AWIS Officers

Committee Chairs

Academia 2 Industry (A2I) Nora Shafee & Qiong Song
Career Advancement Committee Courney Benson & Manisha Kanodia
Corporate Sponsorship Angela Macia, & Xiwei Shan
Events Ray Seraydarian, Kim Hanson and Vivian Dolina
Newsletter Alyson Smith & Jean Spence
Outreach Bridget Kohlnhofer & Michelle Muldong
Public Relations Robyn Wygal &Deepa Hammaker
Scholarship Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk
Website Alex Clark
    
 

 

Nora Academia 2 Industry Co-Chair: Nora Shafee

Norazizah Shafee, Ph.D. is a scientist at UC San Diego and a Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University Putra Malaysia. Nora began her journey in the study of cells and their signal transduction pathways during her undergraduate work at the University of Arizona. She then continued her graduate studies to investigate the mechanism of cellular responses to viral infections at the University of Malaya. Intrigued by the way certain cells self-destruct upon sensing potential virus attack, she decided to investigate why these cellular responses were de-regulated in some cancer cells. She pursued this interest during her post-doctoral training at UC Irvine, where she helped develop a mouse model of breast cancer and provided initial evidence of cancer stem cells as a potential cause of chemoresistance. This training was funded by the American Association for Cancer Research and the Avon Foundation. Combining her background in anti-viral responses and cancer cell biology, Nora is currently focused on characterizing cellular responses towards oncolytic virus infections.

In-between her scientific explorations and community service adventures, Nora loves exploring the beauty of nature through hiking and traveling with her family. Nora joined AWIS and became a co-chair of the Academia-2-Industry committee in January 2019.

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Qiong Academia 2 Industry Co-Chair: Qiong Song

 Qiong's bio will be available soon.

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 courtney Career Advancement Co-Chair: Courtney Benson

Courtney Benson, Ph.D. earned her B.S. and M.S. at SDSU in cell and molecular biology, and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University at Buffalo. Courtney is currently working at BlueNalu, Inc. as a scientist and is excited to help generate a sustainable food product that will be of value to humans and for our oceans. When Courtney joined AWIS San Diego in October of 2017, she immediately joined the Outreach Committee and then joined the AWIS San Diego Board as a Member at Large. Courtney Benson, Ph.D. earned her B.S. and M.S. at SDSU in cell and molecular biology, and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University at Buffalo. Courtney is currently working at BlueNalu, Inc. as a scientist and is excited to help generate a sustainable food product that will be of value to humans and for our oceans. When Courtney joined AWIS San Diego in October of 2017, she immediately joined the Outreach Committee and then joined the AWIS San Diego Board as a Member at Large. She then served as the President of AWIS-SD from February 2018 through January 2020. Courtney is currently the Past President and co-chair of the new committee, Career Advancement (Early to Mid-Career). To email, click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 manisha Career Advancement Co-Chair: Manisha Kanodia 
Manisha leads the Student Affairs Information Services team at UCSD, where she started her career at the Rady School of Management. In her 11 years of being associated with UCSD, she has held various leadership roles while working with the Offices of Executive Vice Chancellor, Office for Student with Disabilities and Institutional Research. She has served as a member of technology conferences and women’s conference committees. She has presented at the UC wide technology conference talking about how teams can make a meaningful difference through collaborative change. She is also an active member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, Women in Advance Computing and helps in promoting women involvement, and addressing women's issues in Higher Education. In 2018, Manisha won the Internet2 Inclusivity Scholarship Award. Besides this, Manisha is also involved in working with non-profit organizations outside of UCSD. Manisha has a bachelor's degree in computer science, and has worked as a software engineer in different corporations prior to joining UCSD. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and practicing Yoga.

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angela Corporate Sponsorship Co-Chair: Angela Macia

Angela Macia is a Postdoctoral Researcher at UCSD working in Dr. Alysson Muotri laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Granada, Spain in 2015. Angela has a strong background in transposable elements, and a broad range of experience in both human pluripotent and adult stem cells. Her research focuses on modeling neurological diseases, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, investigating how transposons contribute to the disease by using patient-derived neurons and 3D organoids. She is passionate about how AWIS-SD creates opportunities for women and girls in STEM and she has been part of the Corporate Sponsorship committee since 2017. Besides volunteering for AWIS-SD, Angela enjoys traveling, reading and cooking. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Xiwei Corporate Sponsorship Co-Chair: Xiwei Shan

Xiwei Shan is a postdoctoral researcher. She received her Ph.D. in developmental biology at Stony Brook University, N.Y. before moving across the country to join Alysson Muotri’s lab at UC San Diego. In her research, Xiwei is particularly interested in “how the brain is built” and what the mechanisms are behind brain disorders during brain development such as autism. Currently, Xiwei is using a 3D cell culture system derived from stem cells to model autistic brains and to develop potential treatments using gene therapy. Xiwei joint the corporate sponsorship committee at AWIS in 2019 to support women’s advancement of education and career in STEM fields. In her leisure time, Xiwei loves digital drawing, cooking, meditating, and taking random online classes just because. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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ray Events Co-Chair: Ray Seraydarian

Originally from a small city in Upstate New York, Ray Seraydarian earned BS and M. Eng. degrees in Engineering Physics from Cornell University, and has spent his entire professional career in San Diego working in visible spectroscopy or some other area closely involved with nuclear fusion research at General Atomics (GA) and UCSD. He is currently employed by UCLA at GA working on a microwave instrument for the large ITER fusion experiment being built by an international consortium in southern France.

Outside of work Ray enjoys social activities with local Cornell alumni. He has a season’s subscription to the San Diego Symphony, he enjoys going to live theater a few times a year, and the occasional movie. In the past he’s enjoyed bicycling, downhill skiing, and small boat sailing, and he hopes to get back to some of those in the future.

