President Diane Rigos, Ph.D.

Dr. Angeliki Diane Rigos is a scientist, educator, and consultant interested in working across disciplines to promote sustainable solutions to global problems. She is the Executive Director of the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design.
Dr. Rigos began her career as a Principal Scientist at Physical Sciences Inc. where she worked on defense and energy contracts. She transitioned to an academic position as Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Merrimack College where she served as President of the Faculty Senate, Chair of her department, Director of Women’s Studies and Associate Director of the National Microscale Chemistry Center. She has taught courses in chemistry, women in science and sustainable energy at the undergraduate level and science and energy policy at the graduate level. Her areas of research have included corrosion studies of supercritical water oxidation reactors used to destroy military toxic waste, Brownian dynamics simulations of order-disorder transitions in sheared colloidal suspensions, modeling of diffusion controlled reactions and conformational interconversion in protein crystals.
For twelve years, she also worked as an energy consultant at Levitan & Associates, Inc. with a focus on power price forecasting, LNG, fuel cells, and renewable technologies including onshore / offshore wind and solar photovoltaics.
Dr. Rigos has been a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Northeastern University and has volunteered in startup accelerators, as an industry mentor in Cleantech Open and an industry champion at MassChallenge.
Dr. Rigos received a B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. from Northeastern University and is an alumna of HERS Denver 2015.

Vice-President Rona Oran, Ph.D.

Rona holds a B.S. in Physics, M.S. in Planetary Science, and a PhD in Space Sciences and Scientific Computing. She is research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the NASA mission to asteroid Psyche. Her research focuses on computational physics and space exploration, with an emphasis on modeling and data science of plasma dynamics and electromagnetic fields in space. Rona has been a member of MASS AWIS since 2016, when she first became a mentee herself in the Mentoring Circles Program. She joined the Mentoring Committee the following year, and became the committee’s co-chair in 2018. Rona is a strong proponent of mentorship at all levels, and engages in both peer-mentoring and student mentoring at MIT.

Vice-President Yael Zigelman

Yael is a Research Associate II at LifeMine Therapeutics where she works in the Synthetic Biology group. Yael recently moved to Boston from Israel where she worked at BiomX as a Synthetic Biology Scientist. She holds a BSc in Biotechnology from Tel-Aviv University and an MSc in Molecular Biology from The Weizmann Institute of Science. Yael is deeply inspired by the works of Dr. Brené Brown and believes that MASS AWIS is an incredible platform to build strong connections between women in STEM. She hopes to represent early-stage professionals in this ever-growing community, since she just completed the MASS AWIS leadership program. In her spare time, Yael enjoys listening to podcasts and audiobooks, dancing Lindy-Hop and spending time with friends and family.

Treasurer Jamie Luther, Ph.D.

Jamie is originally from Indiana where she earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Purdue University Northwest and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame. Her scientific background is interdisciplinary with focus on yeast genetic engineering and analytical device development, which she used to develop sensors for use in low-technology laboratory settings. Inspired by the human impact of her work, Jamie relocated to the Boston area in 2019 to continue her career. She is passionate about applied science and using her background in cellular engineering to create novel devices or therapeutics. She has been a member of MASS AWIS since 2019 and was a mentee in the 2019-2020 mentoring circle as well as a participant in the leadership program. In her spare time, Jamie enjoys reading, being outdoors, learning, traveling, cooking, and gaming.

Administrator Laurie Burlingame, J.D., M.B.A., M.A.

Laurie Burlingame is a partner in the firm’s nationally recognized Life Sciences Practice Group. She represents private and public companies across the spectrum of the life sciences industry, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and biological materials. Ms. Burlingame also represents leading venture capital firms focused on the life sciences industry in connection with their portfolio company investments.

Ms. Burlingame often serves as outside general counsel to her clients, closely advising management teams and boards of directors on a wide variety of matters throughout the company’s life cycle, including formation and founder issues, venture capital financings, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, licensing transactions, strategic collaborations, commercial transactions, corporate governance and other general corporate matters.

Outreach and Engagement Committee Co-Chair Cinzia Metallo, Ph.D.

