Contact Us  |  Search:   
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us Projects Publications Membership Staff Email Updates

Staff Biographies    

Rudin PicTom Rudin is the Director of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine —a position he assumed in mid-August 2014. Prior to joining the Academies, Mr. Rudin served as senior vice president for career readiness and senior vice president for advocacy, government relations and development at the College Board from 2006-2014. He was also vice president for government relations from 2004-2006 and executive director of grants planning and management from 1996-2004 at the College Board. Before joining the College Board, Mr. Rudin was a policy analyst at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
In 1991, Mr. Rudin taught courses in U.S. public policy, human rights, and organizational management as a visiting instructor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. In the early 1980s, he directed the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Science and Technology for North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., where he was involved in several new state initiatives, such as the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University, and he holds master’s degrees in public administration and in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

AA profile picAusten Applegate is a Senior Program Assistant with the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Prior to joining the National Academies he worked in a number of professional fields including international development, clinical research, and education. 

Austen holds a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Guilford College. There he developed his interest in social science research and policy through his coursework in behavioral medicine, clinical assessment, public health, health policy, qualitative and quantitative research methodology, race and gender disparities, and social science history. Mr. Applegate plans to pursue a Master in Public Health in the future. In his free time, Mr. Applegate enjoys being active outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and cooking.


Dr. Ashley Bear is a Senior Program Officer with the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Before coming to the Academies, Dr. Bear was a Presidential Management Fellow with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Biological Infrastructure in the Directorate for Biological Sciences, where she managed a portfolio of mid-scale investments in scientific infrastructure and led analyses of the impact of NSF funding on the career trajectories of postdoctoral researchers. During her fellowship years, Dr. Bear also worked as a Science Policy Officer for the State Department’s Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, where she worked to promote science diplomacy and track emerging scientific trends with implications for foreign policy, managed programs to increase the scientific capacity of State Department, and acted as the liaison to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Dr. Bear holds a Sc.B. in Neuroscience from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University. While working on her doctoral research on the developmental basis of courtship behavior in butterflies, Dr. Bear co-founded the Evolution Outreach Group, a volunteer organization composed of students and postdoctoral researchers that visit schools, museums, and camps in the greater New Haven, CT area to teach K-12 students about evolution through hands-on activities and demonstrations. Dr. Bear is passionate about science outreach to the public and about promoting diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

BeninsonDr. Lida Beninson is a Program Officer with the Board of Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. With experiences in STEM education, data science, science and technology policy, biomedical research, and agricultural biotechnology, Lida pursues opportunities to serve society through her diverse scientific expertise. She served as Editor-in-Chief for The Journal of Science Policy and Governance and was a recipient of the AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award. While serving as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate, Lida engaged in cross-agency initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, promote K-12 computer science education, and develop a federal strategic plan in data science research.

Lida received a Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology and graduate certificate in Science and Technology Policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her B.A. with a double concentration in Neuropsychology and Education from Princeton University. Her passions include exciting people about science and transforming our scientific workforce to be more diverse and innovative.

benyaDr. Frazier Benya is a Senior Program Officer with the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Benya’s work focuses on ensuring that science, engineering, and medicine are ethical and socially responsible, both in their practice and in who gets to participate in the work. She recently served as the study director for the National Academies consensus study report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Before joining the CWSEM staff, Dr. Benya worked with the National Academy of Engineering from 2011 to 2017, during which time she managed projects for its Center for Engineering Ethics and Society and co-lead the effort to expand and enhance the NAE Online Ethics Center (OEC) for Engineering and Science website. Her work with the NAE focused on improving and enhancing engineering ethics education and on analyzing the pathways engineers take from education to the workforce.

Dr. Benya holds a B.A with honors in Science, Technology and Society from the University of Puget Sound, and a M.A. in Bioethics and Ph.D. in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine from the University of Minnesota. Her Ph.D. focused on the history of bioethics and scientific social responsibility during the 1960s and 1970s that led to the creation of the first federal bioethics commission in 1974. Her M.A. examined different types of institutional methodologies for considering the social implications of science with a focus on those that integrate scientific research with ethics research in the United States Pasteand Canada. Dr. Benya was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2017.
Allison profileAllison L. Berger is currently a Senior Program Assistant for the Policy and Global Affairs (PGA) division of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS). Prior to joining PGA, she provided administrative support to the Director of the Board on Global Health in the Health and Medicine division of the NAS, and meeting planning support for the Forum on Global Violence Prevention. During her 15-year tenure with the NAS, Allison has supported other program units including the Food and Nutrition Board, the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, and for the Innovation to Incubation program (i2I) under the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Prior to joining the NAS, Allison served as administrative assistant at the American Psychological Association, where she worked on various activities and programs that promote psychological science in academic and scientific areas of research. Allison is currently pursuing a professional master certification in meeting and convention planning.
MLD-headshotMaria Lund Dahlberg is a Program Officer for BHEW and CWSEM and the Study Director for the Consensus Study on the Science on Effective Mentoring in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). Her work with the National Academies spans topics ranging from science communications, through health care for high needs patients, to postdoctoral research experiences, photonics, and innovation ecosystems. She came to the National Academies by way of a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, which she received after completing all requirements short of finalizing the dissertation for her doctorate in physics at the Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Dahlberg holds a BA with high honors in physics from Vassar College and an MS in physics from the Pennsylvania State University.

LMJ  profileLeigh Miles Jackson, Ph.D. serves as the study director for BHEW’s consensus study, Closing the Equity Gap: Securing Our Stem Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation's Minority-Serving Institutions. Previously Leigh worked in the Health and Medicine Division with the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice and directed the report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. She also worked in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families and directed the report, Advancing the Power of Economic Evidence to Inform Investments in Children, Youth, and Families. Prior to joining the National Academies, she was a developmental psychopathology and neurogenomics research fellow at Vanderbilt University, where she investigated the role of chronic sleep disturbance and specific epigenetic modifications on the health outcomes of adolescents. Leigh has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in molecular and systems pharmacology from Emory University.

Fred profileFred Lestina joins the BHEW staff as a senior program assistant following two years with the Board on Science, Technology, and International Affairs. Fred is involved with finalizing reports for publication, organizing logistical details for meetings and staff and committee travel, and other administrative duties. Prior to joining the National Academies, Fred worked as a political transcriptionist, interned as a cartographer, and studied science and development policy.

Ngun PicIrene Ngun is an Associate Program Officer with the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She also serves as Research Associate for the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM), a standing committee of the National Academies. Before joining the National Academies she was a congressional intern for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Democratic Office) and served briefly in the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas (D-33).

Irene Ngun received her M.A. from Yonsei Graduate School of International Studies (Seoul,South Korea), where she developed her interest in  science policy. She  received her B.A. from Goshen College in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Global Economics.
Scherer PicLayne Scherer is a Program Officer with the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Prior to joining the Academies, Ms. Scherer supported strategic initiatives, conducted program analysis, and managed cross-agency partnerships for the Office of the Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation. Ms. Scherer served as the National Science and Technology Council Executive Secretary for the Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Task Force responsible for overseeing the governance and communication between fifteen participating agencies working to improve federal investment in STEM education. As a result of the cross-agency work, Ms. Scherer developed an interest in performance management and completed training as a group facilitator and graphic recorder from the Performance Improvement Council. 

Ms. Scherer earned her M.P.P from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and she focused her studies on education policy, non-profit management, and quantitative analysis. She earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan. Outside of work, Ms. Scherer is committed to the development of women’s sports and is an assistant coach for the women’s ultimate Frisbee team at Catholic University of America.