Executive Board Candidates

Below you will find the names of the finalists for the Executive Board positions for the Women in STEM Student Council. Each candidate also submitted a candidate statement that provides information on why they are interested in the position and what experience they would bring.  Candidates are listed under the position they are running for and in each position category the candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.  After reviewing the statements, please vote by clicking HERE.  

Women in STEM Student Council Executive Board Candidate Information

 

 

President-Graduate Level (1 position available)

Lauren Cutler, Graduate Student, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences

 

My name is Lauren Cutler and I am a first-year graduate student studying Atmospheric Science.
I am running for graduate president because promoting and supporting women in STEM fields is an important step in cultivating diversity. I believe that diversity furthers research and advancements in the scientific fields, which help positively contribute to society. As graduate president, I will focus on identity problems STEM women face in their graduate studies and ways we as a campus community can identify and implement solutions that benefit and improve every students’ educational experience.
During my undergraduate years I served as President for my university’s Meteorology Club and chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society. In both of those positions I helped cultivate a welcoming and inclusive environment for students as well as organize professional development experiences. In my senior year of undergraduate studies, I was a founding member for a new campus club called Women in STEM where I served as Vice President. In my Vice President position, I helped organize a lecture series where female faculty members gave talks about their research and their career journey.
I believe that through my previous leadership experience I am qualified to be the graduate president. I know the hard work necessary to make this student council successful and I am willing to work hard to better our campus.

Erin Jennings, Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

 

I would love the opportunity to serve as president on the University of Arizona’s Women in STEM Student Council. One of my passions is encouraging women to pursue what they are passionate about. I believe nothing should hold anyone back from living out their dreams. While earning my undergraduate degree, I was involved in the initiation of my undergraduate university’s women in STEM club as well as volunteering at a YWCA after-school program designed to keep young girls interested in STEM. Since moving to Arizona in August, I have gotten to serve on a panel informing high school and undergraduate students about research and internships for the Women in STEM Panel Series at the University of Arizona. I have also had the opportunity to start mentoring a few girls at a local middle school in Tucson which has been fun and rewarding! During the inaugural year of my undergraduate university’s Women in STEM club, I was a member of the social planning committee and was in charge of organizing the socials and outings for the members of the club. After a year of serving on the social planning committee, I was elected Vice President/President serving the first year as VP and the second year as President of the Women in STEM club. I have learned a lot from my past experiences and I want to work with you to help the Women in STEM Student Council make a positive impact at the University of Arizona and in the surrounding community.

Meghan Hamilton, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

My name is Meghan Hamilton and I’m a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Throughout my time here, I have grown to appreciate the women in STEM community at the University of Arizona. I am consistently impressed with the dedication of this community to improving women’s and minorities’ experience on campus, despite the lack of funding and widespread organization for that purpose. This council, designed to target these deficiencies, has the potential to bring these efforts to the forefront and enact real change at a University level. It’s paramount that, particularly in its inaugural year, a strong team is assembled to kickstart the council and transform it to achieve its groundbreaking vision. I believe that I have the skills and experiences necessary to lead the council in that direction. I have served both as the President and Treasurer of the Program to Advance Women Scientists, a group on campus dedicated to women in STEM. In that capacity, I have facilitated collaboration among several such groups across campus, conducted meetings with University leadership, and developed professional development programs. Most importantly, I have learned that it is through collaboration, dedication, and solidarity that ambitious goals can be achieved. Therefore, I will strive to maintain open channels between the council and individuals across the University. Serving on this council would be an incredible honor and, if elected, I will do my best to fulfill these high expectations and lead this council towards the changes I know it can make.

Claire Taylor, Graduate Student, Computer Science

Should I have the privilege of serving on the Women in STEM Student Council, I will contribute my best efforts to: (1) ensure that the organization retains strong connections to other organizations, including public and private sector institutions, particularly those whose goals align with diversity and inclusion within STEM; (2) work with students and faculty across disciplines in order to ensure proper representation and outreach efforts, as well as encourage collaboration; and, most importantly, (3) focus the organization on diversity and inclusiveness, giving voice to and taking into account the needs of all students regardless of background.

Having previously served as founding editor-in-chief of a technology law journal while earning my JD at the College of Law, I am familiar with the challenges of creating an organization from scratch, from dealing with institutional problems to setting achievable goals and motivating the others involved to interacting with other organizations both within and external to the University. That experience, coupled with legal training, enable me to guide the Women in STEM Student Council through potential difficulties and crucially enable the Council to focus on what matters---engaging the underrepresented in STEM.

As a transgender woman who has worked in computer security since 2012---including finding funding for and leading outreach and diversity efforts at LLNL---I retain a large number of professional connections which can advance the goals of the Council. Moreover, my experiences demonstrate both the equalizing potential of STEM fields and the importance of diversity therein, and I will strive to achieve both.

 

 

 

President-Undergraduate Level (1 position available)

 

Amber Petrie, Undergraduate Student, Geosciences: Earth, Ocean, and Climate Science

 

I am currently in my junior year pursuing an undergraduate degree in Geosciences with an emphasis in Earth, Ocean, and Climate Science and a minor in Marine Science at the University of Arizona. I am involved in the ASEMS Transfer S-STEM Program and beginning an internship with GeoDecor to further my studies in Paleontology. As a nontraditional, well-traveled, adopted woman of many colors, I find myself eager to share my experiences to help others overcome their own personal challenges.

My experience as a work-study student at Scottsdale Community College for two years allowed me to conduct student surveys to see what changes were of interest for their educational growth. To properly follow through with those requested tasks, I worked as a receptionist and lab assistant to department faculty to ensure full communication was established. My biggest achievement was in curating four innovative geological display cases within the classrooms. I initiated a Geology Club as President leading two community service projects and was awarded the ‘Best Community Service Project of 2017-2018.’

