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 Pre-meeting Congress (PMCx60) has proven to be a perennial success bringing together medal winners, student scholars and sponsoring exhibitors. The PMCx60 provides the opportunity for young microscopists to communicate their research through a weekend of presentations and posters. Additionally, social activities create an unparalleled opportunity to network with MSA council members and industry representatives. 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. This year we are introducing 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 us 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.

Erica Stevens

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

 

Cameron Varano

Past-President
Cameron Varano
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Structural Oncology
Biomedical Engineering
Penn State University

 

Abinash Kumar

President-Elect
Abinash Kumar
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

Aubrey Penn

Secretary
Aubrey Penn
North Carolina State University

 

Jackson Spurling

Treasurer
Jackson Spurling
University of Tennessee - Knoxville

 

Eric Hoglund

PMCx60 Chair
Eric Hoglund
University of Virginia

 

Louisa Mezache

Biological Sciences Co-Chair
Louisa Mezache
The Ohio State University

 

Kartik Venkatraman

Physical Sciences Co-Chair
Kartik Venkatraman
Arizona State University

 

Jenna Wardini

PMCx60 Social Chair
Jenna Wardini
University of California, Irvine

 

Joseph Kim

Communications Chair
Joseph Kim
University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Piyush Haluai

Region Liaison Chair
Piyush Haluai
Arizona State University

 

Aswathy Shailaja

Region II Liaison
Aswathy Shailaja
Clemson University

 

Laura Wilson

Region III Liaison
Laura Wilson
Case Western Reserve University

 

GM Jonaid

Berit Goodge

Region V Liaison
Berit Goodge
Cornell University

 

Yingjie Yang

Region VI Liaison
Yingjie Yang
University of California, Irvine

 

Liaison- Mercedeh A. Yeganeh

Region IX Liaison
Liaison- Mercedeh A. Yeganeh
Florida State University

 

Alexander Zintler

Region X Liaison
Alexander Zintler
TU Darmstadt, Germany

 

President

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 fifth-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. I served as the 2017-18 Regional Liaison Chair, and was elected to the President-Elect position at M&M 2018.

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."

President-Elect

Abinash Kumar

Abinash Kumar
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I am a second year PhD student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working with Prof. James LeBeau. Currently, I am working on finding the atomic scale origin for relaxor behavior in materials along with implementing machine learning algorithms in electron microscopy. I have been involved with the area of electron microscopy since my undergraduate at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. My previous experiences involve working with teams in organizing events during my college’s cultural and technical festival and mentoring few undergraduates. These experiences helped me to develop good communication and decision taking skills. As MSA StC provides a great platform for networking, I would like to expand this association by reaching out to many schools and the general public by organizing several events including fundraisers. It would be good to see MSA StC to lead in developing a large association for students across the globe with the help of several microscopy societies.

Past-President

Cameron Varano

Cameron Varano
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Structural Oncology
Penn State

I recently completed my doctorate at Virginia Tech. I work at the in the Center for Structural Oncology in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State. My research is aimed at examining the link between protein structure and function in human disease. My work is predominantly focuses on the effects of post-translational modifications 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. My goal as president is to provide a platform for professional and technical network, while enhancing engagement and involvement in the society throughout the year. I hope to see you in Portland, OR in August.

Treasurer

Jackson Spurling

Jackson Spurling
University of Tennessee - Knoxville

The opportunities to serve as Region VIII Liaison during 2017-18 and as Secretary during 2018-19 have allowed me to become involved with the MSA StC leadership, particularly in the area of member outreach. In these positions, I have assisted the MSA Student Council chiefly through its goal to provide networking platforms to student members. This has been accomplished through having dialogue with regional members as well as through activities like webinars and social media outreach. I would like to continue to contribute to the Student Council by supporting these and other methods of outreach to student members through the position of Treasurer. I have been honored to serve with StC these last two years, and I hope to be given the opportunity to continue to make MSA a welcoming organization for new and current members by supporting current and future outreach initiatives.

Secretary

Aubrey Penn

Aubrey Penn
North Carolina State University

I am a third-year graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University working with Profs. James LeBeau and Divine Kumah. My current research is focused on explaining interfacial phenomena at the atomic scale in complex oxide thin films using a variety of scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques. Before coming to NCSU, I received my master’s degree in chemistry from Western Kentucky University, where I first became acquainted with electron microscopy. Since then I have grown in my knowledge of the technique and love of the microscopy field, in part, through my association with MSA. I have been a member for two years and had the pleasure to attend my first M&M Conference in Baltimore in 2018. It is an honor to serve the Society and its members as the Student Council Secretary. As secretary, I will work to maintain the welcoming and supportive community I have come to know.

