Sarah Simmons, Assistant Director Andrew Quon, Senior Program Officer Sonia Zárate, Program Officer Danielle Heller, Science Education Fellow Makeda Perry-Richardson, Program Officer Anh-Chi Le, Science Education Special Projects Manager Susan Musante, Program Officer Adrielle Darby, Senior Program Assistant Viknesh Sivanathan, Program Officer Josephine Bynum, Program Assistant Nadia Rueda, Operations Coordinator Melanie Daub, Program Officer Melvina Lewis, Program Coordinator Patricia Soochan, Program Officer Angela Peña, Program Assistant David Asai, Senior Director for Science Education William Biederman, Senior Program Assistant Robin S. Broughton, Senior Science Education Fellow Michelle Juarez, Science Education Fellow

HHMI’s Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, a division of the Science Education Department, thoughtfully invests in individuals, communities, programs, and initiatives, in ways that:

  1. reflect our core values,
  2. capitalize on our unique role within the scientific community,
  3. set a high standard for excellence and scholarship, and
  4. maximize our impact on science and science education.

Read Our Statement on Diversity and Inclusion »


Our team members

 

Isabel Amaya, Research Assistant

Isabel earned her Bachelor's in Biology from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 2020. She was a member of Lehigh University's Science Education Alliance project, where she conducted research to better understand the lysogenic life cycle of mycobacteriophage. While at Lehigh, Isabel was a part of the first cohort of the Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience (RARE) program, which focused on providing research and mentorship opportunities for students that are underrepresented in STEM by forming a collaborative community of scholars. At HHMI, Isabel works with the Science Education Alliance program to support their PHAGES and GENES research projects.

 

David Asai, Senior Director for Science Education

As a rising high school senior, David Asai participated in an NSF-sponsored research experience at the University of Hawai’i, and he liked it.  As an undergraduate, David engaged in independent research all twelve quarters and three summers, and he liked it. These opportunities were transformative because of the graduate students who mentored David. David’s current work as Senior Director for Science Education is guided by three beliefs: 1) the dynamic demographics of the U.S. population presents the greatest opportunity and the most compelling challenge for U.S. science, 2) all students—regardless of where they come from and where they’re going—deserve a meaningful, effective, and positive experience in science through which they will better understand the process of science, 3) making that experience meaningful, effective, and positive is the responsibility of the faculty and administrators who define the institution’s culture. David received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Stanford University; a PhD in biology from Caltech; completed postdocs at Caltech and University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a faculty member at Purdue University for 19 years, and spent several years as Head of Biological Sciences. He then spent 5 years at Harvey Mudd College as the Stuart Mudd Professor and Chair of Biology. Research in the "Asailum" focused on the structural and functional diversity of dyneins, and David has mentored 11 PhD and 77 undergraduate students. David came to HHMI in 2008.

 

William Biederman, Senior Program Assistant

Billy Biederman has more than 15 years of experience working with scientists who express an interest in science education. He supports the Science Education Alliance's professional development efforts, endeavoring to broaden, facilitate, and support the implementation of innovative college-level biology laboratory courses across the country. He also supports the planning and conduct of numerous workshops, field tests, and evaluation projects that inform the ongoing program development. Before joining HHMI, Biederman studied computer science and engineering at the University of Maryland. Biederman keeps an eye on the landscape of the life science education community to find additional opportunities to develop new research-based courses.

 

Robin S. Broughton, Senior Science Education Fellow

Prior to joining HHMI, Robin was a Program Officer in the Drug Development Section in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH. She was responsible for managing a portfolio of product development and preclinical service contracts aimed at supporting development of anti-infective agents targeting biodefense threats and emerging infectious diseases. During her tenure at NIH, Robin also served as a Program Officer in the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Cancer Genomics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). While at NIGMS, she managed the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program and worked on a number of initiatives focused on diversifying the biomedical workforce. Before her transition to NIH, Robin was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. While there, she also served as Science Deputy for the then newly established Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research. Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from North Carolina State University and earned a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

 

Josephine Bynum, Program Assistant

Josephine Bynum's background involves twelve years of experience as the liaison of administrative services and human resources systems processing for a diverse group of editorial professionals in the media industry.  Serving in this role has helped her develop a comprehensive approach to working effectively with all levels of staff and leaders. She joined HHMI as Program Assistant in December 2015, working in the Science Education- Undergraduate and Graduate Programs (UGP) group. She provides support to the UGP group by assisting in various aspects of grants initiatives and the HHMI Professors Program meetings and activities.  Josephine cares about issues of health and wellness, and is excited about being a part of an organization such as HHMI whose mission involves making a difference in the betterment of public health and society through its support of science education and innovation.

