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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
Policy and Global Affairs
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Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
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Phone: 202-334-2455

 Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellows
Winter 2002 Fellow Biosketches

Heidi Auman (Winter 2002, PGA/COSEPUP) recently completed a PhD in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University, where she received her master's degree in biology. She previously earned a BS in biology and French at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. In Heidi's free time she loves to play sports (especially volleyball, softball, and squash) and travel.  During her Mirzayan Fellowship, she participated in projects concerning enhancing postdoctoral working conditions for scientists and engineers, evaluating scientific and medical aspects of human cloning, and coordinating counter-terrorism efforts among disciplinary societies and think tanks.  She planned to pursue further biological research as a postdoctoral scientist. (Updated 4/2009)

Julie Demuth (Winter 2002, DELS/BASC and DR) is an Associate Scientist III with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Societal Impacts Program (SIP,  In Fall 2009, Julie also began her PhD at Colorado State University in Public Communication and Technology. Her current work and school research is focused on studying decision making related to hazardous weather events, communication of forecasts and warnings of high-impact weather, and communication of uncertainty in weather forecasts.  Prior to joining NCAR, Julie was a Program Officer with the National Research Council (NRC) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) in Washington, D.C., where she worked on studies related to surface transportation weather, flash flood forecasting in regions of complex terrain, and weather modification.  Julie is a current member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Board on Societal Impacts and Board on Enterprise Communication, and the National Weather Association (NWA) Committee on Societal Impacts of Weather and Climate.  She has a MS in atmospheric science from Colorado State University and a BS in meteorology from the University of Nebraska.  (Updated 8/2010) 

Bryan Ericksen (Winter 2002, DELS/PRB) assisted the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board in the production of Frontiers in Polar Biology in the Genomics Era, a monograph sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  Later in 2002, he completed his PhD in microbiology from the University of California, Davis.  From 2002-2004, and from 2011 to present, he has studied the structure, function, and antibacterial activity of defensins as a researcher at the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore.  He has also worked in the biotechnology industry in Seattle, the pharmaceutical industry in Northern California, and the Food and Drug Administration near Washington, D.C.  (Updated 2/2012)


Ron Hira (Winter 2002, PGA/STEP) is an associate professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology where he specializes in engineering workforce issues, high-skill immigration, and innovation policy.  Ron is also a Research Associate with the Economic Policy Institute. Hira is co-author of the book, Outsourcing America (AMACOM 2005; 2nd edition 2008), which was a finalist for best business book in the PMA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards.  The Boston Globe called Outsourcing America an “honest, disturbing look at outsourcing.”  The Washington Post described the book as a “thorough and easy to grasp primer on the wrenching outsourcing debate.”  Previously, Ron worked as a control systems engineer and program manager with Sensytech, NIST, and George Mason University (GMU).  He has been a consultant to the  House Science & Technology Committee, Department of Treasury, Rand Corporation, Commission on Professionals in Science & Technology, National Research Council, Enterprise Integration Inc, and Deloitte & Touche.  Ron completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University’s Center for Science, Policy, and Outcomes.  He holds a PhD in public policy from George Mason University (GMU), an MS in electrical engineering also from GMU, and a BS in electrical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University.  He is a licensed professional engineer and served as vice president for career activities of IEEE-USA, the largest engineering professional society in America.  Ron is past chair of IEEE-USA’s R&D Policy Committee.  He has participated on the Council on Foreign Relation's Research Roundtable on Technology, Innovation and America’s Primacy and the Council on Competitiveness' National Innovation Initiative. (Updated 8/2010)

Kevin Kyle (Winter 2002, DEPS/NMMB) developed web pages and project management templates for both the Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design and the National Materials Advisory Board, in addition to writing white papers for future studies in the areas of materials and manufacturing, during his Mirzayan Fellowship.  Following his fellowship he worked for Electric Boat as a welding engineer on the first three Virginia class nuclear attack submarines, then as Nonproliferation Graduate Fellow at the Department of Energy with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  He received a masters of science in applied physics and materials science at Oregon State University, and a bachelor's degree in physics from Lewis and Clark College.  Currently Kevin works as a project engineer for the Department of Defense.  Kevin lives with his wife and fancy cat (from a shelter) in the Washington DC area.  (Updated 2/2011)

Miriam Levy Gordon  (Winter 2002, PGA/CSTL) has had the interesting and eye-opening experience of going from the good side of the force (NAS) to the dark side (working on scientific publications for the pharma industry for 4 years, 2002-2006).  Since then, she has focused on writing, primarily in personal blogs (Fat Science, Parallelaphors).  Posts from these blogs are also featured on the Talking Science website, which is affiliated with NPR’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow.  She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and is an active board member of the affiliated Science Writers in New York.  For the past year, she has been editing NIH, NSF, and related foundation grants for various academic clients.  The primary thing that remains the same from her days as a Mirzayan Fellow is a keen interest in the way that science affects our society and vice versa, which is why she gravitated to science communications.  (Updated 3/2010)

Erin McKay (Winter 2002, DELS/CGCR) has been working towards a master's degree in environmental science at American University.  She previously received a bachelor's degree in Biology from Colgate University and spent three years as a middle school science public school teacher.  Erin fellowed with the Committee on Global Change Research.  Her experiences in Washington, D.C. convinced her to attend law school with the goal of becoming involved in environmental and educational policy. After her Mirzayan Fellowship, she was scheduled to return with her husband to New England to attend Boston College Law School.  Erin enjoys skiing, reading, and hiking with her yellow lab, Griffin.