PMCx60 Chair

Eric Hoglund

Eric Hoglund
University of Virginia

I am currently a PhD student at the University of Virginia working with Prof. James Howe. My research focuses on characterizing the electronic, vibrational, and structural state of grain boundaries and interphase boundaries. My interest in community involvement takes many aspects, from teaching other graduate students through a teaching fellowship to teaching grade school students in the Charlottesville area through NANO days. Serving on UVA’s MSE Graduate Student Body council has also provided another means of allowing the local scientific community to thrive. After being made aware of the Postdocs and Early-Career Professionals in Microscopy and Microanalysis (PMCx60) at my first M&M meeting in St. Louis, MO I made sure to attend the next year in Baltimore MD. The great experiences in Baltimore, MD encouraged me to seek a position and serve as PMCx60 Physical Sciences co-chair for M&M 2019 so that I could help provide the same opportunity to other students in the larger Microscopy and Microanalysis community. Now I hope to do the same as PMCx60 Chair.

Biological Sciences Co-Chair

Louisa Mezache

Louisa Mezache
PhD Student
Biomedical Engineering
The Ohio State University

I am a returning student at Ohio State University pursuing my PhD with Dr. Sai Veeraraghavan after years of working in industry. My focus of research is on the functional effects of structural remodeling of the cardiac intercalated disc. I was introduced to microscopy while working for a small privately-owned biobank, but I gained a greater appreciation for it when I joined Dr. Veeraraghavan’s lab. I attended my first M&M in 2019 and was blown away by the wide applications of microscopy outside of the life sciences and by the advancements people were making in the field. I was also very impressed with the level of student involvement, and have been lucky to join the MSA Student Council. I hope to meet more microscopists across different fields of research and help to expand microscopy’s reach to younger students.

Physical Sciences Co-Chair

Kartik Venkatraman

Kartik Venkatraman
PhD Candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
Arizona State University

I am a Materials Science & Engineering PhD candidate at Arizona State University working with Prof. Peter A. Crozier. My current research focus is to explore atomic, molecular and lattice vibrational modes and their interaction with a 60 kV electron beam using monochromated electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) in an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). Previously, I attended the Indian Institute of Technology at Varanasi, India where my undergraduate research project was focused on synthesizing differently sized CdS and CdSe quantum dots for optoelectronic applications.

My first interaction with the MSA community was during my first M&M in 2016 at Columbus, OH. Being a fresh graduate student, I was amazed by the extraordinary level at which the attendees performed scientific research. More so, I was blown away by the number of professionals who made themselves available for scientific discussion; this gave me a sense of inclusion in this community. I was also impressed by the amount of effort the society put in bringing students together to interact with the community – in the form of the Student Bursary Program that I was a part of, the Student Mixer and the ‘Meals with a Mentor’ event. It was at that M&M that the MSA Student Council (StC) was formed. After many interactions with StC members over two M&M conferences, I served as the Regional Liaison for the MSA StC for the Region VI (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, HI, UT) for 2017-18 and promoted MSA activities across the student community affiliated with microscopy research at universities in this region. For 2018-19, I was elected to serve as the Treasurer of the MSA StC. As Treasurer, I oversaw all financial transactions, developed a budget and maintained accurate records of income & expenses, developed sponsorship activities and solicited funding for the PMCx60 2019, in conjunction with the PMCx60 organizing committee. Currently, I have been appointed as the Physical Sciences Co-chair for the PMCx60 at M&M 2020.

In this capacity, I want to inspire more students to become involved with the StC after showing them our accomplishments at M&M 2020! The goal is to foster fraternity in the student community and develop future leaders for the MSA. The PMCx60 has been a huge success the past two years and we intend to push ourselves to do better the next year.

