Elizabeth has worked hard on the Outreach Committee and was Co-Chair of the Open House Committee. Ksenya has worked on the Newsletter Committee with numerous submitted articles and the Strategy Sessions Committee.

Achievement in Outreach or Community Service. For making a contribution, on behalf of AWIS-SD, to the San Diego community to advance and promote the role of women working in science and technology

  • Kristin Bompiani-Myers
  • Miriam Cohen










Left to right:  Miriam Cohen, Kristin Bompiani-Myers, and DeeAnn Visk

Photo credit:  Elizabeth Jacobs and Sophie Muscat-King

Kristin and Miriam have volunteered many hours on the Outreach Committee; I attended the Awards Dinner in March for the winners of the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair and was very impressed.

Leadership Service. For the Chapter members who demonstrated leadership skills to encourage active participation of other members and for advancing the goals and visibility of the San Diego Chapter:

  • Corine Lau
  • Sophie Muscat-King










Left to right:  Corine Lau and Sophie Muscat-King

Photo credit:  Elizabeth Jacobs

Corine stepped up and took up a Newsletter Committee Co-Chair position; additionally, she has served several years on the AWIS-SD board. Sophie has served for two years on the Open House Committee; this year she also became Co-Chair of the Public Relations Committee, reviving the group.

Outstanding Volunteers. For being an active and enthusiastic member who continuously extends assistance with projects, promotes AWIS, offers creative ideas, and serves on committees

  • Juliati Rahajeng
  • Melissa Scranton

pres letter 5









Left to right:  Melissa Scranton, Juliati Rahajeng, and DeeAnn Visk

Photo credit:  Elizabeth Jacobs and Sophie Muscat-King

Juliati also volunteered to become a Co-Chair of the Newsletter Committee; she is the co-organizer of the Academia to Industry Coffee Club and has served on the Open House Committee for two years. Melissa stepped up and filled the need for a coordinator for the Family Fun event in July as well as becoming a Co-Chair of the Events Committee.

Board Special Awards.  Awarded to the Chapter member whom the AWIS-San Diego Board recognizes as exemplifying the AWIS-San Diego mission through excellence in leadership, community service, innovation, and promoting AWIS-San Diego:

  • Eva Goellner
  • Eileen Collyer
  • Risa Broyer










Left to right:  DeeAnn Visk, Eva Goellner, Risa Broyer,  Eileen Collyer

Photo credit:  Sophie Muscat-King and Elizabeth Jacobs

Eva, Eileen, and Risa served together as Co-Chairs of the Scholarship Committee, determining who received an AWIS-SD scholarship. Without flinching, they took on the added responsibility of organizing the High Tea Scholars Celebration event.

President's Award

  • Dorothy Sears
  • Dominique Lenoir

 pres letter 7








Left to right:  DeeAnn Visk, Dominique Lenoir.  Not pictured:  Dorothy Sears.

Photo credit:  Elizabeth Jacobs and Sophie Muscat-King

Dorothy (Dody) and Dominique have been long time members of AWIS-SD. Dody has served as president of the chapter and Dominique is always behind the registration table at numerous events.

A big thanks to our sponsors who attended: UCSD Extension with Shannon McDonald and WestPac Wealth Partners with Sheena Sahni. UCSD Extension/ AWIS-SD Back to Work Initiative recognized their scholarship winners: Kerstin Kirchsteiger and Tulin Evizi. Also, a big thanks to Qualcomm, which provided the venue at no charge. The silent auction raised $790 for our scholarship fund.

AWIS-SD is run completely by volunteers.  To all the persons who volunteer for AWIS-SD, heartfelt thanks for all your hard work.



DeeAnn Visk, President AWIS-SD

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

P.S. If you want to become more active in AWIS-SD, please consider joining the planning committee for the Women in Science and Technology (WIST) conference:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The International Space Station (ISS) R&D Conference

By Alex Clark

Institutes near the ocean in San Diego have some competition for “Best view from the lab window.” Research is taking place roughly 250 miles/400 km above our heads on the International Space Station, an orbital multinational research laboratory that treats its occupants to stunning views of the Earth and 16 sunsets per day. 

