Scientist Advisory Board

William W. Ward, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Rutgers University

Dr. William W. Ward has been on the faculty of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., since 1977 where he is currently Associate Professor of Biochemistry and President and CEO of the biotechnology company Brighter Ideas, Inc.  Professor Ward received his BS and MS degrees from the University of Florida and, funded by a nationally competitive NSF pre-doctoral fellowship, received a Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1974.  His graduate work under Dr. Howard Seliger led to five major refereed publications in the field of marine bioluminescence, including seminal papers on the calcium-triggered luminescence systems of the comb jellies, Mnemiopsis and Beroe.  His action spectrum for photoinactivation of the calcium-triggered photoprotein, mnemiopsin, a spectrum that demonstrates sensitized destruction of luminescence potential via photoexcitation of the bound luciferin molecule, is one of the most precise action spectra on record.

Maria S. Sepulveda DVM, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Ecotoxicology and Aquatic Animal Health, Purdue University

Dr. Sepulveda received her Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Sciences and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Universidad de Chile. Later at the University of Florida, she received her Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and her Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine. She has been a faculty member at Purdue University since 2004. Her laboratory studies the impact of environmental pollutants on biota by employing a battery of tools that span from the molecular to the whole organism. Her lab's expertise includes the application of genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics for the identification of novel biomarkers of exposure and effects, as well as whole animal and life cycle in vivo testing of different aquatic organisms, including zebrafish. Since her arrival to Purdue, Dr. Sepúlveda has secured over $4 million US dollars in support of her research.

Weiyi Liu, Ph.D., Postdoctoral fellow, Purdue University

Weiyi Liu obtained his PhD in cell and developmental biology from Purdue University and is currently a postdoc research fellow at Purdue University. His expertises are stem cells including embryonic stem cells, germline stem cells, muscle stem cells and adipose stem cells. He is also interested in mechanisms of cell reprogramming, dedifferentiation and transdifferentiation, as well as the application of these technologies in regenerative medicine such as cardiac muscle regeneration, skeletal muscle regeneration and fat cell adipogenesis.

Boriana Marintcheva, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Biology, Bridgewater State University

Boriana Marintcheva received her B.S./M.S. degrees in Biochemistry andteaching Biology and Chemistry from Sofia University, Sofia, Bulgaria and her Ph.D. from University of Connecticut-Health center, Farmington, Connecticut. Following graduate school she completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying bacteriophage T7 replication at Harvard Medical School. She joined the faculty of Bridgewater State University in the Fall of 2008 as an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, where she currently teaches Introductory Biology, First Year Seminar, Cell Biology and Virology. Dr. Marintcheva?'s research interests focus on the biology of virus-host interactions using the T7/ E. coli model system. Knowledge about the specifics of virus-host interactions in different systems has allowed the development of measures aimed at diminishing the negative impact of viruses on human health, and using viruses for practical purposes such as biotechnology and drug delivery.

Scott E. Mills, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Animal Sciences, Purdue University

Dr. Mills received his Bachelor of Science at the College of Charleston, his M.S. at Clemson University, and his Ph.D. at Iowa State University. He studied as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Dallas. Dr. Mills teaches numerous courses at Purdue University, including the Physiology of Domestic Animals and Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology. His lab's interest is on the cellular signals regulating the growth of adipose and muscle tissue for the purpose of identifying tools to modify body composition for productive purposes. He also is interested in fat and meat quality with the goal of improving product quality in lean pigs. Much of Dr. Mills's work has focused on how endocrine signals may be modified between adipose and muscle tissue to partition nutrients toward muscle growth and away from adipose growth. In recent years, the Mills lab has embarked upon cloning the family of porcine beta-adrenergic receptors in order to dissect the mechanisms responsible for growth modification and to develop pig-specific agonist.

Daniela Schiller, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Dr. Schiller's line of research focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying emotional control. Because the environment we live in is constantly changing, our learned emotional responses need to be continuously updated to appropriately reflect current circumstances. Understanding the neural mechanisms that make such emotional flexibility may shed light on the impairments leading to anxiety disorders and may also promote new forms of treatment. In her doctoral research she studied one such aspect of emotional learning, namely, the ability to acquire emotional responses to previously ignored stimuli, which is impaired in patients suffering from chronic schizophrenia. Under the mentorship of Ina Weiner, she developed an animal model of this symptom (persistent latent inhibition) and examined the underlying neural circuitry, as well as the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs in ameliorating it. For post-doctoral training, Dr. Schiller chose to extend her knowledge to human emotional systems under the mentorship of Elizabeth Phelps and Joseph LeDoux. Together, they came up with a translational research program aimed at extending fundamental findings in rats to humans.

