Meet Our Team

Executive Board

Kayla Haberman

Director of Presenters

Kayla is a second-year biology graduate student passionate about brining the world of science to the community. Kayla is in Dr. Taube’s Lab and studies breast cancer. She is intrested in understanding how the cell can modify DNA, without modifying the genomic sequence. Understanding epigenetic regulation provides insight on protein DNA interaction and the role of chromatin.

Lauren Butterworth

Director of Organizers

Lauren is a PhD student with the Trakselis Laboratory of DNA Replication and Repair.  As a biochemist, she focuses on the E. coli replisome to study the protein mechanisms involved in DNA replication. 

Emily Alonzo

Director of Logistics

Emily is a PhD candidate in the biochemistry department working in the Shaw Lab. Currently, she focuses on RNA modifications and their behaviors. Additionally, she works with the blind and visually impaired to make universal visualization in the STEM field possible.


Cyril Agadagba


I’m a first year PhD student in the Trakselis lab. I’m currently working on RecFOR proteins in NER

Melissa Anderson


Melissa is a PhD candidate in the Chan Lab who studies quantum materials through synthesizing intermetallic solid state iron compounds. She joined PYPhD because she loves to share her passion for material science with her peers as well as mentoring younger students.

Madeline Bannon


Madeline is a second year graduate student studying analytical chemistry in the Gallagher Lab.

Malcom Barnard


Malcom is a second year graduate student studying biology.

Moises Bravo


Moises is a PhD candidate in the Chan Lab studying Lanthanide metals.

Jon Beard


Jon is a 5th year PhD candidate in biology working with Dr. Christie Sayes to explore the affects of aerosol toxicants on pulmonary health.

Colin Burdine


Colin is a second year graduate student in the Blair Lab. He does research in machine learning, quantum computing, and computer science. He is in PYPhD in order to improve his communication skills and to contribute to increasing scientific literacy and participation in STEM-based activities.

Patrick Charapata


Patrick is a PhD candidate in the biology department working with Dr. Stephen Trumble, working with marine mammals and artic fish populations.

Shaif Chowdhury


Shaif is a third year graduate student studying computer science.

Chinthaka Fernando


Chinthaka is a 1st year graduate student in the Shaw Lab. He is from Sri Lanka and really love chemistry!

Mayte Gonzalez


Mayte is a PhD candidate in the Shaw Laboratory studying protein charges and electron transfer. She also works with the blind and visually impaired to make science more accessible.

Jacob Hatvany


Jacob is a PhD student in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He works within the Gallagher Lab on initiating and controlling reactions within microdroplets. He is interested in working at the intersection of STEM and Higher Education.

Travis Lato


Travis is a 2nd year graduate student in the Shaw Lab studying electron transfer proteins like cytochrome c. Additionally, he works on making science accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

Heidi Lindsley


Heidi is a PhD graduate student currently rotating in the Biology department. She is interested in genetics and vector biology. Both in her current research and in the future, Heidi is interested in the ways in which science can be used to alleviate disease. 

Isaac Liu


Isaac is a second year graduate student in the engineering department.

Sasha Lubaev


Sasha is a PhD graduate student in the Romero Lab studying organic chemistry.

Tatyana Martynova


Tatyana is currently a PhD graduate student working in Dr. Cheolho Sim’s lab. Her research is focused on studying the sex gene cascade of Culex mosquitoes, which are vectors of serious diseases such as the West Nile virus.


Duncan Miertschin


Duncan is a second year graduate student in the physics department specializing in material science using pulse laser deposition, nano magnetic structures, and laser spectroscopy. He is in the Ferroic Systems lab with Dr. Alan Farhan and the Materials in Extreme Environments lab with Dr. David Hilton.

Lacy Miller


Lacy is a third year graduate student studying biology.

Fernanda Mirón


Fernanda is a second year graduate student in the anthropology department.

Brooke Morris


Brooke is a PhD student working under the guidance of Dr. Stephen Trumble and Dr. Erich Baker. She studies epigenetics of aging in multiple species model, and has been an organizer with TBI for over two years!

Geeth Ongole


Geeth is a PhD student in physics. He studies black holes in the quantum gravity sector.

Patrick Ortiz


Patrick is a Biology PhD student studying the interaction of anti-bacterial mechanisms with the gut microbiome. Currently, he works with the Kearney Lab, but would like to pursue a career in industry, translating science to communities where biotech is often misunderstood.

Marcela Pfaff


Marcela is a 4th year graduate student in the Anthropology department.

Paige Plattner


Paige is a second year graduate student studying anthropology.

Mushafika Rahman


Mushafika is a second year masters student in the Statistical Sciences department. 

Thushani Punchipatabendi


Thushani is a second year biochemistry student in the Trakselis Lab.

Morgan Raines


Morgan is a second year graduate student in the Chan Lab, where she studies Lanthanides.

Anna Samsonov


Anna is currently a second year graduate student studying anthropology.

Chloë Sells


Chloë is currently a third year graduate student studying organic chemistry with the Kane Lab.

Sadia Sinty Disha


Sadia is a PhD candidate studying biochemistry with the Trakselis Lab.

Emily Sperou


Emily is a PhD student in the biology department working with Dr. Sarah Kienle. Emily is broadly interested in investigating the links between organisms’ physiological systems to larger ecological processes. Currently, she is studying ecophysiological traits of an Antarctic apex predator, the leopard seal.

Kyaw Hsu Thway


Kyaw (Jaw) is a PhD student at the Developmental Oncogene Laboratory. He is studying how neighboring cells of breast cancer enhance cancer invasion and therapy resistance.

