Meet the Civic Science Fellows

(2024-25 list in formation)

  • Portrait of Luyi Adesanya

    Luyi Adesanya

    Title

    Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellow at Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellows will work to increase visibility and prioritization to develop a more rigorous approach to how race is applied and understood in the design of clinical algorithms and the assessments they inform.

    As a daughter of immigrants from Nigeria and Germany, Luyi Adesanya is interested in the intersection of public health, healthcare management, civic engagement, and health policy on an international sector. Having completed her undergraduate degree at The University of Chicago and having worked at the National Institutes of Health prior to completing her graduate school training at Washington University in St. Louis, she is a leader in the field and is dedicated to improving health outcomes for marginalized and under-represented communities, both domestically and abroad. She is an emerging leader within the public health and health equity landscape. Luyi is excited for the opportunity to be a 2024 Civic Science Fellow with her host partner Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. With her humility and kindness, Luyi continues to be proactive in service and civic engagement throughout her community and she continues to be inspired by aspiring others from marginalized backgrounds of which she represents.

  • Portrait of Michael Segun Akinwumi

    Michael Segun Akinwumi

    Title

    Eagleton Institute Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will develop a guidance document for state-level legislators on best practices and recommendations on artificial intelligence regulation.

    Michael Akinwumi is the Chief Responsible AI Officer at the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) where he is tasked with critical responsibilities, including the development and implementation of Responsible AI policies and guidelines that prioritize nondiscrimination, privacy, security, explainability, reliability and non-algorithmic solutions. He provides strategic oversight and leadership, collaborating with senior management to advocate for ethical AI practices in housing and lending, and assess potential risks associated with AI use in housing and lending. Stakeholder engagement and education are part of his portfolio, involving interactions with both internal and external parties to gather input, educate employees, and ensure adherence to Responsible AI principles. Moreover, he represents NFHA in industry discussions, advocating for responsible AI practices and staying current with emerging regulations and ethical frameworks to educate providers of housing and lending AI products and services on the need for compliance and alignment with national and global Responsible AI standards.

    Previously, he led governance engineering, recommender systems, and machine learning solutions for various sectors, such as fintech, banking, and insurance. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Alberta and has multiple certifications and honors in data analysis and mathematical modeling.

    Michael lives his belief that “only a life lived for others is worth living.”

  • James Ousman Cheek

    Title

    Climate Central Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will help Climate Central learn how to most effectively engage with coastal stakeholders to build their capacity to respond to sea-level rise.

    J. Ousman Cheek is an interdisciplinary environmentalist and sustainable development specialist based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to advancing environmental justice, sustainable development, and creative engagement through holistic approaches that enable material transformation.

    With a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Japanese from Howard University, he has built a diverse career, advocating for and engaging in community-beneficial approaches to sustainability, including urban agriculture, environmental education, and food justice. His professional experience includes roles such as Just Transition Campaign Representative at Sierra Club, where he coordinated local and state-level green development priorities with national resources and managed multi-stakeholder coalitions.

    Ousman’s skills extend to policy analysis, environmental education, and multimedia content production. He served as a Policy Communications Intern for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, attended the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and the Generation Connect Global Youth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. His proficiency in Japanese and experiences in Egypt, Japan, and Ghana enrich his global perspective, making him a key player in international environmental dialogues. He has spoken at numerous conferences on topics like global waste reduction, the history of environmental justice, and the socioeconomic dynamics of the Just Transition.

    He currently serves as the Rita Allen Civic Science Fellow for Climate Central’s Sea Level Rise Program, bridging gaps between climate science and regional stakeholders through free climate risk mapping tools and communications. He will pursue an outreach strategy with city planners, community leaders, and climate justice groups to promote coastal resilience adaptation and mitigation strategies.

  • Portrait of Soobin Choi

    Soobin Choi

    Title

    Morgridge Institute Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on evidence-based approaches to communicating about science in polarized political or information environments.