This past February, I submitted an application to join them, as did over 18,000 other would-be space travelers. My reason? I believe strongly in the space program and its mission to explore outward and to bring helpful technologies developed for space back to benefit life on Earth.  Therefore, when I learned that the ISS R&D Conference was to be held in San Diego this year and that the last day would be open to the public, I enthusiastically volunteered to attend. The ISS Research Conference turned out to be part scientific meeting and part public outreach event, featuring scientific talks and keynotes by astronauts, technology demonstrations for kids, a live chat (via HAM radio) with an astronaut on the space station, and an inspiring panel addressing gender barriers in STEM.

Anna-Sophia Boguraev, high school student and winner of the 2015 Genes in Space competition, answered the question of whether a PCR reaction could be performed in microgravity. Genes in Space is a STEM contest for students (grades 7-12) to solve problems related to genetics research in space.  As part of the broader goal of mapping epigenetic changes in immune system genes of astronauts during flight, Boguraev worked with a mentor to design a device to perform the first PCR reaction in space.  Attempting to do it the conventional way would result in tubes, pipets, and samples floating off, so Anna-Sophia presented her solution, a compact, enclosed device that launched to the space station in April.  It was used to perform PCR in space for the first time.  Following closely after the first PCR came the first DNA sequencing experiment, performed in August by NASA astronaut and UC San Diego alumna, Kate Rubins.

Outside the scientific talks, a show-and-tell to the public took place.  An amateur radio operator from ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) successfully made contact with the ISS, and a group of grinning kids lined up to ask questions and get responses from an astronaut.   One popular booth in the room allowed attendees’ photo to be displayed on a monitor aboard the space station for a few minutes while a camera aimed at this monitor transmitted the image of “you on the station” back to the booth.  This was a thrill to see and seemed equally impressive to both children and adults.

Boguraev and two other women in the space industry later sat on the panel “Breaking STEM Gender Barriers at 17,000 MPH: Women in STEM on the International Space Station.”  These three panelists discussed how they overcame barriers to their success. “You have to call people out,” said Anna-Sophia when asked about how to deal with subconscious gender bias.  Former NASA astronaut Dr. Millie Hughes-Fulford, who spent time on the space station, cited female role models on TV for her interest in science.

Jan Hess, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering and Engineered Systems Segment at Teledyne Technologies, said that parental encouragement was extremely important and recalled being told “You can do it.” 


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Caption: Panelists speaking about “Breaking STEM Gender Barriers at 17,000 MPH: Women in STEM on the International Space Station.” 


At the end of the Q&A section, a young girl was patiently waiting her turn at the microphone.  The session was ending, but someone stood up behind her and signaled to the moderator that her question must be taken.  It was inspiring to see the professionals attending the conference put their words into an action that showed a potential future scientist that yes, she is welcome.

“Space right now is this big question mark we’re filling in, and if we fill it in with girls as well, then there is nothing they won’t be able to do in the future”

-Anna-Sophia Boguraev, Genes in Space 2015 Winner




 AWIS-SD Outreach – Maker Faire 2016

By Miriam Cohen and Vanessa Langness

The second annual San Diego Maker Faire brought together technology enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” were in Balboa Park on October 1st and 2nd to show what they have made and to share what they have learned with thousands of spectators.

AWIS-SD Outreach Committee hosted a booth inside the Natural History Museum. Outreach Committee members Vanessa Langness and Miriam Cohen organized the booth, featuring a demonstration of the chemistry of batteries. The visitors to the booth were able to make copper-zinc batteries from potatoes, lemons, brussel sprouts and soda. Visitors measured and compared the voltage and current produced by each of these food items, and assembled a larger battery that could light a small LED light bulb. We also highlighted the contribution of women to key developments in battery science including the long cycle-life nickel-hydrogen batteries (Olga Gonzales-Sanabia) that are used in space station power systems, and small batteries for medical applications (Esther Takeuchi), such as an implantable defibrillator.


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Caption: AWIS-SD at the Maker Faire.

The Outreach Committee would like to extend a special thanks to the volunteers and organizers who made this event a truly successful and rewarding experience. Interested in participating next year? Stay posted on AWIS-SD events: http://www.awissd.org/index.php/all-events/events-calendar.
Interested in running this workshop for a different event? Check out http://www.awissd.org/index.php/page/outreach-resources.

