Meet the AWIS National Governing Board
President Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD
Managing Director, Biomedical Innovation Advisors, LLC, and President and CEO, Biomedical Growth Strategies, LLC
Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister is a world-renowned innovation expert, recognized by the Boston Globe as one of the “10 Most Influential Women in Biotech” in 2013. Dr. Windham-Bannister currently serves as managing partner of Biomedical Innovation Advisors LLC, president and CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies, LLC and member of the Board of Directors of Aridis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, Doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, and Doctorate of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (honoris causa). She has been an AWIS member since 2016.
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
and of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis
Dr. Robert Powell has been a faculty member at the University of California Davis since 1984. From 2002 until 2011, he was chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. In addition to his academic position, Dr. Powell serves as science advisor to the Secretary of the California Department of Natural Resources. In 2014 he was appointed to chair the Science and Technology Committee. Dr. Powell has published over 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He holds a Bachelor, Masters of Science and Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and has been an active AWIS member since 2015.
Treasurer Pamela Marrone, PhD
CEO and Founder, Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.
Dr. Pam Marrone is the CEO and founder of Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBII: NASDAQ). In December 2013, she was named the Sacramento Businessperson of the Year for the Sacramento, California, region by the Sacramento Business Journal. Her peers elected Dr. Marrone as a Fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). She has a Bachelor of Science in Entomology, with honors and distinction, from Cornell University and Doctorate in Entomology from North Carolina State University. Dr. Marrone has been an active AWIS member since 1994.
Councilor Vasudev Bailey, PhD
Partner, ARTIS Ventures
Vasudev (“Vas”) Bailey, PhD, is a partner at ARTIS Ventures where he focuses on investing in novel and breakthrough health and life sciences companies. He currently sits on 10 boards, including Eko, Unnatural Products, Inc., Aether, IDbyDNA, Association for Women in Sciences (AWIS), Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, and The Trevor Project. He is founder of ARTIS’ Healthcare Pioneers, which brings together some of the world’s brightest minds to accelerate and incubate life-changing ideas in healthcare. Vasudev received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he was both a Siebel and a Medtronic Scholar and member of Sigma Xi.
Millennial Councilor Jennifer Blum, PhD
Data Scientist, Axiologic Solutions
Dr. Jennifer Blum is an astrophysicist and graduated from Columbia University with Bachelor in Astrophysics. In 2011, she was the first African American in five years to obtain a Doctorate in Astrophysics at the University of Michigan. Her expertise is in black holes, and she was a Rackham Science Award Fellow. She has been trained by multiple mentors, including Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Blum was a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) while at the University of Michigan. She is an AWIS DC mentoring circle leader and has participated in Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conferences. Dr. Blum was a researcher for the Department of Defense and now works as a data scientist at Axiologic Solutions. Her hobbies include professional voice acting in radio commercials.
Councilor Jennifer Elisseeff, PhD
Professor, Johns Hopkins
Dr. Elisseeff is the Morton Goldberg Professor and Director of the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Wilmer Eye Institute with appointments in Chemical and Biological Engineering, Materials Science and Orthopedic Surgery. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. She was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, and a Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum. In 2002 she was named by MIT Technology Review as a top innovator under 35. She is an AWIS sustaining member.
Councilor Isabel Escobar, PhD
Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky
Isabel Escobar, PhD is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and associate director of the Center of Membrane Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Escobar joined the University of Kentucky in August of 2015, after spending fifteen years at The University of Toledo. Escobar is Associate Editor of Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy Journal, a quarterly publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Dr. Escobar’s research focuses on developing and/or improving polymeric membrane materials for water treatment and water reuse operations. She and her research group have published over 75 articles in peer-reviewed journals, have made over 200 presentations at national/international conferences, and edited two books. Dr. Escobar is currently a Benefactor member of AWIS, and has been a member of AWIS since 2003.
Councilor Sara Kenkare-Mitra, PhD
Senior Vice President, Development Sciences, Genentech
Sara Kenkare-Mitra, PhD, is senior vice president of development sciences at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Dr. Kenkare-Mitra has had a significant impact on the development of a number of medicines leading to Genentech’s key product approvals including Avastin®, Tarceva®, Lucentis®, Xolair®, Erivedge®, Perjeta®, and Kadcyla® and more than 65 Investigational New Drug applications. Dr. Kenkare-Mitra also is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF. She was selected one of the 150 Most Influential Business Women by San Francisco Business Times in 2011. Dr. Kenkare-Mitra was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy in 2014. She has been a member of AWIS since 2010.
