Executive Board


Nicole Famularo, Chemistry


Nicole is a fourth year PhD candidate in Chemistry studying nanoparticle assembly for optical applications like metamaterials. When she is not in lab she enjoys cycling, playing video games, cooking, and playing with her cats.




Molly Rathbun, BMMB


Molly is a molecular biology researcher at Penn State studying virus evolution. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Szpara lab under the Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology (BMMB) program. She is interested in understanding how viruses generate and maintain genetic diversity to adapt to different hosts. To do this, she uses a combination of experimental biology, bioinformatics, and statistics.

She has always been passionate about exploring new knowledge and sharing it with others, so when she began her Ph.D. studies at Penn State in 2016 she decided to join Graduate Women in Science. She has since enjoyed all the exciting opportunities to mentor young female scientists, and collaborate with fellow trainees on various science outreach projects.  She’s looking forward to another great year with GWIS, and if you’re interested in learning more about our organization please don’t hesitate to ask her!


Santina Cruz, Chemistry


Santina is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry under the direction of Benjamin Lear. Her thesis research aims to understand how the surface chemistry controls the electronic properties of metal nanoparticles. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, working out, golfing, playing volleyball, reading, shopping, gardening, and playing video games.





Kathleen Krist, Chemistry


Kathleen is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry working under Will Noid. Her research involves using theories from statistical mechanics and stochastic dynamics to understand experiments in active matter. In her spare time, she enjoy biking, hiking, golfing, and learning about effective teaching strategies.


Public Relations

Matt Fares, Chemistry


Matt is a 4th year Ph.D student in the Zhang lab studying protein misfolding and aggregation and the effects of these events on cells, including how they adapt or develop diseases. Matt’s hobbies include running, board games, and video games.







Latisha Franklin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Latisha is a Southern belle, tree hugger, miniature poodle owner, supporter of the arts, working in service for the betterment of her people and lastly a third year PhD candidate in the Wendy Hanna-Rose lab. As 2019 Voices co-chair she helps bring together a professional networking conference that reaches high school students to post doctoral learners interested in the sciences.






Megan Steves, Chemistry







Ashlee McGovern, Chemistry


Ashlee is a second year student from the Briseno group in the Chemistry department, and her research generally focuses on characterization of organic devices. She is very thankful for the chance to get involved with GWIS because the organization has an important mission “to inspire, support and recognize women in science.” She wants to be able to help her fellow scientists connect with one another through social events, workshops and seminars in order to foster close connections while beginning to build a network for the future. Her favorite thing about GWIS is the diverse set of backgrounds we all have! It can lead to opportunities to learn new things and meet new people. Outside of the science realm, she is an avid bowler and a loving mother of two cats.


Ambika Somasundar, Chemical Engineering


Ambika  is a PhD student in the department of chemical engineering and has been elected for the science++ co-chair position.




Community Outreach

Nabila Nabi Nova, Chemistry


Nabila loves talking about science to general people, especially school kids. For her, the best part of being part of a STEM outreach position is seeing the look of admiration in their faces when they learn about the extraordinary science behind the most ordinary things we take for granted in daily life.




Megan Sylvia, Plant Biology











Girl Scout Workshop

Albanie Hendrickson-Stives, Chemistry


Albanie Hendrickson-Stives is a second year in the chemistry department studying nanoparticle assembly via electric fields. When not focusing on science she enjoys painting, hiking, and playing frisbee.








Leeann Grainger, Chemistry


Leeann works in Dr. Xin Zhang’s lab studying protein phase separation in cells and how this phenomenon is linked to neurodegenerative diseases.  When she isn’t doing research, she likes to hike, bake, and watch Forensic Files.  She is excited to be a part of GWIS and to be organizing the Girl Scout Workshops!






Grad School 101

Jennifer Miller, Chemistry


As a co-chair for Grad School 101, Jennifer gets to give Penn State REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) students a sneak peak into the life of a graduate student. She also walks them through the logistics of grad school applications, visitation weekends, and the process of choosing a school and research group. She participated in two REU programs when she was an undergrad, and so it’s extra fun now being able to be involved in these programs through GWIS!



Alyssa Bienvenu, Chemistry


Alyssa’s graduate research is in the use of machine learning for studying and discovering reaction mechanisms. In her free time, she loves to attend social dances, read novels, cook Cajun food, and volunteer with the local animal shelter. As a Grad School 101 co-chair, She has the amazing opportunity share her REU experiences with students and give them an inside look at how those programs influenced her decision to pursue a Ph.D.





Women in STEM Month

Saehyun Choi, Chemistry











Lynnicia Massenburg, BMMB








Greg Mountain, Chemistry



Greg is a 4th year PhD student in chemistry studying liquid-liquid phase separation in model membraneless organelles. He enjoys fishing, camping, and video games.





Professional Development

Jamesa Stokes, MatSE


Jamesa is a third-year PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering and is a NASA Education Aeronautics Scholarship and Advanced STEM Training and Research (AS&ASTAR) Fellow and a Bunton-Waller Fellow. Jamesa graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Physics. After graduation from Auburn, she completed a Fulbright Scholarship to Germany, working at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Structures and Design in Stuttgart, Germany to design composite materials for heat shields and thermal protection systems for atmospheric reentry vehicles.

Jamesa is advised by Dr. Douglas Wolfe in the Advanced Coatings Department of the Applied Research Laboratory, working on improving the mechanical and thermochemical durability of thermal and environmental barrier coatings for gas turbine engines for airplanes. Such coatings are important to the long term maintenance and performance of the engine, as they protect superalloy and ceramic components from the extreme high temperature combustion environment. With the use of such coatings, next generation gas turbine engines will be able to operate at higher temperatures, which will improve fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emission products.

Kathleen Coleman, MatSE


Currently Kathleen is a second year in the Materials Science Engineering Ph.D. program, where she is investigating the relationship between different types of mechanical stresses on the piezoelectric properties and performance of thin piezoelectric films.  One of the major applications for this research is improving the energy harvesting performance of these films. In addition to her research she enjoys spending my time outdoors by either hiking, running, playing volleyball, and skiing as well as doing outreach events where she gets to teach young middle school students about STEM.


Executive Mentors

Having served as Executive board members in the past, they can help guide the future.


Jenna Reeger, Plant Biology













Fatma Pir Cakmak, Chemistry









Karly Regan, Entomology








Karen Kemirembe, Entomology








Faculty Advisors

Kathleen Brown, kbe@psu.edu

Professor of Plant Stress Biology, Plant Science Department