Our Team 2014

Beyond Academia would not be possible without the help of the many dedicated individuals below. Click on the names of our team members to see their individual biographies.

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  • Planning Team
  • Sahar YousefVision Science PhD Student
    • Sahar YousefSahar is a 2nd year PhD student in Vision Science. Her research interests are centered mostly on neuroplasticity—the possibility of the brain changing for the better, and applications for tools and therapies stemming from these changes, specifically aiming to train attention and memory. Before and during her BA in Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley, she was active in community building and leadership, elected as the youngest student member of the Ohlone College Board of Trustees to date. Sahar co-founded and directed the California Cognitive Science Conference, served as President to multiple organizations, and was granted several awards for leadership excellence. Sahar has also been facilitating a course at Cal teaching Tamarkoz® (Sufi meditation) since 2010.
  • Mariana GarciaVision Science PhD Student
    • Mariana GarciaMariana is in the final year of her PhD, working at the interface of Vision Science and Bioengineering to develop tissue engineering strategies for nearsightedness control. A bioengineer by training, she is passionate about collaborations and interdisciplinary work, and hopes to translate these interests into a career in the biotechnology industry. Mariana is thrilled to return to the Beyond Academia team as part of the steering committee!
  • Nicole AbreuMicrobiology PhD Student
    • Nicole AbreuNicole is a 4th year Microbiology PhD candidate in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. She is interested in Bacterial Cell Biology and the molecular mechanisms that control cellular architecture. In addition to her dissertation research and work with planning this year’s conference, she serves as President of the Microbiology Graduate Student Group @ UC Berkeley, a student run organization aiming to foster dialog among a larger community of Microbiology PhD students and postdocs in the Bay Area. 
      She is excited to be part of the Beyond Academia 2014 team and is passionate about expanding the perceptions of career trajectories after earning a PhD. For this year’s conference she is working on the Marketing and Design teams.
  • Arne BakkerMolecular & Cell Biology Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Arne BakkerArne is a Dutch Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Molecular and Cell Biology department, where he studies the adaptive immune system. He received his PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. After obtaining his PhD and before moving to California to pursue his research goals, Arne worked as the Director of the Discovery Festival, a Dutch science festival combining live experiments, art, and new music into a progressive nighttime event. 
      He believes science should have a more prominent place in every day life, and more people (of all ages!) should get excited about discovering new things. He also loves organizing events and this has led to him being involved in a host of science communication and outreach events over the years, either professionally (Discovery Festival) or as a volunteer next to his work in the lab (Discovery Festival, Bay Area Science Festival, BASIS, de Young Museum). This also has led him to get involved with Beyond Academia.

      Arne sees the conference as a fantastic opportunity for people to experience the many different and varied options to pursue a science-based career outside of academia. For this year’s conference he is involved with marketing and speaker communication, among other things.

  • Anthony FuPhysical Chemistry PhD Student
    • Anthony FuAnthony is a graduate student in chemistry. His research is focused on characterizing exotic materials and developing new designs to control light in nanoscale photonics for integrated circuits that use photons to carry information. His work has helped cultivate his interests in interdisciplinary technology projects and education. He is active in STEM outreach, where he serves on the Advisory Board and the Steering Committee for Community Resources for Science, a non-profit organization that provides practical support for science education in elementary schools.
  • Chris HoldgrafNeuroscience PhD Student
    • Chris HoldgrafChris Holdgraf is a graduate student in Bob Knight’s cognitive neuroscience laboratory. He uses computational modeling and machine learning to study the ways in which our internal assumptions affect the way that we perceive and understanding the world around us. He’d like to think that brains are more similar to computers than we’d all like to imagine, and hopes to discover ways in which we can improve our knowledge of the brain by drawing inspiration from machine learning and computational methods (and vice versa!). 
      He is also an avid science writer, blogging, editing, and managing for the Berkeley Science Review, a student-led publication and blog that covers science at Berkeley and Beyond. He believes that scientists should be skilled communicators as well as researchers, and has a particular love of making complex ideas understandable to everyday people.

