Students

The Student Council (StC)

Students,

Welcome to the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) Student Council (StC) website! We are excited to provide a platform for students, postdocs, and early career professionals to network, share experiences, discuss research, and simply get involved with the most dynamic group of young professionals that microscopy and microanalysis has to offer! Undergraduate and graduate students, now is the time to take advantage of opportunities to meet people from your discipline and others to develop collaborations and begin to build your professional network. MSA StC is a great place to get started. Our Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress (PMCx60) in St. Louis was an overwhelming success bringing together medal winners and decorated student scholars to share their work and their pathways to success across a weekend of presentations, posters, and social activities. The PMCx60 is the premier event for students, postdocs, and early career professionals – unlike any other, unmatched by any other society! We provide opportunities for leadership through the growing StC and PMCx60 planning committee and we are working to develop mid-year programming to enhance professional skills. As a growing community, and an international one, we hope to take advantage of electronic communications and social media platforms to connect students and young scientists world-wide. Postdocs and early career professionals, we value your experience and insight and hope to foster mentorship opportunities for our emerging students in the field. Involvement in MSA StC builds more than just your professional network, it fosters friendships and bolsters your professional skills. Consider membership in MSA and get involved in StC – We need you to help our community grow! Email StC for more information on leadership opportunities and follow up on social media for updates on events.

Best Regards,

The Student Council
Email: Email

Get to know the Student Council officers. Each year new students are elected to these positions to develop new programs and events for students at the yearly M&M meetings. Click on the office title to learn more about the responsibilities involved in holding leadership within the Student Council.

Janet Gbur

President
Janet Gbur
Doctoral Candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

 

Josh Silverstein

Past-President
Josh Silverstein
Research Assistant
Miami University

 

Cameron Varano

President-Elect
Cameron Varano
Graduate Research Assistant
Kelly Lab, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Virginia Tech

 

Jae Yang

Secretary
Jae Yang
Doctoral Candidate
Physiology & Biophysics
Boston University School of Medicine

 

Ethan Lawrence

Treasurer
Ethan Lawrence
Graduate Research Assistant
Materials Science & Engineering
Arizona State University

 

William Bowman

Program Chair
William Bowman
Postdoctoral Associate
Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

President

Janet Gbur

Janet Gbur
Doctoral Candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

I am currently a Doctoral candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I work in the Nitinol Commercialization Accelerator Laboratory and Advanced Manufacturing and Mechanical Reliability Center under Professor John J. Lewandowski and I am also a member of the HAPTIX iSens project team under Professor Dustin Tyler in the Functional Neural Interfaces Lab in Biomedical Engineering. My current research focuses on the robustness and reliability of wires and cables that are used in biomedical applications with emphasis on the effects of nonmetallic inclusions on the lifetime performance of superelastic Nitinol wire.

I first became involved in MSA while attending the M&M 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon as a member of the Student Bursary Program. I enjoyed the extensive networking opportunities with other students and microscopy professionals as well as learning more about various microscopy techniques through participation in vendor tutorials. I attended M&M 2016 and I was encouraged by the level of support provided by MSA to develop programming targeted to students and I wanted to contribute to that initiative. I enjoyed being a part of the planning for the Inaugural PMCx60 and development of Student Council and I am continually energized by the outstanding leaders focused on contributing to our success. I hope to improve the visibility of student-specific leadership opportunities and encourage participation and leadership from students through early career professionals to provide a natural mentorship and transition into roles within MSA.

I am a member of the Microscopy Society of Northeastern Ohio, a MSA Local Affiliate Society, where I serve as a Student Board Member. During 2016-2017, I served as the Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress Co-Chair for Physical Sciences and President-Elect for Student Council and I am currently the 2017-2018 Student Council President. Whether you are an undergraduate student just learning about microscopy or an emerging young scientist, MSA Student Council is a place to share, grow, and learn – Why wait, get involved now!

