President Karen Yee, Ph.D.
Karen is a Research Lab Manager/Medical Specialist II at MIT and oversees the operations and administration of an academic research laboratory. Previously, she was a Research Lab Manager at Harvard University, and Instructor and a post-doctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Karen obtained a B.A. degree with honors in biological science from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. degree in molecular and cellular biology from University of Washington. Karen was involved in the Seattle chapter of AWIS while at the University of Washington and chaired the Scholarship Committee for two years as well as held many different positions on the AWIS-Seattle Chapter Board including Treasurer. She helped revive the Massachusetts chapter of AWIS in 2004 when she came to Boston to complete her post-doctoral fellowship. Since then she has participated in the chapter in various capacities including being the chair of the Leadership Workshop Committee, member of the Mentoring Committee, member of the Events Committee and chair of the Membership Committee. Karen was also Treasurer in 2012-2014, part of the 10th Anniversary Planning Committee in 2014 and was Co-Chair of the Sponsorship Committee in 2015-2016. When Karen is not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Lewis, and her two daughters, Sofia and Athena.
Vice-President Haifa Ghandour, Ph.D.
Haifa holds a BSc. in Biology, MSc. and PhD. in Medical Sciences from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and had completed postdoctoral trainings at the USDA-HNRCA of Tufts University and at the Pathology Department of Brigham’s and Women Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Haifa scientific interest includes Precision Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics, and currently she is a Lead Scientist at Aldatu Biosciences, a startup company based at the Harvard Life Lab and focused on developing molecular diagnostics for HIV drug resistance in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to Aldatu, Haifa was a Senior Principal Scientist/Group Leader at GnuBio, a startup company where she worked on developing NGS platforms and applications for cancer diagnostics. Before her startups career, Haifa was a Senior Scientist at AMRI, a CRO in Seattle, where she led several integrated drug discovery programs aimed at identifying small molecules therapeutic targets. Haifa has been involved with AWIS since 2007, she has served on both boards of MASS AWIS and Seattle AWIS. She established the “Group Mentoring” program for the Seattle chapter in 2008 and chaired the Mentoring Committee. At MASS AWIS, Haifa co-chaired the Sponsorship Committee since 2012, and served as a mentor for the MASS AWIS “Mentoring Circles” program.
Treasurer Mareshia Donald, Ph.D.
Mareshia Donald, Ph.D. is Education & Diversity Manager for the NSF Center on Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems at MIT. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Neuroscience and Behavior and Language Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. While pursuing her graduate degree at Brandeis University, she served as Programming Director for the Women in Science Initiative, where she advocated to bring the issues women encounter in the STEM fields to open forums. Mareshia has participated in MASS AWIS as a Deputy Treasurer and in mentoring circles both as a mentee and a mentor.
Administrator Janice Kranz, Ph.D.
Jan has been an independent consultant since 2012, helping startup biotech companies with project and grant strategy, management, and writing. She’s excited this work has led recently to two main endeavors: research informatics with Collaborative Drug Discovery (a chemoinformatics company based in San Francisco) and Alzheimer’s drug discovery with Eikonizo, Inc., a company she co-founded in May 2017 with colleagues from the MGH Martinos Center. Jan holds a BS in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and a PhD in Biology from Harvard University. After receiving her PhD, she was one of the first scientists at Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Being bitten by the ‘startup bug’, she continued to pursue similar opportunities in different settings: a startup company focused on scientific databases (Proteome), the non-profit ALS Therapy Development Institute, and the Broad Institute, where she was Assistant Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, working with Ed Scolnick to create and build the Stanley Center. Recognizing that organizations like AWIS would have been especially beneficial earlier in her career, Jan is now both taking advantage of, and giving back to, the many local opportunities. Along with involvement in WEST, HBA, WIB, ENET, and MassBio, she has been an active member of and cheerleader for MASS AWIS since 2012, volunteering with the Events Committee. In her free time, one of her favorite pastimes is hiking with her husband and 3 dogs.
Outreach and Engagement Committee Chair Cinzia Metallo, Ph.D.
Cinzia currently works in the Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) practice at Analysis Group, an economic, financial, and strategy consulting firm. She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in Boston, MA. As part of her Ph.D. research, she developed a novel platform technology aimed at monitoring bioelectrical signals such as neural and muscle activity. Her academic background includes a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. During her MS, she used X-ray and neutron diffraction to study superconductors. Cinzia has also entrepreneurial experience, having started a medical device company based on her Ph.D. research. In 2013, she won the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition and, in 2014, she was selected to participate in MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator. She has been a Membership Committee member since February 2015 and she looks forward to further contributing to the MASS AWIS mission as chair of the Outreach & Engagement Committee.
Events-East Committee Co-chair Lynes Torres, Ph.D.
Lynes is a Life Sciences Consultant Analyst at PA Consulting Group in Cambridge. Over the years, Lynes has become a strong advocate for connectivity within the Boston area scientific community, promoting networking initiatives, events and blogging. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Stonehill College in Easton, MA and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Boston University. Prior to graduate school, Lynes was chemistry teacher and Director of Student Activities at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, a New England boarding school. She has been a member of MASS AWIS since 2013 and has spent those years serving on the Events East Committee where she helped drive creative, new event ideas and venues.