Through actions of integrity, respect, and empathy, it would be an honor to join the Women in STEM Student Council. If successful in my application, I can assure my motivation of involving myself with the community of women to identify and work towards the goals they want to achieve. It is my hope to inspire and increase the resources available to women in high schools, community colleges, and of nontraditional backgrounds with interests in STEM to attend the University of Arizona.

 

Cristina Moraga, Undergraduate Student, Nutritional Sciences

 

Hello, my name is Cristina Moraga and I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of Arizona studying Nutritional Sciences. Over the years, I've been lucky to have had several opportunities that I believe have given me the skills necessary to serve as your Undergraduate Student President. I have been an intern for a local non-profit, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, and an intern for the BioDiversity Project at the U of A. Currently, I work as an intern coordinator and provide support to U of A interns at Iskashitaa Refugee Network. I am responsible in helping coordinate events for the interns to attend, organizing their roles within the nonprofit, as well as reporting on their status. I believe that these experiences have given me strong communication and management skills, which make a strong candidate for this position. I also believe that WiSSC will serve as a connection among various groups who share the same goal— to inspire women to take a part in STEM topics and help them succeed. This network will drive the progress of women in STEM further than one group alone, and I would be honored to serve as the Undergraduate President to oversee council activities and work with a dedicated team of women.

 

Mariana Teoposte, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

 

Every woman in STEM has their own unique experience in academia. It is the misadventures, success stories, and shared rebelliousness that helps women support others around them. Whether it be the single mother raising a child while competing in a male-dominated Science field, or a minority student resisting imposter syndrome and overcoming obstacles to achieve success. For me, Science has always been about understanding how to fix issues in our society before they become unmanageable and burdensome to underserved and marginalized populations. It is through the shared experiences of the misfits, the wall flowers, and the BOLD women who competed, lost, won, and triumphed over adversity to rise- but not only rise themselves, but help lift others as well. As a candidate for Undergraduate President, I wish to share my experiences as a woman in STEM to provide a pathway for other women who will bring their own uniqueness in a STEM field.

 

 

 

Vice President of Communications (1 position available)

 

Kristine Gradisher, Graduate Student, Physiological Sciences

 

I am an androgynous graduate student that is energized to be part of this council because of my unfathomable passion for investigating the current issues related to gender equality and inclusivity in STEM fields. I am currently involved in a brain research project that I hope will lead to a better understanding of biological sex differences. This knowledge will be of further use to help elucidate gender differences, if they exist. However, I am determined to be a part of something ‘bigger’ that will allow me to have a greater impact on campus policies. This position would give me the opportunity to directly enhance our community by providing innovative solutions that will promote the holistic growth and wealth currently lacking at our university. As an ambassador of the Women in STEM Student Council, I would relentlessly fight for the equal treatment of all humans without exception. If elected, I aim to create an all-inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged and empowered to feel safe being themselves without discrimination based on gender identification.

 

Ally Felix, Undergraduate Student, Microbiology

 

Hello, my name is Ally Felix and I am a Junior majoring in Microbiology & Russian and Slavic Studies. As a potential candidate for Vice President of Communication I believe that I already have extensive experience and background in communications. I work on the UA campus as a Peer Mentor for students who have experienced foster care or any other form of housing instability. Many of my students are STEM majors and I help them navigate college without the support of their families. I am dedicated to maintaining contact with my students and communication is a vital part of my position as peer mentor. I am also a Co-President for the UA microbiology club and this involves me utilizing listservs and advertisement tools to increase member numbers. I also have experience with creating promotional fliers, blog posts, and social media posts for various events and meetings. I am dedicated to helping all STEM majors succeed. Pursuing a career in any STEM field is challenging and is nearly impossible to do with out help. It is my hope that I can be a vital part of helping WiSSC members succeed and feel supported just as I help my students feel supported. I believe that as long as someone has passion for their major, with help and support, they can succeed. I look forward to getting involved in WiSSC and collaborate with fellow members to ensure success of the amazing women and other students in STEM majors. Thank you.

 

Marissa Luna-Ridenour, Undergraduate, Psychological Sciences

 

Hello my name is Marissa Luna, and I am a freshman majoring in Psychological Sciences with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. When I first heard about the opportunity to be a member of the Women in STEM Student Council, I was ecstatic! Seeing a new student-run body that will work to foster the entry, persistence, and success of women in STEM, automatically made me want to be apart of a council like this. I would love to be apart of this program through the Vice President of Communication position. This would consist of managing the Council email list, circulating meeting notes and working with the staff to create promotional materials. I am a highly organized and goal driven person, and because of this, I believe I would strive as the communications role. Throughout high school, I held a multitude of positions on student councils that have given me the opportunity to gain experience when it comes to running programs safely and keeping them organized. I hold a deep passion for the world of STEM, and would love to embrace this passion by being around other passionate women who all have the same goal; to create a successful and effective council!

 

Allie Hughes, Graduate Student, Astronomy and Physics

My name is Allie, and I am a fourth year PhD student doing research in astrophysics. I want to represent you in WiSSC’s inaugural Executive Board as Vice President of Communications.

My vision for WiSSC is that it will unite people across STEM, allowing those in typically white-male-dominated departments to have a strong, supportive community that will help them thrive. Public relations and communications are vital in this effort because they build excitement about our new organization among students, faculty, and the public. For everyone to complete their tasks effectively, is important to be organized and have easy access to all resources, including calendars, listservs, and informational documents.

I became involved in the creation of WiSSC last semester. I joined many working groups and even designed the flyer announcing this very election! Keep an eye out for one about an upcoming vision-board making social event.