 Academia 2 Industry Coffee Club - A Visit with Dr. Corine Lau

By Joanna Redfern

On August 5th, Corine Lau came to the Academia 2 Industry (A2I) coffee club’s monthly meeting to share with the group her experience of transitioning from academia to industry.

In 2004, Corine moved to San Diego for a post-doc position at UCSD in molecular/cellular biology, specifically in the area of eukaryotic cell biology and nuclear assembly. After completing her post-doc, she took time off from research to start and raise her family. During this time, she began exploring career paths that would help her transition into industry. This is where Corine’s advice to maintain the connections you make came to fruition for her.

 One of Corine’s colleagues from graduate school, who operated a scientific writing and editing company (BioMed Bridge), offered Corine a contract position as a scientific writer with the option of working from home.  This position enabled her to learn the ropes for scientific writing and editing while she wrote articles for the Nature Publishing Group website. Corine also worked from home for Pharmascouts as a scientific recruiter, and BIOBASE (now part of Qiagen) as a scientific curator. This latter job required reading and summarizing recent research articles for the BIOBASE knowledge database.

 In 2014, yet another colleague from graduate school helped Corine land an interview at Pathway Genomics, and eventually a position with the company. She worked as a scientific writer initially, but an opportunity arose and Corine moved into a position in product management. This was a position Corine really enjoyed because she understood the science behind the product, and that expertise helped with positioning the product for market. Corine let the A2I group know that the most challenging part of product management was coordinating with various teams of the company including: product development (R&D), software engineering, business development, marketing and sales teams, and also acting as the scientific expert when interacting with potential clients. Corine also made the distinction that Product management is different from Project management, which has a stronger focus on product development timelines and overseeing projects to completion.

 After a year plus with Pathway Genomics, Corine looked into a position at Human Longevity Inc. (HLI). Once again, a friend at HLI was the key to getting her foot in the door, and Corine landed her current position at HLI’s Oncology Department 8 months ago.  HLI is an exciting biotech start-up and aims to lead personalized healthcare through whole genome sequencing combined with phenotypic data analysis. HLI has expanded its workforce rapidly in the past year. In Corine’s current position as a cancer genomics scientist, she analyzes the genetic variations present in cancerous tumors. Together with her team, they plan to provide tumor profiling that can lead to individualized cancer treatments.

 After speaking to us about her experience moving into a career in industry, Corine also fielded a number of questions from A2I members including:

How easy is it to move up (within a company) as opposed to (moving) laterally?

  • Document everything you have accomplished, and let that be known during your performance reviews (usually done quarterly). Ultimately, it is your managers and colleagues who know you and your accomplishments that can help you move up.

What were the challenges of moving from scientific writer to product manager?

  • Talking to customers was the toughest thing to learn. Communication both within (the company) and to outside people (customers) is key. Always know what your audience wants.

Do people get published in industry jobs?

  • Primarily people in the R&D section get their results published, not really in other areas of the business. However, publishing in good journals help validates the scientific findings and help the company gain trust from the stakeholders.

What is job stability like in Industry?

  • There is not a lot of stability in start-up companies. You need to find what your special skill is and keep that in mind all the time. You need to be flexible and take on different hats/roles (even ones you might not be comfortable with). Look into working with other groups so they know you exist and are worthwhile to their group.

How flexible is HLI about working from home?

  • HLI has a flexible work environment and people can work from home.

 AWIS-SD Strategy Session: Projecting Your Time Management Skills

By Ksenya Cohen Katsenelson

August’s AWIS-SD Strategy Session was presented by a special guest, Melanie Nelson.

Melanie is a project manager with a PhD in biochemistry, which she earned from the Scripps Research Institute in 1999. She was a scientist in several biotech companies. Melanie has a remarkable career in project management: she has been a department head in Ambrx, and up until early 2014, she was a group leader in scientific informatics at Dart Neuroscience. Since then, she has worked as an independent contractor and consultant providing services in scientific informatics and project management. Melanie has a blog about management, productivity, science, software… and the intersection of all those things. http://beyondmanaging.com/. You can also find information about the consulting services she provides on her blog. She also writes a monthly column for Chronicle Vitae.