Events-East Committee Co-chair Lauren Laidlaw
Lauren is the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Safety Partners, Inc., a firm which provides environmental health and safety programs and services to life science companies in Massachusetts. Lauren leads the organization’s strategic marketing efforts as Safety Partners continues to grow. Lauren ensures that all marketing and communications initiatives take into account the unique needs of the greater Boston life sciences community. Previously, she was Director of Innovation Services at MassBio, the nation’s oldest biotechnology trade association. She most recently served as Director of Membership and Institutional Support at T1D Exchange, a non-profit organization focused on type 1 diabetes research. She formerly held marketing and communications positions at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a global energy consulting firm. Lauren volunteers with several organizations, serving on the planning committee of the Massachusetts Life Science Innovation Day annual conference, she is co-chair of the membership committee for the I2SL New England Chapter, and a member of the board of directors for the Revere Beach Partnership and Revere Chamber of Commerce. As co-chair of Events, she looks forward to working across her network of biotech and pharma business developers and R&D professionals to deliver the most relevant content for this region. She hope to bring events to the area that appeal to both students and professionals. In addition, she plans to work with community leaders to strengthen the AWIS brand in the greater Boston area and bring new “champions” to the organization. Lauren holds a B.A. degree in communications and organizational development from Suffolk University.
Mentoring Committee Co-chair Daniela Vecchio, Ph.D.
Daniela, after working for 13 years at the bench in academic laboratories, recently made a transition in industry and she is currently working as Clinical Research Scientist in a clinical team at Boston Biomedical that is focused on the discovery and development of novel cancer therapeutics. She is contributing by evaluating ongoing clinical trials and developing new clinical trials. Daniela earned her BS/MS Biology and later her Ph.D. in Cellular Biology and Pathophysiology from Siena University, Italy. She moved to Boston in 2011 where she worked as postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School for 5 years. She was highly involved with the Mass General Postdoc Association (MGPA) since 2013 and in 2016 she founded a Pilot Mentoring Program for MGH postdocs. She continues to support MGH Postdocs by attending events and advising the MGPA Mentoring Committee. Daniela joined MASS AWIS as volunteer and mentee in 2015. Since 2016 she has served as Co-Chair of MASS AWIS Mentoring Committee and is looking for to another exciting year of the Mentoring Circle Program!! During her free time Daniela enjoys meeting with friends, travelling, reading, riding her bike and be in the nature!
Mentoring Committee Co-chair Cheng Fang, Ph.D.
Cheng is currently an instructor at Boston University medical campus. She is working on a novel assay to dissect out the molecular mechanisms of prion diseases. She holds a duo-degree BS in pharmaceutics from Nanjing University and China Pharmaceutical University (China), a Master’s degree in biochemistry from Nanjing University (China), and a PhD in neurobiology from Penn State University with her thesis on the function of a novel post-translational modification of GABAa receptors. Before she moved to Boston in 2014, she continued her training at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, where she worked on how axonal transport was affected in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, and the implication of rescuing axonal transport to the health of axonal integrity. She volunteered at the OHSU alumni association for two years. Since she moved to Boston, she has been an active member and volunteer of AWIS mentoring circle since 2015. In her free time, she likes to play tennis, dance, hike and enjoy nice music and good food.
Mentoring Committee Co-chair Gar Yee Koh, Ph.D.
Gar Yee is a postdoctoral associate at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University since 2015. Her primary research interest focuses on understanding how gut microbiota play a role in regulating gut health. Currently, she is working with a multidisciplinary team at Tufts University to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of a gut bacterium, Parabacteroides distasonis, against obesity-associated colorectal cancer. Gar Yee is originally from Malaysia. She received her B.S. in Nutrition and M.S. in Forestry from Louisiana State University, and her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Iowa State University. She has been an active member of AWIS and volunteer for the mentoring committee since 2016. Besides work, Gar Yee also enjoys cooking, traveling, yoga, and especially a company of her friends and family.
Communications Committee Co-chair Christine Oslowski, Ph.D.
Christine is a Science Communications Specialist working with several companies including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Brunswick Laboratories, and AsisChem Inc. and she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University where she teaches biology. She also periodically gives talks on career development and communications in STEM. In addition, she volunteers for the Academics for the Future of Science as a graphic designer to spread the word on the academic research funding crisis. She received her bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biochemistry at University of Massachusetts Amherst and her doctorate in molecular cell biology at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Additionally, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine. Her research efforts focused on endoplasmic reticulum stress induced pancreatic beta cell death. Christine has been an active member of MASS AWIS since 2013, volunteering for the Communications and Membership Committees where she was involved with event photography, social media marketing, and graphic design. As a co-chair, she continues to fine tune MASS AWIS’s communications, increasing its network and visibility. During her free time, she enjoys portrait and event photography, painting, and hiking.