At Texas Tech University, where I got my Masters degree, a few other students and I founded the Graduate Association of Physicists (GRASP) in fall 2016. As its first president, I played a key role in writing the constitution & bylaws and set precedents for how the organization handles elections, internal conflicts, and financial matters. This group is still going strong - providing academic assistance, hosting social and cultural gatherings, giving minority students a greater voice, and improving relations between students and faculty. I will use this experience to lay solid foundations for WiSSC to be successful for years to come.

Visit AstroAllison.com for more!

 

 

 

Vice President of Professional Development and Mentorship (1 position available)

 

Natasha Cornejo, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

I’m a 2nd year graduate student in Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a research focus in chemical biology. While I love chemistry, my passion also lies in promoting professional development and mentorship. During my undergraduate career, I facilitated STEM focused faculty-student and student peer mentoring programs through the campus diversity office. Through the same office, I planned and directed events such as resume building, graduate school application workshops and connected STEM students to helpful campus resources to prepare them for life after graduation. I have continued this work while at the University of Arizona by volunteering and serving as a mentor for programs such as Arizona Science Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS), Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC), and Program to Advance Women Scientists (PAWS). My vision for the Women in STEM Student Council is to create an operation that promotes outreach, support, professional development, and mentorship of women and other underrepresented populations in STEM fields by connecting them to campus resources and the community at large. Ultimately I hope to work together with everyone on the board to create and maintain a council that promotes the recruitment, involvement, engagement, and retention of women and other underrepresented populations in STEM at the University of Arizona.

 

Emma Potter, Undergraduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

I am running for the position of Vice President of Professional Development and Mentorship because of my strong interest in developing and maintaining interest in STEM fields through providing opportunities for engagement, service, mentorship, and outreach to our UA student population. I have been fortunate to have several strong mentors throughout my education, all of whom have been vital in my decision to pursue a STEM career, and am looking forward to the opportunity to serve in this capacity for others should I be elected.
I am a Chemistry and Veterinary Science double major with a 4.0 GPA over 56 credit hours. I have engaged in science-based educational outreach since middle school. Specifically, I have volunteered and participated in SARSEF, science expositions, Science Olympiad, and hands-on solar technology demonstrations with AZRise. Presently, I am involved in the Women in Medicine and Science club, where I have experience in STEM outreach (organizing and helping students perform various scientific projects) at elementary schools around Tucson. In the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department I serve as a peer mentor and Ambassador, mentoring both transfer students and new freshmen as they transition to the department.
I am incredibly excited about this position; the opportunity to have a mentor is important, and I think it can make or break a student’s willingness to pursue an education and career in STEM. I believe that I am both qualified for this position and motivated to execute the needs of the position at a high level.

 

Brittany Uhlorn, Graduate Student, Cancer Biology

 

I am a 4th year Cancer Biology PhD Candidate eager to serve as Vice President of Professional Development and Mentorship. No longer enrolled in classes or serving as a TA, I am prepared to devote as much time and effort necessary to ensure that WiSSC educates and empowers UA’s women in STEM by building a community of strong, professional women who are fearless leaders and mentors in their respective fields.
I have a history of mentoring grade school, undergraduate, and graduate students, and wholeheartedly believe that both serving as a mentor and being mentored greatly benefit one’s personal and professional development. Further, I have attended and presented at a number of scientific conferences, as well as attended many lectures and workshops focused on professional development and mentorship. Thus, I have both the knowledge and personal experiences necessary to excel in this role.
As VP of Professional Development and Mentorship, I plan to create a number of mentorship programs: graduate students mentored by faculty and STEM professionals, undergraduate students mentored by graduate students and STEM professionals, and grade school students mentored by undergraduate students. Through these mentor-mentee relationships, I hope to increase the number of young girls and women seeking STEM professions and to provide the support they need to succeed at each distinct point in their careers/education. I will also create individual workshops for students in which community professionals, university faculty, and fellow students will educate attendees on all aspects of professionalism, presentation, employment, and mentoring.

 

Savanna Weninger, Graduate Student, Physiology

I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with a BSHS in Physiology and a BS in Nutrition with a minor in biochemistry. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in physiology and plan to continue to the PhD program. In my 8 years working, studying, and teaching in STEM fields, I have both witnessed and experienced the barriers women face and the inequities we must overcome to succeed.
I am honored to be selected to run for the Vice President of Development and Mentorship Programs Executive Board Position. With contacts in multiple University departments, including life sciences, medicine, and engineering, I am able to facilitate mentorships for other graduate/undergraduate women in STEM seeking exposure to the variety of scientific fields on campus and within the community. Additionally, I look forward to coordinating workshops and events to provide professional development and networking opportunities.
During my undergraduate career, I served as President of the Cardiology Outreach Organization. I connected with many professors and professionals in cardiology and related fields to coordinate guest speakers and outreach events. This experience will allow me to aid the executive board in achieving their 2019 initiatives and programs. I hope for the opportunity to contribute my time and efforts to make a difference for women in STEM at the University of Arizona and within the wider Tucson community.

 

 

Vice President of Funding (1 position available)

 

Danielle Becktel, Graduate Student, Immunobiology

 

My name is Danielle Becktel, and I am a graduate student in my second year of training. I am an active and integrated member of the Department of Immunobiology under the supervision of Dr. Kristian Doyle. Upon starting the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences program, I was able to rotate through laboratories in the Departments of Cancer Biology, Pharmacology, and Immunobiology. These opportunities allowed me to establish connections with mentors and peers in various disciplines. Furthermore, I incorporate both immunology and neuroscience concepts in my current projects because I focus primarily on elucidating the immune response in chronic stroke. For these reasons, I feel that I have a diverse background of scientific knowledge spanning many disciplines that will be beneficial when critiquing grants from various fields of research and forming meaningful networks across campus.