    Soobin Choi is a social scientist specializing in environmental and science communication. Her research interests broadly encompass understanding effective strategies for communicating environment, risk, and science messages that resonate with diverse publics. Currently, the interconnected lines of her research investigate communication strategies that are effective in increasing civic engagement related to climate change. Her research often disentangles psychological processes that underlie such media effects.

    An important primary thread of her current research focuses on disambiguating the role of efficacy information and efficacy perceptions in climate change communication. This research agenda aims to contribute to a better understanding of how the public processes media messages, and how they can be empowered to take meaningful actions in response to the climate crisis.

    Her recent research interests lie in understanding effective ways to communicate issues of climate justice in the media. While communicating messages that highlight climate justice can amplify awareness of climate injustice and increase support for the impacted communities, they may also inadvertently increase the perceived social and spatial distance of climate change impacts among those who do not identify themselves with the community. Soobin’s work seeks to examine communication strategies that can minimize such unintended message effects while maximizing support for the disproportionately impacted communities.

  • Catherine B. Cramer

    Title

    CUNY Advanced Science Research Center Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will develop an ecosystem map that identifies the IlluminationSpace Hub’s critical partners/participants and their value propositions so the ASRC can design and implement a successful civic science model that can be scaled and reproduced by other public universities aiming to diversify and make STEM more accessible and inclusive.

    Catherine Cramer works at the intersection of data-driven science and learning as it pertains to the understanding of complexity and its application to data and network sciences. She develops tools and programs for the teaching and learning of complex network and data science. Her research is focused on participatory design and its role in STEM engagement with underserved and marginalized communities. She is a founder of the Network Literacy and Network Science in Education movements, is on the Board of the Network Science Society, and is co-editor of the Springer volume Network Science in Education. Before coming to the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center she was Deputy Director of the West Big Data Innovation Hub and Director of Outreach and Engagement for Data Initiatives at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego.

  • Christine Custis

    Title

    Institute for Advanced Study Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will support the research projects of Alondra Nelson’s Science, Technology, and Social Values Lab, including the international and interdisciplinary AI Policy and Governance Working Group.

    Christine Custis is the Civic Science Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where she is a member of the Science, Technology, and Social Values Lab. A computer scientist and organizational strategist who has worked across industry, civil society, and academia, she has more than two decades of experience in the development and governance of emerging science and technology. Christine was Director of Programs and Research at the Partnership on AI (PAI), a nonprofit, multisector coalition of organizations committed to the responsible use of artificial intelligence. At PAI, she oversaw the research, analysis, and development of a range of AI-related resources, from policy recommendations and publications to tools, while leading workstreams on labor and political economy; transparency and accountability; AI safety; inclusive research and design, and the public understanding of AI. An expert of both domestic and international policy, Christine served as a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expert group on trustworthy AI and previously worked at the MITRE Corporation and IBM. She has advised and collaborated with a range of organizations, including the Global Democracy Coalition, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, the US National AI Research Resource Task Force, the New America Open Technology Institute, the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, and many others. She holds a M.S. degree in computer science from Howard University and received her Ph.D. from Morgan State University.

     

  • Portrait of Catherine Devine

    Catherine Devine

    Title

    Center for Cooperative Media Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will work to identify, document, and catalyze collaboration between U.S. journalists and civic scientists.

    Catherine is the 2024 Civic Science Fellow at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Catherine was the 2023 Gero Fellow in Science Communication at Schoodic Institute, where she spent 10 months reporting on climate change in Acadia National Park and producing Acadia National Park’s podcast Sea to Trees. She has extensive experience in multimedia journalism, and was a grant recipient from NYU’s Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund to produce a documentary on climate change and oyster farming. Catherine holds degrees in multimedia journalism and psychology (cognitive) from New York University.

  • Theresa A. Donofrio

    Title

    Seeding Action Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will lead the design, planning, and implementation of a project that builds capacity for science centers and museums to encourage a sense of active hope—the understanding that we all have roles to play in bringing about a healthier planet—and invite and inspire widespread participation in planetary health action.