      Chris is involved in fundraising and communicating with speakers for the Beyond Academia conference. He believes that a partnership between academia and the many fantastic organizations in the “real world” is essential for the future progress of science. There is much that we can learn from each other, and working together is always better than isolation.

      Chris is a believer in academic science, in industry, and in the everyday person. He hopes to interact with and contribute to each of these in his career.

  • Jane HuPsychology PhD Student
    • Jane HuJane is a 5th year Psychology PhD student. Her research focuses on social cognition and learning in preschool-aged children. A consultant for Little Spark, an early childhood development company, and an editor of the Berkeley Science Review, she is passionate about science outreach and communication. 
      Follow Jane on Twitter @jane_c_hu, or check out her cogsci blog: metacogs.tumblr.com
  • Alison Miller SingleyPsychology PhD Student
    • Alison Miller SingleyAlison is a 3rd year Psychology graduate student and Fellow in Research in Cognition and Mathematics Education. She is working across the fields of Neuroscience, Education and Psychology to investigate how reasoning training can improve math proficiency and cognitive performance in general. Having had a first career in business consulting, Alison hopes to make her research applicable to a variety of learning industries.
  • Adam N. MorganAstrophysics PhD Student
    • Adam N. MorganAdam is in his final year of a PhD in astrophysics, focusing on research of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the most powerful explosions in the universe. His studies have led him to have an interest in the broader field of data science, and how the techniques being developed for rapid, real-time analysis of large astronomical data sets can be applied to different fields. Adam is also very passionate about public outreach and education, and is active in outreach efforts ranging from local classrooms to the halls of Congress.
  • Robert NelsonCPhil in Modern European History
    • Robert NelsonRobert Nelson is a CPhil in Modern European History. His research interests concern the building of the building of the surveillance state in 18th Century France. Specifically, Robert’s dissertation focuses on the mechanisms used by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Comte de Vergennes, to gather information used to manipulate public opinion in France during the American Revolution. Robert is looking forward to a career exploring how technology can better connect academics and their work (particularly those who work in the field of climate studies) with a population that is interested in, and can benefit from academic research. In his spare-time, Robert and his family are trying to conquer the Bay Area’s tallest mountain peaks
  • Claire OldfieldNeuroscience PhD Student
    • Claire OldfieldClaire is a 4th year Neuroscience PhD student. Her research is focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning using state of the art optogenetic techniques. A Boehringer-Ingelheim Fonds fellow, she has a BA in Biology and a Masters in Neurobiology (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris). Claire feels strongly about bridging the gap between academic and non-academic career paths. She is excited about bringing Beyond Academia back to Berkeley for the 2nd time.

