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Industry Mentors

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Jade Bing
Corteva Agriscience

Dr. Jade A. Bing, is a synthetic chemist at Corteva Agriscience where she explores the discovery and development of novel crop protection agents. Jade received her PhD in organic chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2020 (NSF Graduate Research Fellow) where she focused on asymmetric catalysis and natural product total synthesis. Bing received an ACS accredited B.S. in biochemistry with honors from Rider University and conducted undergraduate research as a McNair Scholar (Rider University) and Leadership Alliance Fellow (Princeton University).

Jade is passionate about and dedicated to efforts to mitigate disparities in STEM. Prior to graduate school, Bing worked as a research coordinator and counselor for the McNair Scholars program at Rider. At Corteva, Bing works with the Global African Heritage Alliance (GAHA) Recruitment and External Partnerships Pillar. She serves the Indiana Local Section of the ACS as the co-chair of the Committee on Minority Affairs (CMA), chair of the Younger Chemists Committee Professional Development sub-committee, and member-at-large. Under her leadership the CMA pioneered the award-winning PREDICT (Promoting Equity and Diversity in Chemistry) program to amplify minority voices in chemistry and promote the establishment and retention of a diverse workforce. She is the Midwest Regional Chair for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

Bing has received several awards and accolades for her achievements and perseverance both inside and outside of the laboratory. She has been recognized by several organizations and institutions such as the American Chemical Society (National, Trenton Local Section & Indianapolis Local Section), the Society of Toxicology, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the American Institute of Chemists Foundation, The Association for Equality and Excellence in Education, Inc. (AEEE), The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Center for Leadership Development, Rider University, Vanderbilt University, and Corteva Agriscience.

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Brandi Hudson
Remix Therapeutics

Brandi Hudson is a Principal Scientist at Remix Therapeutics, where she has been since 2023. She is part of the Computational Chemistry team, using in silico modeling to design potential drugs. Prior to Remix Tx, Brandi spent five years at Relay Therapeutics, where she was part of the team that discovered lirafugratinib (RLY-4008), a highly selective small molecule inhibitor of FGFR2, currently in a global Phase1/2 clinical trial for FGFR2-altered solid tumors. She is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in January 2020, launched Relay’s Diversity, Equity, Belonging, & Inclusion (DEBI) initiatives. Over three years in which she led these efforts, she oversaw the creation of two employee resource groups, brought in company-wide DEI training, created inclusive meeting practices, organized events throughout the year to celebrate diversity, and managed a budget and a team of volunteers. Brandi was recognized on Google Venture’s impact List in 2021 for her contributions to Relay’s culture and success. Prior to industry, Brandi completed her postdoctoral training in structural biology at UCSF (2018), earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Davis (2016), and received a B.S. in Chemistry from the College of Charleston (2011). Between college and graduate school, Brandi worked as a chemist for o2si, a chemical company, and as an adjunct lab instructor at Trident Technical College for one year.

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Aparna Chakravarti
Merck & Co.

Aparna is a Senior Scientist in the Sterile and Specialty products groups at Merck & Co. Inc based in New Jersey. In her career in the pharmaceutical industry, she has focused on the design and development of sterile products for biologics, small molecule, peptide, and protein/large molecule-based drugs for injectable routes of administration. Her expertise lies in the development of both early and late-stage drug candidates, which includes screening and developing robust drug product composition, developing scalable processes, and defining primary packaging for robust sterile products.

Aparna received her Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology from SRM University in India in 2015 and went on to complete her Ph.D. in 2022 at the University of Kansas in Bioengineering with Professor Cory Berkland. Aparna’s Ph.D. specialized in the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel recombinant proteins with tumor binding properties. She investigated the tumor extracellular microenvironment and synthesized cell-derived nanoparticles as carriers for BCS Class IV compounds. She also developed biocompatible hydrogels and novel nanocomposite hydrogels used for drug delivery.

During her time as an undergraduate, she was selected for a study abroad program and conducted research at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology where she investigated the selective uptake of charged nano-therapeutics by immune cells in a tissue specific manner. She designed novel nanotherapeutic carriers for stimulating NKT immune cells to elicit an anticancer response.