    Theresa A. Donofrio is a researcher, writer, and educator whose expertise sits at the intersection of communication, memory studies, and museum studies. Prior to joining the Seeding Action team at the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Theresa served as an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Coe College, where she taught a wide variety of Communication Studies courses, including visual rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, and seminars on the rhetorics of atrocity. In her research, Theresa analyzes the discourses surrounding public tragedies, attending to the rhetorics utilized to define these events and shape how they are remembered. Her areas of interest also include community engaged pedagogy. While at Coe College, she was a Faculty Fellow for Community Engaged Pedagogy and was an Iowa Campus Compact Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellow. Theresa is a skilled collaborator with a strong record of working alongside interdisciplinary teams and experience designing initiatives to support the museum professionals with whom she has partnered.

  • Aaron Ellis

    Title

    Open Environmental Data Project Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on the open data and governance ecosystem, working collaboratively to identify and articulate new strategies for data usability, governance, and inclusiveness in practice. 

    Aaron Ellis is an anthropologist and environmental data analyst with particular interests in food, water, and forestry. He is the Data Inclusion Specialist at the Open Environmental Data Project (OEDP), where he leverages his expertise in environmental data analysis, research, and stakeholder engagement to promote inclusivity, transparency, and equity in environmental governance. He fosters collaboration and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders, contributes to research projects, and leads initiatives to innovate and drive positive change in environmental data practices. Aaron has a Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in Food Studies and substantial coursework in Information and Library Science from Indiana University. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College with a modified major that drew from anthropology, computer science, photography, and linguistics. His past research has focused on online citizen science within the Craft Beer Revolution, climate change’s impact on Midwestern maple syrup production, supporting efforts to maintain traditional manoomin (wild rice) harvesting knowledge in Northern Minnesota and creating foraging maps for local communities.

  • Portrait of Avriel C Epps

    Avriel C. Epps

    Title

    Citizens and Technology Lab Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will design and carry out a project that advances diverse participation in the study of human-algorithm behavior, drawing from topics identified by current community partners that include managing algorithmic harms such as online harassment, racial prejudice, and misinformation, as well as positive aspirations for AI such as increasing digital inclusion, broadening access to global knowledge, and fostering constructive dialogue across differences.

    Avriel Epps (she/they) is a computational social scientist and a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and Graduate School of Education. She also holds an M.S. in Data Science from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a B.A. in Communication Studies from UCLA. Her work, supported by The Ford Foundation, The MacArthur Foundation, and the National Center on Race and Digital Justice, delves into how bias in predictive technologies affects adolescent racial, gender, and sociopolitical identity development. She aims to shed light on the complex ways that algorithm design and computer-mediated social expectations—often communicated through artificial intelligence systems—impact the beliefs, behaviors, and health of young people.

    Avriel also leads AI4Abolition, an organization dedicated to increasing AI literacy and building open-source AI tools for marginalized communities, as its co-founding director. Avriel has been invited to speak at various venues including tech giants like Google and TikTok, and The US Courts, focusing on algorithmic bias and fairness. As an educator, she has taught and designed courses for Harvard and EdX on subjects like Digital Privacy, Data Science Ethics, and Adolescent Development. Her scholarship has not only appeared in academic journals and handbooks but has also reached wider audiences through publications like The Atlantic and the Emmy nominated PBS documentary “TikTok, Boom.”

  • Portrait of Amml Hussein

    Amml Hussein

    Title

    Boston University Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: Through work on the first civic science communication Master’s certificate and related activities, the Fellow will expand the reach and impact of civic science communication educational opportunities.

