We are thrilled to welcome a diverse group of speakers representing many roles post-PhD.
Dr. Mohammed Aiyegbo, PhD, is a Health Science Administrator (Scientific Review Officer) with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, MD. He has been in this role since 2019 and recently served as the Acting Deputy Branch Chief for Microbiology Review Branch B. Previously Dr. Aiyegbo was a research scientist with NYU Langone Health in greater New York City, managing projects for the production of HIV Vaccine Immunogens. Dr. Aiyegbo received his PhD from Vanderbilt in Microbiology and Immunology in 2013. His research focused on the efforts to elucidate the mechanism of viral inhibition by anti-rotavirus antibodies. This research resulted in two first-author publications. His postdoctoral fellowship with NYU School of Medicine utilized structure-based computational and molecular analysis to design vaccine immunogens for HIV and Zika. He also designed and performed experiments aimed at repurposing FDA-approved drugs for Ebola during the epidemic in West Africa. His interest in research was first piqued while working as a Clinical Laboratory Research Assistant in the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia, prior to attending Berea College in Berea, KY, where he majored in Biology, Cell, Molecular, and Systems. While enrolled at Berea College, Dr. Aiyegbo spent two summers performing undergraduate summer research at Vanderbilt, as part of the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy.
Dr. Pedro Garcia Barrantes is Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In his role, Pedro has contributed to the advancement of small molecules drug discovery projects from hit to lead optimization, and candidate nomination. His current responsibilities revolved around early research projects, closely collaborating in close cross-functional teams to identify therapeutic strategies for reare diseases that could have an impact in the quality of life of patients. Pedro received a PharmD and a master in Organic chemistry from the University of Costa Rica, and stayed as research professor in the Pharmacy School after graduation. There, he coordinated the Medicinal Chemistry courses while carrying independent research on bioactive natural products. He later pursued his PhD studies in Chemical Biology at Vanderbilt University as an International Scholar (VISP) under the guidance of professor Craig Lindsley and being part of the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Pedro conducted postdoctoral research within Tim Jamison’s group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pedro has been recognized by American Chemical Society C&EN as part of the “Talented 12” class of 2018 and he is currently a member of the Early Career Board of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
Dr. Siwei He, MD, PhD, is a BCG project leader with experience across health care, retail, and technology industries. Dr. He has been with BCG since 2019. Prior to his time at BCG, Dr. He received his PhD in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University as well as trainings in clinical medicine. His expertise is in digital transformation, digital marketing, go-to-market strategy, and operations.
Dr. Celestial Jones-Paris, PhD, is a Senior Project Manager for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR). She works with her team to manage operational and infrastructure components of translational shared resources, including VUMC’s de-identified biobanking program BioVU. She facilitates resource access and development for investigators that come from basic science, clinical, and industry backgrounds. Often Dr. Jones-Paris has to break down complex activities that involve cross-departmental and cross-team support and forecast them into discrete and prioritized tasks while maintaining perspective of overall goals and objectives. She finds satisfaction in streamlining and optimizing interdependent business processes that help advance biomedical research. Moreover, she is passionate about the trust and integrity that patients have when deciding to participate in research and is equally considerate of community and regulatory matters while addressing research matters. Beyond specific management duties, Dr. Jones-Paris also participates in several committees that assemble experienced professionals for strategic planning and action, such as the Vanderbilt Rigor, Reproducibility and Transparency Working Group, the Automated Biospecimen Storage Facility Operations Advisory Committee, and the VUMC Racial Equity Task Force- Racial Bias and Racism in Research Workgroup. Dr. Jones-Paris received her PhD in Pathology at Vanderbilt University with additional training in translational research from the HHMI VUMC Certificate Program in Molecular Medicine. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry with a Minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management from Indiana University. Her extramural training also included undergraduate research lab projects, a pharma internship, graduate leadership positions, co-chairing an international conference, and a science policy internship.
Dr. Laurie Lemons, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, NJ. Dr. Lemons received her BS in Chemical Biology from St. Joseph’s University and her PhD in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University.
Lauren (Matise) Bulsak, PhD/MBA, is currently a Director of BD, Strategic Planning & Commercial Operations for U.S. Oncology at GSK. She currently works with senior leadership on evaluation and recommendation of business development opportunities, strategic initiatives, performance reporting, and operational planning across the oncology portfolio. Prior to her role, Lauren has held increasing roles of responsibility across the oncology R&D-commercial continuum spanning business development, payer, early commercial and brand marketing. She also was the commercial launch lead for a global health neonatal medicine for 48 developing countries at GSK headquarters in London. During Lauren’s time as a scientist at Vanderbilt in the lab of Hal Moses, MD, her dissertation research focused on mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis, particularly to the lung. Lauren also worked in product development at NextGxDx (now Concert Genetics), a startup focused on simplifying genetic testing ordering for hospitals.
Lauren holds a B.S. in biology from Wake Forest University, a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Karen Meisch, PhD, is the Dean of the Austin Peay State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Meisch arrived at Austin Peay in 2007 as assistant professor of biology. She went on to serve as assistant chair of the Department of Biology, as the associate dean of the College of STEM for four years and as the interim dean for the last three years. Meisch earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Ashland University in Ohio and her Ph.D. in biological sciences from Vanderbilt University.