Paula Croxson, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow - Baxter Lab, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Paula Croxson studied at the University of Cambridge and then the University of Oxford where she obtained her PhD in the laboratories of Dr Matthew Rushworth and Dr David Bannerman. She began her postdoctoral training also at the University of Oxford with Dr Mark Baxter studying memory and executive function.  She moved to Mount Sinai in January 2010 and joined the faculty there in July 2013. She works on the role of the prefrontal and temporal cortex in cognition. She works on the functions of the neurochemical acetylcholine in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, and the effect  brain lesions on the whole brain at the structural and functional level, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Yuk Fai Leung, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, Purdue University

Dr. Yuk Fai Leung is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University. He received his B.Sc. and M.Phil. in Biochemistry at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Ph.D. in Ophthalmology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2002, Dr. Leung began his postdoctoral research at Harvard University under the support of Croucher Fellowship. His research group at Purdue is studying zebrafish models of human retinal degeneration in order to find better treatments for human patients. Retinal degeneration is a group of incurable eye diseases including retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration that affects our vision. Much has been learned about the molecular basis of these diseases, but the number of treatments for improving the deteriorated vision is still scarce.

Deborah Berebichez, Ph.D.

Debbie Berebichez is a highly motivated, multi-talented young woman with a strong interest in the world of science and media communications. She successfully completed a Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University: the first Mexican woman ever to do so. She continues to work closely with her adviser, physics Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin on promoting the public understanding of science. After obtaining the Doctorate Degree, Debbie pursued two postdoctoral fellowships in applied mathematics and physics and conducted further research at Columbia University's Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics department as well as at New York University's Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences. She is a talented linguist, who speaks five languages. She currently works on Wall St. as a risk analyst and continues to develop video, articles and public communications programs to bring science to all.

Thalyana Smith-Vikos, Graduate Student - Slack Lab, Yale University (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology)

Thalyana's PhD research is focused on the function of microRNAs during aging in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Additionally, she studied and did research in plant biology as an undergraduate. In addition to publishing her own research and reviewing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, she has started a blog (http://thebiologyblogger.blogspot.com), where she helps translate scientific research for the everyday reader. Thalyana enjoys communicating her passion for scientific research to younger students by encouraging them to develop their own research projects. She has mentored a high school student working in the Slack lab, who then presented her research at the CT Science Fair. She has also been a mentor and judge of middle school and high school projects at the New Haven Science Fair for a few years. Additionally, she helps organize Family Science Nights and volunteer for the Yale Science Education Outreach Program, which conducts science demos in local schools.

Janice McDonnell, Science Engineering & Technology 4-H Agent, Associate Professor, Department of Youth Development,  Rutgers University

As the 4-H Science Engineering & Technology (SET) Agent, Janice McDonnell works with county agents, scientists, informal educators, and classroom educators to promote climate literacy. Janice offers a variety of annual programs and projects to help young people learn about climate change including the 4-H Climate and Environmental Change Teen Summit, 4-H Science Saturdays, and a variety of teacher professional development programs. She received her Bachelor of Science at the University of Connecticut and her Masters of Science at the Old Dominion University. Janice has extensive experience from having served in positions ranging from the Associate Director of Education & Public Outreach, to the Science Education Specialist at RU, to the Education Coordinator at JCNERR.

Gilbert Gordon, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Consultant, Miami University

Dr. Gilbert Gordon completed his B. S. at Bradley University, his Ph.D. at Michigan State University, and his postdoctoral work at University of Chicago. He was named Chemist of the Year in 1981 by the Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society. He is on the Editorial Board of Ozone: Science & Engineering, The Journal of the International Ozone Association, and has held other positions in the organization, including Secretary (1998 – 2001, 2004 – 2006), and President (2002 – 2003). His research interests include dynamics of chemical reactions (chemical kinetics), chemical modeling and by-product predictions, reactions of chlorine dioxide, chlorine, and ozone, alternatives to chlorine in water purification, and mechanisms of reactions of the oxy-halogen species.

