Dr. Harita Menon received her PhD in Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. She is currently getting her postdoctoral training in Dr. Bonnie Firestein’s lab at Rutgers where she is exploring the molecular mechanisms that control dendrite growth. For her postdoctoral training Dr. Menon received NIH’s Institutional Research and Career Development Award at Rutgers which, introduced her to the world of active learning.  In addition to doing research and teaching, she has been involved in mentoring and community outreach, as she believes that they are vital contributors to her evolution as a science scholar.

Kristina Howansky has an M.S. in Psychology from Rutgers University and she is currently completing her Ph.D. at Rutgers in Social Psychology. Kristina’s research focuses on understanding how biased visual perceptions influence the way we interact with the world around us. Specifically, she explores visual perception and attention as routes to prejudice. She has received the Social Area award for Exceptional Teaching and is a fellow in the Rutgers Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  She currently teaches courses in the Psychology department including Social Psychology and Quantitative Methods. Before coming to Rutgers, Kristina completed her undergraduate degree at Rollins College as a double major in Psychology and Marine Biology.

Robyn Miranda has a B.S. and M.S. from Rutgers University in Food Science and she is currently a PhD student in the Food Science Graduate Program. Her research interests include food virology and exploring bacterial cross-contamination routes. She is working specifically on developing mathematical models to predict norovirus spread from farm to fork on fruit. While at Rutgers, has had several internships, including the NJ Department of Health, as well as for Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization. She is also on the executive board of Project Sunshine, a global nonprofit organization providing activities for children and families living with medical challenges, and has also had the opportunity to reactivate Phi Tau Sigma, the Honor Society of Food Science and Technology at Rutgers.

Gabe Villegas received his Bachelor of Arts form Rutgers University in 2011 and is currently completing his PhD in Biochemistry at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine examining the molecular underpinnings governing the regulation of sleep and metabolism. He is a recipient of the society of Research Scholars fellowship and has spent the previous two years as a teaching assistant in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department. Before attending graduate school, he was a research assistant in the Lewis Sigler Institute at Princeton University studying the molecular basis of drug-induced behavioral changes in the flatworm S. mediterranea.

Tina Drew is a doctoral student in Electrical Engineering at Rutgers University. Her current research area is computer engineering. In 2005, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology. Thereafter, she earned her Master’s Degree in electrical engineering from the New Institute of Technology. Tina has over 10 years of experience working in engineering, specializing in the communication industry. She has been the recipient of several awards and certifications including: NJ Senate and General Assembly Citation, A National Undergraduate Science Foundation Fellowship, LabVIEW CLAD Certification, and The Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar Award. Tina has served as a mentor for ScienceMentors and a liaison for the Upward Bound program at Mercer County Community College. She has been a member of IEEE and the Inner Circle Network. Tina is also the CEO and COO of Stay Connected Technology Solutions and the author of “Live, Love, and Understanding”.

Jazmin Puicon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Rutgers, specializing in modern Latin American history and Women’s and Gender History. Her research, funded by Mellon grants, examines how the working class in Cali, Colombia sustained families and communities by embracing popular democracy despite increased local and national political violence. Her dissertation, “Creating Cali: Gender, Race, Violence, and the Rise of Popular Democracy in the Barrios of Cali, Colombia, 1958-1984,” showcases the role Afro-Colombian women played in creating and sustaining families, communities, and democracy during this period. She has presented her work at conferences in the United States and abroad, including the International Conference on Women’s History in Bogotá, Colombia (2017). She received her B.A. with honors in both Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Spanish Language and Culture from Union College (NY). She earned her M.A. from NYU in Latin American and Caribbean Studies in 2009. She is a past recipient of the Warren and Beatrice Susman Dissertation Completion Fellowship at Rutgers. She can be reached at: jpuicon@history.rutgers.edu.

Pedro Cesar Lopes Gerum is a Ph.D. student at the Industrial and Systems Engineering department at Rutgers, as well as a part-time lecturer teaching Forum at the Honors College. He has experience working in the oil and gas industry where he led innovative projects in logistics. His current research is partially funded by The Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Rutgers School of Engineering, and Rutgers School of Graduate Studies. Pedro studies ways to improve transportation processes and safety through stochastic models and optimization, as well as machine learning and game theory. In 2018, he was one of the finalists in the 3 Minute Thesis competition at Rutgers University. He earned his Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Rutgers University in 2017.

Martin Zorde received his Bachelor’s degree in Biological science with a minor in plant biology at the University of Vermont. Following his time at UVM he traveled around New Zealand for a year where he gained an even stronger drive to learn and discover plants and their uses. Eventually, he returned to New Jersey where he joined the natural products program at Rutgers to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology. At Rutgers, he has striven to answer the question of, “How can we improve the lives of the most people possible using plants?” This is what drives him conducts research on breeding Exotic peppers for increased nutrition and works on discovering new uses for the compounds in peppers. In addition, he also evaluates hops and leafy greens for their bioactive compounds in relation to growing condition for their improvement in the consumer market.

Meng Zhang has a M.S. in psychology and program certificate in cognitive science. She is working toward a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Rutgers University, with a focus on cognitive and language development. Her research interests includes the roles of cognition and language in conceptual development and social-cognitive development in children. Meng taught courses in Psychology Department and the Center for Cognitive Science including Cognition, Infant and Child Development, Advanced Topics in CogSci and so on. Before coming to Rutgers, she obtained her B.S. at Nanjing University and her M.Ed. at Beijing Normal University in Psychology.

Benjamin Billingsley is a third year graduate student in the Rutgers Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. His research interests include developing/improving treatments for smoking cessation, as well as studying the mechanisms of action and efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Before attending graduate school, he worked as a research assistant in the Substance Use Research Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia Medical Center for two years.

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