    Amml Hussein, Ed.D., M.S.W., serves as the Director of Research at the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the premier accreditation body for the social work profession nationally. Beyond the conventional realm of education, Amml’s influence is marked by a forward-thinking approach that integrates strategic foresight, future casting, and cutting-edge technology to elevate student engagement. In her role at CSWE, Amml is at the forefront of the design and development of the Assessment Institute, a post-conference initiative showcasing her dedication to advancing education. The institute serves as a knowledge hub, empowering educators, researchers, and practitioners to refine teaching and evaluation methods, while enhancing the learning experience with assessment best practices. Another groundbreaking initiative that Amml spearheaded with her team at CSWE is the Research, Policy, and Practice Student Summit. The inaugural event, themed “Decolonizing Social Work Education: Moving Beyond Conversations,” facilitated translational research, directly impacting communities and highlighting critical social issues. The four-day summit connected baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral fellows with congressional offices on Capitol Hill, providing invaluable experiential learning opportunities as well as a platform for engagement in research and addressing social issues with a solid peer network. Amml’s commitment to bridging the gap between research, practice, and policy is evident, as she nurtures a network of peers and mentors. Her drive to innovate and dedication to cultivating a dynamic learning environment underscore her leadership and commitment to advancing research in higher education. Amml serves on multi-disciplinary review panels for the National Science Foundation.

  • Portrait of Ndifreke Ikpe

    Ndifreke Ikpe

    Title

    Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellow at the Council of Medical Specialty Societies

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellows will work to increase visibility and prioritization to develop a more rigorous approach to how race is applied and understood in the design of clinical algorithms and the assessments they inform.

    Ndifreke Ikpe joins the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) from the Aspen Institute where she served as a Senior Associate responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Health Innovators Program. This program served over 120 senior health executives and thought leaders. Ndifreke convened committed leaders across multiple sectors to learn from one another and find viable solutions to address U.S. health care issues. In this role, she supported the development of program strategy and work plans for the continuous improvement of the Health Innovators Fellowship program.

    Previously, Ndifreke served as a Maternal Mental Health Clinical Care Coordinator at the Joseph J. Peters Institute. As the primary liaison across multiple partnerships, she communicated strategies for the improvement of mental health outcomes. She analyzed qualitative and quantitative data to address the needs of clients, which was later used to develop a centralized intake system to improve clinical care coordination of services.

    As Civic Science Fellow, Ndifreke will support the health equity work of CMSS by collaborating with member societies to support shared learning across society stakeholders, including staff and volunteer leaders that oversee equity, clinical guidelines and algorithms, research, informatics, and publishing. Ndifreke’s activities, including shared learning and best practices across societies, will empower CMSS and specialty societies to build capacity to enable race-conscious clinical guidelines and algorithms that inform equitable clinical practice and decision-making.

  • Alicia L. Johnson

    Title

    Rice University Baker Institute Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on improving public understanding of synthetic biology while also researching ethical, legal, and social implications of related emerging technologies.

    Alicia L. Johnson is an analytical biochemist by training, STEM and health equity advocate, coffee enthusiast, and a Civic Science Fellow at the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program. In her previous doctoral research, she combined her interests in biochemistry, precision medicine, and healthcare access by studying biomarkers for epilepsy in the blood to identify molecular signatures that could predict seizure severity in patients. Through this work, she developed a passion for how advancements in biotechnology can be distributed equitably and ensuring that they do not further harm systematically marginalized populations. This passion led Alicia to the Baker Institute.

    Alicia researches the ethical, legal and social implications of synthetic biology with a current focus on bacterial sensors and wastewater epidemiology. To do this, she studies how these bacterial sensors designed for environmental purposes would be regulated and ethically tested. She is also interested in community engagement surrounding synthetic biology products and identifying ways to improve equitable access for emerging biotechnologies by developing alternative consent frameworks and designing accessible graphics to describe the projects she works on.

    She brings her previous experiences in teaching and curriculum development for science writing and research methods courses. Additionally, Alicia has prior experience as an editor, in technology transfer, and as a workshop leader with the National Science Policy Network. Alicia earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry (Molecular Mechanisms of Disease) from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her B.S. in Chemistry from Northwest Missouri State University.

