Meet Our Team
HHMI’s Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, a division of the Science Education Department, thoughtfully invests in individuals, communities, programs, and initiatives, in ways that:
- reflect our core values,
- capitalize on our unique role within the scientific community,
- set a high standard for excellence and scholarship, and
- maximize our impact on science and science education.
HHMI Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Advisory Committee
The HHMI Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Advisory Committee (UGP-AC) is an important resource as we navigate challenges and opportunities in U.S. science education and work to foster equitable and inclusive learning environments that support all students.
The UGP-AC currently comprises five national leaders with deep experiences in important facets of formal education. Their breadth of backgrounds in science and higher education bring invaluable perspectives, and we appreciate the advice and knowledge they share with us.
HHMI UGP-AC Members
- Sean Decatur, PhD – Chair
Dr. Sean Decatur became the 19th president of Kenyon College on July 1, 2013. He was formerly the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College, where he was also a professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
He earned a bachelor's degree at Swarthmore College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He holds a doctorate in biophysical chemistry from Stanford University. After leaving Stanford, he joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, where he was the Marilyn Dawson Sarles Professor of Life Sciences and also served as the associate dean of faculty for science.
- Kimberly Griffin, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Faculty Affairs
College of Education
University of Maryland
Dr. Kimberly Griffin is an educator, researcher, and leader who aims to promote access, equity, and justice in higher education. In addition to her appointment at the University of Maryland, she is editor of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Her scholarship has been funded by the NSF, NIH, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and examines diversity within the Black community, mentoring and professional development, and equity and inclusion in graduate and faculty communities, particularly in the sciences.
She has received mentoring and career achievement awards from the Association for the Study of Higher Education and American College Personnel Association, and serves on the advisory boards of multiple funded research projects, organizations, and professional associations.
- David Laude, PhD
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Department of Chemistry
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. David Laude has been a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin since 1987. During the first 10 years of his tenure at UT Austin, he ran a large research program in mass spectrometry and then for 17 years held administrative positions in the Dean’s Office of the College of Natural Sciences before serving for six years in the Provost’s Office, charged with improving four-year graduation rates for the campus.
Dr. Laude has been instrumental in the establishment of several programs at UT Austin that are nationally recognized, including the UTeach Teacher Preparation Program, the Freshman Research Initiative, the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan, and the University Leadership Network.
- Mark Melton, PhD
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
Saint Augustine’s University
Dr. Mark Melton is a professor of biology and currently serves as Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to that role, he served as dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Allied Health. Additionally, he has served in several administrative capacities including Department Chair of Biological and Physical Sciences, Honors Program Director, and as Program Director for the NIH-MARC U*STAR Program, a federally funded student research training program.
Dr. Melton received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master’s degree in developmental biology from North Carolina A&T State University, and his doctorate in developmental neurophysiology from the University of Maryland at College Park. He also conducted postdoctoral research in molecular genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine. He has served as principal investigator and/or director of several grants secured from the NIH, NASA, DOE, and NSF totaling more than $10 million.
- Suzanne Ortega, PhD
Council of Graduate Schools
Dr. Suzanne Ortega became the sixth President of the Council of Graduate Schools on July 1, 2014. Prior to assuming her current position, she served in senior administrative positions at the University of North Carolina, the University of New Mexico, the University of Washington, and the University of Missouri. Her master’s degree and doctoral degrees in sociology were completed at Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Ortega is the author of numerous book chapters and articles focused primarily on mental health, social inequalities, and graduate education. She has served as the principal investigator or co-investigator on grants totaling more than $11 million.
The UGP team
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
David’s work 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 through which they can better understand the process of science; and (3) making that experience meaningful, effective, and positive is the responsibility of the faculty, staff, 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, and was a postdoc at Caltech and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a faculty member and Head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, and then Stuart Mudd Professor and Chair of Biology at Harvey Mudd College. David’s research group, dubbed the “Asailum,” studied the structural and functional diversity of dyneins. For many years, he taught undergraduates introductory cell and molecular biology. After nearly 25 years as a professor, David came to HHMI in 2008
William "Billy" 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 courses. He also supports the planning and conduct of numerous workshops and evaluation projects that inform 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.