Gary L. Emmert, Ph.D., Dunavant Professor of Chemistry, The University of Memphis

Dr. Gary L Emmert has been a faculty member of  The University of Memphis since 2003, and the Dunavant Professor of Chemistry since 2010. He received his B.S. and M.S. from Tenesssee Tech and his Ph.D. from Miami University. He is the Director of Mobile Analytical Monitoring and Miniaturization Laboratory (MAMML), which conducts research in the analytical chemistry and chemical kinetics of water and wastewater treatment. He focuses on the use of organic dyes for disinfectant analysis, supported capillary membrane sampling-gas chromatography, evaluating and developing new ion chromatography based methods for evaluating water, and microfabrication and microfluidics.

Tadimeti S. Rao, Ph.D., Scientific Director & Fellow, Janssen Research & Development

Dr. Tadimeti Rao has received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada and conducted post-doctoral research work at Novartis (CIBA-GEIGY).  He conducted drug discovery research Inflammation/ Immunology, Neuroscience, Oncology and Metabolic Diseases at Pharmacia, Merck Research Labs and Kalypsys Inc. He is currently serving as a Scientific Director and Fellow at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a  division of Johnson & Johnson (J&J). His research contributed to the advancement of several drug candidates into clinical trials, patent applications and over 90 research papers in peer reviewed journals. He served as  reviewer for several journals and NIH/ NIDA research projects.

Navaneet Ramabadran, Graduate Student - Bartels Lab, UCR

Navaneet Ramabadran is an energetic, passionate incoming Material Science and Engineering graduate student at the University of California, Riverside. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. He has been part of Materials Research Laboratory and the Squires Group at UC Santa Barbara, studying the effects of compressed lung surfactant monolayers mixing with a Langmuir Trough. Navaneet has been a part of NSF’s PREM, working at the Lin Group to study synthesis and testing of graphene, among other projects. During Summer 2015, he joined the Bartels Lab to study Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs) for novel semiconductor applications under the Semiconductor Research Corporation’s (SRC) STARnet Fellowship. In his spare time, Navaneet enjoys taking online classes offered through Coursera, swimming, playing basketball and reading about technology, philosophy, science and history.

Zhenfu Zhang, PhD Candidate, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Zhenfu received his Bachelor degree in Microelectronics at Shanghai University, China, where he focused his research on the study of the dynamics of wave packet, especially Goos-Hanchen effect, in electro-optic crystals, Kretshmann configuration, ultrarelativistic cold atom and graphene systems. Later on, Zhenfu moved to Toronto to pursue his PhD in physics at University of Toronto, Canada. Zhenfu is interested in using single molecule fluorescence techniques to study protein folding, interaction and dynamics. He is one of the trainees in Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Protein folding and Interaction Dynamics Training Program. Currently, his research topic focuses on characterizing the phosphorylation dependent 4E-BP2:eIF4E interaction using single molecule fluorescence techniques.

Michael Berberoglu, Ph.D. Neuroscience, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ohio State University

Michael received his BS in Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Inspired by his neurobiology research as an undergraduate, he pursued his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he studied the role of the Fezf2 transcription factor in adult zebrafish neural stem cells and neurogenesis. Michael is currently a postdoctoral researcher at The Ohio State University, where he is performing research on muscle satellite stem cells and their regulation within adult zebrafish skeletal muscle. During his time away from the lab, Michael is an accomplished clarinetist and has played in a number of musical ensembles over the years.

Xiaotian Sun, Ph.D, Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University

After I received my bachelor’s degree in Shanxi Teachers university in China, I worked as a high school biology teacher for 1 year. Later I received my Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), where I studied the methylation’s role in regulating protein functions in Golgi structures. Since 2010, as a associate research scientist at Columbia University, I have been utilizing cell and mice models of Parkinson’s disease in order to investigate the disease’s mechanisms. Using this knowledge, we try to formulate treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Samuel Guffey, M.Sc, Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences Lab Manager, Purdue University

Samuel Guffey was trained in marine science and oceanography as well as biology. He has worked on research problems in community ecology, animal physiology, molecular biology, fisheries, and toxicology. Most of his current projects focus on environmental science, fish biology, and natural resources. In general, his goal is to improve humanity’s understanding and use of aquatic resources. He has a passion for building partnerships with diverse groups to clarify and achieve shared goals.

