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Expanding Potential: Workshop speakers

Event Speakers

Keynote speaker: Mary Ann Mason is professor and faculty co-director of the Earl Warren Center for Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. From 2000-2007 Mason was the first woman dean of the Graduate Division at UC Berkeley, where she championed diversity in the graduate student population, promoted equity for student parents, and pioneered measures to enhance the career-life balance for all faculty. Her research findings and advocacy have been central to ground-breaking policy initiatives, including the ten-campus "UC Faculty Family Friendly Edge" and the nationwide "Nine Presidents" summit on gender equity at major research universities. Her report “Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences” focuses on the leaky pipeline for women in science, and her article “Title IX and Pregnancy Discrimination in Higher Ed” appears in the NYU Journal of Law and Social Change. With Nick Wolfinger and Marc Goulden, Mason recently authored, Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower, a book that has garnered national attention. Her previous books include Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers, co-authored with her daughter Eve Mason Ekman (Oxford, 2007). Mason’s latest intiative is “Tools for Change”, a project to address factors that stall women’s advancement in science. 

Susan Marqusee is a Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and holds the Warren C. Eveland Chair at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her A.B. in Physics and Chemistry from Cornell University in 1982, and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in 1990. After a post-doctoral fellowship at MIT, she joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1992. Marqusee is considered an international expert in protein folding. She has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications that include prominent papers in Nature, Science, and the PNAS. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Biophysical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to her academic and research roles, Marqusee is the Berkeley Director for the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and the Education Director for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. In 2011 and 2012, the San Francisco Business Times recognized Marqusee as one of the top 150 “Most influential women in the Bay Area.” 

Anne MacLachlan is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) devoted to increasing access, persistence, and success in postsecondary education for underrepresented groups (URM) including domestic minorities, women, and those from uneducated/poor families with an emphasis on those in STEM. Her research areas cover the spectrum of postsecondary populations including community college and transfer students, undergraduates in general, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. Among these, doctoral student success, academic and professional preparation and employment has been a particular focus of several projects past and present. While at CSHE, Prof. MacLachlan has conducted research at San Francisco City College on STEM transfer, the Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity in Boalt Law School, in the Biology Dean’s Office, and elsewhere on the Berkeley campus. She is a member of the UCB Coalition for Diversity and Excellence in STEM and takes an active interest in campus diversity. She consults for AAAS Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity along with other earlier AAAS STEM diversity projects, and other national projects including serving on the advisory board for an ADVANCE research project. 

Maria Padilla has a 30+ year career in higher education as a multi-cultural education and retention specialist. She is the Compliance Education Manager in the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) and develops and implements specialized and tailored sexual & racial harassment prevention and multicultural competency education programs for all campus constituencies. She provides consultation, policy formulation and programming in areas of student/staff retention, student leadership development; multicultural organizational development and campus/classroom climate issues. She serves as the Co-Director for the Berkeley Interactive Theater Program within the Division of Equity and Inclusion reinventing drama education and enhancing multidisciplinary experiential learning and collaborative problem solving. As lead facilitator she uses live theater and audience participation to depict, analyze and strategize solutions to problematic workplace and classroom interactions with the goal of raising awareness, promoting dialogue, effecting small and large-scale policy and organizational change around emotionally charged multi-generational issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and status, specifically as these issues relate to the Berkeley experience. 

Sujie Shin is Co-Director of Research for Assessment and Standards Development Services at WestEd, a non-profit education research company in San Francisco. Her research includes the examination of the impact of STEM content knowledge and district-level supports on the recruitment and retention in the teacher workforce, and she has worked across the country in helping State Departments of Education identify goals with respect to the professional development of public school teachers. Prior to her current position, she was the Deputy Chief of Assessment and Accountability with the District of Columbia Public Schools. Sujie has also worked as a program manager for education research companies, designing teacher and school accountability systems for districts and states. She holds a M.A. in Policy Research, Evaluation and Measurement from the University of Pennsylvania, and publishes in education and policy-research journals .  Sujie also provides coaching for women in the workplace, focusing on helping women identify and overcome gendered expectations and behaviors that may hold them back in the context of workplace negotiations. She can also speak from experience about the career of a social scientist outside of the academy, having worked in a number of corporate, non-profit, and public-sector environments.

