Meet Our Speakers

The B-SoCCS organizers would like to thank our speakers for their support of early career researchers.  They have generously shared their time and expertise to make this event a success. 


Director of Research and Head/Scientist, Program on Information Science, MIT

Micah conducts work primarily in the fields of social science, information privacy, information science and research methods, and statistical computation -- focusing on the intersections of information, technology, privacy, and politics; and on the dissemination, preservation, reliability and governance of scientific knowledge. Previously Micah served as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, and at Harvard University as the Associate Director of the Harvard-MIT Data Center, Archival Director of the Henry A. Murray Archive, and Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. Micah earned a Ph.D. in Social Science from the California Institute of Technology, and conducted his postdoctoral research at Harvard University. Prior to studying social science, Micah worked as a software engineer in "Silicon Valley" developing software, courses, teaching and consulting on the subject of high-performance computing.


Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Director of the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center and Lebow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Kenneth is a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Research Scientist and American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor.  Over the last three decades, he has focused his laboratory and clinical research studies on multiple myeloma.  He has developed laboratory and animal models of the tumor in its microenvironment which have allowed for both identification of novel targets and validation of novel targeted therapies, and has then rapidly translated these studies to clinical trials culminating in FDA approval of novel targeted therapies.  His paradigm for identifying and validating targets in the tumor cell and its milieu has transformed myeloma therapy and markedly improved patient outcome. He is a recipient of many scientific and humanitarian awards and appointment as a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy, to the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute, and to the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum.  He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, served as President of the International Myeloma Society, and is President of the American Society of Hematology. Dr. Anderson is a graduate of Boston University and Johns Hopkins Medical School. He trained in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and then completed hematology, medical oncology, and tumor immunology training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.


Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Boston Children's Hospital

Todd received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University, where he studied cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural development, with a primary focus on a specific type of progenitor cell, the radial glial cell. He did this postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology in the Anderson lab, where he pursued two major interests: 1) optogenetic dissection of lateral septal neural circuitry that controls stress-induced, persistent anxious states, and 2) development of a novel system for activity-dependent circuit manipulation.

Alexander D. Augst, PhD  Panelist   Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Alexander D. Augst, PhD


Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Associate at Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP

Alexander Augst advises clients in a wide variety of IP matters with a focus on procurement and commercialization of patent portfolios in a broad range of biomedical technologies. His background in academic technology transfer and his previous experience gained at an international law firm provide him with a deep understanding of the needs of a variety of clients, from academic institutions to start-ups and large corporations.

Cynthia Barber, PhD  Panelist   Understanding the Drug Development Process

Senior Clinical Scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Cynthia’s career is an example of how you can apply scientific skills outside the lab. She received her PhD in molecular biology from MIT and after completing post-doctoral work at Brandeis University took a regulatory medical writing position at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. During her time as a medical writer she worked on a number of therapeutic areas, including hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, and pain. As a medical writer she had the opportunity to author a broad range of clinical regulatory documents for Phase 1 through Phase 4 studies, including summary documents for supplemental new drug applications. Cynthia recently transitioned into a clinical scientist role supporting Vertex’s neurology programs. In her current position she contributes to clinical development plans, study design, study execution, and data interpretation.


Biology Director, Centers for Therapeutic Innovation at Pfizer

Brian Bates leads the Biology Group at Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) in Boston. This group supports drug development efforts for all projects in CTI-Boston’s diverse portfolio covering programs in neurology, oncology, immunology, and renal diseases. The group advances these programs through active collaboration with academic investigators in a large participant network. Prior to joining Pfizer, Brian led functional genomics and molecular genetics teams at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals dedicated to target identification and validation efforts. Brian did his graduate work at Columbia University and his postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute.

