Meet the AWIS-ND Officers 2023-2024:
Dr. Rebecca Wingert, Faculty Advisor since 2012
Dr. Rebecca Ann Wingert is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Gallagher Family Professor of Stem Cell Research at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Wingert received dual undergraduate degrees in Biology and English from Muhlenberg College in 1999, and subsequently earned her Ph.D. in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Harvard University in 2005. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School until 2010, where she accrued further training in Genetics and Stem Cell Biology. Dr. Wingert came to Notre Dame in 2010 to start her independent research laboratory, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Stem Cell Biology, Stem Cell Aging, Development and Organ Regeneration.
At Notre Dame, the Wingert laboratory studies the mechanisms that direct kidney formation. They perform basic research to elucidate how nephrons, the functional unit of the kidney, are made during development and regenerate after injury using the zebrafish, Danio rerio. The long-term goals are to discover new biomedical interventions that can be used to treat or prevent kidney disease. To support these endeavors, Dr. Wingert received a Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes in 2011, which recognizes promising young investigators pursuing research that aims to understand and treat developmental defects in children. Research in the Wingert lab is also supported by several multi-year grants from the National Institutes of Health, including the Director’s New Innovator Award (2011-2016) to study the mechanisms of kidney regeneration, and a Research Project (R01) Award (2013-2018) to identify genetic models of kidney birth defects using zebrafish.
Arpitha Mysore Rajashekara, President
I am a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Sciences department (BIOS program). I study Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in Dr. David Boone’s lab. My research is aimed at developing effective IBD treatments through understanding the pathology of IBD & microbial diversity in IBD. I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to influence and help shape the minds of the future in any way possible. I am interested in creating unique approaches for science communication to many audiences, practicing effective leadership skills, and learning new teaching & mentoring styles. As the president, I would like to diversify AWIS ND participation by organizing events that inspire more community engagement through our outreach, social, and STEMentorship activities with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Also, I plan to continue collaborations with both the post-doctoral and undergraduate communities at Notre Dame in addition to bringing in new funding sources. My vision is to build lasting collaborative ties with different Notre Dame clubs & local organizations, provide a platform for effective science communication and create opportunities for women in science to pursue their goals. Apart from my research and AWIS activities I enjoy taking long hikes and lifting weights to unwind and rejuvenate.
Taylor Sherman, Vice President
I am a third year Ph.D. student in the department of Biological Sciences studying in Dr. Patricia Champion’s lab. My research aims to understand how pathogenic mycobateria evade the host immune system to promote bacterial spread and disease progression. As the Vice President of AWIS ND, I am excited to support the chapter as we put on another great year of events to provide professional development, volunteer, social, and networking opportunities for the graduate student community of women on our campus! In my free time I enjoy being outside as much as possible, gardening, hiking, running, and lastly baking treats for my lab.
Georgina Agyeii, Secretary
I am a Ghanaian and a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Santiago Tirado lab studying the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. My studies focus on the effect of this pathogen on various pathways in the phagosome of macrophages and how it impacts its virulence. One of my lifelong goals is to help champion the cause of women in STEM, and as such, it is an honor to serve women in science by coordinating activities and events and communication as the AWIS ND secretary.
Kate Ruley Haase, Treasurer
I am a second year Biological Sciences Ph.D. student in Dr. David Boone's lab (@BooneLabIU). My research focuses on low-dose IL-2 treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and the effects of various high-fat diets on mice with innate-immune mediated IBD (a Crohn's Disease-like model). As the treasurer for AWIS ND this year, I keep track of our budget, reimburse members for fees and event costs, and help out whenever I can with set up and tear down for our events. Being a member of AWIS means that I can make sure women are seen not just doing science, but succeeding in and enjoying our work while encouraging others to pursue and stay in the STEM field. In my free time I make jewelry and art for the small business I co-own with my mom (@KattyCreationsCrafts).
Amandhi Mathews, Professional Development Chair
I am a third-year international student from Sri Lanka pursuing my Ph.D. in the Cody Smith Lab (Department of Biological Sciences). I primarily study the entry of sensory neurons into the spinal cord in zebrafish during early development. I am the Professional Development Chair for AWIS ND 2024. Growing up, I did not have access to many opportunities in science, but I was surrounded by vibrant individuals who loved the process of discovery, amidst significant setbacks in my country. I want to inspire women to rise above limitations and pursue the science career they are passionate about. I truly believe that the next generation of women scientists are born and kept in science with camaraderie, mentorship, and honest conversation in the community. If I am not in the lab, I am reading, at karate training, or painting!
Rebecca Prest, Outreach Chair
My name is Rebecca and I am a fourth year Ph.D. student in the biophysics program, as a member of Patricia Champion’s lab. I study the structure and function of the molecular machines that are responsible for the virulence of the pathogenic mycobacteria, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I am passionate about effective scientific communication. I engage with this through my current positions as the outreach chair for AWIS ND and co-president of Expanding Your Horizons. In my free time I enjoy reading, gardening, and painting.
Robbi Ross, Social Chair
Hello! I am a second year IBMS Ph.D. student in the department of Biological Sciences. I am in Felipe Santiago-Tirado's lab studying the interaction between the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans and human microglia cells. Specifically, I am trying to understand how Crypto invades, survives in, and escapes the phagolysosome within microglia cells. I am so excited to be the Social Chair for AWIS ND this year as I have always been passionate about science communication and being an advocate for women in STEM. Outside of the lab, I love to crochet, read romance and thriller books, hangout with my dog Wrigley, eat ice cream, and binge Criminal Minds.
Mika Schievelbein, STEMentorship Chair
My name is Mika and I am a 4 th year Ph.D. candidate in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department. As a member of the J. Brown lab, my research focuses on expanding our limited knowledge on the world of RNA triple helices by studying naturally occurring RNA triple helix structures and uncovering potential biomolecules that bind or target these unique structures. In my free time I enjoy watching movies on the couch, cuddling my two dogs, doing DIY home projects, and taking motorcycle trips all over the Michiana area! I am the current STEMentorship Chair where I coordinate a program that fosters mentorship between graduate and undergraduate women pursuing a future in STEM. Historically, STEM has been an exclusive field that women have only recently been accepted into. Still, STEM is a daunting field that is challenging to navigate on your own and without support. I wanted to be a part of the change that makes STEM more inclusive and supportive for all individuals. The STEMentorship program is an amazing program that expands our growing community of women in STEM and empowers young women to pursue their dreams as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, etc.
Zoë Emory, Social Media Chair
I am a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I study the effects of ionizing radiation on actinide materials in Dr. Peter Burns’ lab in collaboration with Dr. Jay LaVerne in the Radiation Lab. As the social media chair for AWIS ND, I am looking forward to building and growing our online presence to reach more of the Notre Dame community and beyond. It is important to share the events we host and feature our amazing members to a wider audience to increase engagement with our organization. When i’m not in the lab or working with AWIS, I enjoy weight lifting, playing pickleball, backpacking, and hiking.
- Biological Sciences - Hannah Jewell & Alison Zachritz
- Chemistry & Biochemistry - Gowthami Mahendran
- IBMS- Lauren Mayer
- Biophysics - Rebecca Prest
- Postdoctoral - Sarah Light & Akilah Stewart