  • Advisory Board
    • Els van der HelmFounder of Beyond Academia; Consultant at McKinsey & Company.
      • Els van der HelmEls received her PhD in Psychology at UC Berkeley with a research focus on sleep, emotion, and memory. As a Fulbright scholar from the Netherlands, she has authored articles in Current Biology, PNAS, PLos One, and Psychological Bulletin. Els was the founder and lead organizer of the Beyond Academia 2013 conference and now serves a member of the Beyond Academia advisory board. She currently works as a consultant in the Amsterdam office of the strategy and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Els hopes Beyond Academia will continue to help fellow-PhD students and post-docs find their way in the non-academic world.
    • Bryan AlvarezCo-founder at Mind My Education™
      • Bryan AlvarezBryan earned his PhD from UC Berkeley studying an unusual sensory blending called synesthesia. He has committed his life to education. In 2008 he co-founded Mind and Brain Outreach, which hosts large collaborative in-school events that teach mind and brain science to thousands of K-12 students in local unrepresented schools in the East Bay. Since assisting Els in founding Beyond Academia in 2013, he has transitioned to his most recent start-up, Mind My Education™ that aims to cultivate a society of attentive, curious, and empowered learners through metacognitive explorations of the mind and brain. Bryan has also loves creative design, Argentine tango, and plays a mean trombone.
    • Ian CameronSenior Researcher at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
      • Ian CameronIan is a currently a Senior Researcher at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Ian uses TMS and fMRI to study how the brain controls eye movements, and how movement planning is affected in Parkinson’s disease. Prior to this, Ian was a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, and he received his PhD from Queen’s University, in Kingston, Canada. Ian is academia bound, but seeks to create partnerships between academic and non-academic worlds and encourage students and postdocs to go with their strengths. As a graduate student, member of Beyond Academia 2013, and the former President of the Berkeley Postdoctoral Association, he was active in bringing awareness of non-academic careers to his peers.
    • Maria StoneVP of User Research at Yahoo
      • Maria StoneMaria Stone is a veteran of search engine industry, having worked at Alta Vista, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Most notably, she started and grew UX Research team at Google, from its inception in 2001 until 2008. She also worked as Data Scientist at Yahoo and Microsoft. Prior to her work in search industry, she was an academic researcher and lecturer at Stanford and NASA-Ames, focused on studying human memory and attention. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from UC Berkeley, where she worked with a Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman. She has authored publications in Cognitive Psychology, HCI, and Information Retrieval. Maria also worked in startup advising, consulting, and angel investing, and is currently a VP of User Research at Yahoo.
    • Keaton SwettPresident of Mindsumo
      • Keaton SwettKeaton graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2011 with a degree in history and a minor in business. His business and marketing skills were developed during his time working in Oracle Corporation’s analyst relations and PR divisions, as well as his two-time election as Vice President of the Hopkins chapter of the American Marketing Association. His passion for the technology sector began during his time as an associate business analyst for AeroSat Avionics, a cutting-edge firm that manufactures sophisticated antennae for commercial aircraft. Keaton also worked as a research consultant for the Navy Seals, helping to organize and execute an integrated marketing campaign to raise awareness among students. As the business development lead, he keeps the team on track to monetize its user base and sustain sizable revenue growth.
    • Bradley VoytekAssistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UCSD
      • Bradley VoytekBrad is an Assistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UCSD. He is also the Data Evangelist for the on-demand car service company, Uber, Inc. In his neuroscience life, Brad studies cognition and neural network communication using data-mining, lesion experiments, human intracranial recordings, brain-stimulation, brain-computer interfacing, and whatever other tools he can get his hands on. For Uber, Brad does exploratory data analytics and communicates the importance of data in driving Uber. He co-created the meta-analytic neuroscience research aggregation tool and hypothesis generation sitehttp://brainSCANr.com with his wife Jessica Bolger Voytek. He’s an avid science teacher and outreach advocate and is the world’s zombie brain expert (seriously).
    • Jake KlamkaFounder of Insight Data Science Fellows Program
      • Jake KlamkaJake Klamka is the founder of the Insight Data Science Fellows Program, a post-doctoral fellowship that helps quantitative PhDs transition from academia to careers in data science. Insight Fellows are now data scientists at top tech companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Square and many others. Jake was an entrepreneur in the Y Combinator winter 2011 session and prior to that was a particle physicist at the University of Toronto, working on the Large Hadron Collider experiment. As a panel speaker at Beyond Academia 2013, Jake will provide an introduction to data science and share stories of scientists who have transitioned from academia to the tech industry.
    • Katja BroseEditor of Neuron
      • Katja BroseAs Editor of Neuron, Katja represents the journal within the scientific community and is responsible for all aspects of the journal’s management, operations, and strategic vision. Katja received her PhD from UCSF, where she studied biochemistry and neuroscience. Katja joined Cell Press/Elsevier in 2000 as a Senior Editor and was appointed Editor in Chief in 2004. In 2007, with Cell Press’ acquisition the Trends group of review titles, Katja was appointed as Executive Editor of the Neuroscience Portfolio, which includes, in addition to Neuron, the review journals Trends in Neurosciences and Trends in Cognitive Sciences. She currently also serves as Editorial Director for Reviews Strategy for Cell Press and is a member of the Cell Press Senior Management Team. She speaks frequently on topics related to scientific publishing and communication, including publication ethics.