Sharnnia Artis is the Education and Outreach Director for the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, a NSF-funded Science and Technology Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. At the Center for Efficient Electronics Science, she oversees undergraduate research programs to recruit and retain students in science and engineering and science and outreach activities for pre-college students to introduce them to the exciting career opportunities in science and engineering. Prior to her appointment at Berkeley, Artis was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Ohio State College of Engineering's Office of Diversity and Outreach and the Engineering Education Innovation Center. She also worked as an Industrial Engineer for several private industry and government organizations. Outside of Artis’ academic tenure at Berkeley, she is a managing partner for College Liftoff LLC, a company that helps families of all financial and educational backgrounds make a smart investment in higher education. She is also author of a book entitled, Moving from Ordinary to Extraordinary: Strategies for Preparing for College and Scholarships

Marina Crowder is a UC Berkeley Molecular and Cellular Biology Postdoctoral Fellow. She received her B.S. in Genetics in 2007 and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology in 2012, both from University of California, Davis. At the completion of her graduate training she had authored six peer-reviewed publications that include papers in Developmental Cell, Journal of Cell Biology, and Molecular Biology of the Cell. After earning her doctorate, she joined the lab of Rebecca Heald at UC Berkeley and was awarded an NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship. In addition to her research, Marina is active in undergraduate teaching and has developed and taught courses at UC Berkeley Extension and Laney College in Oakland. In addition to having insight for both a successful transition between graduate student to post-doc and undergraduate biology teaching, Marina can speak to the work-life balance: On top of her research and teaching, she is also a mother to a 15-month old toddler. 

Marla Feller is a Professor in Molecular and Cell Biology and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley, where she is the Head of the Neurobiology Division.  She received an AB in Physics in 1985 and a Ph. D. in Physics in 1992, both from UC Berkeley.  Dr. Feller transitioned into the field of Neurobiology across two post-doctoral positions, the first at AT&T Bell Laboratories and the second at UC Berkeley.  Dr. Feller’s first academic position was as an intramural scientist at NIH.  She then moved to UC San Diego in 2000 where she received tenure.  Dr. Feller moved to UC Berkeley in 2008. Dr. Feller’s research addresses the question of how neural circuits wire up during development.  She is considered an expert in neural development and retinal physiology and has authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers in neurobiology research.  In 2014, she was awarded the Brian Boycott Prize for Career Achievement in Retinal Neurobiology, awarded at the FASEB Summer Research Conference on Retinal Neurobiology and Visual Processing. 

Rachel Haurwitz is a co-founder and the President and CEO of Caribou Biosciences. She received her A.B. in Biological Sciences from Harvard University in 2007 and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. Her thesis research focused on biochemical and structural characterization of the prokaryotic CRISPR immune system. She has contributed to the invention of new technologies based on CRISPR-associated proteins. In 2014, she was named by Forbes Magazine to the “30 Under 30” list in science and healthcare.

Amanda Robinson is a Software Engineer at Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding platform. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Governmentin 2004 from Wesleyan University. From there, she spent three years bouncing around various jobs—child care in an after-school program; part-time software QA in the bioinformatics industry; sales support for the Onion—before realizing that software engineering would be a much better career fit. She returned to school to attend NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, where she earned a Master of Science in Computer Science in 2010. She spent four years as a Software Engineer at Google before joining Indiegogo. In her spare time, Amanda mentors others in their career transitions at Hackbright Academy. 

Rachel Slaybaugh is an Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, Prof. Slaybaugh is building a research program based in computational methods and applied to existing and advanced nuclear reactors, nuclear non-proliferation and security, and shielding applications. She received a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Penn State in 2006 where she served as a licensed nuclear reactor operator. Dr. Slaybaugh went on to the University of Wisconsin – Madison to earn an MS in 2008 and a PhD in 2011 in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics along with a certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy. For her PhD she researched acceleration methods for massively parallel deterministic neutron transport codes. Dr. Slaybaugh then worked with hybrid (deterministic-Monte Carlo) methods for shielding applications at Bettis Laboratory while teaching at the University of Pittsburgh as an adjunct faculty member. Throughout her career Dr. Slaybaugh has also been engaged in software carpentry education and training. Prof. Slaybaugh was awarded the 2014 American Nuclear Society Young Member Excellence Award. 

