A Community Superhero is a AAAS Member who is a conversation starter, social butterfly and science enthusiast. They love to help other STEM supporters and ask questions that draw deeper into thought-provoking conversations. Superheroes facilitate discussions, recommend content topics and themes, and advise AAAS Staff on ways to improve AAAS Community. Our Superheroes are influential to bettering science communication and are leaders in breaking through communication barriers for the greater good of STEM.
AAAS Member Community is passing the mic to 26 scientists who will be serving as AAAS Community Superheroes. These scientists from all over the U.S. will serve as thought leaders and virtual event facilitators over the next year for topic-specific community boards on AAAS Member Community. Learn more about them here and below:
Dr. David E. Anderson is board-certified in veterinary surgery and is an American College of Veterinary Science Founding Fellow of Minimally Invasive Surgery (Large Animal Soft Tissue). He is a AAAS Fellow, a Food Systems Leadership Institute Fellow (Cohort 17), and served as a Regional Director for the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners and a Regent of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Anderson’s research interests include animal models, development of novel surgical techniques, regenerative medicine, biomaterials, tissue regenerative scaffolds, and translational medicine.
Kathryn Asalone, Ph.D., is an Associate Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Although her Ph.D. program was in Neuroscience, her main science research focus was in genetics and computational genomics identifying sequences on the germline-restricted chromosome in zebra finch! She is passionate about building a stronger community for student and postdoc members of AAAS.
Adriana Bankston is a Principal Legislative Analyst at the University of California Office of Federal Governmental Relations in Washington, DC, where she serves as an advocate for the university with Congress, the Administration and federal agencies. In addition to working at UC, Adriana is the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Publisher of the Journal of Science Policy & Governance, an internationally recognized non-profit organization and peer-reviewed publication dedicated to empowering early career scientists, engineers, and policy professionals in international science policy debate. She is a Fellow with Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), leading a project on developing the next generation workforce through science policy as a bridge between science and society. She is also a Biomedical Workforce & Policy Research Investigator at the STEM Advocacy Institute, and a member of the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition Steering Committee. Adriana earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University.
Chris Bolden is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, TX. He has two science passions; the first passion is translational neuroscience and the mechanisms that affect cognition, the other science passion is science education. He loves educating people about the way science influences our day-to-day life. As part of his postdoc, he is currently working on a novel in vitro platform to study Traumatic Brain Injury which takes most of his time.
Endia Santee Crabtree is a Senior Clinical Evaluation Scientist, Peripheral Interventions Clinical Product Risk at Boston Scientific. Her mission is to advance medical device risk/benefit science to improve equitable patient safety and health outcomes on a global scale. Through active participation in standing DEI and health equity committees, she aims to improve and sustain cultural, racial, gender, LGBTQ+, age, and disability status diversity in STEM careers.
Ireti Eni is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at Meharry Medical College in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology. Her research focuses on collagen turnover during wound healing events. She loves teaching and hopes to become a principal investigator and professor at an academic institution. She would like to help student members of the AAAS network and support each other.
AAAS Fellow David Ervin is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Management and Economics at Portland State University. He received his Ph.D. from Oregon State University and B.S. and M.S. degrees from The Ohio State University. His career includes posts in academia, the federal government and non-profit think-tanks. David has taught courses in environmental economics and management, the economics of sustainability, and business environmental management. He chaired the 2008-10 National Research Council’s Committee “Impact of Biotechnology on Farm Sustainability in the United States,” and served as principal investigator of a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) project “Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions.” He has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University and had consultations with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
AAAS Fellow Joseph Graves, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Environmental, Evolutionary and Systematic Biology from Wayne State University in 1988. In 2012, he was chosen as one of the “Sensational Sixty” commemorating 60 years of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Award. In 2017, he was listed as an “Outstanding Graduates” in Biology at Oberlin College and was an “Innovator of the Year” in US Black Engineer Magazine. His research in the evolutionary genomics of adaptation shapes our understanding of biological aging and bacterial responses to nanomaterials. He leads programs addressing underrepresentation of minorities in science. He also aids underserved youth in Greensboro via the YMCA chess program. He has served on the Racial Reconciliation and Justice Commission, and COVID Vaccination Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. He is currently the science advisor to the Chicago, New Brunswick, and Methodist of Ohio Theological Seminaries through the AAAS Dialogues of Science, Ethics, and Religion program.