Cinzia specializes in strategy consulting and currently works at Veranex (previously Boston Healthcare Associates), where she supports medtech, biotech, and pharma clients with market access, market assessment, and growth and investment strategies. Prior to Veranex, she worked in the strategy consulting practice at Lux Research and in the health economics practice at Analysis Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Tufts University, where she focused on neuromechanics, and a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she focused on superconductivity. Cinzia has also entrepreneurial experience, having started a medical device company based on her Ph.D. research. She has been a MASS AWIS member and chair of the Outreach & Engagement Committee since 2015.

Outreach and Engagement Committee Co-Chair Ana Bozas, Ph.D.

Ana is currently Associate Director of Medical Communications at Akcea Therapeutics, a small rare disease biotech. Previously, she worked for Sanofi and Akcea Therapeutics in the medical publications function and Analysis Group as a medical writer for the HEOR consulting arm. Ana graduated from the University of Utah with a PhD in biochemistry, followed by a postdoc fellowship on adult stem cells at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute. Ana has been MASS-AWIS member since 2012, AMWA member since 2014, and an ISMPP member and certified as medical publication professional (CMPP) since 2016. She is also active in the local career mentoring scene, through MASS-AWIS and MGHPA.

Events Committee Co-chair Indrani Mukherjee, Ph.D.

Indrani Mukherjee is the manager of stewardship communications at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she supports research across the institute by telling the stories of Broad researchers to current and potential donors using print and digital media. Prior to joining the Broad, she spent nearly three years working at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) as a science editor and journal development manager. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Dartmouth College, where she investigated the role of specific membrane proteins in the early secretory pathway.

Events Committee Co-chair Martina Chiacchiaretta, Ph.D.

Martina is a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on several neurological disorders like Alzheimer and Narcolepsy. The innovation of her work consists in studying a specific type of brain cells called astrocytes and understanding how astrocytic dysfunctions contribute to central nervous system pathologies. Martina holds a B.S. in Biotechnology, M.S. in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy) and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology at Italian Institute of Technology (Genoa, Italy). Martina joined AWIS in 2022 and at the same year started volunteering in the Events Committee. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and practicing yoga.

Events Committee Co-chair Jingjing Lou

Jingjing is a molecular parasitologist currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Boston College. Her research focuses on the transcriptional regulatory networks of Toxoplasma gondii utilizing various NGS approaches and mathematical models. A trained biologist, her career interest shifts to the business side of biotechnology during graduate school, with a particular focus on early-stage venture capital and venture creation. She joined MASS-AWIS in January 2022 as a volunteer for the event committee. Jingjing is enthusiastic about promoting gender equality in science and hopes to attract more female scientists to join MASS-AWIS to achieve this goal.

Mentoring Committee Co-chair Jocelyn Scheirer, Ph.D.

Jocelyn Scheirer is an entrepreneur, scientist, and artist who began working in wearable biometric devices in the late 1990s. She holds a M.A. in Developmental and Social Psychology and her PhD research focused on emotion communication with the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Group. Her work has been installed internationally, including the Deutsche Hygiene Museum in Delft, Germany, The Bromfield and Galatea Galleries in Boston, and in permanent exhibitions at the MIT Media Lab and the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Scheirer invented and, along with MIT, patented a very early textile biosensor, which measured and displayed skin conductance. Widely cited, that wearable evolved into a form that drove several successful startup companies. She founded her first wearables company, Empathyx, Inc. in 2006, and then joined Rosalind Picard and Rana El Kaliouby as their first employee at Affectiva in 2009. The company was recently acquired for 73.5 M.

Jocelyn went on to hold research and faculty posts at Harvard and Brandeis Universities and to consult. In recent years, she has also consulted for industry, government and academia on numerous projects involving sensors, physiology, and VR/AR. Clients include NASA, Brandeis University, NYU ‘s Future Reality Lab at The Courant Institute, and industry. She is currently the CTO and Co-founder of the AR/XR company ImmerSphere. Jocelyn has served on the board of the MIT Enterprise Forum of New York, is a mentor for American Women in Science, and is a frequent speaker on topics relevant to technology entrepreneurship, sensors, management and the ethics of invention and commercialization.

Mentoring Committee Co-chair Jessica Desmond

Jessica Desmond is currently a study lead at 2Seventy Bio working on a gene editing solution for Hemophilia A as well as oncology studies. Her contributions involve preparing for and performing in vivo studies as well as analyzing samples ex vivo. Formerly, Jessica was the senior research assistant in the Patti Lab at the Joslin Diabetes Center for 5 years after completing a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at WPI. Her major focus in the Patti Lab was understanding the transgenerational effects of paternal catch-up growth caused by prenatal undernutrition. During this time, she also completed a Master’s degree in biology at the Harvard Extension School culminating in a thesis centered around identifying the effects of postnatal undernutrition on pancreatic flexibility and gut intrinsic factors later in life. Jessica started as a mentee with MASS AWIS in 2019 and began volunteering for the Mentorship Committee in 2021.