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Caption: Melanie Nelson talking about time management. 

Melanie gave some useful advice on good time management:

  • The first step is to recognize that everyone has a work limit – over-working leads to mistakes and these mistakes cost time and money.
  • The good news is that you CAN improve your time management, but first you need to want to do so, and then discipline yourself.
  • The next step is to diagnose your time management challenges.. Sit down and write all the issues that can lead to your time problems such as easy distractions, over-committing, procrastination, etc. The best way to do so is to track your time during the day using either an app (such as Kanban board, Toggl) or just a notebook, or Excel spreadsheet. That way you can easily analyze your results, make the necessary changes, and then repeat and see if you solved the problem and earned more time. Remember to be honest with yourself, as no one else will see these results.
  • Analyzing the results from time tracking – If your time looks fragmented that can be suboptimal. Also try to make the best use of your most productive time. The goal of your time management is also to control the things that make you feel stressed.
  • Tools and strategies for your problems – This helps to avoid emergencies. You should always have a plan on how you will spend your time. Set intermediate deadline or goals. Have a to-do list based on your priorities, either on paper or electronically. Use your calendar. Improve your estimates to avoid over-scheduling. It is also very important to take real breaks to avoid overwork. Go for a walk during the day, take evenings and weekends off. Also, if you must bring work home, write an “only do this” list.

And one should always remember why time management is important. It is not just to be more productive, but also to make time for ALL the things that matter to you!


 Human Longevity Inc. Tour

By Juliati Rahajeng and Joanna Redfern

AWIS-SD members toured Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) on September 14, 2016. The tour was hosted by AWIS members Corine Lau and Ericka Anderson. Lau, who is also the co-chair of the Newsletter Committee for AWIS-SD, organized the tour with Joanna Redfern, co-chair of the Academia 2 Industry Coffee Club. HLI was co-founded by J. Craig Venter, Robert Hariri, and Peter H. Diamandis in 2013.

The tour began with a presentation by Ashley van Zeeland, the Chief Technology Officer at HLI. van Zeeland briefly described the trajectory of her career from academic research to industry, beginning with studying neuroscience at University of California, Los Angeles, a post-doc at Scripps Translational Science Institute, and earning her Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) at University of California, San Diego’s Rady School or Management. After earning her MBA, van Zeeland co-founded Cypher Genomics in 2011. In 2015, Cypher Genomics was acquired by HLI, and van Zeeland began working at HLI as the head of Pediatric Research. van Zeeland’s advice for women who want to transition from academia to industry is to think more practically. In industry, it is not possible to pursue all avenues of interest due to monetary constraints. It is very important to understand what the angle for development of a new product is from the business side. Value drives business, so it is important to identify avenues and applications that will produce successful products quickly.

van Zeeland is really interested in the area between discovery (from research) of something new and turning the discovery into a new product. In this area, there is a number of areas of expertise to work within, including early testing, validation, development, licensing and technology transfer, and programs. Business is interested in value. 

HLI’s mission is to generate the world’s most comprehensive genomic and phenotypic datasets in an effort to assist in fighting various diseases, such as cancer, dementia, obesity, and liver and heart diseases. HLI wants to change the practice of medicine, making it more preventative and genomics-based. HLI is focusing on four trends that have recently converged to drive their model of heath care. These four trends include reduced sequencing costs for whole genome sequencing, machine learning, computational power (and utilizing the cloud), and value-based care. HLI is focused on heath assessments for individuals who want to optimize their well being based on their genome and whole body scans. The company is also working in oncology and with children with rare diseases. For oncology, genome sequencing of tumors is utilized in an effort to identify mutations unique to the tumors, which may be useful in identifying treatments for the patients. For children with rare diseases, whole exome sequencing is currently being used to analyze patients with rare diseases. HLI currently collaborates with hospitals, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical industries, including Celgene and AstraZeneca.