  • Abbey M. Jones

    Title

    The Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and Translational Science/SNF Institute for Global Infectious Disease Research Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will become a member of the Chagas Disease Translational Research Team and will help to focus on increasing awareness and explore policy implications of the emerging Chagas disease epidemic by engaging with scientists, academic research partners, clinicians, staff, patients, and community and public health partners.

    Abbey is trained as an epidemiologist, with experience working in the fields of infectious diseases, public health surveillance, preparedness and response, and maternal and child health. Her dissertation research at New York University’s School of Global Public Health examined the epidemiology of false-negative Plasmodium rapid diagnostic test results and their impact on malaria elimination efforts in India. Prior to beginning her PhD, Abbey worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders for eight years. During this time, she spent 18 months working in the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center for the Zika Virus Outbreak Response and contributed to calculating the first estimates of the risk of birth defects due to congenital Zika virus infection in the United States. In addition to a Ph.D. in Epidemiology (to be conferred in May 2024), Abbey holds an M.P.H. in Global Epidemiology from Emory University and a B.A. in Mathematics from College of the Holy Cross.

  • Leanna Kalinowski

    Title

    Neuromatch Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will explore how to best train early-career researchers, via learn-by-doing practices, to incorporate civic science engagement into their research projects.

    Leanna Kalinowski is the Civic Science Fellow at Neuromatch, where she studies and implements strategies to encourage computational scientists to incorporate civic science into their research. As an interdisciplinary scientist with a background in public health and neuroscience, Leanna has previously conducted research on topics ranging from the use of research evidence in substance use policy to the impact of prescription stimulant medications on the adolescent brain. She has also held roles at the Scholars Strategy Network and National Science Policy Network, where she gained extensive experience in training academics how to make their research accessible for policymakers, the media, and the general public. Leanna holds a B.A. in psychology from Buffalo State University, as well as an M.A. in behavioral neuroscience and an M.P.H. in public health, both from the University at Buffalo. Following her fellowship, she plans to work in the knowledge translation space to bridge the gap between substance use research and practice.

  • Portrait of Alanna Kelly

    Alanna Kelly

    Title

    The Knowledge House Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will explore key learning questions to diversify and democratize the data science field and access to STEM education, supporting The Knowledge House in continuous efforts to ensure its programs bring cross-sector impact, empowering people from all backgrounds to shape science and benefit from its promise.

    Alanna Kelly, a social scientist, workforce development specialist, and dedicated advocate for inclusive education, assumes the role of Manager of Strategic Initiatives at The Knowledge House. She has adeptly managed collaborative TechEd initiatives, providing invaluable strategic guidance, all driven by her unwavering commitment to leveraging technology for societal progress. Holding a B.A. in Sociology from Columbia University, her research examines the impact of modern technology on society including, forms of interaction and communication, possibilities for innovation, and re-configurations of social relationships, norms and labor markets.

    Deeply committed to fostering socioeconomic equity through STEM education access, Alanna excels in collaboration, problem-solving, and forging meaningful partnerships. As a previous Coro Workforce System Leadership Fellow, she demonstrates a dedication to workforce development, translating research insights into impactful improvement initiatives for sustainable solutions aligned with the evolving world dynamics.

    In her role as the Civic Science Fellow, Alanna will spearhead The Knowledge House’s investigation into key questions, aiming to diversify and democratize the tech sector. This endeavor aligns with the organization’s mission to empower underrepresented communities for tech careers, emphasizing the need to equip job trainees for the evolving tech landscape. Beyond her immediate responsibilities, she is passionately engaged in exploring how Trauma-Informed, Culturally Responsive Teaching practices, and Compassionate Pedagogy for Neurodiversity can be seamlessly integrated to enhance programmatic outcomes for participants. This multifaceted approach reflects Alanna’s holistic commitment to driving positive change in both workforce development and educational practices.