Further, I have a long-standing passion for reading and writing, particularly in the sciences. I genuinely enjoy reviewing, editing, and critiquing grant or journal article submissions. The Doyle laboratory has been remarkably successful in obtaining funding at the graduate and professional levels through travel grants and federal R01, R21, and F31 grants. For these reasons, I believe that I have sufficient training to execute the tasks of the Vice President of Funding. In addition to my knowledge of grant writing and reviewing, I will provide an avenue for establishing a diverse group of advocates for the WiSSC and an organized, positive, and passionate attitude toward bolstering professional development, funding, and social opportunities for women in STEM.

 

Maithili Khandekar, Undergraduate Student, Physiology and Mollecular and Cellular Biology

 

My name is Maithili Khandekar and I am a junior majoring in Physiology and Molecular & Cellular Biology and minoring in Business Administration & Government. Through the UA, I have been lucky enough to receive many opportunities such as working in a Cardiac Rehab clinic, conducting research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and providing care to underinsured patients- all of which have helped me hone my skills in the STEM field. However, not all women students in this field can say the same. In fact, as per the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up half of the college educated workforce, but only 29% of the science & engineering field. That is why I would like to work towards making more opportunities available for UA women in the STEM field.

As Vice President of Funding, I would work diligently alongside the Council and campus administration to help enrich the experience of women in STEM. I hope to continue encouraging professional development through internships, shadowships, and employment, as well as helping find funding for possible ventures. I would help coordinate programs to advance university-wide policies to create an inclusive, representative, and diverse network for women in STEM. I hope to be elected to the Council to serve as a woman leader on our campus to help make this goal a reality.

 

Catherine Klesner, Graduate Student, Materials Science and Engineering

 

The Women in Stem Student Council offers a unique position to not only support female-identifying students at the University of Arizona in STEM fields through programming and resource dissemination, but also through direct funding of student travel and grants for events and programming. Attendance at conferences for advanced undergraduate and graduate students is an incredibly important networking and research opportunity, and too often it is limited due to unavailable funds or lack of knowledge about potential funding opportunities. As a doctoral candidate in my fourth year at the University of Arizona I have accumulated first-hand experience navigating the funding opportunities currently available to fund my own research and conference travel, as well as repeatedly serving as a judge for student travel grants (GPSC). The impact of these small travel grants can be huge, and as Vice President of Funding for WiSSC I will help facilitate the increased availability of grants to assist with travel expenses. Funding for student lead programming will also be supported by WiSSC, and the increased funding for these programs will make them even more impactful and accessible to students. Student lead programs and events provide a valued opportunity to present topics, issues, and solutions that are the most relevant and of interest to the larger student body. In this position I hope to help identify programs that support increased retention, graduation, and promote professional development for female-identifying students in STEM, as well as providing the biggest “bang for your buck” for funding through the council.

 

Revathi Pillai, Graduate Student, Physciological Sciences

Hi everyone! My name is Revathi Pillai, and I am a first year Masters’ student studying Physiological Sciences. It would be my pleasure to serve as your Vice President of Funding for Women in STEM Student Council. Growing up, I watched my single mother, who is a successful woman in the STEM field, work harder than anyone else I know to help provide for my family. Living in a single income household, I was taught the value of money at a very young age. Using these money management skills, I worked at a Children’s Clinic for 8 years where I was a part of the event organizing committee. Along with networking and event organization, I also learned the skill of budgeting. In these events, it was critical to utilize the available money to satisfy every requirement of each sponsor. I had the chance to enhance these skills when I worked as a Front Desk assistant at the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. At BIO5, I had the opportunity to interact with various researchers and individuals within the STEM field which gave me another chance to help further build my network. I intend on applying my knowledge and learned skills to the very best of my ability if given the privilege to be the Vice President of Fundraising for Women in STEM Student Council. Thank you.

 

 

 

Vice President of Outreach (1 position available)

                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Jane Bright, Graduate student, Astronomy and Astrophysics

 

I was an active participant in outreach during my entire undergraduate career and had the opportunity to organize and lead outreach events as the president of my school’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students. I got to work with second-grade students at the local elementary school, giving physics demos and talking to them about science. I enjoyed sharing science with such a young age group and seeing them excited to learn and engage, and I am eager to create more opportunities for outreach, sharing, and learning for an even greater breadth of audiences as the Vice President of Outreach. I also led the Women in Physics group at my undergraduate institution which focused on promoting community and support for women in the physics department. Supporting the success of women in STEM fields is an incredibly important issue to me, and outreach is something that brings me joy and fulfillment. I see outreach as a powerful tool for fostering inclusion for everyone involved. The communities being taught get to learn and hopefully recognize their own potential for success in STEM, while those teaching get the opportunity to step into a position of leadership that can help them feel empowered. I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to apply the experience I gained as an undergraduate leader to the Women in STEM Student Council and look forward to collaborating across many STEM fields to create opportunities for learning, growth, and inclusion.

 

Rebeca Gardner, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology

 

My name is Rebeca Gardner and I would like to be the Women in STEM Student Council’s outreach coordinator. My mission as outreach coordinator is to provide opportunities to expand scientific interests, to host workshops that will answer any questions from a variety of topics, and collaborate with other organizations of both genders to encourage teamwork and equality. I will be able to accomplish all of these objectives because I have previous experience serving as social chair to another organization where I developed the skills of an effective communicator and an organized planner. I have a passion for and strong background in STEM, majoring in two STEM fields and participating in STEM related research on campus. I promise to use these skills, knowledge and experiences to plan outreach activities that are beneficial to the STEM community and it’s interests. Help me become your outreach coordinator and I will help you network with professionals, get involved in the community, answer your questions, meet other students like yourself and most importantly, I will help you take full advantage of the incredible STEM opportunities we have at the University of Arizona. Thank you and bear down!