Councilor Wendy Mayer, MBA
Vice President Strategy, Pfizer Innovative Health
Wendy Mayer, MBA, is vice president of strategy at Pfizer Innovative Health. In this role, she is responsible for articulating and evaluating strategic opportunities across Pfizer’s Innovative portfolio (Vaccines, Oncology, Internal Medicine, Rare Disease, Immunology & Inflammation, and Consumer Health), including business development and transformative innovation. She joined Pfizer in 1997 and has had various roles across different aspects of the commercial organization. She is an AWIS sustaining member.
Councilor Pamela McCauley, PhD
Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems, University of Central Florida
Dr. Pamela McCauley, an award-winning university educator and internationally recognized industrial engineering researcher in the development of mathematical models, human engineering, and engineering leadership. She was named program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Computer Information Science and Engineering Directorate’s I-Corps Program to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory and accelerate the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded basic-research projects. She has been an active AWIS member since 2015, energetically motivating women around the world to pursue their STEM educational and professional goals.
Councilor Gillian Small, PhD
Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Dr. Gillian Small was recently named provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Prior to this, she served as dean for research at the City University of New York (CUNY) and was appointed vice chancellor for research. Dr. Small came to the United States in 1985 to conduct postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University in New York in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Christian DeDuve. Dr. Small received a Doctorate in Biological Sciences from Wolverhampton Polytechnic (now University of Wolverhampton) in England. She has been an active AWIS member since 2012.
Councilor Elizabeth L. Travis, PhD
Associate Vice President, Women Faculty Programs; Mattie Allen Fair Professor in Cancer Research; and Professor in the Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, Division of Radiation Oncology,
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Elizabeth Travis is an internationally recognized scientist who has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the effects of radiation on normal tissue. She is a fellow of the American Society of Radiation Oncology and a recipient of the Leadership Development Award from the Group on Women in Medicine and Science of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Travis is a tireless advocate for women faculty and is committed to furthering their academic careers and to seeing them appointed to leadership positions. She has been an active AWIS member since 2008.
Chair, Chapter and Affiliates Committee
Brittany Parker Kerrigan, PhD
Scientific Manager in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Brittany C. Parker Kerrigan, PhD, is the Scientific Manager in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Irvine, she performed research in the industry sector for Allergan, Inc. She then earned a PhD in neuroscience from the UT Health MD Anderson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Parker Kerrigan is currently responsible for managing the Glioblastoma Moon Shot and other multi-investigator grants, maintaining donor relations, and assists in the overall scientific direction of the department. A strong proponent for the acquisition and retention of women and minorities in STEM, Dr. Parker Kerrigan has served various leadership outreach positions, including President of the Houston Chapter of AWIS. She is currently Chair of the AWIS National’s Chapter’s Committee, where she oversees all 80 AWIS Chapters and affiliates across the United States. She has a strong background in scientific communication, leadership, and grant management and acquisition, with awards totaling $17,000,000+ brought into MD Anderson.
Chair, Audit & Finance Committee
CEO, The Karene Group LLC
Karene Richards is a capital markets quantitative expert and women’s advocate with over 14 years’ experience in the investment banking industry. Ms. Richards most notably built the first carbon finance model for the World Bank in addition to a mortgage backed security model that generated $25M for Route 66 Ventures. She received a Master of Financial Mathematics and Statistics from Columbia University and Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from Howard University. She is a member of Women in Housing and Finance and has been an AWIS benefactor since 2016.
Chair, Educational Committee
Gretchen L. Schieber, PhD, MBA
Core Lab Staff Scientist, NIH
Gretchen Schieber, PhD, MBA, has led programs in pharmaceutical, biotech, and research environments, including several balanced on the cutting edge of the latest scientific discoveries. She has been a core lab staff scientist at NIH since 2009. In that role she works with NIAID’s intramural researchers to design systems and establish processes for bringing discoveries from bench to bedside. Prior to NIH, she worked in industry in various roles, including vice president of product development, senior program manager, quality assurance manager, and development group leader at companies making medical diagnostic tests, reagents, and research tools. She earned her Doctorate in Cell Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Florida, studying mitochondrial ribosomes. She has been an AWIS sustaining member since 1993.
AWIS is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies, and supporters worldwide. You could be one of them.