  • Jyoti S. Madhusoodanan

    Title

    Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellow at the Association of Health Care Journalists

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellows will work to increase visibility and prioritization to develop a more rigorous approach to how race is applied and understood in the design of clinical algorithms and the assessments they inform.

    Jyoti Madhusoodanan is a science and health journalist who covers biomedical research, health equity and other topics for Undark, Scientific American, Nature, and other outlets. Her reporting on racial inequities in algorithms, health disparities and clinical research has been supported by fellowships from the MIT Knight Science Journalism program, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and others.

  • Portrait of McKenna Parnes

    McKenna Parnes

    Title

    Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will advance climate communication and action through research and fostering meaningful collaboration between scientists and community members.

    McKenna Parnes is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her program of research focuses on how socio-ecological factors play critical roles in youth risk, resilience, and opportunities. She has been examining these associations in the context of the climate crisis, exploring questions related to climate change impacts on youth mental health and strategies that may promote youth engagement in equity-focused action. She is particularly interested in how social media can be leveraged as a communication tool to reduce disparities among youth who experience the greatest climate-related health burdens.

  • Nate Jamaal Porter

    Title

    Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellow at the American Medical Student Association

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: Doris Duke Racial Equity in Clinical Equations Civic Science Fellows will work to increase visibility and prioritization to develop a more rigorous approach to how race is applied and understood in the design of clinical algorithms and the assessments they inform. 

    Nate was born in the East Bay, California and spent his early life with his mom and sister. He was fascinated by a high school anatomy class and went on to study Human Physiology at Gonzaga University. During his undergraduate studies, he tutored students, was a TA for anatomy lab, and a board member for the human physiology club. He also completed research in sports biomechanics. After graduating, Nate spent time exploring different careers in the medical field and was inspired to pursue medicine by a primary care physician in his hometown. Before starting medical school, he spent two years as a foster youth advocate and mentor working with youth from the same county which he was once a dependent of. Nate is currently in the M.D. program at Stanford University where he has worked on research in public health, psychiatry, and transplant surgery, as well as served as the recruitment chair with the goal of recruiting a more diverse class of students. He hopes to one day be a physician leader in his community and help bridge the racial and socioeconomic inequities that exist in our current healthcare system.

  • Portrait of Erin M Purvis

    Erin M. Purvis

    Title

    UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will explore the ethical and societal implications of sleep neuroscience in partnership with the Santa Ana community.

    Erin Purvis is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation research is developing and characterizing the tissue-engineered rostral migratory stream, which is a regenerative medicine strategy for neuronal redirection and replacement following traumatic brain injury. As a graduate student, she became eager to interact with the community that her research was designed to ultimately benefit. This interest grew into a passion to strengthen the connection between academic researchers and their local communities – a connection that she felt was lacking in her own doctoral training. As a 2022-2024 Provost’s Graduate Academic Engagement Fellow at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, she developed and implemented the first formalized academic program for community engaged scholarship for biomedical Ph.D. students at the University of Pennsylvania, including the Community-Engaged STEM Graduate Certificate Program. After defending her PhD in June 2024, Erin will be joining the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (CNLM) at University of California, Irvine. As a Civic Science Fellow, she will be collaborating with the interdisciplinary CNLM team to investigate the ethical and societal implications of sleep neuroscience research in partnership with the Santa Ana community.

  • Ben Riggs

    Title

    Science Communication Lab Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will explore various aspects of science filmmaking, including audience goals and expectations, filmmakers’ strategies for engagement, and the impact of film topics chosen with civic engagement in mind.

    The story of science is not monolithic, though it can feel that way, and Ben Riggs’ passion as a researcher and educator is leveraging the breadth and nuance of contemporary storytelling methods to make scientific knowledge more accessible and impactful—to ultimately rethink what “science” can mean. As a Ph.D. candidate in Screen Cultures at Northwestern University, his dissertation (“Knowing TV: Science on Screen in the Early 21st Century”) focuses on science- and nature-related television series. For this work, Ben makes the argument that TV and science share an epistemological commensurability—that is, that they have a similar way of presenting/processing knowledge—built on overlapping aesthetic and narrative sensibilities (e.g., spectacle, complexity, authority). In other words, if part of doing science is thinking scientifically, is it also possible to watch TV scientifically? If so, what does that look like?

