President Tooba Cheema, Ph.D.

Tooba is a Scientist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals working to advance therapeutics for oncologic and autoimmune indications. 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 Momenta, she was a post-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital under the fellowship from the American Brain Tumor Association. Tooba has been an active member of MASS AWIS since 2008. She has served as the Co-chair of the Mentoring Committee for 2 years improving the mentoring circles program, and as a Membership Committee Chair enhancing awareness and participation of women in science.

Vice President Christa Van Dort, Ph.D.

Christa is an Instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital and research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Christa is a neuroscientist studying the brain circuitry involved in sleep-wake regulation. Christa received her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Hope College in Holland, MI and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Christa has been an active member of AWIS since 2010 working with the mentoring circle program and events committee. She has also helped bring group mentoring circles to Harvard faculty and staff through Harvard’s Joint Committee on the Status of Women.

Treasurer Yoojin Chung, Ph.D.

Yoojin is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School. Her research interests include auditory neuroscience and new approaches to treating hearing loss and deafness. Yoojin received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. She has been a member of the MASS AWIS Events Committee since 2011. She also served as a member of Steering Committee of student, postdoc and medical resident chapter of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. Yoojin has been an active AWIS member since 2007.

Administrator Maria Bartolini

Maria received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and M.Sc in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University in New York, NY. Her experience includes a Communications role at iGEM Foundation creating and executing a marketing communication plan to increase awareness and attendance of Regional and Championship Jamborees. She has over six years experience in the Life Science industry working as a Global Product Manager for protein sample preparation products and as a Technical Support Scientist troubleshooting cell signaling reagents and kits. She is an active member of MASS AWIS and has been a volunteer in the mentoring circle program for the past 2 years.

Membership Committee Chair Rana Awwad, Ph.D.

Rana is currently a Production/QC manager at Stemgent, Inc. a subsidiary of Reprocell, Japan, insuring the delivery of high quality reagents to researchers in the stem cell and cancer fields. Rana completed her bachelors’ degrees in Biology at the University of Toledo in Ohio. She then attended The Medical College of Ohio, completing her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Prior to Stemgent, Rana was a post-doctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research interests were focused on understanding the mechanism of cancer promotion and progression and identify potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Rana has been a member of AWIS since 2012 and served as a volunteer on the sponsorship committee.

Events Committee Co-Chair Ayesha Islam, Ph.D.

Ayesha grew up in a multicultural and multilingual family in Montreal, Canada and studied there at McGill up until her MSc in Biology. She stinted as an Research Assistant at Harvard and Oxford for a few years and went on to obtain her PhD at King’s College London, while overlooking the Shard (London Bridge) as it was built (tallest building in the E.U.). She relocated to undertake a Postdoc at Boston University Medical Center, studying innate immunity in the female genital tract under the influence of hormones with respect to HIV and sexually transmitted infections. She mentors students in the lab, as well as for MASS AWIS, while teaching Molecular Biology evenings at MET College. She has enjoyed MASS AWIS since 2013.

Events Committee Co-Chair Bethany Bracken, Ph.D.

Bethany Bracken is a Scientist at Charles River Analytics in Cambridge, where she applies her neuroscience expertise primarily to Department of Defense projects. Bethany got her bachelor’s degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 2002, and her PhD from Brandeis University in 2008. Bethany then completed a postdoc at McLean Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She was promoted to the level of Instructor in 2012. Bethany has been a member of MASS AWIS since January of 2012 and started volunteering six months later.

Worcester Events Committee Co-Chair Holly Heaslet Soutter, Ph.D.

Holly is a Principal Research Scientist at X-Chem, Inc., a Boston area biotech company focused on early lead drug discovery. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Clark University in 2000 training in protein crystallography. After post-doctoral positions at Abbott Bioresearch and the Scripps Research Institute, she joined Pfizer in 2006. Her involvement with AWIS began in 2002 during her post-doc at Scripps and has included serving on the board of AWIS San Diego, as president of the Connecticut chapter of AWIS, chair of the AWIS National Chapters Committee, member of the mentoring and events committee of MASS AWIS and currently as co-chair of the MASS AWIS Events Committee West.

Worcester Events Committee Co-Chair Kristie Kapinas, Ph.D.

Kristie is currently Account Manager at DiscoveRx for New England, working with various biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to advance their pre-clinical drug discovery and development. She is originally from Pennsylvania, where she first became interested in science as a competitor in Science Olympiad. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry/Biophysics and Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she first became involved in research, specifically in oncology. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut Health Center, where she focused on the molecular mechanisms of bone formation and osteoporosis. Prior to DiscoveRx, she completed her postdoctoral training in two labs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, identifying mechanisms of embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Kristie has been an active member and volunteer of MASS AWIS since transplanting to MA, and looks forward to an amazing 2015 as a Board member!

Mentoring Committee Co-Chair Lesley Mathews Griner, Ph.D.