President-Elect

Cameron Varano

Cameron Varano
Graduate Research Assistant
Kelly Lab, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Virginia Tech

I am a fourth-year doctoral student in Translational Biology, Medicine and Health program at Virginia Tech. I work at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Deborah Kelly. My research is aimed at examining the link between protein structure and function in human disease. My dissertation work is predominately focuses on the effects of post-translation modification to the BRCA1-BARD1 protein complex in metastatic breast cancer. I combine biochemical assays and cryo-EM to gain insights into the mechanisms of disease progression. The goal is to elucidate how BRCA1, an imperative tumor suppressor, is silenced. The knowledge gained could impact how metastatic disease is both screened and treated.

My interest in service on the MSA Student Council stems of a desire to have a wider interaction with individuals within the world of microscopy. In 2016 I attended and gave a talk at M&M in Columbus, OH. It was an incredible professional development opportunity. It was in Columbus that I had a serendipitous selfie and tweet which connected me to the MSA Student Council. I participated in the many events at the meeting and was extended a formal invitation to join the Student Council and serve as Secretary. Having benefited greatly from these experiences, I am enjoying the opportunity to help shape the Student Council.

At the 2017 Student Council meeting, I was elected to serve as President-Elect for the MSA Student Council. Our goal is to provide a platform for professional and technical network, while enhancing engagement and involvement in the society. On that note, I hope to see you in Baltimore, MD in August. To see the serendipitous tweet that started it all, follow me @Cameron8283.

Past-President

Josh Silverstein

Josh Silverstein
Research Assistant
Miami University

When I first sat down at a microscope I said to myself, “people need to see this”. With microscopy we are able to observe worlds within our world. Investigating the microcosm leads to an aesthetic experience, one that begins with joy and ends with wisdom.

As StC President it was my goal to create an opportunity for students to utilize their leadership skills, network with their peers in a professional and social environment, all while being a member of a wonderful scientific community. With the development of the Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress (PMCx60) for Early Career Professionals in Microscopy and Microanalysis, the StC was able to reach that goal. The PMCx60 is now a definitive program of the StC. As part of the StC I was privileged to work with an excellent group of individuals to develop this signature event. Because of them the StC has set a precedent in the society and for the student community. The new StC leaders will without question continue to pave the way for the success of the student community.

I encourage all students to get involved with the StC. As Past-President of the StC I will continue to support the goals of the StC and encourage the next generation of students to get involve with MSA and be a part of this wonderful society. Come join us and spread the joy!

Treasurer

Ethan Lawrence

Ethan Lawrence
Graduate Research Assistant
Materials Science & Engineering
Arizona State University

I am a fourth-year Materials Science & Engineering PhD student at Arizona State University working with Prof. Peter Crozier. My current research focus is on using environmental in situ Transmission Electron Microscopy to gain a fundamental understanding of carbon deposition on solid oxide fuel cell anode catalyst materials. Observing materials under near reaction conditions can provide insights into the deformation mechanisms which may lead to mitigation strategies. Previously, I attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA where my research was focused on chemical and optical properties of various glass systems.

I began to feel a sense of belonging to MSA at M&M 2015 in Portland, OR, the first M&M meeting that I attended. The number of microscopy professionals that made themselves available for discussions with students was astounding. The level of inclusion that I felt within the society inspired me to become more involved. This started with the Student Bursary Program at M&M 2016 in Columbus, OH where I was also able to network with other students at the social mixer, the MSA Student Committee meeting, and various other events. Ultimately, this led me to become a member of the newly formed MSA Student Council and an organizing member of the MSA Student Council Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress (PMCx60). The level of support that I have witnessed from many MSA members continues to reinforce my desire to be an actively engaged member of the Society.

As the Treasurer of the MSA Student Council and the Activities and Social Chairperson of the inaugural PMCx60 for Students and Early-Career Professionals I want to encourage other students to become interested in leadership roles and provide more student networking opportunities. PMCx60 was a huge success and I hope to inspire other students to become involved with the MSA Student Council after seeing what we accomplished at M&M 2017! I am extremely excited to help create an even bigger and better PMCx60 at M&M 2018. Be on the lookout for updates on our Microscopy Society of America – Students Facebook page!