    Prior to Northwestern, Ben received his M.A. in Communication and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and B.A. in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico. Originally from Albuquerque, N.M., Ben is also a former high school science teacher, having taught mostly biology for Albuquerque Public Schools. He has also been a mentor teacher and research coach for K-12 teachers in Yonkers, N.Y. and Evanston, I.L. Outside of work, he likes to watch movies (well, sometimes that’s also work), go to museums, and eat sandwiches.

  • Narayan Sankaran

    Title

    Berkeley Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on ethical questions born from advances in neuroscience in either “brainreading” or “brain-writing.”

    Narayan Sankaran is a cognitive neuroscientist and neuroethicist who recently completed his postdoctoral training in the lab of Edward Chang at the University of California San Francisco. While there, he used intracranial electrophysiological recordings taken from the human cortex to characterize the neural encoding of music and speech. Currently, Narayan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public at the University of California Berkeley, where he teaches a course on neuroethics and writes about the ethical implications of emerging neurotechnologies, such as brain-computer interfaces that decode sensorimotor representations from human neural activity. Starting in the Fall of 2024, Narayan will be joining the University of San Francisco as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, where his lab will continue to pursue fundamental research questions about the human brain while simultaneously examining the ethical implications of the technologies that this research enables.

  • Rebecca Sausville

    Title

    Princeton GradFUTURES Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will elevate the national imperative of Ph.D. professional development by exploring the interconnection of trends related to the future of graduate education and the future of work, and by recommending systems-level changes needed to ensure equitable access to opportunity for all doctoral students across disciplines.

    Rebecca Sausville is a Civic Science Fellow with the GradFUTURES graduate student professional development initiative at the Graduate School of Princeton University. In this role, Rebecca is working on several data projects and analyses to better understand the impact of holistic professional development throughout the graduate student lifecycle and develop insights to inform efforts at Princeton and graduate institutions nationwide. She is particularly looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate on data interpretations and projections and program assessments that are student-centered at every level.

    Rebecca’s interest in diverse career pathways for doctoral students, as well as institutional and curricular innovations in support of equitable outcomes for all graduate students, was spurred during her doctoral work at New York University (Ph.D., Classics, 2023). Among other graduate fellowships, Rebecca served as the Innovation and Career Initiative Fellow at the Modern Language Association (MLA) through the NYU Public Humanities Initiative in Graduate Education, where she conducted an assessment of the MLA’s previous graduate school professional development initiatives. Previously, she was a lecturer at Brandeis University, where she taught ancient Greek language and history courses. She has also served as a field archaeologist and researcher on projects in Cyprus, Greece, and Italy.

    As a Civic Science Fellow, she is interested in developing opportunities for scientific engagement among humanists and social scientists, engaging in questions of equity in civic science, and in bringing her background in the humanities to craft compelling interdisciplinary narratives built on data.

  • Tim Maximilian Sels

    Title

    Data Innovation Lab Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will examine the impact of media coverage on the public diffusion of science.

    Tim Sels is from Berlin, Germany, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics/Business Management with a specialization in applied microeconometrics. He is a former Fellow of the FOX Program at Yale University and conducted research at the Yale School of Management, where he created empirical analyses to answer various questions in the field of organizational behavior. His most recent projects aim to uncover the effects of political polarization on individual or team performance in the workplace. While completing his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D., he simultaneously managed a demanding role as Portfolio Manager for real estate equity and debt investments at BVV, Germany’s largest pension fund, from 2015 to 2023. In his free time, he enjoys solving puzzles, reading daily newspapers, and trading stocks.