PMCx60Social Chair

Jenna Wardini

Jenna Wardini
PhD Student, IMRI Lab Assistant
Materials Science and Engineering
University of California, Irvine

I am a PhD student at UC, Irvine, working with Prof. Will Bowman. My research focuses on elucidating how atomic-scale structure and chemistry influences ion transport across and along interfaces in ion-conducting solids. This work relies heavily on the use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM), where in situ and in operando measurements of ion transport are supplemented by a variety of high-resolution TEM imaging and spectroscopy tech­­niques to better understand the correlation between local microstructure, chemical composition and ion conductivity.

As a TEM/SEM/FIB lab assistant at the Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) and a long-time electron microscope enthusiast, I enjoy training users to operate our electron microscopes as well as conveying the exciting capabilities of these instruments. I have joined the MSA StC this year to help facilitate conversations and connections amongst like-minded individuals that share a passion for electron microscopy, while working towards increasing the size of the young microscopist community through the M&M 2020 PMCx60 social events and MSA StC social media outlets.

Communications Chair

Joseph Kim

Joseph Kim
PhD Student
Physical Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Since the discovery of the wave-like nature of electrons in the early 20th century, scientists and engineers alike has excitedly exploited this property to build electron microscopes to have the highest resolving power possible. Currently, I am utilizing such devices under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Wright as a 2nd year PhD student to study the organization and assembly of macromolecules within neurons by cryo-electron tomography. I incorporate genetic modifications and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy to perturb native cellular states and fluorescently label macromolecules in an attempt to better understand neuronal function and spatial organization, with a long-term interest in studying neurodegeneration.

Prior to graduate school, I had no experience or engagement with the microscopy community in any way. A postdoc in my lab soon told me about the MSA StC as a great way to engage with such a community. Upon being introduced to the StC members in-person at M&M 2019 in Portland, OR, I knew that I have found a great community to thrive and grow as a microscopist-in-training. I decided to apply as communications chair to implement my wish to engage with other student microscopists across the nation to further bolster a burgeoning community and to ensure that no one is left behind on the march for progress. Through discipline and passion, I hope to contribute my part to make the MSA student community as strong as it can ever be.

Region Liaison Chair

Piyush Haluai

Piyush Haluai
PhD Student
Materials Science & Engineering
Arizona State University

I am a 2nd year Materials Science PhD student at Arizona State University with Dr. Peter Crozier. My keen interest in the field of electron microscopy led me to this. My project involves studying oxygen vacancy defects and dopant migration in metal oxide materials with high time resolution imaging and electron energy loss spectroscopy. I attended my first M&M in 2019, Portland. It was an amazing experience for me to be a part of this conference and interact with the other members. I would like to meet more fellow “wanna be” electron microscopists like me and bring them to this beautiful thing called “Microscopy Society of America”.

Region II Liaison

Aswathy Shailaja

Aswathy Shailaja
PhD Candidate
Plant and Environmental Sciences
Clemson University

I am currently a PhD candidate in Dr. Julia Kerrigan’s lab at Clemson University. My current research involves developing new methods for visualizing and quantifying filamentous fungal biofilms using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy and LCM. I got an opportunity to meet the MSA members in another microscopy conference held in Summer 2019. Through that networking event, I learned about the MSA StC activities, which made me develop an interest to be a part of this society. As I progressed in my educational pursuits, I have understood the value of developing holistically beyond the lab, building connections for future collaboration and learning. I am interested in helping other scientists find these opportunities. As a Regional Liaison, I hope I can help and support more microscopy people through this society.

Beside research, I also enjoy photography, being involved in various student activities and community volunteering.

Region III Liaison

Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson
PhD Student
Material Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

I am currently in my third year of the PhD program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. I am in the Material Science department working with NASA Glenn Research Center on a project dealing with additive manufacturing of metals. My research involves work with optical and electron microscopy (optical profilometry, SEM, TEM). I earned my bachelor’s degree in Geological Engineering from Michigan Tech, and got my first taste of SEM while working on a project there. Then I got my master’s degree in Geology from Miami University and utilized SEM as well as electron microprobe. That led me to a job at GE Aviation, in Cincinnati, OH, where I worked for about 5 years in the electron microscopy lab; I ran the electron microprobe as well as several of the SEMs.

My use of electron microscopy over my career has helped foster a passion for the techniques and tools available. I have been exposed to a wide variety of what’s available, and I am always excited to use them and see more; I think it is fascinating what can be seen and discovered with microscopes. As Region III Liaison, I want to share that excitement with those in my region. I am happy to have the opportunity to share MSA with those in my region and to help get more people involved in the field.