Eileen McTague Flynn (Winter 2002, Women/NAEPO) worked in the NAE Program Office developing educational materials for teachers and students that focused on generating interest in engineering and science careers for girls.  After her Mirzayan Fellowship, she continued on at the National Research Council with the Board on Earth Science and Resources as a research assistant.  Eileen now works in the environmental consulting field as a wetlands and natural resources specialist.  She has an MS in environmental science from American University and a BS in biology from Penn State.  She lives in New York with her husband, Matt. (Updated 4/2009)


Brindha Muniappan (Winter 2002, NAS/Koshland Science Museum) has completed a postdoc in genetic toxicology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in the same subject.  She previously received a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering, also from MIT.  Although she has spent significant time at MIT studying engineering and molecular biology, Brindha has enjoyed learning outside of the laboratory as well.  Her activities include playing soccer for MIT, intramural ice hockey, black and white photography, pottery, and sailing.  During her Mirzayan Fellowship, Brindha worked for the Marian Koshland Science Museum where she was involved in developing content and interactive display ideas for potential exhibits. 

Mary Jo Norris (Winter 2002, DEPS/AFSB) earned an MS in physics at the University of Maine and BS in physics and mathematics at Cleveland State University.  She currently works as a health physicist at Los Alamos National Lab. Mary Jo has learned that what she enjoys most about her research and work is the interaction with people.  She is an avid hiker and loves the mountains of northern New Mexico.  Her hobbies also include yoga, running, & learning to play the guitar!  During her time as a Mirzayan Fellow, Mary Jo worked on configuration and overall coordination for the graphics in the report Implications of Emerging Micro and Nano Technologies.  She would be happy to discuss her time as a Fellow. (Updated 8/2010)


Shawn Robertson (Winter 2002, DELS/BCST) was scheduled to begin working the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Raleigh, N.C. in May 2002.  He completed his PhD in entomology at Penn State and a master's degree in entomology at Mississippi State University.  He is interested in international affairs, particularly international trade and overseas agricultural development. During his Mirzayan Fellowship with The National Academies, he had the opportunity to work with the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, where he learned the principles of the unique collaborative process by which the Academies produce studies and got acquainted with the interface between science and and science policy making.

Jennifer VanRoeyen (Winter 2002, IOM/NCPB) completed a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and master's degree in pharmaceutical engineering at the University of Michigan.  She received a MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.  Jennifer works for ZS Associates, a management consulting firm focused on clients in the pharmaceutical and life sciences.  She has worked out of the Evanston, Ill., London, U.K., Zurich, Switzerland, and San Mateo, Calif. offices.  While at the National Cancer Policy Board (IOM) she worked on a variety of issues including biologically-based technologies for breast cancer detection and biases in clinical trials. (Updated 8/2010)

Maria Vassileva (Winter 2002, IOM/BGH/) is a scientific program manager at The Biomarkers Consortium of The Foundation for NIH.  She is responsible for the activities of the Metabolic Disorders Steering Committee and the Executive Committee of The Biomarkers Consortium, including the identification of new project ideas, their review, project plan development and execution, overseeing the efforts of several project teams, publishing and presenting project results, and organizing expert meetings and setting strategic priorities in the area of metabolic disorder and cardiovascular disease biomarkers.   Maria received her bachelors degrees in biology and chemistry from Concord College, Athens, W. Va. and completed her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.  Her graduate thesis focus was on post-translational protein modification.  At Johns Hopkins, she also received a vaccine science and policy certificate from the Department of International Health.  While in graduate school, she was awarded the National Academies Christine Mirzayan Science Policy Fellowship and worked on the Board of Global Health at the Institute of Medicine. There, Maria participated in the final stages of the writing of two reports on lowering birth defects in developing countries.  Prior to joining The Biomarkers Consortium Team, Maria worked for four years at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a Senior Program Associate for the Research Competitiveness Program.  At AAAS, Dr. Vassileva was involved in providing peer review and programmatic guidance services to research institutions across the U.S.  During her years with RCP, she worked on expanding the program internationally as well.  Her major responsibilities were recruiting technical experts for mail review, selecting and leading panels of renowned scientists, research administrators, technology transfer experts, entrepreneurs and policy specialists from government, academia and the private sector, on site during strategic planning visits and research institution evaluations, as well as writing proposals in the areas of science and policy, organizing multiple symposia at national meetings and giving presentations on the federal budget, research competitiveness issues, and the states' interest in science and technology, at various conferences around the country.  She was involved in many of the marketing efforts of her team and acted as a primary liaison between the AAAS consultants and clients.   She has organized eight symposia at AAAS Annual Meetings and continues to stay very involved in science and policy issues and initiatives as they pertain to public private partnerships. (Updated 8/2010)

Sara Zellner (Winter 2002, DBASSE/CPOP) is an independent consultant advising organizations in business strategy, marketing, and corporate responsibility. Her specialties include stakeholder and employee engagement, communications, program/project management, metrics and analytics, community and public-private partnerships, wellness and health, diversity, governance, and philanthropy. Clients have ranged from Fortune 500 companies to foundations to non-profit organizations. Sara brings a unique skill set to her work with a background in management consulting, organizational development, start-ups, non-profits, marketing and market research, and data analytics. (Updated 4/2016)