Kathryn Oliver, PhD

President  |  president@awisga.org

Dr. Kathryn Oliver completed her B.S. (2009, Zoology) and M.S. (2011, Microbiology) at Auburn University, followed by Ph.D. (2016; Genetics, Genomics, & Bioinformatics) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Oliver joined the Emory University Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Center in 2017 to study the impact of modulating translational velocity/fidelity on protein synthesis, folding, maturation, and activity. She previously received fellowships from the CF Foundation and Burroughs Wellcome Fund for this work and is currently funded by a highly competitive NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. In collaboration with investigators from Georgia Tech, Dr. Oliver also contributes to studies concerning nanoparticle-based gene delivery to airway basal (progenitor) cells. In 2017, she received the ‘Junior Investigator Best Abstract in Basic Science’ award at the North American CF Conference (recipient among ~150 international competitors). She has received more than 20 service, leadership, or professional honors, as well as published 17 abstracts and six manuscripts (all peer-reviewed). Dr. Oliver lives in the Marietta area and greatly enjoys spending quality time with her husband of ten years and nine-year-old daughter.

Nathaniel Boyd, PhD

Vice President  |  vicepresident@awisga.org

Dr. Nathaniel Boyd, an Atlanta native, began his research career at Georgia State University where he received his B.S. in Biology (Class of 2010) and M.S. in Cell Biology and Immunology (Class of 2013). He then moved to Birmingham to pursue his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology and Immunology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where he received numerous awards, including an NIH NRSA individual fellowship. While at UAB, Dr. Boyd contributed to significant advances in brain tumor research involving cancer stem cell and tumor microenvironments within the grade IV brain tumor glioblastoma. Dr. Boyd recently joined Emory University in the department of Pharmacology as a Post-Doctoral Fellow under the direction of Dr. Renee Read, where he continues his work to better understand brain tumors in pursuit of more effective treatment strategies. Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Boyd is actively involved in leadership and community engagement through his work supporting scientists of all persuasions within their own field and in the broader community. Dr. Boyd lives on the East side of Atlanta with his partner of eight years and enjoys frequenting local restaurants and bars, as well as Atlanta United and Falcons games. If you see him, please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself!

Margaret Okomo-Adhiambo, PhD, MPH

Director of Outreach  |  outreach@awisga.org

Dr. Margaret Okomo-Adhiambo has over 20 years of experience conceiving, implementing and directing scientific studies aimed at detection, control and prevention of infectious diseases. She earned her MSc (Genetics) and DVM from the University of Nairobi, as well as PhD (Cell & Molecular Biology) from the University of Nevada-Reno and MPH (Applied Epidemiology) from Emory University. Dr. Okomo is currently a Public Health Advisor and Deputy Branch Chief in the Division of Viral Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she provides scientific advice and leadership in the design, development and implementation of bioinformatics solutions for microbial pathogen detection, outbreak investigations, and infectious disease surveillance. She has published over 100 scientific articles, including book chapters, technical reports, and conference abstracts. In December 2018, Dr. Okomo was inducted as a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (FAAS), in recognition for her scientific achievements including publications, innovations, leadership roles, and contributions to the development of science in Africa and globally. She actively mentors and advises young men and women aspiring to become future biomedical scientists, and currently serves as a mentor and board member of MTAWA, an organization that promotes participation of African women in science and technology. Dr. Okomo lives in Atlanta, GA, with her husband and three children.

Izabela Suster, BS

Director of Professional Development  |  profdevelopment@awisga.org


Izabela Suster began her biomedical research studies at Brooklyn College where she received her B.S. in Chemistry (2017). She then moved to Atlanta to pursue her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology at Emory University. She is now a third-year Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Yue Feng in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology. Her thesis work focuses on the role of a Quaking RNA binding protein in human neurodevelopment. Outside of the lab, Izabela is actively involved in the sustainability efforts implemented across Emory's campuses and around Atlanta. Izabela lives in Old Fourth Ward, where she enjoys reading about honey bee biology while drinking as much coffee as she can buy at Condesa.