Secretary

Jae Yang

Jae Yang
Doctoral Candidate
Physiology & Biophysics
Boston University School of Medicine

I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, working with Dr. Esther Bullitt. My research focuses on using cryo-electron tomography along with biochemical analyses to study a novel transmission pathway utilized by non-enveloped positive-sense RNA viruses. The knowledge gained through this project could shed light on how viruses interact with and evade the host immune system, even with the presence of viral vaccines.

My interest in service on the MSA Student Council began with me attending the M&M 2017 Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress for Early Career Professionals in Microscopy & Microanalysis, St. Louis MO, organized by the MSA Student Council. I was really impressed by what the MSA Student Council had accomplished within a year. More importantly, there was a strong sense of inclusion, networking, encouragement, camaraderie among students and early microscopy professionals that inspired me to get more involved in the Student Council. Later at M&M 2017, I gave a talk and continued witnessing the huge support from seasoned microscopy professionals to students. Ultimately, as an advocate in STEM education and career development for young professionals, I expressed my desire to join the MSA Student Council, and was elected as Secretary for the Council at the first MSA Student Council Meeting where over 80 student members attended. The feedback, ideas, excitement generated at the first Council Meeting was incredible. It is truly my honor to work with all of the current members of the Student Council towards the bright future of the society we are picturing together.

One of our main goals is build a platform where all members at different stages of their earlier career can benefit from various professional development opportunities, leadership practices, scientific research connection and mentorship support. As the newest member of the current Student Council, I want to encourage other students to take advantage of this opportunity through actively participating in the various MSA Student Programs. Make sure to check out our upcoming programs and skill enhancing resources!

Program Chair

William Bowman

William Bowman
Postdoctoral Associate
Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I am a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT working with Prof. Bilge Yildiz as part of the MIT Energy Initiative. In the fall of 2016 I completed a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering with Prof. Peter Crozier at Arizona State University, during which time I was also a visiting scholar at ETH Zürich in Switzerland. My research focuses on developing nanoengineered oxide coatings to mitigate hydrogen embrittlement of metals used in nuclear reactors, geothermal systems, and infrastructure for a hydrogen economy. Previously, I applied advanced transmission electron microscopy to the study of chemical and electrical properties of grain boundaries and interfaces in electroceramic oxides.

My interest in service has grown out of numerous experiences as a volunteer, mentor, and mentee, throughout my time a student and postdoc. I have generally focused on promoting STEM activities through education, dissemination and inclusion. Since attending M&M for the first time in 2013, it has become one of my favorite meetings, which encouraged me to serve as a Student Bursar at M&M 2015 in Portland, and a member of the MSA website redesign committee in 2015.

During the Student Committee meeting at M&M 2016 in Columbus, I proposed the Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress for Students, Postdocs and Early-Career Professionals in Microscopy and Microanalysis (PMCx60), which was a day-long conference organized by the MSA Student Council for early-career professionals, and was held at M&M 2017 in St. Louis. The aims of this event include facilitating technical and professional development, encouraging networking and recruiting, and enhancing engagement and involvement in the society.

I was previously a member of the Arizona Imaging and Microanalysis Society, and the Chairperson for the 2016 Gordon Research Seminar on Solid State Studies in Ceramics, which preceded the Gordon Research Conference on the same topic. I am currently serving as the Editor of the MSA Update, and the StC Program Chairperson for PMCx60 for M&M 2018 in Baltimore.