  • Portrait of Natasha Strydhorst

    Natasha Strydhorst

    Title

    Morgridge Institute Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on evidence-based approaches to communicating about science in polarized political or information environments.

    Natasha Strydhorst is a doctoral candidate studying science communication at Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication. Her research interests include uncertainty communication, science literacy, (dis)trust in experts and narrative science communication. Her background is in scholastic science communication, in which she has written science-centered stories for public audiences at Yale School of Medicine, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, and Hope College.

  • Portrait of Jen Tuttle Parsons

    Jen Tuttle Parsons

    Title

    American Physical Society Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will construct a comprehensive roadmap for preparing scientists to engage in science communication around emerging topics with diverse audiences in a constantly changing information ecosystem.

    Jen Tuttle Parsons (she/her) serves as the Civic Science Fellow with the American Physical Society. Her career spans the fields of informal STEM engagement, technology, research, music education, and museum leadership. Jen recently concluded her tenure as Executive Director of the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, a hands-on, STEAM-based museum in Appalachian southeast Ohio. She guided the organization through a time of transformation, from a pop-up museum on wheels to a permanent museum home that stands as a regional hub for lifelong learning.

    Jen holds a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from Ohio University and two degrees in music education. She has taught public school at the middle, high school, and collegiate levels. Her work underscores the need for critical partnerships among educational, scientific, and community organizations. Jen’s research, including a focus on LGBTQ+ inclusivity in informal STEM settings, guides her fierce advocacy for making informal STEM learning equitable and accessible to all. She is delighted to work with APS in creating a strategic roadmap to support scientists’ public engagement endeavors.

  • Portrait of Jessica Moriah Vaden

    Jessica Moriah Vaden

    Title

    The Franklin Institute Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project Focus: In partnership with middle school teachers and community leaders in environmental action, the Fellow will identify local connections to environmental science curriculum standards; co-create strategies for a scalable, place-based civic science approach to climate education; and develop training to build teacher capacity and confidence for implementing these skills in the classroom.

    Miss Jessica Vaden is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh where she is a STRIVE Scholar. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in Chemical Engineering in 2019 where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar (M26). She received her Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022. Her research work is interdisciplinary with focuses on sustainable engineering, empowering communities about air quality, environmental justice, and engineering education efforts to create inclusive classrooms and programming under the broad theme of improving the environment to improve people’s quality of life. Jessica enjoys baking, reading, and dancing, which she considers her first passion. She is ecstatic to be the Civic Science Fellow for the Franklin Institute for her next step following her Ph.D.

  • Portrait of Angélica Maria Valdés Valderrama

    Angélica Maria Valdés Valderrama

    Title

    CienciaPR Civic Science Fellow

    Year

    2024

    Project focus: The Fellow will focus on developing tools to assess the impact of CienciaCoLab, a collaborative and participatory space that provides tools, workshops, mentoring, and seed funding for leaders in Puerto Rico to design and implement community science projects.

    Angélica Valdés Valderrama is a social scientist trained in political science, economics, public health nutrition, and food policy. She is currently a doctoral candidate specializing in the integration and evaluation of equity in nutrition programs at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Her research focuses on assessing innovations and emerging technologies for federal nutrition programs (SNAP and WIC) and food retail options through a health equity lens. She also collaborates with the ChildObesity 180 research team at Tufts University. Current notable awards include the Yale Ciencia Academy Fellowship (2022-23), the Tufts-USDA Fellowship in Childhood Obesity Prevention (2019-23) and a HER-NOPREN Healthy Food Retail Early Career Scholar grant (2021-22). She earned her M.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) where she led a study of the effect of the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program on employment and participated in another study about barriers to and facilitators for healthy eating among early adolescents in PR. Prior to that, Angélica received a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Political Science, also from UPRM. Angélica is passionate about centering equity in food systems and nutrition and is hopes to continue engaging in decolonial, anti-racist, and community-centered research and advocacy. Beyond academia, Angélica enjoys taking care of her plants, trying new foods, and adventuring outdoors.

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