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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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Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-334-2455

 Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellows
1999 Fellow Biosketches

Robert Amey (1999, DELS/BRWM) has a master's degree and a doctorate in geography from the University of Florida, with minors in resource economics and urban sociology, respectively.  His bachelor's degree, also in geography, is from University of North Carolina-Wilmington.  Currently, he is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.  Prior to his current faculty appointment, he was a research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Epidemiology at the University of Florida.



Nancy Ayers Rice (1999, DELS/ILAR) is an associate professor of biology at Western Kentucky University. She received her PhD in Biochemistry in 1999 from the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center after which she did an NIH funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado.  Her research has primarily focused on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis.  She lives in Bowling Green with her husband and two children, 2 and 6.  (Updated 2/2011)



Kai-Henrik Barth (1999, PGA/CISAC) is a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar.  From 2002 to 2008 he was a member of the core faculty at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program.  Dr. Barth holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from the University of Münster and the University of Hamburg, Germany, respectively.  He received his PhD in the history of science and technology from the University of Minnesota in 2000.  He was awarded a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellowship (2000 to 2002) and taught in the Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) program at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.  He also worked as an analyst in science and technology policy for the Congressional Research Service and as a Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academies.  Dr. Barth's current research focuses on the causes and consequences of nuclear proliferation, with a particular emphasis on Iran.  He has also begun to investigate the nuclear aspirations of the Gulf States.  His publications have appeared in Physics Today and Social Studies of Science, among others, and he is the guest editor (with John Krige) of a special issue of the journal Osiris on "Historical Perspectives on Science, Technology, and International Affairs" (University of Chicago, 2006).  (Updated 08/2010) 

Douglas Bennett (1999, CETS & ASEB/NRC) has been working as a program officer at the National Research Council.  He received his master's degree from Iowa State University in a double degree program that included a master's in interdisciplinary graduate studies (astrophysics, history of technology, and creative writing) and a master's in English.  He also holds a mechanical engineering degree from Georgia Tech and previously worked as a sales engineer for printed circuit board manufacturing equipment based out of Atlanta, and as a navigator for Schlumberger, Inc. on an oil exploration ship in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Trinidad.



Aaron Brasket (1999, CGER & DELS/PRB) has been working on a doctorate at the University of Colorado. He also has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with a minor in political science from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in atmosphere and ocean sciences from the University of Colorado.  He has been a visiting researcher at the University of Victoria in Canada conducting research into ocean variability using numerical models.




Young-Jun Choi (1999, PGA/LAW) has been working towards a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Seoul National University in Korea and a master’s degree in technology policy with a minor in sociology of science from the Institute of Science at Korea University.  Prior to coming to the United States, he was a professional social activist focusing on actions to develop humanity and democracy in science and technology.




Olga Collazos (1999, PGA/OSEP) has a master's in business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor's degree in electronic engineering from Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia.  She worked for the Colombian Government Institution for Science and Technology – Colciencias – for eleven years.  At Colciencias she worked at the Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Systems Program (ETI) promoting research and innovation projects among companies and universities.  Currently, she writes audio descriptions of TV programs for blind people. (Updated 10/2011)



Bridget Coughlin (1999, NAS/ONP) holds a bachelor of arts from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Iowa Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  In 2005 she returned to her native Colorado and joined the Denver Museum of Nature & Science after working for six years at the National Academy of Sciences where she was the managing editor of the multidisciplinary journal PNAS.  Dr. Coughlin is currently the Deputy Chief Curator at the museum and enjoys splitting her time between research, collections management, and the public communication of science.  She has recently been awarded an NIH grant for her work at the museum.  (Updated 04/2009)



Michael Cronin (1999, IOM/NCPB) has been working towards a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, San Francisco.  He has a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is interested in translating scientific advancements into new and existing health care policies so as to maximize benefit to the public. 




Willard Freeman (1999, NAS/OPUS) received a B.A. in Chemistry and English, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Wake Forest University.  He trained at the Vollum Institute and Yerkes Primate Center in the molecular neurobiology of behavior.  Currently he is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Genome Sciences Facility at the Penn State College of Medicine. His laboratory uses functional genomic and proteomic tools in systems neurobiology studies of drug abuse, alcoholism, cognitive decline with aging, and diabetic retinopathy.  He serves on a number of review committees for the NIH and biomedical research foundations. (Updated 9/2010)



Jennifer Hart (1999, CGER/NRC) has been working towards a master's degree in GIS/mapping at Ohio State University.  She holds bachelor's degrees in both ceomatics and science from The University of Melbourne.  Before coming to the United States from Australia, she was a GIS analyst for the Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority on a project to continually monitor and study the social and economic impacts of gaming in Victoria.  She is interested in pursuing a career that focuses on how GIS and associated technologies can provide direct benefits to the general community.  



Nina Mani (1999, DELS/ILAR) has been working on PhD in neuroscience and minoring in cell biology at George Washington University.  She has a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a master’s degree in pharmacology from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Dehli, India.  She became interested in science and technology policy after attending a scientific meeting and hearing about the influence patients with Parkinson’s disease had on research funding.



Karen McFarland (1999, BICE/NRC) has been working towards a PhD in geography at the University of Washington.  She has a bachelor's degree in urban planning and regional analysis from SUNY-Buffalo.  Before pursuing graduate work, she was an assistant transportation analyst for the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council where she assisted in the preparation and development of the 2020 Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Programs for the Syracuse metropolitan area.  In addition to her urban transportation focus, she has interests in geographic information systems and has previously interned with the Environmental Systems Research Institute.



