Current Leadership

President– Triparna Sen, PhD


Triparna Sen

Triparna is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Thoracic Head and Neck Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Master of Science in Genetics from the University of Calcutta, India. She was awarded PhD from Jadavpur University, India, for her work on role of matrix metalloproteinases and tumor microenvironment in cancer progression and metastasis. She is currently focused on the application of genomic and proteomic platforms for identifying effective preclinical therapeutic targets for lung cancer. Triparna’s current research identified promising therapeutic targets for small cell lung cancer and she will apply this knowledge to develop more effective personalized therapy for cancer patients. She serves in the Editorial Board of 2 international peer reviewed journals and is in the review board of 5 international peer reviewed journals. Triparna’s constant effort has been to devote her time and expertise equally between her research and societal causes. She is the founder member of two nonprofit organizations which provide health education, financial assistance, medical support and medical provisions for underprivileged children. She is passionate about raising community awareness of importance of women in STEM at all career levels and is very excited about her role as President of AWIS-GCH.

In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading books about history and world culture, cooking and volunteering.

Senior Chapter Trustee – Brittany C. Parker Kerrigan, PhD

Brittany Parker

Brittany Parker

Brittany is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She received her bachelor’s of science in Biology from the University of California, Irvine. At Irvine, Brittany became increasingly interested in neuroscience while she performed Huntington Disease research in the laboratory of the respected neuroscientist, Dr. Gary Lynch. She earned her Ph.D. at UT MD Anderson in 2014, where she studied molecular pathologies behind formation of high-grade brain tumor. Brittany is passionate about encouraging young women to pursue a career in the STEM fields, and is honored to be President of AWIS GCH. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Vice President – Delphine Boulbes, PhD


Delphine Boulbes

Delphine is a Senior Research Scientist in the department of Surgical Oncology at UT – MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research focuses on the influence of the microenvironment on the cancer stem cell phenotype in metastatic colon cancer. She received her PhD in Biological Sciences in France, followed by two postdoctoral fellowships at UT-MDACC. In her freetime, Delphine enjoys horseback riding, salsa dancing and social activities, and also volunteers in the dog rescue group K9 Angels.

Programming Committee


Esmeralda Ramirez-Pena

  • Esmeralda Ramirez-Pena. Esmeralda’s scientific journey has led her to pursue a graduate degree at the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences that focuses on metabolic changes that drive metastatic breast cancer. Her passion is sharing her love of science through community involvement, traveling, exploring new restaurants, and dancing. 
  • Lory Santiago-Vazquez, PhD, Chair, Career Development
  • Kimberly Mankiewicz, PhD, ELS, Secretary

Treasurer  – Yong Park, PhD


Yong Park

Yong is a postdoctoral associate at Baylor College of Medicine supported by the Clayton Foundation for Research. He recently received his PhD at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in visual sciences with an emphasis on neuroscience and pharmacology. Trying to understand the pathophysiology processes of glaucoma to counter the neurodegenerative effects of the disease, Yong studied the excitotoxic and neuroprotective cell signaling mechanisms that occur in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) following the stimulation of the AMPA receptor. As a postdoctoral associate, he continues his research in understanding the etiology of glaucoma, with an aim to identify specific genes that are regulated during the early developmental stages of glaucoma that could be utilized as markers for diagnosis.

Noticing a disparity among the minority groups in the field of STEM throughout his career, Yong has committed a great deal of time to representing and fighting for the aspirations and needs of his fellow colleagues. He has mentored and motivated young minds in pursuing a career in STEM, in which Yong has been involved in such groups as AWIS, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS), and the Summer Multicultural Advance Research Training (SMART) program. As treasurer for AWIS, Yong hopes to advocate collaboration and opportunities for all members, as well as increasing membership, participation, and awareness of successful women in science through high quality events and programs.

Yong spends his free time going to the dog park with his dog Hemingway.

Secretary– Kimberly Mankiewicz, PhD, ELS

Kimberly Mankiewicz

Kimberly Mankiewicz

Kim is currently the Medical/Technical Editor/Writer for the Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). She holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston and a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. Kim is a certified Editor in the Life Sciences and an expert in communicating science to various audiences through lay and technical venues. She is also a Director-at-Large for Houston for the American Medical Writers Association Southwest Chapter and member of the Administrative Council for the Houston chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. In addition to serving AWIS GCH as Secretary, Kim is also part of the PR, Career Development, and Programming committees, with a large role in managing social media and the website. In her spare time, she enjoys being a mom to her beagle/basset mix dog Maddysun and reading.