Stuart Chaffee, PhD  Panelist   Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

Stuart Chaffee, PhD


Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur in Residence at Atlas Venture

Stuart is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Atlas Venture, where he recently co-founded a early-stage therapeutics company focused on targeted protein degradation.  He  joined Atlas from Biogen, where he spent five years in a number of different roles including Finance, Business Development, Program Management and Corporate Strategy.  Prior to Biogen, Stuart was at Leerink Partners, a healthcare focused investment bank, and was part of the founding team at Zafgen, a now publicly-traded biotech company developing therapies for obesity.  Originally trained as a synthetic organic chemist, Stuart started his career as a medicinal chemist at Amgen where he led a number of drug discovery and development efforts in oncology and neurodegenerative disease.  Stuart holds a B.S. from the College of William and Mary, a Ph.D. from Yale University, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Robbin Chapman, PhD  Workshop presenter   Leadership Skills for Scientists

Robbin Chapman, PhD

Workshop presenter

Leadership Skills for Scientists

Associate Provost and Academic Director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Lecturer of Education at Wellesley College

Robbin has been at Wellesley College since 2011, where she provides strategic leadership and vision for the College’s diversity and inclusion, and academic and faculty excellence initiatives. Dr. Chapman works on faculty development and student achievement issues and collaborates with academic departments on faculty searches. In addition, she handles special projects on behalf of the provost's office. Professor Chapman is a Lecturer in the Education Department and her design-based course merges Education and Computer Science theory and praxis to create a space where students reimagine how learning flourishes in partnership with digital technologies. Her students have presented class projects at various conferences, including the College's Digital Scholarship Day. Dr. Chapman earned her S.M and her Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she conducted research at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the MIT Media Laboratory. Her research interests include design and use of computational tools for learning in public spaces, and examining equity issues as they relate to learning technologies and culturally-responsive pedagogy. Her publications include the book, The Computer Clubhouse: Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities and chapters in Social Capital and Information Technology, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators, and The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology. Dr. Chapman currently serves on a number of boards and as regional liaison for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, administered through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.


Senior Scientist at Amgen


Associate professor in bioengineering at Northeastern university

Dr. Dai received Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from MIT’s HST Program (Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology). He completed his Post-doctoral training in Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School (Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology).  Current researches in his lab focus on the 3-D bioprinting technology, stem cells and vascular bioengineering, and are funded by major grants from NSF, NIH and American Heart Association.  Dr. Dai received the Scientist Development Award from American Heart Association, Faculty Early Career Award from National Science Foundation, Rising Star Award from Biomedical Engineering Society, and Institute’s Faculty Career Award (RPI).


Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire

Dev brings with him over fifteen years of academic research experience in strategic management, entrepreneurship, and international business. Dev's research has been published in top-tier entrepreneurship research journals such as the Journal of Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. Prior to his doctoral studies, Dev worked for fifteen years as a corporate strategy consultant in the global Indian IT industry. He served as an in-house strategy specialist for some of the biggest names in the industry, working in the areas of value transformation, process maturity, organizational change and renewal, and business model formulation and implementation.
Dev is a certified Lean Launchpad Educator and his graduate class on entrepreneurship embracing lean startup methodologies is perhaps the first one in the country to incorporate these methods in a completely online setting.

Alokesh Duttaroy, PhD  Workshop presenter   Drug Discovery Bootcamp Workshop

Alokesh Duttaroy, PhD

Workshop presenter

Drug Discovery Bootcamp Workshop

Associate Director of the Scientific & Team Excellence Program Office at Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research

Alokesh has expertise ranging from discovery through development phase for small molecules and biologics and broad knowledge of pharmacology in areas ranging from diabetes/metabolic diseases, obesity to CNS disorders, incretin biology, pancreatic beta cell function, analgesia and behavioral pharmacology. He has authored 36 published papers and 3 book chapters.

Jennifer Elliott  Speaker   Meet the Scientists : Vibrio natriegens as a fast-growing host for molecular biology

Jennifer Elliott


Meet the Scientists: Vibrio natriegens as a fast-growing host for molecular biology


With over 15 years applied research experience spanning
the human genome project, neuroscience target discovery, transgenic model generation and the launch of gene editing, Jen Elliott welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate how the power of synthetic genomics will advance your research. 


Outreach Scientist and Blog Editor at Addgene

Tyler J. Ford received his PhD from Harvard Medical School where he worked on producing biofuels in bacteria. During graduate school, Tyler developed his science communication skills working with the student group Science in the News. Tyler is now an Outreach Scientist and Blog Editor at Addgene where he works hard to help researchers share lab reagents and information thereby accelerating their research. Tyler has participated in a variety of career and communication panels and encourages scientists to start thinking about their careers early in their training. You can follow Tyler on Twitter @Tyfordfever.