 

Naya Ibrahim, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Molecular and Cellular Biology

 

The former first lady, Michelle Obama, once said, “We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering and math.”
I believe that the main aim of the Women in STEM Student Council should be to create a smoother path for STEM women who are in UofA, planning on transferring to UofA, and high school and middle school girls who desire to attend UofA.
Unlike other fields of study, STEM fields have a unique way of challenging us and preparing us for our future career. The challenges sometimes seem overwhelming, diverting us from our desired career. However, with the aid of the Student Council, we could form study groups involving seniors or graduate students who have experience in matters which could cause difficulty for undergraduate students.
Moreover, the Student Council could also arrange different types of mentorship in different STEM fields for incoming transfer and high school students for a less stressful transition. As a transfer student myself, I had a hard time adapting from community college to a 4-year university. However, with the aid of my NSCS and ASEMS mentors, adapting wasn’t as difficult as I had thought.
Furthermore, out-reach programs organized by the Student Council could benefit numerous middle school and high school students as they begin to choose their careers. By showing them that women have come far in a STEM field, inspiration could lead them to follow the same path.

 

 

 

 

At Large Position (3 positions available)

 

 

Danielle Becktel, Graduate Student, Immunobiology

 

My name is Danielle Becktel, and I am a graduate student in my second year of training. I am an active and integrated member of the Department of Immunobiology under the supervision of Dr. Kristian Doyle. Upon starting the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences program, I was able to rotate through laboratories in the Departments of Cancer Biology, Pharmacology, and Immunobiology. These opportunities allowed me to establish connections with mentors and peers in various disciplines. Furthermore, I incorporate both immunology and neuroscience concepts in my current projects because I focus primarily on elucidating the immune response in chronic stroke. For these reasons, I feel that I have a diverse background of scientific knowledge spanning many disciplines that will be beneficial when critiquing grants from various fields of research and forming meaningful networks across campus.

Further, I have a long-standing passion for reading and writing, particularly in the sciences. I genuinely enjoy reviewing, editing, and critiquing grant or journal article submissions. The Doyle laboratory has been remarkably successful in obtaining funding at the graduate and professional levels through travel grants and federal R01, R21, and F31 grants. For these reasons, I believe that I have sufficient training to execute the tasks of the Vice President of Funding. In addition to my knowledge of grant writing and reviewing, I will provide an avenue for establishing a diverse group of advocates for the WiSSC and an organized, positive, and passionate attitude toward bolstering professional development, funding, and social opportunities for women in STEM.

 

Jane Bright, Graduate student, Astronomy and Astrophysics

 

As a woman pursuing physics and astrophysics I have found it to be a common experience to be greatly outnumbered by men in academic environments. I find it vitally important to foster environments in STEM fields that are supportive, welcoming, and enriching for women. In the past I have worked to create such environments by leading my undergraduate institution’s Women in Physics group which focused on promoting community and support for women in the physics department. I also had the opportunity to serve as secretary and then president of my school’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students. These leadership positions allowed me to hone many skills such as organizing group communications, leading outreach events, and facilitating meetings and discussions. I would be incredibly excited for the opportunity to apply the experiences I have had to help the Women in STEM Council and promote diversity and inclusion in STEM at the University of Arizona and beyond. I am eager to be a part of action that will take place across departments and disciplines to prioritize inclusion and success for women in STEM.

 

Natasha Cornejo, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

I’m a 2nd year graduate student in Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a research focus in chemical biology. While I love chemistry, my passion also lies in promoting professional development and mentorship. During my undergraduate career, I facilitated STEM focused faculty-student and student peer mentoring programs through the campus diversity office. Through the same office, I planned and directed events such as resume building, graduate school application workshops and connected STEM students to helpful campus resources to prepare them for life after graduation. I have continued this work while at the University of Arizona by volunteering and serving as a mentor for programs such as Arizona Science Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS), Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC), and Program to Advance Women Scientists (PAWS). My vision for the Women in STEM Student Council is to create an operation that promotes outreach, support, professional development, and mentorship of women and other underrepresented populations in STEM fields by connecting them to campus resources and the community at large. Ultimately I hope to work together with everyone on the board to create and maintain a council that promotes the recruitment, involvement, engagement, and retention of women and other underrepresented populations in STEM at the University of Arizona.

Lauren Cutler, Graduate Student, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences

 

My name is Lauren Cutler and I am a first-year graduate student studying Atmospheric Science. I am running for an at large position because promoting and supporting women in the STEM fields is an issue that is very important to me. I believe that diversity furthers research and advancements in scientific fields that help positively contribute to society. Promoting and supporting women in the STEM fields is an important step in cultivating diversity. In my at large position, I would assist both presidents in any way I can to help improve every students’ educational experience. In addition, I would like to identify and help organize special projects around female mentorship and professional development opportunities for female students in STEM.
I believe that through my previous leadership experience I am qualified for an at large position. I know the hard work necessary to make this student council successful and I am willing to work hard to better our campus.

 

Ally Felix, Undergraduate Student, Microbiology

 

The At Large Position requires flexibility and versatility. This position also requires people who have a wide range of skills. In my work as a Peer Mentor, I have cultivated many skills. These include scheduling, communication, mentoring, outreach, Immigration Student Resource Center training, FERPA training, and collaboration, to name a few. I am also the External Outreach Project Coordinator for Fostering Success here on the UA campus. This means that I have experience communicating with resources and companies both on and off campus and collaborating with them to benefit students. I am adaptable and am constantly learning how to best serve students and am committed to helping students whenever and however I can. I hope that I can be of help to this amazing program and the students who are a part of it. Thank you.