Chair, Membership- Sara Wright, PhD


Sara photo

Sara Wright


Sara is a Postdoctoral Associate at Baylor College of Medicine, where she is currently focused on characterizing mutations which are important for ligand binding of a metabotropic glutamate receptor expressed in retinal bipolar cells.  She earned a B.S. in Chemistry with a Microbiology sub-focus at the California State University, Pomona and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Riverside.  Her graduate work focused on GPCR signaling in filamentous fungi, and for her postdoctoral studies she decided to extend her knowledge and study GPCR signaling in the visual signaling pathway in mammals. In her free time, Sara enjoys discovering fun new places in Houston with her 7 year old daughter, dancing, and listening to live music.

Chair, Career Development – Lory Santiago-Vazquez, PhD

Lory- AWIS 2016

Lory Santiago-Vazquez

Lory is an associate professor of biology and biotechnology at the University of Houston, Clear Lake. Her research group utilizes biotechnology to study environmental issues. The main focus of her lab centers in the health of soft corals by analyzing their associated microbiome and stress signalling pathways. She also studies bacterial communities associated to oil-field pipelines affected by microbial-influenced corrosion. IN her free time, she spends time with her husband and almost 5-year-old daughter. She loves to travel and learn about new cultures.

Career Development Committee

  • Tamara Laskowski
  • Valerie Bomben
  • Ana Stuckett
  • Efi Tsouko, PhD
  • Georgina Salazar, PhD
  • Delphine Boulbes, PhD, VP of Programming
  • Kimberly Mankiewicz, PhD, ELS, Secretary

Chair, Public Relations – Deepika Kumar, MS


Deepika Kumar

Deepika is a PhD candidate in the department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in microbiology from Osmania University, India. Her current research includes the study of the evolution of and significance of modified bases in ribosomal RNA. Deepika has been a part of the AWIS GCH PR committee for the past 2 years as writer and editor of the AWIS GCH newsletter. She is excited to join the AWIS GCH board as the PR chair to further its mission to create awareness and mentoring platforms for STEM professionals in the greater Houston area. In her spare time, she likes to read on a wide range of topics, watch movies, and explore new places and cuisine.

Chair, Fundraising– Caitlin Edmunds Nurik, MS

catie headshot

Caitlin Edmunds Nurik

Caitlin is a PhD student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. She graduated from Scripps College with a bachelor’s in biochemistry. Her undergraduate training was primarily in physical chemistry, as she trained for three years in NMR spectroscopy. Her undergraduate thesis used solid and solution-state NMR techniques to explore the effects of DNA methylation on its potential binding dynamics. She also served as a researcher for NASA JPL for a year, as a member of the U.S. Rosetta Mission. At NASA, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), Caitlin developed predictions of comet surface chemistry. She followed her increasing interest in structural biology to her home state of Texas, where she studies neuronal receptor binding activity using structural techniques in the laboratory of Vasanthi Jayaraman. Caitlin has enjoyed years of both tutoring and political activism. In her spare time, she uses her training in cooking to create dishes for her friends and family; she and her husband enjoy the social opportunities and active lifestyle of living downtown.

Chair, Outstanding Women in Science – Menton Deweese, PhD


Menton Deweese

Menton is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Behavioral Science and a Trainee in the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Menton earned her BS in Psychology from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. Her interests in the neural underpinnings of behavior and perception led her to pursue a MS and PhD in the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences program at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. As a postdoctoral fellow, Menton employs psychophysiological measures to assess the relationship between cognition, emotion, and the maintenance of smoking behavior, cessation, and relapse. In her free time, Menton can be found outside, where she enjoys listening to live music, running, cycling, playing with her lab rescue, Greta, and relaxing with her husband.

Chair, Scholarship– Hima Vangapandu, PhD

Hima Vangapandu

Hima Vangapandu, PhD

Chair, Outreach– Marc Nurik, MBA


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