Lauren Foster, DSc  Panelist   Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Associate Director, MIT Technology Licensing Office, Director of IP and Strategic Alliances at Koch Institute

Lauren C. Foster is the Assistant Director of M.I.T.'s Technology Licensing Office, focusing principally on licensing and commercialization of technologies in the biomedical, biotechnology and medical device fields. She also serves as Director of Intellectual Property and Strategic Alliances at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at M.I.T. where she is involved in the strategic management of the Koch Institute’s industrial partnerships and intellectual property portfolio. Prior to joining M.I.T., Lauren was Senior Director, IP and Technology Acquisition at Antigenics, Inc., a public biotechnology company, where she played an integral role in envisioning and implementing the company’s business, intellectual property and technology strategies. Lauren was also a Technical Specialist at the law firm Lahive & Cockfield LLP where she focused on strategic development of intellectual property rights for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and universities. Ms. Foster holds a D.Sc. from Harvard University and a B.S. from Haverford College, and is a registered Patent Agent.


Director of Research Development and Strategy of Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Susan serves as the primary contact for questions regarding grant opportunities for faculty to find funding sources and develop successful grant applications. She also oversees efforts to foster relationships with external sponsors, develop strategies to enhance the FAS research portfolio, increase sponsored revenue, and facilitate the pursuit of external funding. Her major responsibilities include developing grants-related programs and resources, facilitating the development of research proposals, and supporting proposal development and submission efforts for major projects.


Talent Acquisition Professional

Megan Hoban, PhD  Panelist   Setting Up Your Lab

Megan Hoban, PhD


Setting Up Your Lab

Scientist at Magenta Therapeutics

Megan Hoban is currently a Scientist at Magenta Therapeutics, an early stage start-up that launched in November 2016. Megan joined Magenta last August as part of the pre-launch team and worked to establish their lab space by setting up vendor accounts, making equipment purchases, and applying for biosafety permits. She also co-managed the lab move to a brand new space in winter of 2017, working alongside Magenta's COO. Megan's background is in gene therapy for hematologic diseases. She did her graduate work at UCLA and a post-doc at Boston Children's Hospital before joining Magenta. 

Isaac Houston, PhD, MBA  Speaker   Meet the Scientists : QIAseq Technologies for Metagenomics and Microbiome NGS library prep

Isaac Houston, PhD, MBA


Meet the Scientists: QIAseq Technologies for Metagenomics and Microbiome NGS library prep

QIAGEN Life Science Specialist

In this presentation, learn about the innovative technologies that form the basis of QIAGEN’s portfolio of QIAseq library prep solutions for metagenomics and microbiome sequencing. Whether your research starts from single microbial cells, 16s rRNA PCR amplicons, or gDNA for whole genome analysis, QIAseq technologies offer tips and tricks for capturing the genomic diversity of your samples in the most unbiased, streamlined way possible.


CEO of PanTher Therapeutics and Entrepreneur in residence at MGH Cancer Center

Dr. Indolfi combines the science and business knowledge to drive our vision. As a biomedical engineer, Laura has 10 years of local drug delivery experience. Her  expertise covers a broad range of therapeutic areas (cancer, inflammation, regenerative medicine) and approaches (drug delivery, cell therapy, implanted devices).
She has also developed hands-on business managerial know-hows through classes at the Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School.
Laura holds a PhD in Biomaterials from the University “Federico II” of Naples in Italy and completed post-doc training at MIT and MGH Cancer Center.

Aron Jaffe, PhD  Speaker   Meet the Scientist : Mechanisms regulating lineage decisions in the airway

Aron Jaffe, PhD


Meet the Scientist: Mechanisms regulating lineage decisions in the airway


Aron Jaffe leads the Tissue Repair and Microbiome groups in the Chemical Biology & Therapeutics Department in the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Both groups take a multidisciplinary approach to identify and validate novel targets and therapies that restore tissue homeostasis in a variety of diseases.  Prior to joining Novartis in 2008, Aron performed his post-doctoral training at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology in London, UK, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he established a three-dimensional culture model of intestinal epithelial morphogenesis to study the cellular functions of the Rho family of small GTPases. Aron received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Cell and Molecular Biology.


‎Postdoctoral Officer & Professor of Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology at tufts university

Dan is a faculty member at the Tufts Sackler School of Graduate Medical Sciences and the Tufts University Postdoctoral Officer. Additionally, Dan runs theregional NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Group program and is a world renown artist working at the intersection of science and art.