Communications Committee Co-chair Karen De Ceunynck, Ph.D.
Karen is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Thrombosis and Hemostasis at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. She is originally from Belgium where she received her Master’s degrees in Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology from Ghent University and her PhD in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from the Catholic University of Leuven. Her research has been focused on understanding processes involved in hemostasis and thrombosis and using that knowledge to guide the development of novel therapeutics. She is currently conducting translation research to evaluate how endothelial therapies can reduce uncontrolled blood clotting in the setting of infectious disease. Karen has been a volunteer in the communication committee since January 2015. Outside of work, Karen enjoys working out and having good Belgian beers and chocolates.
Sponsorship Committee Co-chair Cristina Gutierrez, Ph.D.
Cristina is currently a Principal Scientist at PerkinElmer and she provides technical lead on the development of new molecular assays for newborn screening. She holds a BS in Cell Biology and Genetics, a Masters degree in Reproductive Genetics, and a PhD with a thesis on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain). In 2005 she moved to the US and joined the company Reprogenetics, where she developed and run screening and diagnostic tests to clinically identify normal embryos and aid infertile couples or couples at risk of transmitting genetic disorders to their offspring. Most recently, she was a Senior Scientist at NetBio, where she developed a highly multiplexed STR assay on a proprietary rapid DNA analysis platform. Cristina has over fifteen years of experience with nucleic acid assay development, a track record of publications and is an ad hoc reviewer for major journals in the field of Reproductive Genetics and PGD. She enjoys nature, traveling, a good book, and spending time with her favorite people, her husband Jorge and her children Marc and Gisela.
Sponsorship Committee Co-chair Michelle Arya, Ph.D.
Michelle’s scientific expertise covers development of biochemical, cellular and gene expression assays as well as development of methods applied to spray desiccation of blood plasma. She has participated on the MASS AWIS events east committee as an event leader/volunteer since 2015. She holds a PhD in Genetics from the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University, an ALM from Harvard University and a BSc from Concordia University. She also chairs the advisory board and co-chairs the child sponsorship committee for the Ministries of Aides International, Inc. whose mission is to provide assistance which empowers children and families in underserved communities. With her husband, Paul, she co-owns Proletariat Cook, a purveyor of sustainable wild apple butter. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Scholarship Committee Advisor Ilaria Lamberto, Ph.D.
Ilaria is currently a postdoc at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The focus of her study is to identify and characterize new inhibitors of the deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) and use them to pharmacologically validate members of the DUB family as new targets for cancer treatment. She received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Parma, Italy in 2010. Before moving to Boston, Ilaria continued her training at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (now Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute) in La Jolla, California, where she identified and characterized inhibitors of the Eph tyrosine kinase receptors for the treatments of cancer and neurological diseases. In her free time she enjoys, taking pictures, traveling and cooking for her friends.
Scholarship Committee Co-chair Alycia Bittner, Ph.D.
Alycia is the Manager of Journal Writing and Review at JoVE, the first science video journal, where she leads the review and scriptwriting teams. Prior to joining JoVE as the senior scientific editor of pre-production, she was a postdoctoral associate at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied how bacterial cells respond to environmental stress. She earned her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her work there involved bacteria-plant symbioses and the role of the bacterial stress response in establishing these relationships. Alycia joined MASS AWIS in 2014 to participate in the mentoring program. She has volunteered with the Events-East committee since 2015. Alycia spends most of her free time with her husband chasing their toddler and attempts to read/travel/watch TV when she can.
Scholarship Committee Co-chair Stacy Chin, Ph.D.
Stacy is the co-founder of her first start-up company that is focused on developing hydrophilic coatings on rubber-based medical devices. She graduated from College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA) with her B.A. in chemistry where she conducted research in a biochemistry lab and was an analytical chemistry intern at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (Groton, CT). Stacy recently graduated from Boston University (Boston, MA) with her Ph.D. in chemistry where she conducted highly interdisciplinary research across the fields of polymer chemistry, computational modeling, structural biology, biochemistry, biomaterials, and material sciences. During her graduate studies at Boston University, Stacy had been actively involved in different organizations to promote the next generation of women in STEM through her outreach, mentoring, and leadership initiatives in Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE) and Boston University Women in Chemistry (BUWIC). Stacy has been a volunteer on the MASS AWIS East Events Committee since 2015 and is looking forward to serving on the board. During her free time, Stacy enjoys running, exploring Boston, cooking, and drinking a nice refreshing glass of wine. As a true Jersey girl at heart, she loves being by the water and going to the beach, (especially to the Jersey Shore)!
Past President Tooba Cheema, Ph.D.
Tooba is a Senior Scientist at Unum Therapeutics working to advance cellular immune therapy for cancer. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Tufts University and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Prior to Unum, she was a Scientist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals working on oncologic and autoimmune indications. Tooba received her post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital under the fellowship from the American Brain Tumor Association. She has also served as a science policy fellow at the National Academies. Tooba has been an active member and volunteer of MASS AWIS since 2008 serving to mentor, lead committees and enhance the awareness and participation of women in science.