In 2019, Aparna received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship and in 2020 Aparna was awarded the American Association of University Women International Fellow Award. She participated in the MU Coulter and Midwest Biomedical Accelerator Consortium (MBArC) and Biomedical Product Design and Development programs which resulted in the authoring and submission of an NIH SBIR proposal which was funded in 2021.

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Francis Maina
AbbVie

Francis Maina is a Principal Research Scientist, Analytical Chemistry at AbbVie where he has been since 2015. He is based in North Chicago (Illinois) and is part of the Operations Science and Technology organization, which supports late-stage product development, technology transfer, complex investigations, and commercial products lifecycle management for assurance of supply. He supports small molecule analytical methods development, validations, technology transfer to commercial sites and improvements, while ensuring reliability and robustness. His main specialties are liquid and gas chromatographic methods for raw materials, in-process controls, drug substances and drug products. Francis also leads science and risk-based stability approaches such as Arrhenius modeling and predictive stability to support various post-approval changes for commercial products. He is an active participant of the International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ Consortium). Prior to joining AbbVie, he was a Research Scientist at PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific (Middleton, Wisconsin). At PPD, he was part of the physical and material characterization group, where he used various techniques such as diffraction, spectroscopy, and thermal analysis to support various studies.  

Francis attended Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan) where he received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry (2011). His research in Professor Tiffany Mathews’ group was on the effect of low endogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels on striatal dopamine dynamics. Francis is very passionate about sharing his career journey, experiences and mentoring young scientists. He grew up in Kenya and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree from University of Nairobi. 

Government & Non-Traditional Career Mentors

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Nicole States
Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at
Saint Louis University

Dr. Nicole (she/her) is an instructional developer in the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at Saint Louis University. She holds her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Iowa where her research focused on how instructors can work within their university systems to promote student engagement and inclusive instruction using active learning, meaningful material design and tangible facilitation strategies. Her undergraduate work focused on atmospheric chemistry investigating PAHs in flue gas of a biomass burner, but she always had an interest in social justice and equity work and that led her into chemistry education research where her two loves could become one. She is passionate about changing the STEM academic culture to be more inclusive and equitable.

In her current position, Nicole works with faculty and graduate students to support, create and implement effective teaching practices in their classrooms. She has a particular focus on STEM learning, large enrollment classrooms, and fixed layout seating. She facilitates workshops, runs the learning assistant’s academy, does consultations with faculty and supports instructions at Saint Louis University in their teaching.

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Michelle Thompson
Environmental Health & Safety at
Iowa State University

Michelle Thompson is an Assistant Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Iowa State University. After completing her bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics, she graduated from Iowa State University with a Ph.D. in Chemistry, focusing on semiconductor nanoparticle synthesis. She currently serves as the Chemical Hygiene Officer, Laboratory Safety Manager, and Interim Radiation Safety Manager for Iowa State University. Michelle enjoys creating and leading trainings, utilizing data and metrics, and believes wholeheartedly in building relationships – connecting with campus researchers to promote proactive collaboration in pursuit of enhanced laboratory safety.

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Candi Hudson
U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Dr. Candi Hudson is currently the Senior Engineer Technical Advisor for the Emerging Technologies Branch (ETB) in the Office of Offshore Regulatory Programs (OORP) for the US Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in Sterling, Virginia. Currently, Dr. Hudson is developing BSEE’s renewable energy research program and implementing studies addressing technology, performance, and regulatory gaps of concern. Dr. Hudson provides expertise in identifying and overseeing rapid innovative research programs addressing emerging technologies and regulatory gaps ensuring the safety of offshore energy renewable activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). She also conducts technical evaluations of requests to utilize innovative emerging technologies, and novel materials for energy activities on the OCS and supports forensic investigations of offshore incidents involving emerging technologies. 

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Robbyn Anand
Coltie

Bio coming soon!