Colin To


Colin is a second year PhD student in chemistry in the Trakselis Laboratory. My project is focused on elucidating the function(s) and roles of MCM8/9, the heterohexameric helicase complex found in higher eukaryotes.

Liz Waymire


Liz is a PhD student in cellular, molecular, health, and disease biology studying an invasive mosquito in the Horn of Africa. She hopes to work at the CDC one day in infectious diseases and epidemiology.

Nathan Wright


Nathan is a PhD student studying invertebrate paleontology in the department of Geosciences. He is interested in researching the preservation, ecology, and evolution of parasites in the marine fossil record.

Paige Womble


Paige is a PhD graduate student in the Psychology and Neuroscience program.  She is studying with Dr. Joaquin Lugo in a developmental neuroscience lab, and is currently investigating potential therapeutic dietary interventions in an epileptic mouse model.

Nick Wagner


Nick is a 5th year PhD student with the Planetary Research Group studying the planetary geophysics, specifically, studying the inside of Mars via gravity and topography.

Charli Worth


Charli is a PhD graduate student currently rotating in the Biology department. She is interested in molecular biology and wants to help develop methods to fight disease.




Jessica Kostyo

Presenter 2022-2023

Jessica graduated with her PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the Kane Lab.


Carl Bender

Presenter 2019, Dir. of Organizers 2020-22

Carl was a PhD student in the Health Human Performance and Recreation Department. Carl focused on the role that genetics plays in the response to exercise and nutrition interventions.

Rachel Shriver

Presenter, 2021

Rachel is a PhD candidate in the Health Services Research program working with Dr. Michael R. Richards on health policy research.

Keighley Reisenauer

Founder, Presenter, Dir. of Logistics 2017-21

Keighley worked hard to grow PyPhD and remains passionate about STEM education. She graduated with her doctorate and and is now working under a teaching fellowship at Baylor. She plans to continue to pursue a career in SciComm.

Samantha Hodges

Organizer 2018-20

Sam researched developmental neuroscience and organized for several different collaborators. After graduating with her PhD, Sam began a post-doctorate program in Michigan.

Victoria Neises

Organizer 2018-19

Tori studies fatty acids in northern marine mammal population using wet lab and in silico data techniques. She is finishing her degree remotely with her two little girls.

Suzanne Nolan

Organizer 2017-19

Suzanne studied the impact of early-life environmental factors on the development of autistic-like behaviors in mouse models. She graduated with her PhD in 2019.

Gavin Saari

Presenter 2017-18

Gavin studied in Environmental Sciences department and graduated with his PhD in 2018.


Vanessa Muniz

Organizer 2022-2023 

Vanessa is in the Psychology and Neuroscience department, and is now focusing on her studies!


Peyton Little

Presenter 2022-2023

Peyton graduated with her Masters in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and now resides in France!


Lila Musegades

Presenter 2020-22

Lila was a PhD student in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Her research specifically focused on physical chemistry. 


Felicia Osburn

Presenter, 2018-21

Felicia earned her PhD in Biology in Dr. Thad Scott’s lab in 2021. She is now a post doc using stoichiometry to produce teaching modules, and continues her research in freshwater science.

Eva Konstandinova

Presenter and organizer 2018-21

Eva was an active member of PyPhD and graduated with her PhD in physics. She now has a tenure track teaching position where she continues to foster students’ interest in  STEM

Andrew Flynn

Presenter 2018-20

Andrew represented the Geology department during his prolific tenure with PyPhD as a Presenter. He graduated with his PhD in 2020 on his paleobotany research.

Will Matthaeus

Presenter 2018-19

Will was a member of PyPhD as a presenter, focusing on ecological biology and computational models. He is a PhD candidate with the biology department.

Grace Sutherland

Presenter 2018-19

Grace studied predictive toxicity of seafood and other food related toxins. She graduated with her Masters in 2019.

Meron Ghidey

Presenter 2017

Meron studied how plants and bacteria can be used to combat bacteria and their increasing resistance to antibiotics. He  graduated with his PhD in 2019.

Sarah VerPloeg

Presenter 2020-2023 

Sarah’s dissertation focused on atmospheric chemistry, and resulted in her getting a PhD in Environmental Science. 


Megan Behrmann

Director of Logistics 2021-2022; Director of Organizers 2022-2023 

Megan was a Chemistry and Biochemistry PhD candidate studying to DNA. Her research focused on DNA repair mechanisms.  


Will Best


Will was a Statistics PhD candidate studying to improve forecasting accuracy. His research involved collaborating on a NASA satellite data set.  


Grace Aquino

Organizer, 2019-21

Grace is a PhD candidate in the environmental science department. She is currently working to finish her research while writing her dissertation. Happy dissertating, Grace!

Ankan Choudhury

Founder, Dir. of Logistics, Presenter 2018-21

Ankan earned his PhD in the Kearney Lab developing novel delivery methods for synthesized products.  He now works as a post doc studying the human gut microbiome.

Vivian Vigliotti

Organizer 2018-19

Vivian was the first organizer for Transformation Waco, dedicating herself to one of our most intensive collaborations, demonstrating her commitment to PyPhD’s mission and success.

Himasha Perera

Organizer 2018-19

Himasha was a student in Dr. Trakselis’s lab studying the stability, binding and orientation of helicases. After earning her doctorate she started work at a biotech company investigating drug therapies.


Dani Crain

Founder, Presenter 2017-19, Dir. of Presenters, 2018-19

Dani studied sex hormones in whale earplugs. She is near to graduating with her PhD.

Cansu Cetin

Founder, Presenter 2017

Cansu studied at Baylor 2016-17.