Ashley R. Jones  Panelist   Lessons from a Life Science Recruiter


Ashley is a human resources professional with over 10 years of experience in recruitment, talent development, organizational design, leadership consulting, and employee relations. Currently, Ashley is the Director of Culture & People at SQZ Biotechnologies where she leads the HR department. Prior to joining SQZ Ashley held roles at Vertex as a recruiter and then HR Business Partner where she developed and implemented talent initiatives across the Research, Development, and Commercial organizations. Ashley began her career in HR working in the staffing industry recruiting for companies across a variety of industries. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology & English from Ohio Wesleyan University and is a graduate of Northeastern University’s Human Resources Management program.

Zaven Kaprielian, PhD  Panelist   Understanding the Drug Development Process     
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Zaven Kaprielian, PhD


Understanding the Drug Development Process


From 1995 to 2013, Zaven was a faculty member in the department of Neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.  He directed a research group that made significant contributions to our understanding of molecular mechanisms controlling nervous system development, with a particular emphasis on axon guidance and dendrite branching in model organisms.  Zaven joined Amgen in June 2013 as a Director of research and site head for Neuroscience at Amgen’s site in Cambridge, MA (AMA), and currently manages several programs designed to identify novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders and neuropathic pain.  He also leads the AMA External Outreach Committee (EOC), which is charged with increasing the visibility and accessibility of Amgen and the Cambridge site, and leveraging the local health sciences ecosystem to absorb and enhance innovation.

Natalie Karagodsky, PhD  Panelist   Preparing for Your Academic Interview

Natalie Karagodsky, PhD


Preparing for Your Academic Interview

Assistant Professor at Fitchburg State University

Natalie Karagodsky is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Fitchburg State University. She holds a Sc.B. from Brown University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her current research focus is on understanding the role of fatty acids in longevity and stress resistance, using the model organism C. elegans. She has several students working in her lab, and has a close collaboration with the Blackwell lab at Harvard University. She teaches 12 "face-time" hours each semester, advises 17 students, and is a member of several departmental and campus-wide committees. She has taught Genetics, lecture and lab, Anatomy and Physiology, lecture and lab, General Biology, and is developing a research-based course on the molecular regulation of aging. 

Nicolai Konow, PhD  Panelist   Setting Up Your Lab

Nicolai Konow, PhD


Setting Up Your Lab

Assistant Professor, Dept. Biological Sciences at UMass. Lowell

Nicolai did his Ph.D. at James Cook University in Australia on functional morphology and ecomechanics of coral reef fish feeding before adjusting his focus to include muscle physiology and movement biomechanics during post-doc at Johns Hopkins, Brown and Harvard Universities. He began setting up his laboratory at UML in 2016, to support programs on how age, injury, and disease-induced myopathies influence craniofacial function, and how muscle mechanics influence key evolutionary transformations.  He will teach courses with comparative as well as clinical relevance at the interfaces between anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics.



Chantal Kuhn is Senior Scientist at VL37 inc, an early stage startup company in the immunotherapy space that was founded in 2016 by the Venture Capital enterprise Flagship Pioneering. Hired as first Scientist she has a leading role in developing the research strategy of VL37 to develop innovative immunomodulatory therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, transplantation. Chantal holds a PhD in immunology and already focused on immunotherapy of autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection during her PhD and her first postdoc in France. In 2013 she came to Boston to study mechanisms underlying mucosal tolerance induction in the context of autoimmune diseases in the lab of Dr. Howard Weiner at Brigham and Women's Hospital & Harvard Medical School. Additionally to her work as scientist Chantal is very invested in mentoring, having been prominent in consolidating the BWH Mentoring Circles Program over several years and participating as a mentor in this year's AWIS mentoring circles program. 

Burt LaFountain, MBA  Workshop presenter   Honing Your Message: How to Communicate Your Research

Burt LaFountain, MBA

Workshop presenter

Honing Your Message: How to Communicate Your Research

Principal at The Boston Consulting Group

Burt LaFountain is a Principal at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).  He resides in BCG'sBoston office and is on the core leadership team of BCG Gamma, the firm's Data Science and Advanced Analytics consulting team.  Burt's client work focuses on using big data and data science to impact business strategy and operations, and to deliver bottom-line results. Examples of such work include increasing the economic return from marketing campaigns, predicting and improving customer retention, and developing strategies to ensure effective build of broadband infrastructure. A Mechanical Engineer by training, Burt earned his Master of Science from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering with a focus on new product development. He earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he was a Siebel Scholar and a Martin Trust Fellow.