Mentoring Committee Co-chair Sau-Mei Leung, Ph.D.

Mei is an adjunct faculty at University of Connecticut (UCONN) and a life science consultant specialized in cell culture and software applications.  She was one of attendees for the informal organizational meeting for the Mass AWIS chapter in Joanne Kamens’s home in October 2004. Mei is passionate about teaching and mentoring. She has volunteered for Mentoring Program Committee for one year and as a mentor for two years.  Mei grew up in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Connecticut. After she finished her postdoctoral training at UCONN and the National Institute of Health, she embarked on a successful career working for several life science software and instrumentation companies.

When she is not busy teaching and solving scientific problems, Mei loves running, birding, teaching Chinese calligraphy and painting, and studying art and design at the Rhode Island School of Design.  You can view her natural science illustration work here: https://www.behance.net/gallery/83717941/Natural-Science-illustration-projects.  She also volunteered as a race director for the Merrimack River Trail Race which held the USA Track and Field New England Trail Championship in April 2022.

Communications Committee Co-chair Vidhya Vijayakumar, Ph.D.

Vidhya Vijayakumar is a Senior Biologist focusing on Microbiology and Immunology at Draper labs. She enjoys working with engineers and scientists from diverse backgrounds and training. Prior to Draper, she worked at SQZ biotech and at Boston Children’s Hospital. She received her Ph.D. from University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2014. Since becoming a MASSAWIS member in 2016, Vidhya has enrolled in and benefited from several workshops and events. This led her to join the MASSAWIS board and expand its outreach. Vidhya likes to spend her time outdoors, running on trails in and around Boston, and playing with her daughter.

Communications Committee Co-chair Shelly Trigg, Ph.D.

Shelly Trigg is a Massachusetts native that got BS in Biochemistry from Simmons College (now University) in Boston, a PhD in Biological Sciences from UC San Diego, an NSF Graduate Research Internship Fellowship at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Washington, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences in Seattle. Her love for nature and oceans led her to transition from studying cancer systems to plant molecular networks to the environmental impact on different fisheries. While her path to her current position as a Research Scientist at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute in Gloucester, MA has been anything but straightforward, she is ecstatic to be applying her biotechnology skills in molecular assay development and genomics to address local and international needs for sustainable fisheries including developing diagnostics and tools for monitoring fish health. During her time in San Diego, Shelly was an active member of the Outreach Committee for AWIS San Diego and is very passionate about supporting women in science having been fortunate to have had several incredible female mentors throughout her educational and professional experience. She has served and continues to serve as a mentor to numerous students and research staff, and is excited to share this passion as a member of MASS AWIS. Outside of science, Shelly enjoys writing poetry, singing, playing guitar, and outdoor activities including surfing, snowboarding, fishing, trail running, and hiking with her dog Worf.

Communications/Events Committee Co-chair Heather Watkins

Heather is a Senior Research Associate at Takeda Pharmaceuticals Vaccine Business Unit in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has expertise in immune response characterization and assay development. She received her B.A. in Biology from Wheaton College in 2011 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Biology at Harvard University Extension School. Heather is passionate about giving back to the community and has led multiple volunteer events and donation drives for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). She also serves on several committees focused on corporate social responsibility. In February of 2022 she joined MASS AWIS as a member of the Women’s Leadership Training cohort and was inspired to continue her journey in the organization as the Co-Chair for Communications/Events. During her free time, Heather loves yoga, cooking, foraging for gourmet mushrooms, traveling, and painting.

Sponsorship Committee Co-chair Sumbul Khan, Ph.D.

Sumbul received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India, where she studied the role of microenvironment in carcinogenesis and tumor formation. Subsequently, she pursued her postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in tissue regeneration after wounding. She is currently the Content Editor at Sci-Illustrate, which utilizes art to effectively communicate and generate excitement towards science. She moved to Boston in 2018 and started working for as a volunteer for the Events Committee, and the Outreach & Engagement Committee, and realized the impactful work it does in career development of women in science. Sumbul is committed to science outreach activities; to make scientific research relatable to the non-scientific community and to facilitate fellow women in STEM establish their successful careers.