 

Adrielle Darby, Senior Program Assistant

Adrielle assists with the Fellowship Programs, including Gilliam and EXROP. She earned a BS in Communications from Bowie State University and a Master’s in Business Administration at the Jack Welch Institute of Management with Strayer University. Although her career path began in the field of Finance, she has found much satisfaction in supporting efforts to make science more inclusive and diverse.

 

Melanie Daub, Program Officer

Melanie Daub has more than 30 years of experience in the administration of HHMI’s research training programs for medical, dental, and veterinary students. Since 2007 she has managed the HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program, which aims to encourage the development of future physician-, dentist-, and veterinarian-scientists. She has a strong interest in diversifying the biomedical research workforce and in creating mentoring and professional development opportunities for trainees. Daub earned an MBA from American University with a concentration in marketing. Prior to joining HHMI, she was an account specialist with a local advertising agency where she developed marketing and public relations campaigns and product development programs. She also served as a sales representative for Bristol Myers Products.

 

Danielle Heller, Program Officer

Danielle earned her BS in Microbiology from the University of Arizona and her PhD in Genetics and Genomics from Harvard University. Her dissertation research focused on characterizing a dual inhibitor of bacterial cell division and cell elongation. She did her postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School studying prion biology.  During her time at Harvard, Danielle gained extensive experience in science education, working as a teaching assistant for several graduate-level courses and as an adjunct faculty member for several years at neighboring Emmanuel College.  She was also co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Emerging Investigators, a graduate student-run organization that strives to teach middle and high school students from across the globe about science writing and the peer review process. At HHMI, Danielle works with the Science Education Alliance to develop new research-based curricula that will enable students from diverse backgrounds to engage in authentic scientific discovery.

 

Michelle Juarez, Science Education Fellow

Michelle Juarez, received her BS in Plant Biology from University of California, Berkeley and her PhD in Genetics from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. She completed a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego participating in a research and career development program sponsored by NIH-NIGMS (IRACDA – Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award). In 2013, Michelle joined the faculty at City College New York where she taught Microbiology, Genetics, and Introductory Biology. Her research interests include Drosophila developmental genetics, as it relates to regulation of tissue repair and science communication that broadens the impact of research in the community. Throughout her scientific journey, support from several professional societies were instrumental in cultivating her scientific identity. Michelle is a member of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB), the Genetics Society of America (GSA), Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN). Michelle joined the HHMI Inclusive Excellence initiative in 2019, bringing her perspective as a faculty member to a dynamic team that supports colleges and universities to build their capacity to effectively engage students from all backgrounds in science.

 

Megan Katz, Program Officer

Megan Katz began working for the Institute in 2010. Prior to HHMI, she was a press assistant for three years in the communications office of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-12). At HHMI, she manages the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study and the International Student Research Fellowships, and oversees the graduate alumni network. Megan earned her BA in political science from the University of California, Davis, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She has an MPA from American University in Washington, DC, with an emphasis in non-profit management.

 

Anh-Chi Le, Special Projects (Grants Systems)

Anh-Chi received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Oregon in 1993 and her Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from the Oregon Health and Science University in 2000. After completing her doctoral studies in gap junctional regulation in the developing vertebrate lens, she moved to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in 2001 to undertake an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation (NSF).  During her year at the NSF, she worked on a program that supports research, student and educator programs, and information dissemination projects to broaden the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She also actively participated as a member of the NSF’s committee for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She joined HHMI in October 2002 as a program officer in the Graduate Science Education Division. At HHMI, she has managed individual fellowship programs for medical students and early career physician-scientists and institutional grants to enhance or initiate Ph.D. programs that would provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work at the interface between basic biology and medicine.

 

Melvina Lewis, Program Coordinator

Melvina joined HHMI in 2008 as the Program Assistant working primarily with the Science Education Alliance (SEA), an HHMI undergraduate research-based course developed for students to engage in authentic research.  In 2012, she transitioned from the SEA, and now serves as a Senior Program Assistant, responsible for assisting with grant management for special programs, such as the National Experiment in Undergraduate Science Education (NEXUS), Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences (PULSE), and Summer Institutes. She is also responsible for coordinating conferences and meetings hosted by Undergraduate and Graduate Programs.  Prior to coming to HHMI, Melvina worked in adult education as a computer instructor/course coordinator.  She taught basic software techniques at a private career college in northern Virginia that specialized in Allied heath career training, and she received the Director’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  A native of Washington, DC, she received her BA in Communications from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University).

