Current Board Members

Bita Alaghebandan, Co-President

Bita is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia. Her current research focuses on understanding the role of chromatin-remodeling complexes in mediating hormone-driven cancers, such as breast and prostate. She hopes that her work can provide insight into how genetic changes can lead to the issue of resistance and relapse in the vast majority of patients. Prior to attending Columbia, Bita earned her M.S. in Entrepreneurial Biotechnology from Georgetown University, where she focused on minimizing the gap between science and business by working with private and public sectors to transfer technological advances from bench to bedside.

Bita is passionate about mentoring young women in STEM and joined WISC in an effort to build an empowering and interdisciplinary network of women in the sciences. She believes that a more diverse, collaborative, and gender-balanced network of scientific leaders is key to successfully addressing today’s global health challenges.

Bita_Alaghebandan

 

Elena_Carazos
Elena Carazo, Co-President

Elena is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Sciences department at Columbia. She studies how antidepressants like Prozac affect specific parts of the brain such as the hippocampus, and how these effects contribute to the beneficial effects of antidepressants. She has volunteered at organizations such as Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach, the Association of Spanish Scientists in the US and Open Labs Science Cafe, with the focus of making neuroscience accessible to the Spanish speaking community in NYC. She joined WISC with the hope of building a platform for young women in STEM to gather around and build a better, more inclusive science community at Columbia.

 

Eliza Jaeger, Graduate Research Symposium

Eliza is a Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences. Before starting her Ph.D., she graduated from Middlebury College in 2017, and then spent some time working as a research technician. She is generally interested in neurobiology and evolution. As co-chair of the GRS, she is excited to be able to bring together scientists from many fields at Columbia to share their research with each other.

Eliza
Eavan
Eavan Donovan, Graduate Research Symposium

Eavan is a Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences. Before Columbia, Eavan received her B.A. in Chemistry at Carleton. Her past research has focused on the structural biology of protein complexes. As she explores research at Columbia she is excited to be involved with WISC and co-chairing the Graduate Research Symposium.

 

Casey Ivanovich, Undergraduate Mentoring

Casey is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, researching how modes of climate variability such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation influence humidity in order to better predict extremes and associated impacts on human health. Casey received her B.A. in Geosciences from Princeton University in 2017, after which she served as a High Meadows Fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, DC. As a fellow, Casey conducted research that modeled the future warming impact of various sectors, including agriculture and international transportation, and contributed to EDF’s climate communications efforts. Casey believes that we succeed when we uplift and advocate for one another, and joined WISC to help create a more supportive and inclusive environment for women in STEM at Columbia.

casey

 

 

Julia
Julia Hestenes, Undergraduate Mentoring

Julia is a Materials Science & Engineering Ph.D. student in the Department of Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley.  Her current research is focused on understanding the electrochemical and structural interactions occurring at the electrode-electrolyte interface in next-generation battery materials. She hopes that new improvements in battery performance can help to combat climate change by changing the way we generate and store electricity. Aside from STEM and sustainability, she also takes to heart the importance of diversity in STEM fields. She believes that tailoring STEM outreach and education to be supportive of students from underrepresented groups is key to fostering a welcoming STEM community. She hopes the mentoring events she organizes with WISC will inspire and encourage students to pursue careers in the sciences and engineering!

Lenzie Ford, Postdoctoral Liaison

Lenzie is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Neuroscience Department, having lab space at both the CUMC and Manhattanville campuses. Her research focuses on the structure-function relationship of amyloid-like proteins involved in healthy and diseased long-term memory. Lenzie is also the Society for Neuroscience’s Greater NYC Chapter (BraiNY) Advocacy Co-char. Lenzie received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Sussex, having worked with the gender equality group as their graduate student representative, and received her BS in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Lenzie_Ford
 

Felisa

Felisa Conrad-Burton, Networking Chair

Felisa is a Ph.D. student in the Zhu Group in the Chemistry Department. She is studying the photophysics of organic solar energy conversion materials, specifically, understanding the process of singlet exciton fission and making it practical and useful for modern applications. Felisa is very interested in the intersection of science and society, especially when it comes to issues of public policy, equality, and diversity. This led her to join WISC as an avenue to promote inclusion in the STEM fields and bring science into important conversations and spaces where it might not normally be a consideration. Outside of WISC, Felisa takes advantage of living in New York City and participates in science policy and advocacy groups and continues to pursue her love of dance.