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 developed in her 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 and Driving Change Initiative's meetings and activities, while providing thought contributions to UGP team's planning discussions of Science Education programs/initiatives. Josephine cares about issues of health, wellness, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is excited about being a part of an organization such as HHMI whose mission aligns with these values through its support of science education and innovation.
Adrielle Darby, Senior Program Assistant
Adrielle is a member of the team managing the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study. A proud HBCU alumna, she earned a BS in Communications, Public Relations, 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 and serving as an advocate for the student and the student voice.
Melanie Daub, Program Officer
Melanie Daub has more than 30 years of experience in the administration of HHMI’s research training programs for graduate, medical, dental, and veterinary students. As a member of the team managing the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study, she has a strong interest in creating professional development opportunities within the HHMI community for Gilliam trainees. From 2007–2020 she managed the HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program, which aimed to encourage the development of future physician-, dentist-, and veterinarian-scientists. 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.
Joshua Hall, Senior Program Officer
Joshua Hall is a Senior Program Officer overseeing the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study. Prior to joining HHMI, Josh studied bacterial host-pathogen interactions and received his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was an NIH-IRACDA postdoctoral fellow prior to joining the UNC School of Medicine Office of Graduate Education where he served as Director of Admissions for the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) and Director of the Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). During his time as Director of UNC PREP, the program transitioned over 100 post-baccalaureate scholars from under-represented groups to top biomedical PhD programs across the country. Josh participated in research on multiple facets of graduate education including factors that contribute to trainee success, graduate admissions, graduate trainee career development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences. His primary professional interests are empowering and encouraging students from all backgrounds and at all stages of the training pathway to pursue and succeed in science and research careers. Josh is also creator and co-host of the podcast, Hello PhD, which explores the human side of science and life in the lab.
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.
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, Manager, Science Education Special Projects
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 Program Coordinator responsible for supporting the Inclusive Excellence initiative and other special programs. She is also responsible for coordinating conferences and meetings hosted by Undergraduate and Graduate Programs including developing the event mobile and web apps. A native of Washington, DC, she received her BA in Communications from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University).
Susan Musante, Program Officer
Susan joined HHMI in 2015 and is part of the team responsible for the Inclusive Excellence initiative for 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. 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, Senior 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.
Andrew Quon, Senior Program Officer
Andrew primarily works with the UGP team to support the Inclusive Excellence 1&2 Initiative. Andrew also has managed undergraduate science grants to research universities and undergraduate fellowships to support students from diverse backgrounds. Andrew has extensive knowledge, experience, and research in science education and training programs, with an emphasis on programs and initiatives to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. Andrew has a PhD in Education from George Mason University, an MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a BA in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining HHMI, Andrew worked at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 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. She also provides support for the operations of the Inclusive Excellence initiative and is part of the HHMI Pathway team, which supports all users of the online grants management system. Nadia is excited to be a part of 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 and Driving Change. 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 "Vic" Sivanathan, Senior Program Lead
Vic Sivanathan manages the Science Education Alliance, a program that partners with faculty members at colleges and universities to engage undergraduate students in authentic research as early as possible in their academic careers. Trained as a biochemist and a microbiologist, Vic also gained teaching experience during his time at Oxford and Harvard, and has leveraged his research as a tool for engaging college students in research.
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 AWIS (Association for Women in Science) Magazine. 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, Senior Program Lead
Sonia Zárate received her BS in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona and her PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from UC Riverside. Her graduate studies focused on defense signaling in innate immunity and her postdoctoral work was in Chemical Ecology, specifically tri-trophic interactions. At HHMI she has helped lead the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study and the year-long adviser mentorship skills development training. Sonia has been a Master Facilitator for the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) since 2014 and sees mentorship development as a driver for systemic change towards a scientific enterprise that is diverse and inclusive. Sonia is immediate past President for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); a 48-year-old multi-disciplinary scientific society that sits at the intersection of science, culture, and community. 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 as the Associate Director for the Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences at UC Los Angeles.