After van Zeeland’s presentation, we went to the Health Nucleus facility, which combines whole genome data with metabolomic, microbiome, personal health history, and physical data of patients, such as ECG, full-body MRI, and bone density imaging, to provide a comprehensive health evaluation. CorTechs Labs assists HLI in providing advanced imaging analysis. Understanding the status of all microbes that live in our body is crucial in providing better therapeutic approaches in fighting diseases. In addition, the metabolome can be used as a measure of a patient phenotype since it shows the interaction between the patient genome and the environment. Currently, HLI is collaborating with Metabolon Inc. to identify changes in patient biochemicals linked to end points of disease and gene mutations.

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Caption: AWIS-SD Academic 2 Industry members touring the Health Nucleus at Human Longevity, Inc.

Our final stop was the sequencing facility, where we learned how patient samples are processed to generate whole genome data. DNA extraction of samples obtained from various sources, such as academic labs and pharmaceutical companies, are performed before going through library preparation and PCR. Once the PCR product passes quality control, it is subjected to sequencing. HLI owns 24 HiSeqX Ten Sequencing Systems (Illumina), which can generate 40,000 human genomes per year.

AWIS-SD attends the 96th AAAS Pacific Division Annual Meeting at USD

By Elizabeth Jacobs

AWIS-San Diego attended the 2016 AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Pacific Division Annual Meeting themed ‘Engaging Science’ on June 14-16. This year’s events took place at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. Established in 1949, the University of San Diego is a private Catholic university located in the beautiful Alcalá Park in Linda Vista. The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies opened in 2007 and offers degrees which support students wishing to bring peace, justice and safety to our world. The 2016 conference was both the centennial celebration of AAAS in the west, and also the 96th annual event. Conference goers were interested to hear that the event was cancelled for several years during the Second World War, accounting for the four year gap!  The inaugural AAAS Pacific Division Annual Conference also occurred in San Diego in 1916, with Albert Einstein as one of the most widely recognized participants.  On this occasion Einstein disclosed calculations, based on his theory of relativity, proposing the existence of gravitational waves. Exactly 100 years later, in February 2016, scientists working on the LIGO (Laser Inferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) project announced their observation of these tiny waves at a press conference in Washington D.C. What a wonderful event to have participated in!

Members of the AWIS San Diego Public Relations Committee (Robyn Wygal, Elizabeth Jacobs, Elena Rubio de la Torre, Lori Yang and AWIS SD president DeeAnn Visk) represented our local chapter each day of the conference. Our table featured information on local and national AWIS initiatives, and invited guests to participate in a raffle by providing an email address. The raffle prize included an AWIS-SD travel coffee tumbler, notebook, pen and DVD (National Geographic’s Mysteries of the Unseen World) provided by our sponsor FEI. Conference guests from the San Diego area were provided with information regarding local and national membership details and upcoming chapter events. In addition, we were able to supply information about chapters across the United States to those who travelled to San Diego for the conference. To our surprise, we learned about an affiliate chapter of AWIS in Greece featured on the AWIS National website! 


AAAS Jun2016

Caption:  Robyn Wygal (left) and Elizabeth Jacobs (right) during AAAS registration

News Ticker

By Alyson Smith

  •  TSRI chemist Jin-Quan Yu has been named as one of the 23 2016 MacArthur Fellows. His research focuses on the use of palladium catalysts as a more efficient method to break carbon-hydrogen bonds and synthesize new molecules. He hopes to use the MacArthur “genius grant” stipend to explore ways of using less expensive metals, such as copper or iron, as catalysts.

  •  San Diego-based AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation is developing a bacteriophage therapy for Staphylococcus aureus infection. Use of this therapy, which consists of a cocktail of three viruses that infect S. aureus, could reduce dependence on antibiotics and treat infections by strains that have developed antibiotic resistance. AmpliPhi successfully completed a Phase I safety trial of this therapy and is also developing therapies to fight other drug-resistant species such as Clostridium difficile.

  • In late August, UCSD professor and recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry Roger Tsien passed away unexpectedly. Tsien shared the Nobel Prize with Osamu Shimomura and Martin Chalfie for adapting the green fluorescent protein found in jellyfish as a research tool. Tsien used his knowledge of chemistry to make GFP glow more brightly and consistently, and to create fluorescent proteins in a broad range of colors. He will be remembered by scientists in San Diego and around the world for his important contributions to the study of protein function and for his keen intellect and creativity.