 

Rebeca Gardner, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology

 

My name is Rebeca Gardner and I would like to be apart of your Women in STEM Student Council. My mission as is to provide opportunities to expand scientific interests, to host workshops that will answer any questions from a variety of topics, and collaborate with other organizations of both genders to encourage teamwork and equality. I will be able to accomplish all of these objectives because I have previous experience serving as social chair to another organization where I developed the skills of an effective communicator and an organized planner. I have a passion for and strong background in STEM, majoring in two STEM fields and participating in STEM related research on campus. I promise to use these skills, knowledge and experiences to plan outreach activities that are beneficial to the STEM community and it’s interests. Help me be apart of your Women in STEM Student Council and I will help you network with professionals, get involved in the community, answer your questions, meet other students like yourself and most importantly help you take full advantage of the incredible STEM opportunities we have at the University of Arizona.

 

Kristine Gradisher, Graduate Student, Physiological Sciences

 

I am an androgynous graduate student that is energized to be part of this council because of my unfathomable passion for investigating the current issues related to gender equality and inclusivity in STEM fields. I am currently involved in a brain research project that I hope will lead to a better understanding of biological sex differences. This knowledge will be of further use to help elucidate gender differences, if they exist. However, I am determined to be a part of something ‘bigger’ that will allow me to have a greater impact on campus policies. This position would give me the opportunity to directly enhance our community by providing innovative solutions that will promote the holistic growth and wealth currently lacking at our university. As an ambassador of the Women in STEM Student Council, I would relentlessly fight for the equal treatment of all humans without exception. If elected, I aim to create an all-inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged and empowered to feel safe being themselves without discrimination based on gender identification.

 

Naya Ibrahim, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Molecular and Cellular Biology

 

The former first lady, Michelle Obama, once said, “We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering and math.”
I believe that the main aim of the Women in STEM Student Council should be to create a smoother path for STEM women who are in UofA, planning on transferring to UofA, and high school and middle school girls who desire to attend UofA.
Unlike other fields of study, STEM fields have a unique way of challenging us and preparing us for our future career. The challenges sometimes seem overwhelming, diverting us from our desired career. However, with the aid of the Student Council, we could form study groups involving seniors or graduate students who have experience in matters which could cause difficulty for undergraduate students.
Moreover, the Student Council could also arrange different types of mentorship in different STEM fields for incoming transfer and high school students for a less stressful transition. As a transfer student myself, I had a hard time adapting from community college to a 4-year university. However, with the aid of my NSCS and ASEMS mentors, adapting wasn’t as difficult as I had thought.
Furthermore, out-reach programs organized by the Student Council could benefit numerous middle school and high school students as they begin to choose their careers. By showing them that women have come far in a STEM field, inspiration could lead them to follow the same path.

Erin Jennings, Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

 

I would love the opportunity to serve as president on the University of Arizona’s Women in STEM Student Council. One of my passions is encouraging women to pursue what they are passionate about. I believe nothing should hold anyone back from living out their dreams. While earning my undergraduate degree, I was involved in the initiation of my undergraduate university’s women in STEM club as well as volunteering at a YWCA after-school program designed to keep young girls interested in STEM. Since moving to Arizona in August, I have gotten to serve on a panel informing high school and undergraduate students about research and internships for the Women in STEM Panel Series at the University of Arizona. I have also had the opportunity to start mentoring a few girls at a local middle school in Tucson which has been fun and rewarding! During the inaugural year of my undergraduate university’s Women in STEM club, I was a member of the social planning committee and was in charge of organizing the socials and outings for the members of the club. After a year of serving on the social planning committee, I was elected Vice President/President serving the first year as VP and the second year as President of the Women in STEM club. I have learned a lot from my past experiences and I want to work with you to help the Women in STEM Student Council make a positive impact at the University of Arizona and in the surrounding community.

Meghan Hamilton, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

My name is Meghan Hamilton and I am a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Throughout my time here, I have grown to appreciate the women in STEM community at the University of Arizona. I am consistently impressed with the dedication of this community to improving women’s and minorities’ experience on campus, despite the lack of funding and widespread organization for that purpose. This council, designed to target these deficiencies, has the potential to bring these efforts to the forefront and enact real change at a University level. The at-large positions serve as an avenue to target specific goals, allowing for the intelligent allocation of resources and manpower. It is my goal, if elected, to target University policies centering around families on campus. Standardizing university policies regarding parental leave, bringing affordable child care to campus, and installing more facilities across campus that include changing tables and lactation stations are just some of the goals I would target.

 

Allie Hughes, Graduate Student, Astronomy and Physics

My name is Allie, and I am a fourth year PhD student doing research in astrophysics. I want to represent you in WiSSC’s Executive Board. If you do not wish to vote for me as Vice President of Communications (see my statement there), please consider me for a Vice President At Large.

My vision for WiSSC is that it will unite people across STEM, allowing those in typically white-male-dominated departments to have a strong, supportive community that will help them thrive. I joined many working groups during the creation of WiSSC last semester, and want to remained involved in the executive leadership. I have experience as founder and first president of a successful graduate organization, and so will lay solid foundations for WiSSC to be successful for years to come.

I have two main ideas for my project as an At Large member, and the final choice will depend on what you all think is most important. My first project idea is to focus on securing better child care and family leave. Currently, the university offers child care subsidies, but no on-campus facilities. Family leave options and expectations vary by department, so the university needs more universal guidelines. My second project idea is to collect data about women’s experiences in different STEM departments/colleges to build statistics about the performance of different programs in relation to the entry, recruitment, and retention of women. Then we will be able to focus on what actually works for our university.

Visit AstroAllison.com for more!