 

Susan Musante, Program Officer

Susan is primarily responsible for the Inclusive Excellence undergraduate science education grants competition for four-year colleges and universities. She earned her BS in biology from Hofstra University and her MAEd in science education from Wake Forest University. Susan began her career as an instructor and naturalist at residential environmental and science education centers and as a middle school science teacher in northern Virginia. She shifted her career focus in 1998 to work with undergraduate faculty to improve biology education through professional societies. She worked in education and outreach for the Ecological Society of America and then faculty and curriculum programs for the American Society for Microbiology. Just prior to coming to HHMI, she served as the education director at the American Institute of Biological Sciences where she supported leaders of undergraduate education reform efforts and explored the role of societies and academic leadership in change.

 

Angela Peña, Program Assistant

Angie started at HHMI in 2018. Prior to her time at the Institute, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Arizona State University and a Master of Science in Human Paleobiology at George Washington University. Angie became passionate about science communication and visualization, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion work during her time at GW. Following these interests, she began working with the GW medical school in creating educational resources for their Gross Anatomy classes and became a member of her program’s Diversity in Science steering committee. She now serves as a program assistant for the Inclusive Excellence initiative which challenges institutions to build their capacity for inclusion.

 

Makeda Perry-Richardson, Program Officer

Prior to joining HHMI in 2010, Makeda provided support to Senior and Executive-Level Management in the financial industry and served as the State Alliance Coordinator in the Office of Government Relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. At HHMI, she supports the Inclusive Excellence program. Makeda earned her BS in communications from Old Dominion University, a MBA from the University of Maryland and an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

 

Andrew Quon, Senior Program Officer

Andrew Quon is primarily responsible for the management and development of undergraduate science educational grants to research universities and works on the  Inclusive Excellence undergraduate science education grants initiative . He also works on the EXceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP), an undergraduate research program placing students from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds into the labs of HHMI scientists. Andrew has extensive experience with and knowledge of science education programs in the United States and has performed analyses on issues in science education and training, with an emphasis on programs and initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion. Andrew has a master's degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a bachelor's degree in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University. In 2018 he earned a PhD in Education at George Mason University, with a Science Education Research Specialization. Prior to joining HHMI, Andrew worked at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) as a Staff and Research Associate in the Division of Biomedical and Health Sciences Research.

 

Nadia Rueda, Operations Coordinator

Nadia Rueda worked at Children’s National Medical Center for 12 years before joining HHMI.  During her last 7 years at Children’s she was the Manager, Patient Experience/Ombudsman.  In that role, Nadia worked with patients, families, the medical team and the administration to address complaints and grievances as well as mitigate potential risks and lawsuits to the organization.   In her role of Operations Coordinator here at HHMI, one of Nadia’s responsibilities will be to serve as the primary contact person for our local grantees.  Nadia is excited to join the UGP team and to be an active participant in growing the diversity of scientists in the community.

 

Sarah Simmons, Assistant Director

Within the Undergraduate and Graduate programs of HHMI’s Science Education department, Sarah's portfolio encompasses several initiatives including the HHMI Professors program. Sarah joined HHMI in 2014 and prior to that held the position of Assistant Dean for Honors, Research and International Study in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin where she administered multiple college initiatives, including honors programs, international science initiatives, and undergraduate research. Additionally, she was Director and PI of the HHMI- and NSF-funded Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) - a unique, large-scale program that engages undergraduates in research at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

Viknesh Sivanathan, Program Officer

Vic Sivanathan is primarily responsible for the Science Education Alliance, a program that offers educators models of research-based curricula to engage college students in authentic research as early as possible in their academic careers. Trained as a biochemist and a microbiologist, Vic also gained extensive teaching experience during his time at Oxford and Harvard, and has applied his research as a tool for teaching college students.

 

Patricia Soochan, Program Officer

Patricia Soochan is a member of the multidisciplinary team with primary responsibility for the development and execution of the Inclusive Excellence (IE) initiative. Previously she had primary responsibility for science education grants to primarily undergraduate institutions, a precursor of IE. She has served as a councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research and is a contributing writer for a newsletter for the American Women in Science. Prior to joining HHMI, she was a science assistant at the National Science Foundation, a science writer for a consultant to the National Cancer Institute, and a research and development scientist at Life Technologies. She received her BS and MS degrees in biology from George Washington University.

 

Sonia Zárate, Program Officer

Sonia Zárate, received her BS in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona and her PhD in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from UC Riverside. Her graduate work looked at defense signaling in Arabidopsis and her postdoctoral studies in Chemical Ecology focused on tri-trophic interactions. Sonia credits the mentorship she received as part of the NIH-funded MBRS undergraduate research program for helping her identify as a scientist. As a Program Officer for HHMI, the President for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and through her involvement with the NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), she is committed to the development of scientists from populations that have been historically underrepresented and in making the culture of science inclusive.  Prior to her current appointment at HHMI, Sonia was the Director for the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of San Diego (USD) and worked with USD’s Center for Inclusion and Diversity as a Research Analyst. Sonia also served as the Associate Director for the Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences at UCLA.