Join us at the ORISE Roadshow to learn more about internships and fellowships at ORISE! The presentation will spotlight biomedical science opportunities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and will also include general information about searching and applying for opportunities. ORISE program managers will be available for questions and discussion.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) connects talented and diverse college students, recent graduates, postdocs, and faculty to programs closely aligned with the interests of a variety of research facilities, including those managed for the U.S. Department of Energy and 20+ other federal agencies. These best-in-class research and technology programs are key to the preparation of the next generation of our nation’s STEM workforce.
Last year, ORISE administered appointments for ~10,000 participants and currently offer 700+ open opportunities. You can apply year round at Zintellect, a searchable database of research and technology internships and fellowships, or by downloading the free ORISE GO mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. And don’t forget to follow us at #ExperienceORISE to learn more.
- Leslie Fox, ORISE STEM Workforce Development, Section Manager – Outreach and Engagement
- Will White, ORISE STEM Workforce Development, Section Manager – ORISE Programs at CDC
- Bill Scheib, ORISE STEM Workforce Development, Project Manager – ORISE Programs at FDA
Amanda Schnepp, Ph.D., J.D. joined Parker Highlander after completing a Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology at Vanderbilt University, a post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Virology at Vanderbilt University, and a post-doctoral fellowship in drug development at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Prior to her graduate studies, Amanda earned a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a degree from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science based at the University of North Texas. Her research experience at St. Jude focused on high-throughput screening of spliceosome inhibitors for cancer therapy and anti-influenza drugs, both in close collaboration with medicinal organic chemists. During her post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt, Amanda developed an innovative confocal microscopy-based assay to quantitatively analyze the binding of broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 virions. This research had profound implications for the relationship between maturation of the viral core and the exposure of broadly neutralizing regions of the HIV-1 surface glycoprotein during the HIV-1 life cycle. During her dissertation research at Vanderbilt, where she was awarded the prestigious University Graduate Fellowship, Amanda quantitatively analyzed mRNA splice variant production and identified the biochemical mechanism of an Isolated Growth Hormone Deficiency Type-2 causing mutation.
Upon joining Parker Highlander, Amanda has focused on end-to-end biotechnology patent prosecution both nationally and internationally, freedom-to-operate analyses, and patentability analyses, focusing primarily in the areas of molecular biology, next generation sequencing, cancer therapeutics, biologics, stem cell biology, diagnostic analysis, and second medical use pharmaceuticals. Amanda also has experience managing national and international IP portfolios and works with pharmaceutical companies, start-up companies, and universities.
I'm a Research Specialist/Facility Manager in electron microscopy at Cornell University's Center for Materials Research (CCMR). I train, assist, and consult with users on a variety of projects. Prior to joining Cornell, I worked as a manager at Vanderbilt University's Center for Structural Biology (2013-2015), a staff scientist at the New York Structural Biology Center (2011-2013), and dabbled briefly into the world of protein NMR as a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario in London, ON (2009-2011). My background is in single particle analysis of human adenovirus by cryoEM.
Besides science, I'm interested in education, computer and media literacy, consulting and music. I'm active on Twitter and enjoy posting pictures of gnarly things I see on the microscopes. I also enjoy photography. I am fluent in Spanish (my mother tongue) and know a thing or two about surviving a plane crash.
Dr. Sydney Stoops, PhD, is an Associate Director, Senior Medical Science Liaison at Incyte supporting the Company’s Oncology Portfolio. She currently covers the Upper South region of Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia but has previously covered the Gulf Coast and Midwest territories since she joined Incyte in 2017. Beyond the traditional MSL role, she is a Field Strategy Lead, GVHD Program, and Clinical Trial Field Lead for the GRAVITAS Development Program, Mentor, and recently completed a 1-year commercial rotation with the Company’s Market Access group.
Prior to her time at Incyte, Dr. Stoops served as a Staff Scientist with MRIGlobal, developing a new business stream – biopharmaceutical analysis – for the Pharmaceutical Sciences Group. Dr. Stoops received her PhD in Pharmacology in 2012 from Vanderbilt University under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Lindsley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute. During her PhD at Vanderbilt, she spent a year interning with a local venture capital firm, TriStar, and completed a 5 week course at The Graduate School of Business at Stanford: Stanford Ignite – Powering Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Sophie Thiolloy is an Associate Director in Translational Medicine Neurosciences at UCB Biopharma SRL, a global biopharmaceutical company with the purpose to create values for patients now and into the future. She is responsible for the translational medicine and biomarker plan to support the seamless transition of therapeutic programs from a pre-clinical stage to the clinic. An integral part of her role is to work transversally with internal and external experts to build an integrative strategy, to ensure its endorsement and its execution to support the clinical development of therapeutic programs. Prior to her time at UCB, she worked for multiple small start-ups to mid-size biotechnology companies where she led various roles spanning across the different phases of drug development.
Dr. Thiolloy received her PhD in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt University, and she trained as postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago before moving to Belgium to join the Pharmaceutical Industry.