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September 2019 Connect

Tuesday, September 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Needa Virani
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September 2019
GWIS Connect is a periodical for GWIS national and chapter news.  Subscribe
In This Issue
  • Monthly Coffee and Conversations returns in September
  • Getting to know the National Fellowship 2019 Recipients and announcements regarding 2020 Fellowship applications
  • Científico Latino guided mentorship program
  • Chapter News
September Coffee and Conversations

Our monthly series of mentoring conversations is starting in a few weeks! Join us online on Thursday, Sept. 19 to chat with Dr. Helen Miranda, Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She will share some advice on presenting your research as a job talk, as a chalk talk, and in an interview . These are critical skills during the job search process, so don't miss this chance to enhance your knowledge! Learn more about her and her research here:

Date: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019
Time: 4pm EST/3pm CST/1pm PST/10am HST

Questions? Email
National Fellowship Program 

Every year, GWIS awards fellowships to women pursuing careers in science.
Applications for the 2020-2021 Fellowships will be available as of November 4, 2019. The deadline for all applications will be January 10, 2020.

Last month we announced the winners of our 2019 fellowship. This month we share more about each of these scientists.

Aliza De Nobrega
Aliza is a PhD student in the Program of Neuroscience at Florida State University. Her research addresses the reciprocal interactions between aging and circadian biology and their effect on drug neurobiology. She will use her GWIS fellowship to investigate how environmental and genetic reinforcement of the circadian clock in middle and old age can ameliorate the toxic effects of alcohol using the well-conserved and genetically tractable model – Drosophila(fruit fly). 
Ashwini Ramesh
Ashwini is a PhD Student in the Department of Biology at Indiana University, Bloomington. She investigates mechanisms of parasite coexistence that maintain parasite biodiversity and its implications for disease spread. Based on classic and more recent ecological theory, she examines the role of environmental variation in maintaining parasite diversity using entomopathogenic nematodes. These nematodes with a mobile, free-living transmission stage are subjected to an array of environmental conditions prior to infecting the host. She tests the role of spatio-temporal environmental variation using storage effect theory and classic host niche partitioning in maintaining parasite diversity using a combination of mathematical modelling, mesocosm experiments, and field surveys. This work will help inform conservation efforts seeking to restore healthy ecosystems. Ashwini will use the GWIS fellowship to advance her project and collect data on distributions of nematodes in temperate forests of Indiana.
Christina Saak
Christina is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. She is using the cheese rind microbiome as a model system to test how selective access to nutrients, such as iron, affects growth of individual community members as well as the microbial community as a whole. Siderophores, high-affinity metal chelators, require specialized uptake machinery and her current studies focus on a cheese microbiome-associated mobile genetic element encoding a novel, predicted siderophore uptake complex. She will use the GWIS fellowship funds to investigate whether this mobile element is transferred between members of the community and if so, which factors affect its spatial and temporal transfer dynamics. This research may provide valuable insights into how siderophore-based approaches can be used to manage microbial communities and combat pathogens. 

Jessica Haugen

Jessica is a PhD student in the department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University. Her work investigates how immune cell metabolism can be targeted as a host-directed therapy to enhance the immune response against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection. With the GWIS fellowship, Jessica will be evaluating whether the anti-diabetic drug metformin can be used to potentiate the efficacy of the current Mtb vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). With this work, Jessica hopes to not only determine whether metabolism can be targeted as a potential therapeutic against Mtb, but also gain insights into what constitutes immune protection against tuberculosis disease, a current barrier hindering the progress of vaccine development.

Kaitlin Read
Kaitlin is a Ph.D. student in the Ohio State University Microbial Infection and Immunity Department. Her work focuses on elucidating mechanisms underlying the formation and function of T helper cell populations, which are critical mediators of adaptive immunity. Specifically, Kaitlin’s project focuses on defining the role of a novel regulatory protein in the differentiation and function of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, which interact with B cells to promote both natural and vaccine-induced antibody-mediated immune responses. Kaitlin will be using the GWIS fellowship to provide insight into the mechanics of Tfh cell differentiation, which may be leveraged to both improve vaccine efficacy and potentially inform novel therapies to treat human disease.

Marianne Kramer

Marianne is a PhD student in the Cell and Molecular Biology graduate group at University of Pennsylvania. She is studying a relatively new class of molecules called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) which are RNAs that are not translated to make a protein. In particular, she is studying one lncRNA in the plant species Arabidopsis that functions during plant development, as plants lacking this lncRNA are smaller and develop later than those expressing this lncRNA. She will be using the funds provided by the GWIS national fellowship to further explore the exact function of this lncRNA and how it contributes to plant development, ultimately providing a target for engineering larger crops leading to increased yields.

Marisa McDonald

Marisa is a PhD candidate in the Marine Biology Graduate Program at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her dissertation work focuses on the physiology and anatomy of larval mantis shrimp vision. Mantis shrimp have some of the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, but larvae have completely different eyes, which are replaced upon metamorphosis and are still poorly understood. She will be using the GWIS fellowship to set up electrophysiology equipment at her home university in order to complete her dissertation research. The aims of this project are to determine the physiological capabilities of the visual system, with a focus on the potential for ultraviolet vision.

Aid for Underrepresented Students in STEM

Científico Latino, an online STEM platform for all underrepresented students, is currently looking to help underrepresented undergraduate and post-bac students with graduate school applications. They are running a guided mentorship program, and have a team of STEM professionals who have volunteered across several STEM disciplines who will review graduate school applications and do mock interviews for STEM undergraduate and post-bac students who are applying to graduate school this upcoming fall.
Visit if you are interested in participating in this program as an applicant or a volunteer mentor. Científico Latino welcomes students at all stages of the application process. Feel free to reach out to if you have any questions.
Chapter News
The first quarter of 2019 was a very busy season for the Eastern South Dakota Chapter of GWIS!  In March, they hosted a 7th annual Trivia Night Fundraiser to increase support for their chapter. This event has served as their primary fundraiser for many years.
Earlier in February, they completed the fifth and final Business Social of the 2018-2019 term with a tour of the Avera Research Institute for Pediatric and Community Research.  Other Business Socials included the South Dakota State University Creamery and the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resource Observation and Science (EROS) Center.  

Eastern South Dakota Chapter also organized an inaugural keynote mixer event entitled "Science Across the Plains", which featured Emmy-award winner and popular podcast host Allie Ward.  Held at the Sanford Imagenetics Builiding, the Keynote honored four local scientists: Lori Sohl, Dr. Mary Berry, Dr. Jane Christopher-Hennings, and Dr. Amy Elliott, (pictured).  Each was nominated for their contributions to science across South Dakota, and represented the fields of geospatial technology, chemistry, biological and veterinary sciences, and clinical psychology. 
Pictured here: Eastern South Dakota Chapter's Special Events Planning Chair Dr. Terran Bergdale, Secretary Megan Quast, Vice President of Membership Amber Lively, Keynote Speaker Allie Ward, Treasurer Hannah Louagie, President Rachael Rahn, Special Events Planning Chair Dr. Michelle Booze, and Vice President of Programming Lindsey Price.

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International Chapter

If interested in participating in the International Chapter's WhatApp group, please send an email to International Chapter with the subject “Whatsapp for International”. 

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About GWIS

Founded in 1921, Graduate Women in Science is an inter-disciplinary society of scientists who collectively seek to advance the participation and recognition of women in science and to foster research through grants, awards and fellowships. We comprise over 30 active chapters of more than 900 women who are "United in Friendship through Science" to support and inspire member professional goals and mutual appreciation of science. Learn more at

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