AAAS Fellow Chris Impey aims to convey the excitement of astronomy in as many ways as possible to a large public audience. He is currently Associate Dean of the College of Science at the University of Arizona. For 17 years, he was Deputy Head of the Astronomy Department. Chris is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society. He has also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, and Carnegie Council on Teaching’s Arizona Professor of the Year. He was a co-chair of the Education and Public Outreach Study Group for the 2010 Decadal Survey of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2014, Chris became the first astronomer named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor.
Steven Mana‘oakamai Johnson is a Provost's Faculty Fellow postdoc at Cornell University in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (incoming Assistant Professor in Fall 2023). He is an interdisciplinary marine scientist who uses social, environmental, and climate data to develop equitable and cooperative solutions for coastal communities. His research has been published in One Earth, Biological Conservation, Nature Ecology & Evolution, and Nature Climate Change. Johnson’s research is inspired by his upbringing in Micronesia and his kuleana (cultural responsibility) as a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Native Hawaiian) to care for the planet for the generations yet to come.
AAAS Fellow David Kirchman is a professor emeritus at the University of Delaware, where he has been since 1986. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology from Harvard University in 1982. David is generally interested in microbial oceanography and microbial ecology of bacteria. His previous work has focused on the role of heterotrophic and photoheterotrophic bacteria in the oceanic carbon cycle, including the use of metagenomic tools to reveal the potential function of uncultured microbes. He is currently working on a book exploring links between climate change and microbes in both terrestrial and marine habitats.
Gail Mattson is an environment, safety and health (ES&H) professional and program manager with over 40 years of experience in environmental engineering, safety, radiological control, project management and management of operations for federal and state agencies, as well as industrial clients. She has a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology and received her M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington. Presently, she is working as an ES&H consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy at several national laboratories. In addition to 35 years of involvement with the Society of Women Engineers at the section, region and national levels, including the FY01 National President, she has served on the national Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., and is a founding member of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES).
Gia Grier McGinnis has over 17 years of experience in higher education civic engagement, informal STEM and environmental education, and public outreach programming. She is the Executive Director of Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Community, Service, and Justice and the York Road Initiative. Prior to coming to Loyola, she was the Executive Director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore CURE Scholars Program, a STEM and healthcare career pipeline program for West Baltimore youth. Gia earned her DrPH from Morgan State University, her M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Washington College. She has a passion for public engagement in science, health, and the environment and looks forward to supporting the AAAS Students and Postdocs Community.
AAAS Fellow Harikrishna Nakshatri, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., is the Marian J. Morrison Chair of Breast Cancer Research and professor of surgery, biochemistry and molecular biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is also the Associate Director for Education at the Indiana University Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. He serves as a Research Career Scientist at the VA Roudebush Medical center. In addition, he is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank. Harikrishna studies the molecular drivers of therapy resistance in breast cancer. His laboratory was the first to identify the role of the protein complex, NF-kappaB, which controls genes that respond to environmental stress and infection, in triple negative breast cancer. He also identified biomarkers that may predict response to anti-estrogen therapy.
Kehinde Olagunju’s area of specialization is in environmental health. She is an expert in ambient and in-door air quality monitoring and currently works with an environmental consulting firm in Chicago. Kehinde is also a hazardous waste specialist, licensed to practice in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. She got her master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Environmental Science.
AAAS Fellow Irene M. Pepperberg is an adjunct Research Professor at Boston University and an affiliate in the Animal Behavior and Conservation Program, Hunter College, CUNY. She has been a Research Associate and Lecturer at Harvard, a visiting Assistant Professor (Northwestern University), tenured Associate Professor (University of Arizona), visiting Associate Professor (MIT Media Lab, where she studied animal-human-computer interfaces) and adjunct associate professor (Brandeis). She received John Simon Guggenheim, Selby, and Radcliffe Fellowships, is a Fellow of APA, APS, the Psychonomic Society, Animal Behavior Society, the American Ornithologists’ Union, and the Midwest and Eastern Psychological Associations. For forty-five years, she has trained Grey parrots to use English speech referentially, then employs this communication code to examine their intelligence.
AAAS Fellow Dave Pritchard is a physics professor at MIT. He has carried out pioneering experiments on the interaction of atoms with light that led to the creation of the field of atom optics. Dave has a life-long interest in teaching expertise in problem solving in physics. Spanning a very wide spectrum in both Atomic Physics and Education Research, his frequent modus operandi is to develop instrumentation with new capabilities, then conduct path-opening research with it—both fundamental and practical. Throughout his career, Dave has mentored three Nobel prizewinners. In his real life, he and his wife Andrea have extensively modified four houses. For relaxation, they sail and race their 30’ classic sailboat.