James McGee (1999, DEPS/BMSA) received his B.S. in mathematics from Jackson State University. Additionally, he received his M.A.M. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Auburn University. Currently, he is the vice president of instruction at Lone Star College-Montgomery in Conroe, Tex. He has also served in a number of administrative positions as well as an assistant professor of mathematics. (Updated 04/2016)





Rishi Nangia (1999, DELS/BRER) earned his JD from Northwestern University after his 1999 Fellowship.  He now works in the Washington D.C..area as corporate counsel for Oracle Corporation.  Previously, he worked at Winston & Strawn, a multinational, general practice law firm, focusing on litigation and matters involving the Food & Drug Administration and the Patent & Trademark Office.  Much of Mr. Nangia's work is related to patent law, specifically in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, business methods, and telephony areas.  Mr. Nangia also holds a master's degree in public health from Emory University, specializing in epidemiology and public health, as well as a bachelor's degree in biology and a bachelor's degree in psychology from George Washington University.  (Updated 2/2011)


Lia Nower (1999, DBASSE/DELHP) has been working towards his doctorate in social work at Washington University in St. Louis.  She holds a bachelor's degree in English and communications, a master's in communications and a law degree from St. Louis University as well as a master's in social work from Washington University.  She had been pursuing a Fulbright fellowship at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Ms. Nower is a licensed attorney and clinical social worker and a nationally certified gambling counselor who specializes in the treatment of addictions, particularly pathological gambling.  



Ionel Pusca (1999, DEPS/CSTB) has industry and academic R&D experience both in the United States and in the European Union.  He holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Science, Computer and Information Science from the University of Oregon, and is pursuing doctoral studies with the Free University in Berlin, Germany, European Union.  (Updated 8/2012)




Eden Rauch (1999, IOM/FNB) is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at IVFNJ in central New Jersey.  (Updated 9/2010)





Katherine Schafer (1999, DELS/OSB) completed her PhD in marine biology at the University of California, Berkeley in 2001.  She also has a bachelor's degree in biology from Stanford University.  Her Ph.D. research involved studying stomatopod crustaceans and pygmy octopus to further understand their population dynamics.  She also served as a researcher and trip leader for Oceanic Society expeditions leading research trips on coral reef health monitoring in Belize.  Since completing her Ph.D., she started a non-profit aimed at studying fish populations in San Francisco Bay.  She is currently teaching biology and research at the Harker School in San Jose, Calif. (Updated 8/2010)



Katherine Schroeder (1999, PGA/COSEPUP) has a PhD in neuroscience, with a minor in cell biology and anatomy, from the University of Arizona.  She holds a bachelor's degree in botany from Arizona State University.  As a predoctoral student, she held a fellowship from the American Psychological Association, and she worked in a CNRS laboratory in Paris for three months under the auspice of a U.S. federal program to promote international collaboration in science. 




Nadejda Targulian (1999, DEPS/SSB) received her MA in Geography and Geographic Information Systems from the University of Iowa. She works as a cartographer and freelanced as a graphic designer . She currently resides in San Francisco Bay area. (Updated 8/2010)





Rebecca White (1999, PGA/GUIRR) is a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she specializes in the psychology of judgment and decision making.  Her primary research interests include the study of self-predictions related to goal achievement and individual differences in decision making processes.  Rebecca received her PhD in quantitative psychology/judgment and decision making from the Ohio State University in 2005, after which she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada from 2005 to 2007.   (Updated 10/2011)



Dr. Yonggao Yang (1999, PGA/IOAC) is a tenured professor and the head of the computer science department at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU). He was appointed as an assistant professor at PVAMU in August 2002 immediately upon receiving a Ph.D. in information technology & computer science from George Mason University. He worked as a faculty member at Southwest Jiaotong Unviersity (Chengdu, China) from 1987 to 1998. Dr. Yang's research interests include computer graphics, smart human computer interface, scientific visualization, distributed virtual reality learning/training environment, and computer networks. Since 2002, Dr. Yang has published 30 journal papers and many conference papers, and has been serving as a principal investigator in several NSF and DoE funded research projects. (Updated 2/2016)

Jonathan Zaff (1999, DBASSE/CPOP) is vice president of research and policy development at the America’s Promise Alliance.  He is also a scholar-in-residence at the Institute of Applied Research in Youth Development and a senior scholar at Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, both at Tufts University.  His research focuses primarily on studying the content of social contexts that promote positive outcomes among youth, particularly with regard to academic achievement and civic engagement.  In his role with the Alliance, he directs all research activities, including, among others, their national and local surveys on youth development and evaluations of the Alliance’s programming.  Prior to joining the Alliance, Dr. Zaff was a research associate at Child Trends, a policy-focused research institute in Washington, D.C., where he focused on positive youth development initiatives.  He also founded 18to35, the policy arm of America’s youth movement, which merged with, the leading national organization dedicated to engaging young people in the political and policy process.  Dr. Zaff received his PhD in lifespan developmental psychology from the University of Georgia. Contact via email. (Updated 03/2010)

Magdalena Zaidel (1999, DBASSE/CSMEE) is a master's candidate in geography at Penn State. She also holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Penn State. Following her undergraduate degree she received a Fulbright grant to study energy policy in Germany.  For three years previous to her Mirzayan Fellowship, she pursued her interest in science education by working as an environmental educator at the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, a teaching assistant in geography courses, and a unit scientist for the National Geographic Kids Network.