Levante Pap, Ph.D Candidate, Chemistry Department, University of Wyoming

Levente is a passionate graduate student at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. He has extensive research experience in molecular nitrogen activation and organic phosphine-ligand synthesis. He was also working on the synthesis and characterization of semiconductor Quantum Dots (QDs). During this period, he was exploring the chiroptical and chirophotonic properties of these nanomaterials. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Eotvos Lorand, Hungary. Alongside his studies, he was working for the Research Institute for Medicinal Plants Ltd., where he was focusing on analytical method validations of alkaloids and flavonoids. He acquired a highly competitive Erasmus Scholarship in 2012, so he started his M.S. degree at the University of Leeds, UK. As a private tutor and teaching assistant he has been actively engaged with teaching, since 2007. Additionally, he is interested in reading, scientific writing and he has been continuously looking for new innovative research and business ideas.

Muhammad Hamza Waseem, B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology

Hamza is a sophomore in electrical engineering at University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. His research interests lie in modern physics. He has been on editorial boards of two international science journals. In his free time, he loves volunteering for promotion of STEM in his society. At his university, he co-heads research and innovation department of his college's science society and plans seminars and conferences for promoting research culture among undergraduate students. He is keen on reading literature and regularly participates in extra-curricular activities as well.

Andika Jaya Rosul, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering, Washington State University

Andika Jaya Rosul is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Washington State University as a Fulbright Scholar. His admiration towards stories about world’s great inventors has led his curiosity for science since he was a child. Those reasons drive him to further explore science. His research interests are in the areas of reaction engineering & catalysis and Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU). He graduated from University of Indonesia in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Chemical Engineering. Two months after graduation, he was employed as process engineer in multinational manufacturing company. Study exchange events and knowledge sharing are also among his interests. He spent his former years participating in conferences and meetings overseas. He enjoys playing guitar, billiard, reading and participating in cultural activities.

Shehryar Malik, Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology

Shehryar Malik is an undergraduate student of electrical engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. His research interests lie in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, control systems, signal processing, embedded engineering, internet of things, big data, relativity and quantum mechanics. He is particularly passionate about interdisciplinary research. In the past, Shehryar has worked on several internet of things based projects aimed at designing smart home systems. Currently, he is involved in developing artificial intelligence based solutions for different problems. Shehryar also serves as an Associate Editor of his University's science magazine 'SPECTRA'. He is also interested in politics from an academic and philosophical perspective and enjoys participating in literary activities.

Sidra Tul Muntaha, Undergraduate Student, Metallurgy and Material Sciences, University of Engineering and Technology

Sidra Tul Muntaha is a 3rd year undergraduate student of Metallurgy and Materials Sciences at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. She has developed a keen interest in materials, nano technology and robotics. She is currently working as associate editor at Spectra Society which deals with reviewing of research work and has initiated a science magazine that encompasses a range of interesting topics. She has worked as an intern researcher in PCSIR on different scientific projects happening in Pakistan, partook in professional research regarding the mechanism of rusting in pipelines, and participated in the annual Google Science fair to produce highly effective solutions to many daily domestic water and sanitation issues faced by the masses. She is an active member of the ICE society where i provide my services of documentation.

Khanda Rasul, Undergraduate Student, Chemical Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology

Khanda Rasul is in her junior year of Chemical Engineering at University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore,Pakistan. She was one of the editors of my school magazine in A'levels and it was there that she discovered her passion for editing. Recently, she had an internship at Spectra (an engineering and science magazine at my university), where she learned how to review research papers. Chemistry and life sciences have always interested her and what better way to combine them and to learn how to practically apply them than chemical engineering? In her free time, she likes to read books, watch movies and TV seasons,  keep up with current affairs and learn as much as she can about outer space.

Mohsina Asif, Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology

Mohsina Asif is a student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore. After rigorous training under the guidance of the internationally experienced editor, Muhammad Hamza Waseem, he is currently serving as an Associate Editor of Spectra Magazine, an official science and engineering magazine of university. As an aspiring mechanical engineer, his interests include Physics, Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics), and Thermodynamics.

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