  •  Four UCSD neuroscience labs recently received $2.27 million from the NIH as part of the Obama administration’s BRAIN Initiative. The funded research will focus on neuronal connections in the brain stem and on new ways of imaging the brain. This grant will bring the total amount of BRAIN Initiative funding for UCSD scientists to over $6 million.

  •  San Diego-based Ventrix has conducted the first tests of a new treatment for heart attack-induced cardiac damage in people. The treatment, termed VentriGel, consists of matrix proteins from pig hearts that form a scaffold when injected into the site of damage in the heart.  Newly formed heart cells can migrate onto this scaffold and integrate with the rest of the tissue. VentriGel has shown promising signs of working in the first two people it was tested in.

  •  UC San Diego has launched a campus-wide collaborative initiative to fight climate change termed the Deep Decarbonization Initiative. This initiative aims to develop politically and economically practical methods to reduce global carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible. It will include new grants, courses, and research seminars.

  •  Neal Driscoll, Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor of geology and geophysics, has discovered a new fault line 120 miles east of San Diego. This new fault, termed the Salton Trough Fault, runs parallel to the San Andreas Fault. It appears geologically active and could be up to 25 miles long, enough to produce a large-magnitude earthquake.

  •  San Diego scientists Cheryl Ann Marie Anderson, James F. Sallis, Jr., and J. Craig Venter have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Anderson and Sallis are both professors of family medicine and public health at UCSD, where Anderson studies nutrition and chronic disease prevention and Sallis studies physical activity and obesity. Venter spearheaded efforts to sequence the first human genome and founded the J. Craig Venter Institute and Human Longevity, Inc. 

  •  Scripps Translational Science Institute researcher Ali Torkamani and colleagues recently published a study on mutations related to sudden death. In 68 percent of the cases studied, the researchers found mutations that they classified as likely, plausible, or speculative as causes of sudden death, thus providing more information and potential targets for genetic testing for the family members of the deceased.

Member News

Leslie Crews, Ph.D., co-chair of Strategy Sessions Committee, recently published an article titled “RNA Splicing Modulation Selectively Impairs Leukemia Stem Cell Maintenance in Secondary Human AML” in Cell Stem Cell. Click on the link for the article [http://www.sciencedirect.com/ science/article/pii/ S1934590916302508] and for the press release [https://health.ucsd.edu/news/ releases/Pages/2016-08-26-new- way-to-identify-and-target- malignant-aging-in-leukemia. aspx].

Laurel KeyesPh.D.,Corporate Sponsorship Committee Member, recently found her dream job as a Research Scientist at Quantum Applied Science and Research, Inc. (QUASAR) after taking a leave of absence to start her family.  The role includes performing original research, researching innovative applications for non-invasive electrophysiological measurement systems, and securing funding for development and commercialization through grant writing.

Elena Rubio de La Torre, Ph.D., Public Relations Committee member, is now an application scientist at NanoCellect Biomedical, Inc.


About the Authors


 Alex Clark ISSconf





Alex Clark is a postdoc at UCSD in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine studying host-viral interactions during Zika Virus and Human Cytomegalovirus infections. She became a member of AWIS-SD in 2014.   Alex has been Co-Chair of the Website Committee since 2015 and also served on the WIST 2015 Committee.

 mariam cohen





Miriam Cohen received a PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and pursued postdoctoral training at UC San Diego. She has a passion for education and is a Medical Writer at Arbor Scientia Group in Carlsbad. Miriam is an active member of the AWIS-SD Outreach and Corporate Sponsorship committees, where she coordinates and executes fun science activities for the public. 

 Vanessa Langness






Vanessa Langness moved to San Diego after completing her BS at MSUDenver where she double majored in chemistry and biology. She is now a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Program at UC San Diego. She is using neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to study the role of cholesterol in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Vanessa is an active member of the AWIS San Diego Outreach Committee.








Joanna Redfern studied molecular evolution of Ocotillo plants and their relatives during her doctoral studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM). As a post-doc at UNM, she employed next-generation sequencing of soil samples to search for novel ligase enzymes with potential applications in biofuels. Presently, she teaches Introductory Biology at both Miramar and Cuyamaca Colleges. Joanna also started the AWIS-SD Academia 2 Industry Coffee Club this past January.