 

 

Davida Rios, Social Media & Website Chair

Davida is a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry department at Columbia. Prior to attending Columbia, Davida earned her B.S. in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Tyler. Davida’s research focuses on developing living biosensors for invasive fungal pathogens. Through her involvement in WISC, she hopes to help assist the young women in STEM within the Columbia community. Outside of WISC, Davida enjoys expressing herself through art.

DavidaWiscbio2

 

 

Aubrianna
Aubrianna Decker, STEM Starters

Aubrianna is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Sciences Department, especially interested in the regulated cell death pathway, ferroptosis, and its role as a cancer treatment. Before coming to Columbia, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology with an emphasis in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley.

Middle school science fairs and high school science outreach made huge impacts on her love of science, and she hopes to help facilitate similarly effective outreach events for local students here. She strongly believes that young kids need exposure to modern technologies and need to interact with both men and women scientists who convey their passion for science. Through her involvement in WISC, Aubrianna hopes to contribute to a supportive network of STEM feminists in creating an equal and inclusive campus.

 

Prachi Patel, STEM Starters

Prachi Patel is a Ph.D. candidate in Columbia’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. She holds a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s of Technology from Nirma University in India. Her scientific research consists of understanding how speech and music are encoded in the human brain. She looks at signals recorded from inside of the human brain to infer the encoding of this information and the workings of brain circuitry. Prachi is passionate about promoting pedagogical practices and science outreach among graduate students. She aspires to ignite curiosity in the young minds of middle school and high-school students by conducting STEM outreach workshops through WISC.

Prachi

 

Allie
Allie Balter, Graphic Designer

Allie is a Ph.D. student at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds a Master’s of Science in Earth and Climate Science from the University of Maine and a Bachelor’s of Science in Geology from Bates College. Allie’s research aims to understand how glaciers and ice sheets responded to climate change in the Earth’s past, with the goal of providing useful constraints on ice loss and sea-level rise int he face of current warming. Her research has brought her to many cold places across the globe, including Antarctica, Greenland, and Alaska! Allie is passionate about education and outreach, and aims to advocate for women in science as a member of WISC.

 

Radhika Desai, Department Liaison

Radhika is a current Ph.D. student in Motor Learning and Control, in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College. Her previous graduate work was in the area of cognitive-motor interference patterns, and lower extremity biomechanics in healthy older adults and individuals with stroke. Prior to moving to New York, she worked as a surgical neurophysiologist in Boston, where she collected and monitored neurophysiological data from a variety of clinical populations. Her current area of research aims to better understand motor planning and gait initiation among neurodegenerative populations. Radhika is an advocate for public outreach and inclusion within STEM fields, and contributes to these initiatives through her involvement in WISC.

Radhika

 

divya_circ
Divya Venkatesh, WISC After Hours

Divya is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia. Her current research is aimed at uncovering the role of tumor-specific genes in modulating the response of cancer cells to a new form of therapy, called ferroptosis. She hopes that her work will help develop this therapy to have a potential as a precision medicine for cancer patients. She graduated as an engineer in Biotechnology from a premier institute in India, R.V College of Engineering, before she started her Ph.D. at Columbia.

Divya has always believed that with enough encouragement, all women can crack the lid on patriarchal norms to reach great heights. She joined WISC to foster the women community in STEM. She believes that having women-centric discussions, workshops, and resources at WISC will go a long way in helping women realize and fulfill their potential. She stands by the form of feminism which relies on women bringing the best in each other and aims to use WISC to do just that.

 

Carla Bezjian, WISC After Hours

Carla is a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry Department at Columbia. Her current research is focused on understanding the genetic controls that regulate a specific type of regulated cell death called ferroptosis. The goal of this research is to identify a genetic fingerprint of cancer types that are sensitive to ferroptosis inducers towards personalized medicine. Before coming to Columbia, she received her BS in biochemistry from Cal State LA, where she was an LSAMP scholar.

Carla joined WISC to help foster a collaborative and supportive environment for women in the sciences at Columbia. She is looking forward to organizing important conversations that will encourage women scientists to grow and to help each other grow.

Carla

 

 

Megan_Goldring
Megan Goldring, WISC After Hours

Megan is a Ph.D. student in the Psychology Department at Columbia. Her research interests pertain to interpersonal relationships and health; namely how social processes both help and hinder health outcomes. She hopes that her research can aid in the development of interventions that improve health and well-being. In her free time, Megan can be found enjoying nature (although in New York, this means public parks!), reading a book, and listening to live music. Megan joined WISC because she believes that women constitute a unique and important group for the sciences, and that by generating awareness about issues faced by women STEM, we can create a more equitable and harmonious space for both men and women in the sciences.

Danielle Tufts, Postdoctoral Liaison