Communications Chair

Shardai Johnson

Shardai Johnson
Graduate Student Researcher
Materials Science & Engineering
Tuskegee University

I am currently a graduate student at Tuskegee University in the Material Science and Engineering program, and have trailed a unique path in the fields of material science and microscopy over the course of a few years. In 2014, I was accepted into the NSF funded Material Science Minor program at Fayetteville State University (UNC-FSU) under the esteemed Dr. Zhiping Luo. As a science major in Chemistry, I encouraged her fellow students from different departments to engage in microscopy analysis, even recruiting an instructor in Forensic Science to participate in the program. During my three-year undergraduate tenure at UNCFSU, I have maintained my grades, worked as an AGORA mentor assisting high school students with programing, and participated in executive boards of the FSU-ACS student chapter and Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, I participated in REU internships at University of Alabama at Birmingham and Tuskegee University respectively. My current research is centered on the morphological effects of low temperature plasma on hydrothermal carbonization of catalyzed waste coffee. I aspire to design and characterize environmentally conscious materials with defense applications. I am looking forward to bridging students across different disciplines with the Microscopy Society of America.

Regional Liaison Chair

Erica Stevens

Erica Stevens
PhD Student, NDSEG Fellow
Materials Science & Engineering
University of Pittsburgh

Nothing excites me more than microscopes and microscopy. The ability to see matter from a vastly different perspective, the unique opportunity to fuse art and science, and the possibilities for reaching non-technical audiences through visual appeal is absolutely the best of all worlds for me.

I am a third-year Materials Science and Engineering PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh with Dr. Markus Chmielus. My primary research focuses on additive manufacturing (3D printing) of functional materials, particularly magnetocaloric materials (which change temperature when a magnetic field is applied). I use scanning electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, and micro-computed tomography as primary characterization tools.

When I first discovered my passion for microscopes, I made the decision to attend the Microscopy & Microanalysis conference in 2016 in Columbus, OH — the experience fully solidified my resolve to work towards a career in microscopy. Throughout the conference, with each new person I met, all I could think is, "these are my people, I belong here." It is a combination of this feeling of community and my overwhelming love for microscopy that led me to the StC; I want to meet more people, help other student/early-career microscopists connect with each other, and share my microscope-induced excitement. My hope is that everyone who finds their way to the StC will have an avenue for learning and networking and ultimately will think: "these are my people, I belong here."

Region I Liaison

Joseph Lim

Joseph Lim
Paramedic in training
Northern VA CC

My name is Joseph Lim. I am training to be a Paramedic in the Washington DC Metro area and also looking to transfer to a 4 year institution. I am an Army Veteran who returned to school after several years in the service and was inspired by some wonderful professors here. I have used microscopy when learning anatomy and physiology a prerequisite to Paramedic certification and in other classes such as Cell Biology. Aside from school, my other activities include volunteering my time at the Military Medical Museum in Silver Spring, MD which among several exhibits holds the "Billings Collection" one of the largest collections of microscopes in the world. I also officiate amateur wrestling and train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the weekends.

I became a MSA member in 2015 at the urging of my BIO 101 and Cell Biology Professor who suggested joining professional organizations as a means of networking. I have attended the past three conferences and have learned much that has helped me in learning and teaching others whether they be peers or patrons. I look forward to assisting others in whatever endeavors they have.

Region II Liaison

Frank Barrows

Frank Barrows
MD/PhD Student
Applied Physics
Northwestern University & Argonne National Laboratory

I am an MD/PhD student pursuing a PhD in Applied Physics through Northwestern University working in the Material Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory under Professor Petford-Long. I research how patterned materials display memristive behavior, specifically I study soft magnetic thin films and metal oxide thin films. This research has application in nonvolatile memories and neuromorphic computing.

My interest to join the student council was sparked at the 2017 M&M Annual meeting. Seeing the motivated and friendly student council motivated me to get involved. My interest is in ensuring that the student council serves the needs of student members, both in their current research and their career goals, and expanding the student membership through the regional representatives is an essential part of that mission.

