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Learn More About the 2022 Neimark Awardees

Established by AAAS Fellow Edith Neimark, the Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Award is intended to assist young scientists in attaining a career in their chosen field. Every year, winners are chosen to receive grants to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting. Learn more about 2022’s five talented recipients and their research below.

headshot of Bianca Convers
Bianca Convers.

Bianca Convers, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tell us about your research.

My graduate research is on how undergraduate non-STEM major students perceive the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccines. We sought to understand the core roots of vaccine hesitancy and if interventional lectures given by science and health professionals, along with a service-learning activity, would aid in alleviating those hesitancies.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your research plans and how did you adapt?

The pandemic forced everyone to go virtual, so my research plans followed. My research group adjusted quickly as we decided to look at virtual interventions to alleviate the ongoing vaccine hesitancy at the beginning of the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines. It required us to become more creative when planning out our methods, however, we rose to the challenge and successfully completed this study.

What did winning the Neimark award mean to you?

Winning the Neimark award allowed me an opportunity to share my research with other professionals. It allowed me to gain a unique perspective from other scientists and get questions and feedback from those who come from a variety of different backgrounds. I am so thankful and appreciative to have had this opportunity to present to a public audience at this conference.

What is your biggest career hope/dream?

My goal is to pursue a career in dentistry and explore how my research relates to this field.

headshot of Katie Jordan
Katherine (Katie) Jordan.

Katherine (Katie) Jordan, Carnegie Mellon University

Tell us about your research.

In my work, I use an energy system optimization model to explore the tradeoffs between various decarbonization policies. I examine how policies across economic sectors can work synergistically to reduce nationwide emissions in the U.S.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your research plans and how did you adapt?

Like many others, I struggled with pandemic-related burnout. I adapted by leaning on my advisors and my peers for support, maintaining a work-life balance, and consciously reminding myself why I do this work- to support a clean and equitable world for current and future generations.

What did winning the Neimark award mean to you?

Above all, winning the Neimark award allowed me to present my work to a broad audience and to connect with researchers in a broad array of fields. As AAAS emphasizes interdisciplinary thinking, the Neimark award gave me a platform to interface with researchers in areas I wouldn’t be otherwise likely to encounter. The award also helped me refine my academic discussion facilitation skills and gave me the chance to practice presenting to a broad audience.

What is your biggest career hope/dream?

My biggest career dream is to work alongside policymakers to inform cutting-edge energy policy. I firmly believe that interdisciplinary collaborations are necessary to tackle the problem of climate change, so I look forward to a career working on an interdisciplinary team to address our world’s most pressing problems.

headshot of Aylin Memili
Aylin Memili.

Aylin Memili, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tell us about your research.

I apply omics tools to understand the mechanics of the gut microbiome and evolutionary pathways of drug resistant bacteria. I also conduct studies that explore how antibiotic resistant bacteria acquire resistance over time and which evolutionarily conserved regions can be targeted in future drug research.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your research plans and how did you adapt?

Learning how to communicate effectively over technology turned out to be the biggest adaptation to my workflow. We no longer had the convenience of stopping by the office next door to ask quick questions and make meeting plans. In a way, the COVID-19 pandemic made us better planners—we became more organized using online calendars and had planned meetings.

What did winning the Neimark award mean to you?

I am grateful for the Neimark award and the platform it provides for students at the graduate level to present research at a prestigious conference. The valuable exchange of knowledge that occurs during this meeting is crucial for introducing me to the vast opportunities in science. I am passionate about genomics research and discussing the traits people are investigating gives me food for thought to explore in my own studies.

What is your biggest career hope/dream?

My dream is to develop improved polygenic risk score approaches that account for the genetic variation we see between ethnicities and apply them in the clinical setting. The benefits of research should not be limited to a subset of the vast population, and unfortunately several genetics studies continue to be based on solely European-American populations. Studying populations beyond the most convenient sample of individuals will be crucial for developing genomics tools that are relevant to the health of others’ ethnicities.  

Ghazal Shabestanipour, Tufts University

Ghazal Shabestanipour.

Tell us about your research.

My research is focused on addressing hydrologic model extremes in addition to exploring different climate change scenarios that effect small scale hydrologic systems. We integrated an unbiased local Stochastic Weather Generator with our developed Stochastic Watershed model to explore different scenarios and realizations of climate and hydrologic changes.

What did winning the Neimark award mean to you?

I am planning to pursue a career in academia. Awards such as this one helps my work get the attention it deserves. Being able to be connected to so many different people from different fields and discussing my research was an amazing opportunity. This was a valuable opportunity for me at the early stages of my career to practice scientific communication to individuals from different backgrounds.

What is your biggest career hope/dream?

My two passions in life are protecting the environment and empowering next generation of women engineers. My goal is to stay in academia to be able to do research in climate change adaptation and hydrology as well as being an encouraging mentor for young women in engineering.

headshot of Jamie Yelland
Jamie Yelland.

Jamie Yelland, University of Texas at Austin

Tell us about your research.

I study the pathways of eukaryotic ribosome assembly, i.e., how cells like ours make ribosomes, the cellular machines that produce all of life's proteins. I found that a single ribosomal RNA modification—one tiny methyl group attached in the ribosome's active site—is important to move the whole pathway forward. I've used a unique and powerful combination of yeast genetics and cryo-electron microscopy to support this discovery.

What did winning the Neimark award mean to you?

I am truly grateful to have had the chance to present my research to a larger audience, and to have learned so much from others' work and ideas. Winning the Neimark award also reminded and reassured me that our fundamental research questions are important to share with the wider world!

What is your biggest career hope/dream?

Someday I'd like to be on the faculty of a liberal arts college or a similar, primarily undergraduate institution. I would really enjoy teaching a range of courses and running a small research lab, helping students achieve their next career steps while advancing important and accessible research.

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