Lesley is an Investigator in the Oncology Group at Novartis in Cambridge, MA where she leads a high content imaging screening group in the Molecular Pharmacology department. Her main role is to support new and existing project teams by building robust and novel assays to be utilized for SAR compound expansion and screening. Prior to her transition back to industry, Lesley was a research scientist in the Biomolecular Screening and Profiling/Probe Development group at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). At NCATS her research focused on the investigation of new probes against diverse biological targets using quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) and miniaturization of cell based assays into a 1536 plate format. She joined NCATS in December 2010 after completing her postdoctoral research training at NCI-Frederick working in the lab of Dr. William Farrar studying the genetic and epigenetic regulation of cancer stem cells. Prior to her graduate work, Lesley worked at Shire Biologics and Cetek where she learned the basics of the drug discovery process. During her scientific career Lesley has always demonstrated her ability to act as a mentor and leader maintaining an active involvement in teaching and tutoring at all educational levels. Her education includes a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a BA in Biology from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

Mentoring Committee Co-Chair Sarah Sherlock, Ph.D.

Sarah is an Associate Director in the Clinical and Translational Imaging Group at Pfizer. In this role she manages medical imaging aspects of clinical studies, specializing in incorporating MRI, CT, x-ray and DXA endpoints into clinical studies. Sarah grew up in Vermont, but headed south for college and received her B.A. in Chemistry from New College of Florida in 2006. She continued her studies at Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2011. Sarah was initially a mentee through the Stanford AWIS mentoring program, which inspired her to get involved with MASS AWIS after relocating. She has been involved with the mentoring circles since 2014 as a volunteer, connector and mentor. When not working, Sarah enjoys baking, travelling, spending time with pets and outdoor activities.

Communications Committee Co-Chair Kiki Chu, Ph.D.

Kiki is a Scientist in the Translational Research group at Verastem, investigating novel drugs to target cancer stem cells. Kiki attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI for her undergraduate study and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. She continued on with a postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, investigating cellular signaling pathways in cancer biology and metabolism. She joined MASS AWIS in 2012 and immediately became active in both the Communications and Membership Committees as a volunteer. As the co-Chair of the Communications Committee, Kiki hopes to continue improving and building the MASS AWIS website and social media outlets to better serve the women in science and spread the work of the organization. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and exploring the culinary delights of Boston, as well as running through the Minuteman Bikeway and doing yoga.

Communications Committee Co-Chair Katherine Denison

Kate is a Stem Cell Technologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Cell Manipulation Core Facility manufacturing an investigational product for BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics’s ALS phase II clinical trial. Prior to starting her career, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Wheaton College (MA). Kate has been an active member in MASS AWIS since 2012, serving as Website Administrator of the Communications Committee and participating as a mentee in our mentoring circle program. As an elementary school student, she was fortunate enough to participate in Science Club for Girls and be exposed to scientific exploration. In order to advance her professional career, she is interested in getting an advanced degree in management and  public health.

Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair Haifa Ghandour, Ph.D.

Haifa is currently a Senior Principal Scientist and Group Leader at GnuBIO, Inc. a start-up biotech in Cambridge MA developing a novel next generation sequencing platform and applications for clinical diagnostic and applied research markets. Haifa is a Biochemist and Molecular Biologist, earned her B.A. in Biology, M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Haifa accomplished her postdoctoral trainings in Boston at the USDA-HNRCA of Tufts University and at the Pathology Department of Brigham’s and Women Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Haifa moved to Seattle WA to work as a Senior Scientist at AMRI, Inc. where she led several integrated drug discovery programs aimed at identifying small molecules therapeutic candidates targeting GPCRs, MAP Kinases, small GTPases, NFkB and microbial organisms, to investigate various therapeutic areas such as Huntington disease, cognition-related disorders, obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious diseases. Haifa has been a member of AWIS since 2007 and served previously on the boards of both MASS AWIS and Seattle AWIS. She established and coordinated the “group mentoring” program for the Seattle chapter in 2008 and since moving back to Boston Haifa has been serving as a mentor on the “mentoring circles” of MASS AWIS.

Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair Karen Yee, Ph.D.

Karen is a Research Lab Manager at Harvard University and oversees the operations and administration of an academic research laboratory. Previously she was an 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 2001 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 Treasurer in 2012 and will continue serving in that role for 2013. Her scientific interest has revolved around how cells interact with one another as well as with the extracellular matrix in a number of diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer and heart disease, and she has over 24 publications on her work. When Karen is not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Lewis, and her two young daughters, Sofia and Athena.

Scholarship Committee Chair Elif M. Sikoglu, Ph.D.

Elif is currently a Post-doctoral Associate at Center for Comparative NeuroImaging, Massachusetts Medical School Psychiatry Department. She investigates various psychiatric disorders using multi-modal neuroimaging techniques in clinical and pre-clinical settings. Elif received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Isik University, Istanbul, Turkey and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. She has been taking part in MASS AWIS mentoring circles since 2011 and involved in organizing events around Worcester area since 2012. Elif enjoys cooking, hiking and traveling.

Past President Beth M. Hovey, Ph.D.

Beth completed her bachelors’ degrees in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She attended Boston University School of Medicine, completing her Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine. Over the years, Beth has worked as a research associate in biotech, science editor and editorial director in science publishing, as a market research analyst and now in operations. Beth has been a member of AWIS for many years, first joining as a graduate student. She has been a board member for MASS AWIS since 2011.