Associate Professor at Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. Weining Lu is a Principal Investigator, Associate Professor of Medicine, Primary Mentor of Graduate Students and Postdocs in the Renal Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Center. The primary research interests in Dr. Lu’s laboratory focus on translational research of the kidney and urinary tract development and disease. Dr. Lu’s research program is supported by grants from government (National Institutes of Health, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center), foundation (March of Dimes, National Kidney Foundation), and industry (Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation). Prior to joining Boston University Medical Center in 2004, Dr. Lu served as an Instructor in Medicine and Technical Director in the genome center at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Lu received his medical degree from Zhejiang University School of Medicine and his graduate degree from Northeastern University Bouve College of Health Sciences. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Renal Division and Genetics Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.


talent acquisition specialist at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Samantha is a Talent Acquisition Specialist with three years of recruitment experience at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.  She currently specializes in hiring for early stage discovery, genomics, preclinical development, and process development roles.  Her background is steeped in scientific research -  after graduating with a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she worked at Pfizer in their Antibody Drug Conjugate group and at the Broad Institute as a Research Associate in the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program before transitioning into recruitment.  Samantha is able to leverage her experience working directly on the bench in both the biopharmaceutical industry and academia to discover and assess untapped talent. 


Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Tufts University

Charlie earned his BS from Le Moyne College in 2003, followed by an MS (2006) and PhD (2008) from the University of Rochester in the laboratory of Prof. Benjamin Miller.  He was then a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. George Whitesides at Harvard University from 2008–2011.  Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts in 2013, he was a senior scientist at Diagnostics For All.


bioinformatics scientist at seven bridges genomics

Raunaq Malhotra is a Bioinformatics Scientist at Seven Bridges, where he facilitates both academic and commercial researchers with developing and deploying scalable and reproducible bioinformatics workflows on the cloud. He is also part of the academic collaborations team on the Seven Bridges Cancer Genomics Cloud. He received his PhD in Computer Science from the Pennsylvania State University, State College, where he researched on de novo methods for reconstruction of viral populations. 

Kathryn McCabe, PhD  Panelist   Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Director of Business Development-Emerging Technology and Innovation AT eli lilly

Katy directly engages with the Cambridge innovation ecosystem with a focus on early discovery to help grow new therapeutics. She works with strategic limited partner Venture Capital firms to recommend and vet new companies, searches and evaluates in-licensing opportunities, connects directly companies in incubators such as Lab Central, and scouts new collaborations for Lilly R&D.  Prior to joining Lilly, Katy led technical and strategic assessments for partnerships, acquisitions, and company strategy across Gene Therapy, Immunology, Oncology, and Hematology at Baxalta.  At GlaxoSmithKline, Katy directed 3 high profile academic/industry collaborations at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in neurodegeneration (now in PhII clinical trial), retinal disease, and muscle regeneration.  At Advanced Cell Technology (now Astellas), Katy was the Director of Preclinical Ocular Program where she managed a small team of senior scientists to generate stem cell derived products for the treatment of ocular diseases.


Assistant Professor in Biology at Boston College

Sarah did her PhD at Stanford University with Liz Hadly, studying population fluctuations and developmental variation in wild Ambystoma salamanders through space and time. As a postdoc, she transitioned to the model organism of zebrafish in the lab of Dave Parichy at the University of Washington. She developed a project looking at the developmental and molecular effects of thyroid hormone and other endocrine factors on zebrafish development. As a postdoc, she was awarded an F32 NRSA and a K99 through the NIH. She started her own lab at Boston College in 2017, and her independent work focuses on post-embryonic developmental coordination and the roles of thyroid hormone in development of the craniofacial skeleton in zebrafish. 