Paul Burnett is a historian of science who joined the Oral History Center (OHC) at UC Berkeley in October, 2013 from the Science and Technology Studies Programme at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, where he was an Assistant Professor. He completed his Ph.D. at the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, where he developed his research on the politics of expertise – how scientists and experts of all kinds establish their credibility, and how people choose between different kinds of expertise to try to solve complex social, political, scientific, and technical problems. He is currently writing a book on agricultural economics, neoliberalism, and international development. At the OHC, Paul is developing oral history projects on biotechnology, computing, and mining. He is also interested in the promises and pitfalls of new information technologies as they shape the direction of education in the twenty-first century.

Event Organizers

Shaila Kotadia is the Education and Outreach Manager at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), where she directs numerous programs at the pre-college through postdoctoral levels. Her strong interest in promoting diversity within STEM fields is reflected in her stewardship of programs such as the Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM) program and this Expanding Potential Workshop, and her participation in the "Women in Science" series featured on In Other Words Montana Public Radio. Prior to joining Synberc, Dr. Kotadia was a Policy Fellow at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where she coordinated advocacy activities between academics and policymakers. Dr. Kotadia received her Ph.D. in genetics and development from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her postdoctoral work at the University of California, Santa Cruz focused on cell division and chromosome segregation. 

Sabriya Rosemond is the Diversity Fellow for Synberc where she works with Synberc’s diversity team to develop initiatives that areaimed to increase diversity insynthetic biology and in STEM fields at large. She is a recent graduate from University of California, Berkeley’s Molecular and Cell Biology program. Sabriya’s doctoral thesis focused on how distant regions of a protein are able to communicate and allow the protein to fold as a single unit. Her undergraduate education was completed at Hampton University. Sabriya is looking forward to a career that includes continued work to increase diversity in STEM fields, science education and science education research.

Kevin Costa is the Managing Director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), where he coordinates a research program that includes 36 academic investigators at 18 universities in collaboration with 47 industry partners.  His prior work experience includes strategic planning at Berkeley Lab, operations management in the software development sector, and medical writing. His interests include science communication, data systems for research management, science policy, and societal aspects of synthetic biology. Mr. Costa serves on Synberc's Diversity Committee

Outreach Coordinator

Blisseth Sy is the Outreach Coordinator (pro bono) for the Synberc workshop Expanding Potential. As a research associate and graduate student, Blisseth has worked on diverse projects investigating topics such as genetic regulation of disease resistance in tomato plants, meiotic pairing of chromosomes in yeast, and improved antibody-drug-conjugation chemistry for development of cancer therapeutics. Aside from contributing to research and development at companies like Genentech and Novartis, Blisseth has also taught science to fourth and fifth grade students as an outdoor science educator and has worked as a scientific sales account manager for Bio-Rad. Blisseth has contributed to programs that nurture the professional development of women and youth in science as a board member for the East Bay Association for Women in Science and volunteer for Biotech Partners. She hopes to contribute to developing partnerships among industry, academia, and educational groups to support hands-on, project-based STEM education programs and programs that promote diversity in STEM professions. 


Kristina McLinden is a scientific program analyst at the National Institute of Mental Health in the Division of Translational Research. In her position, she is a project manager for the FAST/RAPID experimental therapeutics program and provides support to the extramural grants program. In addition, Dr. McLinden produces scientific designs and non-scientific artwork. Her designs are featured in science-related publications and are available for purchase. She contributed the official graphic and associated artwork for this Expanding Potential workshop, as she is passionate about advocating for women in STEM. Dr. McLinden earned her Ph.D. from Texas Christian University with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health researching the role of aging in neurodegenerative disease. 


Meltem Erol and J'Maica Thomas/Cynthia Chen, Meron Tesfaye, and Jen Trinh 

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