Sponsorship Committee Co-chair Sunita R. Setlur, Ph.D.

Sunita is currently a Principal Investigator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. and Harvard Medical School The focus of her research lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression. She obtained her doctoral degree from Indian Institute of Science, India and completed her postdoctoral training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. During her free time, she likes to do yoga, hike and spend time with her two daughters.

Scholarship Committee Co-chair Alisa Zhilin-Roth

Alisa is a cancer researcher working on completing her PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Organismal Biology (MCOB) at the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy (CPCT) at UMass Boston. Her research focuses on renal (kidney) cancer (RCC) and how a molecule secreted from the immune system promotes its aggressiveness and spread. Alisa has a bachelor degree in Biology from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and a Masters focusing on breast cancer metastasis from the Department of Human Biology and Medical Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel. Alisa joined AWIS in 2019 and at the same year started volunteering in the Scholarship committee. In her free time, Alisa enjoys nature hikes, kayaking and camping with her husband.

Scholarship Committee Co-chair Elizabeth Fiore, Ph.D.

Beth received her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015, where she studied host-pathogen interactions between the host immune system and the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. She moved to Boston in 2015, to do her postdoctoral research in the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Enterococcus faecalis. During her postdoc she also served as a Teaching Fellow and Adjunct Professor at Harvard and Emmanuel College. Most recently, Beth worked as a Senior Scientist developing diagnostics for antibiotic resistant infections. Beth has volunteered with the AWIS Scholarship committee and participated in the AWIS mentoring circle in 2017-2018 session. Beth loves to knit, travel, ski and is perfecting her chalk art and bubble blowing with her toddler.

Leadership Committee Chair Diane Rigos, Ph.D.

Dr. Angeliki Diane Rigos is a scientist, educator, and consultant interested in working across disciplines to promote sustainable solutions to global problems. She is the Executive Director of the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design.
Dr. Rigos began her career as a Principal Scientist at Physical Sciences Inc. where she worked on defense and energy contracts. She transitioned to an academic position as Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Merrimack College where she served as President of the Faculty Senate, Chair of her department, Director of Women’s Studies and Associate Director of the National Microscale Chemistry Center. She has taught courses in chemistry, women in science and sustainable energy at the undergraduate level and science and energy policy at the graduate level. Her areas of research have included corrosion studies of supercritical water oxidation reactors used to destroy military toxic waste, Brownian dynamics simulations of order-disorder transitions in sheared colloidal suspensions, modeling of diffusion controlled reactions and conformational interconversion in protein crystals.
For twelve years, she also worked as an energy consultant at Levitan & Associates, Inc. with a focus on power price forecasting, LNG, fuel cells, and renewable technologies including onshore / offshore wind and solar photovoltaics.
Dr. Rigos has been a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Northeastern University and has volunteered in startup accelerators, as an industry mentor in Cleantech Open and an industry champion at MassChallenge.
Dr. Rigos received a B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. from Northeastern University and is an alumna of HERS Denver 2015.

Past President Haifa Ghandour, Ph.D.

Haifa holds a BSc. in Biology, MSc. and PhD. in Medical Sciences from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. After earning three degrees at the Technion, Haifa moved to the US to complete postdoctoral trainings at the USDA-HNRCA of Tufts University and the Pathology Department of Brigham’s and Women Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Haifa’s recent scientific interest includes Precision Medicine and Molecular Diagnostic, and currently she is an Associate Director at Foundation Medicine where she is dedicated to transforming cancer care driven by the belief that the more we know about cancer’s molecular underpinnings, the better we can help physicians make the best treatment decisions for their patients. Prior to Foundation, Haifa was Head of Product Development and Lead Scientist at Aldatu Biosciences, a startup company focused on developing molecular diagnostics for HIV drug resistance in Sub-Saharan Africa, and other infectious disease such as SARS-CoV-2. Before Aldatu, Haifa was a Group Leader at GnuBio, a startup company where she worked on developing Next Generation Sequencing platforms and molecular applications for cancer diagnostics. Before her startup 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, served as a mentor for the MASS AWIS “Mentoring Circles” program, and as a President of MASS AWIS she established the “Leadership Program” in 2018. Haifa is very passionate about guiding and mentoring other women scientists to navigate their careers in science.