Lyndon J. Mitnaul, PhD  Panelist   Understanding the Drug Development Process

Lyndon J. Mitnaul, PhD


Understanding the Drug Development Process

Director in the R&D Planning, Strategy and Operations Department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 

Dr. Lyndon J. Mitnaul is a Director in the R&D Planning, Strategy and Operations Department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he leads a team that supports all technologies, monoclonal antibody (mAb) innovations and platforms that drives research and development at Regeneron. Key support includes the Regeneron Genetics Center, novel gene editing (via CRISPR/Cas9) and CAR-T platforms and collaborations. Lyndon’s team accomplishes this by facilitating several external research collaborations and by managing multiple, cross-functional teams. Lyndon received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Benedict College, in Columbia, South Carolina, a Ph.D in Biological Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and performed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1997, Merck & Company recruited Dr. Mitnaul into the Department of Inflammation Research where he studied HIV pathogenesis and was later promoted to Research Fellow, Biology Program Team Lead, and Principal Scientist in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, where he studied lipid metabolism and thrombosis. In June of 2013, Lyndon joined Research Program Management at Regeneron and helped to establish the Regeneron Genetics Center. Dr. Mitnaul’s responsibilities increased in 2016 to include the management of all of Regeneron’s R&D technologies, mAb innovations and platforms in the new R&D Planning, Strategy and Operations Department. In addition to research, Lyndon has a strong passion for increasing diversity in the STEM disciplines and in the Pharmaceutical environment. He is an active mentor to young scientists and future leaders, and he has been recognized with several awards for his efforts. 

Steven Munevar, PhD  Moderator   Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

Steven Munevar, PhD


Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

President and CEO of Munevar & Associates, Inc

Dr. Steven Munevar is the President and CEO of Munevar & Associates, Inc. As the founder, Dr. Munevar is focused on connecting life science innovations and discoveries made at the research bench to the patient bedside through technology development and commercialization.
Dr. Munevar is actively involved in the entrepreneurial community and works to support and cultivate nascent entrepreneurs through a variety of outreach and mentoring activities. Dr. Munevar is also a strong proponent of the arts and the immense value they can bring, through their creative nature, to all aspects of one’s life.
Dr. Munevar hails from a diverse background that spans science, technology, and business. Recognizing early in his career the value of coupling these three disciplines toward bridging bench to bedside, he set about pursuing a non-traditional path of combining technology with biology and adding to this a strong business foundation. Taken together, these distinct elements have led to the synergistic creation of the company’s unique multidisciplinary capabilities.

Roslyn Orkin, PhD  Panelist   Grant Writing Panel

Roslyn Orkin, PhD


Grant Writing Panel

Associate Chief for Faculty Development in Div of hematology/oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor (pt time) at Harvard Medical School

Roslyn's professional career spans that of basic research (cell and developmental biology of the extracellular matrix), teaching, and academic administration. After PhD training with Elizabeth Hay at HMS, she spent ~2 postdoctoral years at the NIH in George R. Martin’s laboratory. A second postdoctoral period with Bryan Toole in the Developmental Biology Lab (MGH) broadened her studies on the extracellular matrix and it was there that she was appointed initially Assistant and then Associate Professor at HMS. Subsequently, she shifted her laboratory to the Dept. of Surgery (MGH), where she co-directed the Vascular Surgery Research Lab. From the mid-70s, when she began her career at the MGH until the late 90s, she was continually supported by independent funding (both federal and private). From 1999 through 2004, she transitioned to academic administration, serving as Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs at HMS. After that, she first served as a consultant to the Department of Pediatric Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital Boston (BCH), and in 2009 was appointed to her current position (part time) as Associate Chief for Faculty Development in the Division of Hematology/Oncology (BCH, DFCI). She mentors trainees/junior faculty and provides guidance relating to issues of faculty development. These include working one-on-one with trainees and junior faculty to provide detailed and specific mentorship to prepare grant applications (both federal and private). Additionally, she plays an integral role in the preparation of division-wide training grants, and related programmatic entities, and works with senior faculty to prepare nomination packages for prestigious national and international awards and election to academic societies.

Adam Poulin-Kerstein, JD, PhD  Panelist   Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Adam Poulin-Kerstein, JD, PhD


Technology Transfer: Engine of Innovation

Patent Attorney II at Novartis InstituteS for Biomedical Research

Adam Poulin-Kerstien is currently a patent attorney at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research.  Adam obtained his B.A. in chemistry from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, working in the lab of Dr. Peter Dervan on DNA-binding pyrrole/imidazole polyamides.  After completing his graduate work, Adam obtained a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Prior to joining Novartis, Adam worked as a patent attorney in private practice.

