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Cracking the Workplace Communication Code

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

How important is effective communication in the scientific workplace? We have all experienced, perhaps more often than we like, a message or conversation resulting in frustration for all parties involved. Even after thoughtful attention to every word, tone and delivery of a message, we may be left confused and exhausted from shifting through misunderstandings and differing expectations.

Can we crack the workplace communication code? Yes, we can. How we communicate our ideas and opinions has a powerful impact on relationships, environment, and morale. By learning to create new ways to speak with and hear one another, we can build meaningful and productive conversations.

This event will provide you with a framework for transforming the powerful tools of speaking, writing, and body language, into building the most important element in better communication, the building of human relationships.

5:30pm – 5:50pm Registration/Networking
5:50pm – 6:00pm Takeda Pharmaceuticals Welcome Address/MASS AWIS Introduction
6:00pm – 7:00pm Speaker Presentation
7:00pm – 7:30pm Panel Discussion
7:30pm – 8:00pm Networking

Speaker (Bio Below):

  • Dr. Raquell M. Holmes, PhD: Founder and Director, ImprovScience

Panelists (Bio Below):

  • April Dovholuk: Senior Director Clinical Operations, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Christina Leber, MS: Technical Program Manager, Amazon
  • Brandon Rohrer, PhD: Data Scientist, Facebook
  • Emily Walsh Martin, PhD: Program Leader Hemoglobinopathy, CRISPR Therapeutics

MASS AWIS members and Takeda employees $10 · Non-members $30

Thanks to our sponsor for this event!



Dr. Raquell M. Holmes

Dr. Raquell M. Holmes is a scientist, coach and community organizer. For close to 20 years, she has supported scientists to bridge disciplinary and cultural barriers to advance their own abilities and broaden their scope of research.

She is the founder and director of ImprovScience, a company focused on developing scientific and technical leaders who can build and manage flexible, collaborative, and innovative research groups. Dr. Holmes is a pioneer in the use of improvisation and performance to advance scientific research communities. Her work has inspired and established forums for scientists, especially women and minorities, to develop creative and enjoyable work environments.

Her approach to building learning communities, organizations and research groups is based on practical educational and psychological discoveries of performance. Over the past 6 years, the company has drawn on a national network of scientists, educators and performers to develop and deliver trainings that push the boundaries of what people are able to do in the scientific enterprise.

For near 15 years, Dr. Holmes has served as assistant research professor at Boston University’s Center for Computational Sciences. She also holds appointments at the Simon A. Levin Mathematical Computational Modeling Sciences Center at Arizona State University and the East Side Institute of New York. She previously held a directorship at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling.

As a member of the high performance computing community, Dr. Holmes has brought new people into advanced scientific computing through a variety of NSF- sponsored education and outreach efforts. She chaired the Supercomputing 2010 Broader Engagement Committee and continues to advise groups whose efforts are to increase the participation of women and minorities in high performance computing careers.

Dr. Holmes’ academic research and educational efforts focus on understanding biological systems at the cellular level through the use of mathematical models and numerical simulation. Her handbook “A Cell Biologist’s Guide to Modeling and Bioinformatics” is a biproduct of her work to help biologist incorporate dynamic models and computational tools into their research practices.

She has been an active member in the American Society for Cell Biology education and minority affairs committees. Her improvisation workshops for STEM professionals began at the Systems Biology Program of Harvard Medical School in 2009 and the Computational Cell Biology conferences held at Cold Spring Harbor in New York in 2011.

Dr. Holmes holds a PhD in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology from Tufts University’s Sackler School. She was a research fellow at the Department of Pathology at Harvard University and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Prior to joining the Center for Computational Science at Boston University, she obtained a Certificate in Group and Short Term Psychotherapy from the East Side Institute. Dr. Holmes received her bachelor’s degree in cell biology from University of California Santa Cruz.

Brandon Rohrer

I love solving puzzles and building things. Practicing data science gives me the opportunity to do both in equal measure. Like most data scientists, I came to the field indirectly. I started by studying robotics and human rehabilitation at MIT (MS ’99, PhD ’02), moved on to machine vision and machine learning at Sandia National Laboratories, then to predictive modeling of agriculture DuPont Pioneer, and cloud data science at Microsoft. Now at Facebook, I work to get internet and electrical power to those in the world who don’t have it, using deep learning and satellite imagery. In my spare time, I like to rock climb, write robot-learning algorithms, and go on walks with my wife and our dog, Reign of Terror.

Christina Leber

I work for Amazon as a Technical Program Manager on the speech recognition engine for Alexa.  Drawn to computer science by a love of math, problem solving, and Star Trek, I received my BS in computer science from the University of New Hampshire and my MS in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Prior to joining Amazon, I worked for GE Global Research connecting semantic meaning to GE’s data and at Lincoln Laboratory visualizing weather data for air traffic control systems.  Outside of work I can usually be found playing clarinet in an area community band, rock climbing, or enjoying a good book.


Emily Walsh Martin

Emily Walsh Martin is an executive and scientist with 12 years of experience in biopharmaceutical development. During her career, she has held program leadership and management roles with increasing responsibility managing programs across a range of technologies and disease areas. From small molecules to RNAi to biologics to cell therapies to gene therapies, Emily has guided numerous expert teams during the advancement of drug candidates. As a member of numerous global teams, she works effectively across borders, both international and industry/academic. Moreover as an alliance manager, she aids alliance partners in finding common ground both scientifically and organizationally, to work together on successful development of novel therapies.

April Dovholuk

April Dovholuk has worked in biotechnology/pharmaceutical development for the past 18 years, largely focusing her work within the Oncology space, this has become her passion. April started her career in a small tissue culture lab and quickly recognized bench science may not fit her personality, so a change to clinical operations came early in her professional development. April focused much of her career in small biotechs where she was gifted the ability to obtain various skill sets across the drug development continuum. Currently, April is Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Takeda Pharmaceuticals overseeing all of the late stage assets.


Cracking the Workplace Communication Code


Wednesday, October 18, 2017
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Auditorium
60 Franklin St.
Cambridge, MA 02139 United States
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MASS AWIS is the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association for Women in Sciences. Our mission is to support women in all scientific fields and to achieve equity and full participation for women in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Our events and membership are open for the public regardless of their gender, professional background, or career level.