AWIS Governance

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., Histogen Inc., and Humacyte, 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.

Secretary Robert Powell, PhD

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

Executive Chair and Partner, Primary BioAg Innovations and Global BioAg Linkages, Founder and Director Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.

Dr. Marrone spent her 30+ year career focused on leading the way to a more sustainable agriculture through discovery and commercialization of biological products for pest management and plant health. She is currently Executive Chair of Primary BioAg Innovations and Global BioAg Linkages, founded to help agtech/bioag innovators scale and succeed in market adoption. She started Davis-based Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 and was recently named “Most Admired CEO, Distinguished Career Award” by the Sacramento Business Journal. On August 2, 2013, MBI listed its stock as MBII on NASDAQ. On August 2nd 2020, she retired as CEO and continues to serve on the Board and as an advisor. She is also on the Board of 180 Life Sciences Corp.

Black and white professional photo of Isabel Escobar

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 Pamela McCauley, PhD

Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Wilson College of Textiles, North Carolina State University

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 and Chapter Advisory Committee  Chair, Brittany Parker Kerrigan, PhD

Scientific Manager in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Brittany C. Parker Kerrigan, PhD is a scientific administrator within the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is co-creator and oversees operations of CATALYST (CNS Tumor AnaLYsis STream) an effort to profile patients’ CNS biospecimens in a streamlined, comprehensive, multi-platform way. She also manages the Glioblastoma Moon Shot, a multi-million dollar research portfolio, and other multi-investigator grants. She regularly interacts with donors and assists in overseeing the overall scientific direction of the Brain Tumor Center. Dr. Parker Kerrigan served as President of the Houston Chapter of AWIS and is currently Chair of the AWIS Chapter Advisory Committee. She was named the 2020 University of Texas MD Anderson Department of Neurosurgery Employee of the Year. Dr. Parker Kerrigan earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Irvine, and then performed research in the industry sector for Allergan, Inc. She then earned her PhD in neuroscience, graduating summa cum laude from the UT Health MD Anderson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Neelima Rao

Councilor Neelima Rao

Vice President of Human Resources for Global Oncology R&D and North America Country Lead at AstraZeneca 

At AstraZeneca, Neelima Rao is responsible for defining and implementing workforce and workplace strategy across multiple geographies globally. She also serves as the HR Chair of the AstraZeneca North America Governance Committee. She has over 20 years of experience driving successful change, growth, and innovation across complex and global organizations in the Life Sciences industry. She has led large-scale transformational agenda in acquisition, ramp-up, turnaround and integration environment. Rao is passionate about driving business outcomes through designing fit-for purpose organizations, building high performing teams and shaping desired cultures. She has a Master’s degree in human resources from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. In addition to serving the AWIS board, Rao has been serving as an Inclusive Growth Committee Advisor for Greater Washington Partnership, a civic alliance focused on catalyzing equitable solutions that make the region the best place to live, work, and thrive.

Councilor and Finance Committee Chair, Karene Richards

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.

Educational Committee Chair,
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.

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.

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