Samiksha (Sami) Raut is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has a wide range of teaching experiences spanning across two different institutions including a Hispanic-serving institution in northwest Georgia and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). At UAB, she is actively involved in instructing majors and non-majors’ biology students. Her teaching philosophy embraces the realms of scientific teaching and utilizes high-impact practices like service-learning. Among her notable achievements include adapting the non-major’s biology curriculum to a theme-based approach by implementing service-learning in a large-enrollment class (n>100+). This has led to multiple research projects investigating the effectivity of service-learning as it applies to many societal topics of interest including climate change, plastic pollution, COVID-19 safety measures, vaccine hesitancy and opioid addiction.
Elliot Richman is an organic chemist specializing in synthetic methodology and natural products. He holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester, studied at the University of Pennsylvania, and was a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. He has been a scientific/medical editor/writer since 1978. After the Twin Towers fell, he re-evaluated his goals and became a high school teacher of chemistry and physics. He has a conservatory degree (Diploma, Mannes College of Music) and is dedicated to mentoring college students, recent graduates, science writers, and science teachers.
Mayuri Sadoine is a research associate at Heinrich-Heine University (HHU) in Duesseldorf, Germany. She has expertise in molecular biophysics, bioengineering and microbiology. She is passionate about science and feels very lucky to have made it her dream job. Her research focuses on plant-microbe interactions with a strong interest in plant-pathogens. Outside of the lab, she is interested in teaching, mentoring and advancing fairness and equity in the field by advocating for diversity in STEM.
Gabriel-Philip Santos received his B.Sc. in Biology at University of California-Irvine, and his M.Sc. in Geology focusing on vertebrate paleontology at California State University-Fullerton. His research interests originally focused on the vertebrate paleontology of Southern California, but now focuses on informal science education. Gabe is also an active science communicator on social media. He joined the Alf Museum of Paleontology in 2015 as collections manager and Outreach Coordinator. Additionally, Gabe is a co-founder of the Cosplay for Science Initiative, a science communication initiative that uses cosplay and pop culture narratives to make science and scientists more relatable and accessible.
Jadson C. Santos (Jall) is a first-generation student and African-Indigenous descendent who became a scientist to help tackle complex real-world problems through science. In his Ph.D. journey, he conducts scientific research integrating experimental and computational data in collaborative projects to understand the impact of pathogenic mutations on the immune system. He also leads and manages projects as a co-chair of the Career Development Subcommittee at the Genetics Society of America. Jall also writes a personal newsletter about leadership and collaboration in science. Since 2020, he has worked as a mentor and coach for undergraduate and graduate students in career development. He is passionate about all areas of science—his career purpose is to support scientists to work collaboratively, innovate and illuminate knowledge to co-create a better world for all.
Daniel Schatt received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and University of Tennessee, respectively. He has been a Geographic Information Systems Analyst at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science since 1997. The institute provides science-based advisory services for policy makers and other stakeholders. His work involves many aspects of coastal resource management in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries including analyses of wetlands habitat, aquaculture practices, and fisheries. Many of his projects involve determining impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding on the Virginia coastline in various sea level rise scenarios.
AAAS Fellow Nancy Butler Songer is Dean and Professor in the College of Education at the University of Utah. Her research work focuses on creating instructional and assessment systems that emphasize pre-college students' science investigations and engineered solutions to address local STEM challenges. She was the first Science Educator to receive a Presidential Faculty Fellowship (now PECASE). She was also Co-Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee: Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12 and a recipient of two Fulbright awards.
Hannah Taylor is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Biochemistry at Utah State University and mother to a one-year-old. She studies novel CRISPR systems, which bacteria use to defend themselves from phages. Her science passion is figuring out how things work at the cellular level, especially in microorganisms. She loves teaching scientific concepts to others and sharing what she knows.
Adrian Tymes is passionate about getting technology and resources into the hands of those who will get good use out of it. (For example, his work for CubeCab can be thought of as, "What if every university - that has faculty and students who would actually use it - could afford its own space program, without having to ask for grants?") He is in the middle of developing a rocket (CubeCab's Cab-3A) to make academic satellites a lot more feasible, and also helping to make masks as part of the COVID-19 response.