 

Maithili Khandekar, Undergraduate Student, Physiology and Mollecular and Cellular Biology

 

My name is Maithili Khandekar and I am a junior majoring in Physiology and Molecular & Cellular Biology and minoring in Business Administration & Government. Through the UA, I have been lucky enough to receive many opportunities such as working in a Cardiac Rehab clinic, conducting research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and providing care to underinsured patients- all of which have helped me hone my skills in the STEM field. However, not all women students in this field can say the same. In fact, as per the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up half of the college educated workforce, but only 29% of the science & engineering field. That is why I would like to work towards making more opportunities available for UA women in the STEM field.

As a member of the Council, I would work diligently alongside other members and campus administration to help enrich the experience of women in STEM. I hope to continue encouraging professional development through internships, shadowships, and employment. I would help coordinate programs to advance university-wide policies to create an inclusive, representative, and diverse network for women in STEM. I hope to be elected to the Council to serve as a woman leader on our campus to help make this goal a reality.

 

Catherine Klesner, Graduate Student, Materials Science and Engineering

 

As an interdisciplinary graduate student at the University of Arizona, I have had the opportunity to experience multiple different facets of STEM education at the university. I am a student in the college of engineering (MSE) and school of anthropology, and I have taught and taken classes across several departments in the college of science and college of social and behavioral sciences. I have also served as the secretary for the Program for the Advancement of Women Scientists (PAWS). The undergraduate and graduate students from each department and college have their own unique needs and available resources, and as part of the WiSSC I hope to be able to coordinate those resources to allow them to be more accessible to all students and open up the dialogue between departments to discuss more broadly issues women in STEM fields face. During the past semester, attending open meetings to help plan and shape the Women in STEM Student Council I have seen the need for a fluid and diverse student council. The ways that WiSSC can serve the University of Arizona student body will be evolving and changing especially throughout its first several years of operation. The at-large positions will be best able to address any newly identified needs, special projects, or be able to assist the other positions when the workload becomes overwhelming. Given my multifaceted academic history I will be well equipped to be able to assist in a variety of projects and needs in the at-large position.

 

Marissa Luna-Ridenour, Undergraduate, Psychological Sciences

 

Hello my name is Marissa Luna, and I am a freshman majoring in Psychological Sciences with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. When I first heard about the opportunity to be a member of the Women in STEM Student Council, I was ecstatic! Seeing a new student-run body that will work to foster the entry, persistence, and success of women in STEM, automatically made me want to be apart of a council like this. I would love to be apart of this program through the Vice President of Communication position. This would consist of managing the Council email list, circulating meeting notes and working with the staff to create promotional materials. I am a highly organized and goal driven person, and because of this, I believe I would strive as the communications role. Throughout high school, I held a multitude of positions on student councils that have given me the opportunity to gain experience when it comes to running programs safely and keeping them organized. I hold a deep passion for the world of STEM, and would love to embrace this passion by being around other passionate women who all have the same goal; to create a successful and effective council!

 

Cristina Moraga, Undergraduate Student, Nutritional Sciences

 

Hello, my name is Cristina Moraga and I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of Arizona studying Nutritional Sciences. Even though I am running for the Undergraduate President position, I believe that being any part of the Women in Stem Student Council would be a privilege and an amazing opportunity. Throughout my time at the university I have had several experiences, including internships, extracurricular activities and my current job, that have given me strong communication, teamwork, and management skills. As a member At Large, I would look forward to fulfilling any tasks that are needed as well as taking on my own projects. I am so excited for all that WiSSC can accomplish, and I am looking forward to being a part of it.

 

Amber Petrie, Undergraduate Student, Geosciences: Earth, Ocean, and Climate Science

 

I am currently in my junior year pursuing an undergraduate degree in Geosciences with an emphasis in Earth, Ocean, and Climate Science and a minor in Marine Science at the University of Arizona. I am involved in the ASEMS Transfer S-STEM Program and beginning an internship with GeoDecor to further my studies in Paleontology. As a nontraditional, well-traveled, adopted woman of many colors, I find myself eager to share my experiences to help others overcome their own personal challenges.

My experience as a work-study student at Scottsdale Community College for two years allowed me to conduct student surveys to see what changes were of interest for their educational growth. To properly follow through with those requested tasks, I worked as a receptionist and lab assistant to department faculty to ensure full communication was established. My biggest achievement was in curating four innovative geological display cases within the classrooms. I initiated a Geology Club as President leading two community service projects and was awarded the ‘Best Community Service Project of 2017-2018.’

Through actions of integrity, respect, and empathy, it would be an honor to join the Women in STEM Student Council. If successful in my application, I can assure my motivation of involving myself with the community of women to identify and work towards the goals they want to achieve. It is my hope to inspire and increase the resources available to women in high schools, community colleges, and of nontraditional backgrounds with interests in STEM to attend the University of Arizona.

 

Revathi Pillai, Graduate Student, Physciological Sciences

Hi everyone! My name is Revathi Pillai, and I am a first year Masters’ student studying Physiological Sciences. It would be my pleasure to serve as your Vice President of Funding for Women in STEM Student Council. Growing up, I watched my single mother, who is a successful woman in the STEM field, work harder than anyone else I know to help provide for my family. Living in a single income household, I was taught the value of money at a very young age. Using these money management skills, I worked at a Children’s Clinic for 8 years where I was a part of the event organizing committee. Along with networking and event organization, I also learned the skill of budgeting. In these events, it was critical to utilize the available money to satisfy every requirement of each sponsor. I had the chance to enhance these skills when I worked as a Front Desk assistant at the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. At BIO5, I had the opportunity to interact with various researchers and individuals within the STEM field which gave me another chance to help further build my network. I intend on applying my knowledge and learned skills to the very best of my ability if given the privilege to be the Vice President of Fundraising for Women in STEM Student Council. Thank you.