Region III Liaison

Tim Pegg

Tim Pegg
PhD Student
Plant Biology
Miami University of Ohio

Tim is a previous graduate of Frostburg State University (B.Sc. Biology, B.Sc. Chemistry) and the University of Oklahoma (M.Sc. Botany). He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Biology at Allegany College of Maryland for two years. Currently a Ph.D. graduate student at Miami University, his research interests include cell wall matrix alterations during lateral root emergence, aerenchyma formation in plants experiencing prolonged flooding and hypoxic conditions, and the development of confocal and transmission electron microscopy immunolabeling protocols to investigate structural changes in plant tissue. After attaining his doctorate, he would like to continue his research as a faculty member of a Plant Biology department or microscopy core facility.

Region IV Liaison

Jason Sardey

Jason Sardey
PhD Candidate
Biomedical Research
Lewis Kratz School of Medicine, Temple University

I am a Biomedical research PhD candidate in the Lewis Kratz School of Medicine at Temple University. I completed a double BS in math and physics at the University of North Florida, concentrating on chemical warfare sensor design with semiconductor thin films. I was given a unique opportunity to be trained as the technician for the department’s environmental SEM, training internal and external users and working alongside service engineers for maintaining the microscope. This helped develop a love of general microscopy, which drove me to complete a MS in the biology department at UNF to learn more of the soft materials side of microscopy. I helped the department acquire its first confocal microscope, again working of a technician primarily for internal users in the department and developing a training program and graduate microscopy course. I then spent two years in the industry as an optical engineer, programing a Twyman-Green interferometer for measuring tear films in vitro on contact lenses. Currently I am working on elucidating the mechanisms of a novel protein has in the metabolic disorder, Hyperhomocysteinemia.

Region V Liaison

Matt Nigro

Matt Nigro
Aspiring PhD Student
Paleontology/Taphonomy, or Sedimentary Petrology
Currently - SUNY Geneseo Geological Sciences Department

I am a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo's Geological Sciences department with a focus in Invertebrate Paleontology and Taphonomy. During my senior year in undergrad, I undertook a directed study with a visiting professor of the college, Dr. Lindsay MacKenzie, on the preservation potential of invertebrate organisms. This research was presented at GSA Seattle and is responsible for my interest in the field of microscopy as it was the first time I had ever worked with a SEM in detail. Over the course of 4 months, I suddenly found myself with several hundred hours experience with instruments I never thought I'd work with. During this time I was fortunate enough to meet and develop friendly relations with individuals in the microscopy field while seeking advice on sample preparation and observation; which later led to an invitation to MSA St. Louis where I met a diverse and tight-knit community that I am both honored and happy to now be a part of. Although I am taking a pause for this upcoming academic year, I plan on making the best of my time by securing a grad-school position for the following year, devoting my time to assist the MSA StC, and working on my first joint-publication for a peer-review journal pertaining to the research done my senior year. I look forward to meeting and working with everyone who's passion and attention were also grabbed by this amazing field.

Region VI Liaison

Kartik Venkatraman

Kartik Venkatraman
PhD Student
Materials Science & Engineering
Arizona State University

I am a third-year Materials Science & Engineering Ph.D. student at Arizona State University working with Prof. Peter Crozier. I use vibrational electron energy-loss spectroscopy as a fingerprint technique to characterize local surface and interface bonding arrangements for simple geometries of model material systems, focused on achieving a high spatial resolution, in contrast to popular photon based techniques like Raman and FTIR spectroscopy. The study can, in turn, be used to characterize bonding across complex nanomaterials surfaces and interfaces with a high spatial resolution. Previously, I attended the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi, India for my undergraduate degree in Metallurgical Engineering, where my research focused on the synthesis of heterostructures of TiO2 nanotube/Bi nanoparticle/CdSe nanowire for interesting optoelectronic applications.