Erik Rocheford, MS  Panelist   Lessons from a Life Science Recruiter

Erik Rocheford, MS


Lessons from a Life Science Recruiter

Associate director and recruiter at stratacuity

Erik Rocheford is a member of Stratacuity's contract placement team driving Discovery & Preclinical searches. Having worked several years as an in-vivo pharmacologist as well as in a sales/science hybrid role, Erik has a true appreciation for science. Seeking an opportunity to have a broader impact on Biopharmaceutical companies, he joined Stratacuity. Erik leverages his knowledge to identify talent, recruit, and lead candidates through the search process. Erik is a leader and teacher with a knack for identifying talent. He is passionate about new trends in the drug discovery community and enjoys contributing to team growth and overall workplace efficiency.


Industry-Academia Liaison at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research

Ann Schlesinger works in the Academic Relations team at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Her role is to build connections with academia through collaborative research and education, and develop mechanisms to bring scientists together in order to innovate and improve health. Ann received a BA from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute and the Harvard Immune Disease Institute. Prior to joining Novartis, Ann was at Harvard’s Clinical and Translational Science Center, supporting translational research.

Crystal Shih, PhD  Workshop presenter   Honing Your Message: How to Communicate Your Research

Investigator III in Therapeutic Proteins at Novartis InstituteS for Biomedical ResearcH


Crystal Shih obtained her BS in chemistry from MIT in 2003.  She then studied multistep electron transfer in proteins in the labs of Harry Gray at Caltech, for which she received her PhD in chemistry in 2008.  As an NIH postdoctoral fellow working with JoAnne Stubbe at MIT, Crystal studied metallocofactor biosynthesis and regulation.  She concluded her postdoctoral work in 2012 and has worked at Novartis ever since. Crystal works in the Biotherapeutic and Analytical Technologies department at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.  She leads scientific and project teams in developing therapeutic proteins for the treatment of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Beyond chemistry and biology, Crystal enjoys reading, hiking, and watching baseball games.

Avi Spier, PhD  Panelist   Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

Avi Spier, PhD


Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship

Director of Strategic Alliances at Novartis InstituteS for Biomedical Research

In 2001, Avi co-founded the biotech company Allon Therapeutics in Canada to develop neuropeptides with therapeutic potential. In 2002, Avi left his postdoc to lead his entrepreneurial venture full-time. In 2004, when Allon Therapeutics went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange, he joined the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, becoming its business development director in charge of forging commercial opportunities and scientific partnerships for the institute.


Research Fellow in Toxicology/Translational Sciences at Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research

Sanjeev Thohan is a highly motivated research scientist who with every move has sought new challenges to overcome with each career-based move. He holds MS and PhD degrees in Pharmacology and Toxicology with concentrations in drug metabolism mechanisms, bioactivation pathways, and systems toxicology. He has actively contributed to: preparation of Pre-IND/IND and proof of concept documentation to support regulatory filings as preclinical development continues; inter-species scaling and projection of FIM dosage algorithm development; metabolic pathway elucidation and structural (SAR) feedback to medicinal chemistry for additional iterations based on biological data streams; high throughput bioanalytical method development/transfer, as well as troubleshooting for rapid method development/implementation. He has also led teams for evaluation of strategic critical pathway development, implementation and execution to provide data frontloading and reduction in time to IND. He is a highly motivated research scientist who has worked at Walter Reed Army Institute for Research, Covance Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Viropharma, Exelixis and as the founder of SARx Consulting and it currently at Novartis in Cambridge, MA. Sanjeev’s track record includes advancement of 27 small molecule compounds through discovery to IND and various stages of active clinical development since 1997. Therapeutic areas in which he has been actively involved are oncology, cardiovascular, metabolic diseases and antimicrobial, as well as antiviral therapeutic areas.

Damien Wilpitz, MS  Panelist   Setting Up Your Lab

Damien Wilpitz, MS


Setting Up Your Lab

Laboratory Research Manager and lead Consultant at Experimental Designs Consulting

Damien Wilpitz received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego where he did undergraduate and post-graduate research in metabolic gene regulation. He continued his professional education in computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles and continued his training studying genomic targeting approaches to diseases. Here Damien discovered much inefficiency within academia. From this, he helped improved some of these hindrances by implementing systems that enabled the flow of research. This helped to seed his interest in research management, and in turn encouraged him to expand his knowledge by relocating to Boston. He has served as a scientific research manager for over 15 years and has supported some of the most prestigious institutions; Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Salk Biological Institute, Scripps Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, Broad Institute and many more. He is now the founder and lead consultant for Experimental Designs Consulting, Inc. The firm consults research investigators on the procedures and the organization of academic research management.