Region IV Liaison

GM Jonaid

GM Jonaid
PhD Student
Bioinformatics and Genomics
Penn State, University Park.

I am a graduate student in Bioinformatics and Genomics program at Penn State. My research interests include developing algorithms and tools for Cryo-electron microscopy (EM) structure reconstruction. My ultimate goal is to implement deep learning method for Cryo-EM structure construction. Currently, I am working with Dr. Deb Kelly as a graduate assistant. Our current research includes understanding the structure of p53 and BRCA1 proteins (both wild type and mutants).

I am also a crazy football (soccer) fan. My favorite team is Real Madrid. I hardly miss any Madrid’s game.

Region V Liaison

Berit Goodge

Berit Goodge
PhD Student
Applied Physics
Cornell University

Atomically-engineered quantum materials host a plethora of exotic phases including multiferroicity, charge order, and superconductivity. My research seeks to understand these phenomena at the atomic scale by using high resolution microscopy techniques such as STEM, EELS, and EDX to probe the connections between lattice and electronic structure. My work with Prof. Lena F. Kourkoutis is focussed mostly on the complex oxide perovskites, though I always enjoy the opportunity to branch out and get something new in the microscope (spanning anything from Antarctic geologic samples to human tooth enamel).

From the newest students to the most senior researchers, the enthusiasm of microscopists can only be described as “infectious”. As a graduate student, I am incredibly grateful for this friendly and welcoming community I have enjoyed getting to know over the past four years. As a Regional Liaison, I hope to extend a network of support, encouragement, and shared expertise among a broader community of young microscopists throughout the northeast (and beyond!).

Region VI Liaison

Yingjie Yang

Yingjie Yang
PhD Student
Materials Science and Engineering
University of California, Irvine

I am currently a 4th year PhD student working with Prof. Martha Mecartney in University of California, Irvine. My research interest focuses on ceramic materials, specifically flash sintering. I aim to explore the physical phenomena and explain the mechanisms of flash sintering through microscopy and other characterization methods. I have experience in working with various techniques on the scanning electron microscope including EDS, EBSD, and FIB. I work with users in the university as a student employee to provide training and consultation to operate and utilize the techniques. I learnt about the MSA student council when I attended M&M for the first time in 2019. The StC is a great platform for networking and connecting with the microscopy community. I aim to serve as the bridge between local communities and other microscopists involved in the field to promote MAS and the StC, as well as improve communication in the community.

Region IX Liaison

Mercedeh A. Yeganeh

Mercedeh A. Yeganeh
PhD Student
Molecular Biophysics
Florida State University

I am a 4th year PhD student working in a Cryo-EM lab. Our main focus in the lab is determining the structure of flight muscle from different flies. I am currently trying to solve the structure of Z-disk from flight muscle of Lethocerus indicus. Lethocerus is a structural model, has very structured muscle filament which make it easy to study. I have been involved in data collection and data processing in the lab. And recently trying to improve my sample prep skills.

M&M 2019 was my first time attending the microscopy society meeting, and I am glad that I registered in PMCx60. I could meet a lot of new people in my field and network with them which I enjoyed a lot. The friendly environment was the best ice breaking for me before the conference, that helped me to get the most out the M&M. It would be an honor if I can help and give new people in the field, the same experience and feeling I got.

Region X Liaison

Alexander Zintler

Alexander Zintler
PhD Student
Materials Science
Technische Universität Darmstadt

I am a second year PhD student working with Dr. Leopoldo-Molina-Luna of Advanced Electron Microscopy Group at the Materials Science department of the TU Darmstadt. In my work I focus on the resistive switching properties of Hafnia thin films. Preparing samples on MEMS chips for in situ biasing and heating experiments via FIB as well as performing high resolution STEM imaging and analytics takes most of my time.

During my Bachelor studies I became a part of the microscopy group in Darmstadt by joining the conventional preparation lab as a student worker and was totally blown away when I saw my first high resolution TEM image. Since then I have focused on expanding my knowledge about modern EM techniques, teaching students sample preparation routines, how to use our different machines and digging more into the materials science aspects of electron microscopy.

With my attendance at the M&M in Portland 2019 I stumbled upon the MSA StC and took part in the Council meeting. I love the idea of giving students and young researchers possibilities to expand their network, discuss and collaborate on an open platform and I hope to adapt some of these ideas to the community in Europe.