Manju Venugopal, PhD

Director of Sponsorship  |  sponsorship@awisga.org

Dr. Manju Venugopal possesses 30+ years of experience in life sciences as a researcher, project manager, and consultant. She completed her B.Sc. in Chemistry at St. Stephen’s College (India), M.Sc. in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (India), Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (New York), and Post-doctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (New Jersey). During her post-doctoral studies, she was awarded an American Heart Association grant to crystallize a unique piece of collagen peptide that also happened to be implicated in cystic fibrosis. In 1995, Dr. Venugopal moved to Atlanta and transitioned into the medical diagnostics field. She collaborated with the CDC and Georgia Tech to develop a lab-on-a-chip, which was sponsored by Abbott. Since that time, Dr. Venugopal has served as Principal Investigator or Project Manager on numerous ventures at Roche Diagnostics, Osmetech, CIBA Vision, and Guided Therapeutics. At present, she is a Principal CER Specialist at Philips and Medical Writer for Medtronic, Zimmer Biomet, and Abbott. Dr. Venugopal also has a great passion for mentoring youth interested in science, and in particular, assisting young professional women with technical networking to help advance their careers in industry. Outside of work and professional volunteering in Atlanta, her hobbies include tennis, golf, cooking, and dancing. She and her husband recently celebrated 30 years of marriage, and they are especially proud of their two children currently studying medicine.

Disa Mouat, MBA

Finance Administrator  |  finance@awisga.org

Disa Petruschke Mouat graduated from Emory University with a BA in Political Science and then received an MBA from Georgia State University with an emphasis in Information Systems. She has worked extensively in finance and accounting functions, starting with Georgia Pacific forestry products and moving through other industries such as consumer labeling, ophthalmology products and telecommunications. Her practical experience in project management and budgeting have resulted in savings of over $7.5 million for her employers. Disa lives in Decatur, is the mother of 2 grown sons and loves to visit the many ethnic restaurants and supermarkets on Buford Highway and surrounding areas.

Dorna Shokoohi, MPH

Director of Communications  |  communications@awisga.org

Dorna Shokoohi completed her BS is in Biology and Anthropology from Emory University, followed by an MPH in Epidemiology from the same Institution. For over two decades, she has gained highly developed skills in organization and planning with experience in a multitude of sectors. In 2017, Dorna joined the Emory University School of Medicine to support Dr. Eric Sorscher and his laboratory’s research of cystic fibrosis. Her accomplishments include program coordination and management; publication of professional epidemiology manuscripts and public health articles; technical writing of website content and educational material for oral health, palliative care, and financial sectors; development and implementation of operating policies and procedures; and assessment of grant funding opportunities. She enjoys providing mentorship to youth in her community who seek support and guidance in their educational and career paths. Dorna calls Atlanta home and enjoys activities in nature with her family.

Helen Siaw, BS

Associate Director of Communications: Social Media  |  media@awisga.org

Helen is Past-President of the graduate student-based AWIS Emory Affiliate Group. She is a 5th year Ph.D. student in Dr. R. Brian Dyer's Lab in the Chemistry Department. She uses spectroscopy to study molecular mechanisms involved in influenza A infection. Outside of the lab, she leads outreach and mentoring events at Emory University, which engage middle and high school students with STEM and basic research. She also supports science communication and public engagement through her role as the organizing Co-Chair of ComSciCon ATL 2019. Most recently, Helen was named a 2018 ACS Wikipedia Fellow.

Courtney Fernandez Petty, PhD

Associate Director of Communications: Webmaster  |  webmaster@awisga.org

Dr. Courtney Fernandez Petty received a B.S. in Cell and Microbiology from Methodist University (2011) and then received a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2018). During her time at UAB she focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying altered mucus properties and its implications on mucociliary clearance in cystic fibrosis (CF) using human epithelia and sputum samples, as well as established animal models of CF. Currently, Dr. Petty is a Biology Instructor at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, AL. She is active in both community and school outreach in the Southeastern region. She loves to incorporate innovative techniques to advance science education by merging common technology and education-based objectives in her classroom to prepare students for a more STEM literate society. She has been recognized for both her research, teaching, and service accomplishments, as well as published 13 abstracts and seven peer-reviewed manuscripts. She enjoys the outdoors and spends her free time hiking, kayaking, and traveling with her husband.

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