Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a postdoctoral Research Associate in theoretical physics at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is a particle physicist/cosmologist driven by a desire to understand the origin of spacetime and the particles that populate it. Prescod-Weinstein gives public talks that range from accessible science to the challenges of making scientific communities more inclusive and more reflective of society at large. She is also interested in feminist philosophies of STEM and society studies. She’s given commentary for the Washington Post, Gizmodo, FiveThirtyEight, and Smithsonian.com, to name a few.
Areas of Expertise: Astrophysics, early universe cosmology, particle physics, astronomy, dark matter, accessible science, diversity in science, equality in science
Jay Shendure is an associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington. He was named the 2006 “Innovator Under 35“ by the MIT technology review. He was also the recipient of the 2012 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics for outstanding scientific achievements in human genetics that have occurred in the last 10 years.
Shendure is revolutionizing his field with new ways to sequence DNA. He is the principal investigator of the “Shendure lab,” a research group in Seattle that has made significant contributions to technologies in genomics including some of the first applications of exome sequencing to identify the basis of Mendelian disorders and autism spectrum disorders. His team developed the first non-invasive sequencing of a fetal genome, and the haplotype-resolved sequencing of the HeLa genome, which will continue to be crucial in identifying mutations and disorders.
In 2005, he used off-the-shelf parts to determine the order of all the DNA bases in a bacterial genome at 20 times the speed and one-ninth the cost of traditional DNA sequencing. Shendure is now working to make the process even more efficient. By 2015, he says, it may enable biologists to sequence a person’s genome for just $1,000.
Professor of Genome Sciences, University of Washington
Areas of Expertise: Human Genetics and Rare Disorders, Genomics, DNA Sequencing and Technology Development Around DNA Sequencing
Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher who works for the Union of Concerned Scientists as their Southeast Climate Advocate. Her work focuses on the mobilization of the Latino community to better understand and address climate change. Hammer has studied the effects of climate change in different environments, particularly among Hispanic populations that reside near coastal shore lines and are vulnerable to flooding because of rising sea levels. She has co-authored several papers on the impact of rising sea levels in South Florida and has been featured in The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, and The Washington Post among other media outlets. She can be heard on this Morning Edition story discussing the usage of the term “climate change.”
Sea-level researcher, Southeast Climate Advocate for the Union of Concerned Scientists
Areas of expertise: Climate Change, Climate Change Advocacy Among Latino Populations
Gurtina Besla is an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. She is a theoretical astrophysicist who has focused on the evolution of satellite galaxies that orbit the Milky Way.
She is an expert in the dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Local Groups of Galaxies. Dr. Besla is currently leading local programs dedicated to supporting students of color who are pursuing degrees in physics and astronomy.
Expertise: Dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Local Groups of Galaxies
Paloma Vargas is an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Hispanic-Serving Institute Coordinator at California Lutheran University. As an expert in the study of microbiology and host-parasite relationships, her research interests include infectious diseases and cell culture.
Before joining California Lutheran’s faculty, Vargas taught at both the high school and community college-levels. She led a number of outreach efforts at Northeastern Illinois University’s Student Center for Science Engagement, where she was a STEM specialist. When she is not teaching, Vargas mentors and recruits underrepresented minority students, particularly those of Latino/a heritage. She is an alumna and active member of the Linton-Poodry Leadership Institute of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science.
Assistant Professor of Biology, California Lutheran University
Areas of Expertise: Microbiology, Cell Activity, Higher Education, Diversity, STEM
Erika Zavaleta is an expert in Environmental Science. She is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research concentrates on conservation, biodiversity, and climate change. Erika Zavaleta serves on the boards of EcoAdapt, The Tropical Forest Group, and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund. She works in Telluride, Colorado from fall to winter, and Santa Cruz, California from spring to summer.
Esmeralda Casas, Ph.D. is an expert in biomedical science. She is an AAAS Science and Technology Fellow. Her research focuses on gene expression and cancer biology, specifically the genetic drivers of cancer. She works in Washington, D.C.
Her research has been funded through fellowships and grants by the Department of Defense, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
Mariel Vazquez is a professor of Microbiology, Mathematics, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis. She is an expert on the topology of DNA– how DNA strands are looped and knotted. She uses mathematical tools to understand it’s tangled structure. Vazquez is the 2012 recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and has served on the Advisory Board at the National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). She has a passion for simplifying the complex nature of DNA to understandable concepts as demonstrated in this video from Numberphile.
Professor of Microbiology, Mathematics, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Davis.
Stephon Alexander is a musician and professor of physics and astronomy at Brown University.
He was previously a professor at Dartmouth College, where he directed the Dartmouth EE Just Scholars program which promotes excellence and innovation for young scientists especially from underrepresented backgrounds. He is the president of the National Society of Black Physicists. Born in Trinidad, Alexander is a theoretical physicist, jazz saxophonist and author specializing in the interface between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity.
Alexander has worked on a variety of projects throughout his career. In August 2014, he released a critically acclaimed album, Here Comes Now, in collaboration with electronic producer RIOUX. His 2016 book, The Jazz of Physics, explores the secret link between music and the structure of the universe.
Areas of Expertise: Cosmology, Particle Physics, Quantum Gravity, Intersections with Jazz Music
Kristala L. Jones Prather teaches in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, the highest honor given for undergraduate teaching at MIT. Prather joined the faculty of MIT after four years in BioProcess Research and Development, working on projects in the areas of biocatalysis for small molecule transformations, high-yield production of plasmids as DNA vaccines, and mammalian cell line development for production of therapeutic proteins.
Prather’s current research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, with additional efforts in novel bioprocess design approaches. She has been the recipient of many awards, among them the Technology Review “TR35” Young Innovator Award (2007), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010), and a Young Scientist of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions (2012).
Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Co-Director of Microbiology Graduate Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Expertise: Metabolic Engineering, Synthetic Biology, Biochemical Engineering