 

Emma Potter, Undergraduate Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

I am running for the At Large Position because of my strong interest in developing and maintaining interest in STEM fields for our UA student population. I have been fortunate to have several strong mentors throughout my education, all of whom have been vital in my decision to pursue a STEM career, and am looking forward to the opportunity to serve in this capacity for others should I be elected.
I am a Chemistry and Veterinary Science double major with a 4.0 GPA over 56 credit hours. I have engaged in science-based educational outreach since middle school. Specifically, I have volunteered and participated in SARSEF, science expositions, Science Olympiad, and hands-on solar technology demonstrations with AZRise. During high school, I served in the local NHS chapter, where I prepared meals for the homeless and cleaned community washes. Presently, I am involved in the Women in Medicine and Science club, where I have experience in STEM outreach (organizing and helping students perform various scientific projects) at elementary schools around Tucson. In the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department I serve as a peer mentor and Ambassador, mentoring both transfer students and new freshmen as they transition to the department.
I am incredibly excited about this position; by helping the executive board as needed I can work in all areas to improve the environment for women and others in STEM fields. I believe that I am both qualified for this position and motivated to execute the needs of the position at a high level.

Claire Taylor, Graduate Student, Computer Science

Should I have the privilege of serving on the Women in STEM Student Council, I will contribute my best efforts to: (1) ensure that the organization retains strong connections to other organizations, including public and private sector institutions, particularly those whose goals align with diversity and inclusion within STEM; (2) work with students and faculty across disciplines in order to ensure proper representation and outreach efforts, as well as encourage collaboration; and, most importantly, (3) focus the organization on diversity and inclusiveness, giving voice to and taking into account the needs of all students regardless of background.

Having previously served as founding editor-in-chief of a technology law journal while earning my JD at the College of Law, I am familiar with the challenges of creating an organization from scratch, from dealing with institutional problems to setting achievable goals and motivating the others involved to interacting with other organizations both within and external to the University. That experience, coupled with legal training, enable me to guide the Women in STEM Student Council through potential difficulties and crucially enable the Council to focus on what matters---engaging the underrepresented in STEM.

As a transgender woman who has worked in computer security since 2012---including finding funding for and leading outreach and diversity efforts at LLNL---I retain a large number of professional connections which can advance the goals of the Council. Moreover, my experiences demonstrate both the equalizing potential of STEM fields and the importance of diversity therein, and I will strive to achieve both.

 

Mariana Teoposte, Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

 

I would love the opportunity to serve on the University of Arizona’s Women in STEM Student Council. One of my passions is encouraging women to pursue what they are passionate about. I believe nothing should hold anyone back from living out their dreams. While earning my undergraduate degree, I was involved in the initiation of my undergraduate university’s women in STEM club as well as volunteering at a YWCA after-school program designed to keep young girls interested in STEM. Since moving to Arizona in August, I have gotten to serve on a panel informing high school and undergraduate students about research and internships for the Women in STEM Panel Series at the University of Arizona. I have also had the opportunity to start mentoring a few girls at a local middle school in Tucson which has been fun and rewarding! During the inaugural year of my undergraduate university’s Women in STEM club, I was a member of the social planning committee and was in charge of organizing the socials and outings for the members of the club. After a year of serving on the social planning committee, I was elected Vice President/President serving the first year as VP and the second year as President of the Women in STEM club. I have learned a lot from my past experiences and I want to work with you to help the Women in STEM Student Council make a positive impact at the University of Arizona and in the surrounding community.

 

Brittany Uhlorn, Graduate Student, Cancer Biology

 

I am a 4th year Cancer Biology PhD Candidate who is excited to support the initiatives of the WiSSC in an At Large Position. No longer enrolled in classes or serving as a TA, I will devote the time and effort necessary to ensure WiSSC is the primary advocate for women pursing STEM professions by connecting the needs of the students to the resources of the university and community.
A strong foundation needs to be laid and expanded upon for the Council to build and empower a community of strong women for years to come. With a new organization comes much uncertainty and unexpected needs; I have previously served on the Executive Board of two organizations in their infancies, and thus am experienced in the flexible and creative mindset needed in an At Large Position of a new organization.
I will identify and pursue special projects and initiatives as the Council establishes its roots and blossoms into a flourishing organization. Specifically, I will create a series of mental health and wellness workshops to educate young women on maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health, provide resources for those seeking help, and to create a nurturing environment in which difficulties and support can be shared.
Further, I will support my fellow Executive Board members through any means necessary. My experiences in community outreach, marketing, communication, professional development, mentoring, and experiences on Executive Boards of many STEM and non-STEM organizations will be used to support the other WiSSC Presidents and Vice Presidents.

 

Savanna Weninger, Graduate Student, Physiology

I am honored to be selected to run for the Women in STEM Executive Board At Large Position. As a member of the executive board, I look forward to working with the other board members to develop workshops and mentorships, and to provide women seeking careers in STEM with opportunities for professional development and networking.
I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science and Health Science in Physiology and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition with a minor in biochemistry. I am now pursuing my master’s degree in physiology and plan to continue to a PhD program. As a woman working, learning, and teaching in STEM fields for 8 years, I understand the stereotypes and inequalities that women face and must overcome to succeed.
Serving as President and Outreach Chair of the Cardiology Outreach Organization during my undergraduate degrees. I worked with members and the community to organize outreach and volunteer events. This experience coordinating events and reaching out to professionals will allow me to aid the executive board in achieving their 2019 initiatives and programs. I hope for the opportunity to contribute my time and efforts to make a difference for women in STEM at the University of Arizona and within the community.