Ksenya Cohen Katsenelson received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. To further enhance her research career, she relocated to San Diego for a postdoc at UCSD. She has a strong background in signal transduction pathways, and a broad range of experience in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology techniques. Outside the lab she loves hiking and boogie boarding with her husband and daughter, and enjoys social events with friends.



Juliati Rahajeng received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska, Medical Center in 2011. She joined UCSD School of Medicine as a postdoctoral researcher one month after her graduation. Juliati has been a member of AWIS-SD for the past 3 years. She is currently an active member of the Scholarship and the Newsletter committees. She was also a member of the AWIS-SD Open House 2015 committee.










Elizabeth Jacobs is a postdoctoral research associate at The Scripps Research Institute, where she develops antibody-drug conjugates of Duocarmycin SA in collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb. She received her Bachelor’s degree through the College Scholars Program at The University of Tennessee in 2009 and completed her PhD at The University of East Anglia in 2014. She has been an AWIS member since 2015 and serves as the San Diego Chapter Outreach Committee Social Media Manager and Public Relations Committee Co-chair. She would like to use her experience in research to promote positive change in early STEM education.





To register for and/or explore current STEM outreach volunteer opportunities please check the events page! 


Maker Faire

Maker Faire San Diego is an annual event held at Balboa Park in October that brings together thousands of students, educators, and organizations to relay the ideas of combining creative arts, technology, crafts, and science into inventions. AWIS-SD Outreach Committee members, alongside other Makers, present a series of engaging hands-on activities, demonstrations, and projects to promote the interest of participants in pursuing a STEAM career. It’s a great chance to learn more about the MAKER movement and meet others in the diverse fields of STEAM! Visit http://sandiego.makerfaire.com/ for more information!

ChemExpo is part of the American Chemical Society (ACS) San Diego chapter's annual celebration of Chemistry Week. ChemExpo is held in October at San Diego Miramar College and is attended by hundreds of middle and high school students, plus parents and teachers. The AWIS-SD Outreach Committee organizes and presents hands-on experiments designed to “wow” the students with chemistry's diversity and ubiquitous nature. It’s a great opportunity to promote interest in chemistry and connect with the chemistry community. Information about this and other events hosted by the San Diego ACS chapter can be found at http://www.sandiegoacs.org/events/.
San Diego Science Festival
Every year in March, the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering invites students and their families to engage in a celebration of careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at PETCO Park. The goal is to encourage and inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to pursue STEM education and careers by connecting them with scientists, educators, and engineers. The AWIS-SD Outreach Committee along with many volunteers introduces hundreds of attendees to STEM through activities like making Oobleck! Help us inspire the next generation of scientist and engineers!  For more information, visit the festival website: http://www.sdsciencefestival.com.  For volunteer opportunities, contact us at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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STEM in Your Backyard

STEM in Your Backyard is a series of local events held across San Diego to reach out to children who want to learn more about STEM and have fun. These events are held throughout the year. The AWIS-SD Outreach Committee participated in the event at the Logan Heights Library this year and joined many other volunteers from other organizations to interact with participants and teach them about science! For more information, visit: https://www.lovestemsd.org/stem-your-backyard and contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more volunteering opportunities!


Undergraduate Career Panel: Exploring Careers in Science and Engineering- a day for undergraduate women
This is an afternoon or evening event geared towards undergraduate women. The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity for undergraduate women to interact one-on-one with female scientists and engineers. This is a small event with approximately 30 undergraduate women and 10-12 AWIS panelists. The event consists of a panel discussion followed by a sit-down meal where the girls can ask questions about careers in the sciences and interact informally with our panelists. This event has been a great success in the past and we are always looking to improve it. We need volunteers both to be panelists as well as help out on the day of the event. Please contact outreach@awissd for more information about dates and times.
Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Conference

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) is an annual conference held at the University of San Diego (USD) in March. Approximately 600 sixth- to tenth-grade girls from throughout San Diego County participate in several workshops throughout the day in small groups, escorted by two female college mentors. This is a great opportunity to have fun and motivate young women to pursue science, math, and technology! The AWIS-SD Outreach Committee organized and presented a Crime Scene Forensic Workshop in which students learned about the science behind DNA, fingerprint and liquid/solid analysis, and more! Please visit the EYH website for more information: http://www.eyhsandiego.org


Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair (GSDSEF)

During the spring, the AWIS-SD Outreach committee selects its own award winners during the Professional Organization section of the annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair (www.gsdsef.org). Recruited volunteers, often AWIS-SD members take some time out of their day to judge and evaluate science and engineering projects submitted by middle school and high school girls from San Diego and Imperial Counties. Projects range from topics about medicine to technology to animals and plants (in all areas of STEM). A banquet is held for the AWIS award winners, their families, and their advisors to celebrate their achievements. This is an opportunity to interact with some really enthusiastic, young scientific ladies. To volunteer as a judge, contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  

Sally Ride Science Festivals
The Sally Ride Science Festivals (www.sallyridefestivals.com) occur in a variety of locations throughout the country. Several organizations and companies put together hands-on activities at booths for the girls (5th-8th grade) to explore many different areas of science. In addition, there are focused activities for girls in break-out sessions. The Outreach Committee has participated in Sally Ride Science Festivals at UCSD, CSULA and UC-Irvine by providing a booth with hands-on activities. See the Events Calendar to volunteer for upcoming festivals in our area.

Dare to Dream STEM Career Conference: Exploring Careers in STEM

This one-day event is held at San Diego State University and is geared toward high school (11th and 12th) and community college female students who are looking for more opportunities to network and engage in the STEM community. The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity for young women to interact one-on-one with female scientists, engineers, teachers, and researchers. The event consists of different workshops focused on mentoring, networking, self-promotion, internships, and resume writing. This event has been a great success in the past and we are always looking to improve it. If you are interested in becoming a panelist or volunteering on the day of the event, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the dates and times.

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Science Olympiad
Get involved with an international nonprofit (http://www.soinc.org ) that is devoted to improving the quality of science education, creating a passion for learning science, and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. Science Olympiad builds tremendous enthusiasm for science even among students that may not otherwise find it interesting. That may be because it is a "team sport" with the students receiving positive feedback for academic prowess from their peers. Science Olympiad is a tremendous opportunity to nurture future scientists and a very concrete way to make a difference. Besides, it's fun! There is something for everyone to do, regardless of level of commitment. The San Diego regional competition (http://www.sandiegoso.org/index.html) is held in  February.



  • Carbohydrate Search (Ages 6+)

Instruction sheet

Carbohydrate information




  • Red Cabbage experiment (chemistry experiment - Grades 4-6)
  • Crime Scene Sleuth

Handout 2005 & handout 2007

Workshop tips

List of supplies

Background DNA analysis

Background ink chromatography analysis

Background paper chromatography

Background hair analysis

  • Silly Putty

handout and Julia's Chem Expo fact sheet

How does the glue work answers

  • Tower Building (Grades 4-8)


Tower building workshop updates by Julia: instructions and presentation 

Who builds big interviews : Susan Knack and Diana Nishi

  • Toothpick Fish (Grades 7-8)


Toothpick Fish Instruction sheet

  • Traits Bingo (Grades 7-8)


Instruction sheet

Comparing traits

Traits inventory

To post comments and helpful hints on workshops, please contact us by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Helpful links

http://exploratorium.edu/ (Museum of Science, Art in San Francisco)


http://www.chem4kids.com/index.html (chemistry for kids - workshop ideas)

http://www.biology4kids.com/ (biology for kids - workshop ideas)

http://www.geography4kids.com/ (earth science)

http://www.teachersfirst.com/ae.htm (lots of workshops, biology related)

http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/ (CA state standards)

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/labs/extraction/ (DNA extraction experiments)

http://amasci.com/scied.html (physics demos and projects)

http://www.simplyscience.com/physicalslinks.html (lots of physics, physical chemistry links for kids)




http://www.mastersindatascience.org/blog/the-ultimate-stem-guide-for-kids-239-cool-sites-about-science-technology-engineering-and-math/ (Age-sorted guide to many online STEM resources for kids)

          https://www.saveonenergy.com/learning-center/kinetic-potential-energy/ (Kinetic and Potential Energy Guide)


Upcoming Events

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