Academic Mentors

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Joya Cooley
California State University, Fullerton

Joya Cooley (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University, Fullerton. She earned undergraduate degrees in Chemistry (B.S.) and Music (B.A.) from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at University of California, Davis focused on understanding thermoelectric phenomena. Following this, she completed a postdoctoral appointment at University of California, Santa Barbara understanding magnetocaloric materials. She has been at CSUF since 2020, and her current research focuses on (i) understanding structure-property relationships in materials exhibiting anomalous thermal expansion and (ii) color tunability and heat-reflecting properties of cool pigments. At CSUF, she enjoys working with undergraduate and Master’s students both in the classroom and the research laboratory. She resides in La Habra, CA and enjoys live music, travel, and stand-up comedy.

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Mary Watson
University of Delaware

Mary Watson is a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Delaware. She earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 2000 and her PhD in organic chemistry in 2006 from the University of California, Irvine, under the direction of Prof. Larry Overman, working on the development and mechanistic investigation of the palladium(II)-catalyzed asymmetric allylic imidate rearrangement. She was then a National Institutes of Health NRSA postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University with Professor Eric Jacobsen, where she developed an olefin arylcyanation via activation of C–CN bonds. In July 2009 she joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, where she and her research group develop new catalytic methods for the synthesis of organic molecules. The impact of her research program has been recognized with the 2023 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science, a Rising Star award from the Women Chemists’ Committee of the American Chemical Society, a Delaware ACS Section Award, inclusion in the 2017 J. Am. Chem. Soc. Young Investigator Virtual Issue, and as a 2023 ACS Fellow. Mary is passionate about making the chemistry community more inclusive and serves as a co-founder and co-organizer of the annual Empowering Women in Organic Chemistry conference, a responsible editor for Organic Reactions, an associate editor for the Journal of Organic Chemistry, and the proud mom of two daughters and a Bernese mountain dog.

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Sambuddha Banerjee
East Carolina University

Sambuddha Banerjee, Ph. D. received their education from Calcutta, India before they moved to the US, initially for their postdoctoral research at Duke University, and then for their current position at ECU Chemistry. They identify as a gender non-conforming brown queer scientist-activist-philosopher and try to implement critical race and critical queer theories in their practice as a mentor. Their research interest includes investigating roles of transition metals in infection and immunity, use of small metal complexes as potential therapeutics, and analyzing scientific epistemology using critical race and queer theory. They are currently the Chair elect of the Minority Affairs Sub-division at the American Chemical Society and are also actively involved with several LGBTQIA2S+ inclusive antiracist STEM organizations.

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Dr. Arijit Sengupta was born and raised in the city of Kolkata (West Bengal, India). His interest in chemistry developed at an early age, and after graduating from high school he enrolled at the University of Calcutta (India) as an undergraduate student majoring in chemistry. After receiving his B.S (Honors) degree in chemistry in 2002, he joined the Department of Polymer Science and Technology (University of Calcutta) to pursue a B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) degree. In 2005, he earned his B.Tech degree and worked in the industrial sector as a management trainee. However, his passion for polymer chemistry encouraged him to redirect the course of his career towards research. Dr. Sengupta came to the US in 2007 to pursue his PhD in the field of Polymer Chemistry at The City University of New York (College of Staten Island) under the guidance of Professor Ralf M. Peetz. His graduate research centered around the synthesis and characterization of heteroatom containing conjugated polymers. As a graduate student, he was involved in teaching undergraduate laboratory courses. After graduating with a PhD in polymer chemistry in 2012, he joined NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering (NYU Poly, New York) as a postdoctoral researcher. He spent two years at NYU Poly developing novel polymeric materials for application in plastic optical fibers under the supervision of Prof. Yoshiyuki Okamoto. His intense interest in teaching led him to pursue a teaching postdoc position at University of San Diego (California) in 2014 under the supervision of Prof. Peter M. Iovine. At University of San Diego, he actively engaged in teaching undergraduate chemistry courses and conducting research with undergraduate students in the field of starch-based amphiphilic polymers for applications in anti-fouling systems. Dr. Sengupta joined the Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Bradley University in the Fall of 2016 as an Assistant Professor.

Arijit Sengupta
Bradley University
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