Ania Wronski, PhD  Speaker   Meet the Scientist : Evolving iPSCs for the next challenge: gene editing & automation

Ania Wronski, PhD


Meet the Scientist: Evolving iPSCs for the next challenge: gene editing & automation


Ania Wronski, PhD, is the CellModels Field Application Scientist for the Cell Biology group within Thermo Fisher Scientific. She is passionate about providing solutions for researchers applying Cell Models such as iPSCs to the world of drug discovery and protein expression systems. As a FAS, Ania travels the country helping life science researchers do amazing work. Ania received her PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Queensland in Australia and completed a four year postdoctoral study in the lab of Charlotte Kuperwasser at Tufts University where she created a mammary progenitor model that provided insights into how breast cancers begin.

Qiaobing Xu, PhD  Panelist   Grant Writing Panel

Qiaobing Xu, PhD


Grant Writing Panel

Associate professor in Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University

Dr. Qiaobing Xu is currently an associate professor in Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University. He also holds adjunction position in Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and School of Medicine at Tufts University. He obtained his PhD from Harvard University and did a postdoc training at MIT.  His current research interests lie at the intersection of material science engineering, specifically micro/nanoscience, and biomedical application. His work involves using combinatorial method to develop novel materials for the delivery of therapeutic biomacromolecules and using nanotechnology to develop novel biomaterials for tissue engineering. He received Charlton Award from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2012 and named the Pew Scholar for Biomedical Sciences from Pew Charitable Trusts in 2013. He received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015, and the Rising Star Award from BMES/Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Program in 2017.

Ranjith Anand, PhD  Judge   Oral & Poster Presentation

Ranjith Anand, PhD


Oral & Poster Presentation

Organism Engineer, Ginkgo Bioworks 

Ranjith Anand received his Master’s in Biotechnology from Pondicherry University, India and Ph.D in Biology from Tufts University. He was a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellow in the laboratory of James Haber at Brandeis University before moving to Ginkgo Bioworks, Boston, as an Organism Engineer. He is a part-time microbiology-consultant for Aeronaut Brewing Company, Somerville, and a Science Instructor for the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program at Brandeis University.

Maxine Jonas, PhD  Judge   Oral & Poster Presentations

Maxine Jonas, PhD


Oral & Poster Presentations

Instructor in Biological Engineering at MIT 

Dr. Maxine Jonas is an instructor in the Department of Biological Engineering (BE) at MIT, and one of its alumnae. After undergraduate studies in France, Maxine completed her Ph.D. mentored by Prof. Peter So, designing and optimizing a fluorescence-based microrheometer to quantitatively assess cellular mechanics with nanometer and microsecond resolutions.  She then worked for seven years in the biotech industry in the Boston area, both in start-up (BioTrove) and in large company (Agilent Technologies) environments, conceiving, maturing and manufacturing automated robotics platforms interfaced with mass spectrometers, for applications in the fields of biopharmaceutical drug discovery, clinical research, metabolomics and quantitative proteomics.  Dr. Jonas returned to MIT in 2013, and currently teaches lab-focused instrumentation courses.  She is also a Communication Lab fellow and is on the team spearheading the creation of a bio-maker space at MIT.

Harsh Vaidya, PhD  Judge   Oral & Poster Presentations

Harsh Vaidya, PhD


Oral & Poster Presentations

Scientist at VL37

Harsh is a scientist with VL37 Inc., an early-stage biotech startup founded by Flagship Pioneering, where he is responsible for development of platform and data analysis capabilities. Harsh holds a Ph.D. in Stem Cell Biology and a M.Sc. in Bioinformatics from the University of Edinburgh, UK. He is interested in the application of big data techniques to advancing the current understanding of biology beyond what has traditionally been possible and the application of this knowledge towards new products and drugs. Harsh is also interested in entrepreneurship and business and is involved with Innovation Forum, a non-profit with an aim to streamline the process of scientific entrepreneurship.