Region VII Liaison

Samantha Brady

Samantha Brady
PhD Student
Biochemistry
University of Missouri - Columbia

I am a third year Biochemistry PhD student at the University of Missouri- Columbia working with Dr. Xiao Heng. My current research focus is on highly ordered RNA structures within the Human Immunodeficiency virus’s (HIV) genome and how they interact with host factors. While I was using various other techniques to do this such as NMR, I was given an amazing opportunity to take a class on cryo-electron microscopy (EM). This class not only introduced me to cryo-EM, but it also allowed me time on a microscope in which I got to use my own samples and analyze the data. Not only did I find out that cryo-EM is what I needed for my project, but it sparked my interest into this field. I now plan on doing a postdoc in a lab in which I can sharpen up my skills in cryo-EM.

I was introduced to MSA during M&M 2017 in Saint Louis, MO. My family is from that area so I was able to go to the conference even though I wasn’t presenting any data for next to nothing. I was first impressed with how cheap the conference was for students but then I was more amazed with all of the funding opportunities students were given to go to the conference. I decided to go to the Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress for Students, Postdocs and Early-Career Professionals in Microscopy and Microanalysis (PMCx60) since I wanted to get to know graduate students and postdocs who were already in the field and see if this truly was the field into which I wanted to go. I was blown away with how inclusive everyone I met was and all of the research that was going on in the field. I felt so welcomed into a society that I had never really been a part of until recently. MSA student council members were available every time I had a question and were more than happy to help. That was when I decided this was where I belonged. I am so happy that I was asked to become a MSA student council regional liaison because now I can get involved in a society that has already affected me in such a positive way.

Region VIII Liaison

Jackson Spurling

Jackson Spurling
Freshman Student
Materials Science and Engineering
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

I am a freshman at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I have no research focus at present; as a freshman, I haven't had an opportunity to be involved in undergraduate research during the school year, however I have been and plan to continue as a student researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory working with both scanning and transmission electron microscopes. The primary project I helped with last summer involved running an experiment with a magnesium oxide indicator to verify the presence of water vapor within a gas cell as a precursor to running and in situ experiment.

Region IX Liaison

Kemaro Muir

Kemaro Muir
MS Student
Mechanical Engineering
Tuskegee University

I am currently a Mechanical Engineering Masters student at the Tuskegee University. I am currently the supervisor at the Tuskegee Nucor Research and Education Center. My research aims to optimize the procedure of a patented technology for in situ repairs of pearilitic rail steel. My thesis title takes the form of determining the effect of preheating and weld procedures on the weld quality of pearilitic rail steels. This research will lead to decreased maintenance cost, safer and higher quality repairs.

St. Louis conference was my first Microscopy conference and the warmth and sweet fellowship I received from the student council members I immediately knew I wanted to be part of the council to help spread and reciprocate such fellowship to as much people as I can reach. I believe it is going to be a beautiful experience to see my communication and leadership skills grow as I seek to help others engage in MSA to grow their skills while acquiring networking opportunities.

I am eager to see what butterflies my peers and I will become!!!

Region X Liaison

Nhu Trieu

Nhu Trieu
MSc Student
Biology
University of New Brunswick

I am a first year M.Sc student in Biology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I work with Dr. Bryan Crawford in his lab focused on matrix dynamics. My research is aimed at characterizing the ultrastructural differences in the extracellular matrix surrounding cancer cells. I use confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to compare zebrafish xenografted with highly invasive cells to zebrafish xenografted with poorly invasive cells. This characterization will yield better understanding of the role of the tumour microenvironment and its connection with invasiveness.

I volunteered for the regional liaison position because I wanted to form better connections between the microscopy communities in Canada with the microscopy community in the United States. My major interest is in developing better tools for advocacy at the university and government levels and improving the current state of the gap between having the majority of our skilled, knowledgeable microscopists retiring in the next 10 – 20 years and not having easily accessible resources for training our next microscopists and the support necessary to ensure that this field is continuously being cultivated. Microscopy is important, not only for its role in research, but also for its role in exciting the general public because, for many, seeing is believing and better for understanding. I look forward to working with everyone to further build our community and to increase awareness and advocacy for microscopy.