Ray has been a member of AWIS-SD since the mid-1980s, though struggles with the renewal process may have allowed his membership to lapse for a year once or twice in that time. Ray currently serves as a co-chair of the Events Committee.

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kim Events Co-Chair: Kim Hanson

Kim's bio will be available soon.

To contact this events committee co-chair please click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email.

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vivian Events Co-Chair: Vivian Dolina

Vivian Dolina is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. She works in Dr. Wiseman’s lab investigating how stress-signaling pathways can be therapeutically targeted to ameliorate toxic protein aggregation that is involved in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.

Vivian is from Brazil and got her Ph.D. degree in Biosystems in 2016. She joined AWIS in November 2019 and is current one of the events committee co-chair at the San Diego chapter. She is very excited about joining AWIS and promoting women in science through different activities.

Besides her work in the lab, Vivian enjoys going to the gym, hiking and spending her time at the beach. She also loves travelling and baking.

To contact this events committee co-chair please click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email.

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Alyson Smith Newsletter Co-Chair: Alyson Smith 

Alyson Smith recently earned her Ph.D. in cell biology from The Scripps Research Institute, studying the role of structural and motor proteins in maintaining the shape and durability of red blood cells in the lab of Velia Fowler. Prior to her graduate work, she earned a B.A. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Alyson is currently pursuing a career in biotech intellectual property law.

An interest in science communication and outreach motivated Alyson to join AWIS-SD shortly after she began her Ph.D., and she is now an active member of the Outreach and Newsletter Committees. Outside of AWIS-SD, Alyson enjoys baking, reading, writing, and running. 

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Jean Spence Newsletter Co-Chair: Jean Spence

Jean Spence earned a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in microbial genetics. Subsequently, she did several (too many) postdoctoral fellowships at M.I.T., Harvard Medical School, UCSD and the University of Rochester. She pursued her interest in systems biology by developing a novel platform and publishing 3 manuscripts and a book chapter as communicating author. She has been a reviewer for the AWIS newsletter since 2014 and became a co-chair this year. She was also a co-chair of the former Back to Work group in AWIS.

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Bridget Outreach Co-Chair: Bridget Kohlnhofer

Bridget Kohlnhofer, Ph.D. is a Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellow at Janssen, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson. Bridget utilizes human genetics and induced pluripotent stem cells to uncover new biology related to neuropsychiatric disorders. Bridget holds a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, a PhD in Cell Biology from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and was a postdoc at UCSD in the department of Cell and Molecular Medicine.

Since joining AWIS in 2016, Bridget has been on the Outreach Committee. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, gardening, cooking, and going to Del Mar Dog Beach with her pup Eddie! Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email her.

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michelle Outreach Co-Chair: Michelle Muldong

Michelle Muldong is a Research Associate at the University of California San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center. She works in Dr. Christina Jamieson’s lab studying bone-metastatic prostate cancer performing in vivo and in vitro experiments utilizing patient derived samples.

Michelle obtained her B.S. from the University of California San Diego with a degree in General Biology. She has been involved in AWIS since September 2019 and is passionate about teaching the next generation about STEM.

Outside of lab Michelle enjoys hot yoga, hiking, snowboarding, iced coffee & hanging out with her French bulldog/Boston Terrier mix pup- Stitch! Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email her.

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robyn2018 Public Relations Chair: Robyn Wygal

Robyn Wygal, joined AWIS San Diego in 2011. She is the current Public Relations Chair and Outreach Community Engagement Chair and works to highlight and expand our AWIS San Diego network. She has also held positions such as the AWIS SD Outreach Co-Chair and STEM Career Conference Co-Director. In her professional career Robyn is a research data analyst with a BS in biology and a minor degree in business and 10 + years of experience managing projects and data communication with multi-level & multi-departmental interfaces and collaborations. She brings both a scientific & business mindset to the discovery and communication of data insight in attaining strategic outcomes. Her passions include the intersection of data science, research, genomics, and healthcare, and she enjoys the challenge of communicating insight through the lens of human perception, behavior, and connection. Fundamentally, she is a biologist, captivated by discovery and novel data play. Her scientific research interests (and challenges) include understanding and interpreting the diverse layers of genetic and epigenetic influence on regulatory networks in the context of immunity, chronic disease, and cancer progression through bioinformatics and data visualization. When not exploring the latest data tools and techniques, or reading publications by amazing STEM innovators, she can be found running, hiking, or biking all over San Diego.

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Dorota Scholarship Chair: Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk

Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk is a biochemist and molecular biologist. She received her MSc in Molecular Biology at the University of Warsaw, Poland, and PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently an Assistant Professor at University of California San Diego, Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology. Her primary research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms of aging using eye as a model system. She published a number of publications in high impact factor journals and her research is currently funded by several foundations’ grants and NIH. You can read more about her work at http://dsklab.ucsd.edu

Dorota joined AWIS in 2017 and immediately got involved in activities of Scholarship Committee. She served as a co-chair and currently as a chair of the Scholarship committee since 2018. To contact Dorota, click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email her.

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alex2018 Website Co-chair: Alex Clark

Alex is a postdoc at UCSD in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine studying host-viral interactions during Zika Virus and Human Cytomegalovirus infections.

Alex obtained a B.S. in Biology from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the UCSD Biology Department studying the interplay between Cytomegalovirus and the host cell cycle. Outside of the lab, Alex enjoys photography, running, and all things sci-fi.

Alex became a member of AWIS in 2014 and has been a co-chair since 2015 and also served on the WIST 2015 Committee. Click here to contact via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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