Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education

Staff Biographies


benyaFrazier Benya (she/her/hers), 
Senior Program Officer and Director of the Action Collaborative

Responsibilities: Frazier oversees and manages the Action Collaborative; she is also responsible for the overall strategy and outcomes of the Action Collaborative. In addition to Arielle, Frazier will be a main point of contact for members.

Bio: 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 (NAE) from 2011 to 2017. 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. Dr. Benya was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2017.

Bear PicArielle Baker (they/their/theirs),
Associate Program Officer

Responsibilities: Arielle works full-time to support the Action Collaborative and its working groups. They are a main point of contact for members (in addition to Frazier) and assist Frazier with organization, management, and strategy for running the Action Collaborative. Arielle is also the staff lead of the Evaluation Working Group.

Bio: Dr. Baker holds Bachelors degrees with honors in Neuroscience and in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Dartmouth College. Their dissertation work examined the connectivity and modulation of cortical circuitry, with the goal of identifying fundamental principles dysregulated in psychiatric disease. Prior to supporting the Action Collaborative, Dr. Baker served as a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies, contributing to CWSEM’s consensus study addressing factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM). They are passionate about promoting equity and inclusion in Undoscience.

John Veras (he/him/his), 
Senior Program Assistant

Responsibilities: John supports in managing the logistics of annual meetings of the Action Collaborative.

Bio: John is originally from Rockland County, New York, and has lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for the past five and a half years. John has worked for a variety of K-12 and higher education organizations in D.C., including the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. John graduated from Princeton University in 2011 with a degree in AmFlasherican History. His senior thesis focused on the history of Latinos in American baseball and how the complexity of race in Latin America has changed baseball historiography. In his free time, John enjoys volunteering at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and serves as a reading volunteer with local elementary schools. Additionally, he plays rugby for the Washington Men’s Rugby Football Club.

Ngun PicIrene Ngun (she/her/hers),
Associate Program Officer

Responsibilities: Irene  is the staff lead of the Response Working Group and manages the Action Collaborative website.

Bio: Irene received her M.A. from Yonsei Graduate School of International Studies and her B.A. from Goshen College in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Global Economics. In addition to her work with the Action Collaborative, she also coordinates an international project on Improving the Inclusion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Before joining the National Academies Irene 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).



Maria Lund Dahlberg (she/her/hers),
Program Officer

Responsibilities: Maria is the staff lead of the Remediation Working Group. Maria also supports the planning and execution of the annual public meeting of the Action Collaborative.

Bio: Maria 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.


Alex HelmanAlex Helman (she/her/hers),
Program Officer

Responsibilities: Alex is the staff lead of the Prevention Working Group.

Bio: Dr. Helman is a Program Officer with the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Before joining the National Academies full time, Dr. Helman was as a 2018 Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies, where she worked on the 2018 report “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, Consequences in Academic, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine”. Currently, Dr. Helman co-leads a consensus study to identify and address factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering, medicine, and assists with the National Academies Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. Dr. Helman received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry from the University of Kentucky, and her B.S. in Biochemistry from Elon University. Dr. Helman is passionate about issues of health equity, dementia, and creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable scientific workforce.

AA profile picAusten Applegate (he/him/his), 
Research Associate

Responsibilities: Austen manages receipt of institutional financial commitments.

Bio: Prior to joining the National Academies, Austen 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.

TR profile picTom Rudin (he/him/his),
Director of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM), and of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW)

Responsibilities: Tom provides guidance and strategy for the Action Collaborative, helping ensure that it connects with ongoing projects for CWSEM, BHEW, and the National Academies more broadly.

Bio: 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.