Academic Panel

Azin Agah


Azin Agah received her PhD in Biochemistry from Kansas State University and her MBA from Baker University. She conducted her Postdoctoral training at Harvard University, and has had a number of publications. Additionally, she received funding for her research from American Heart Association and National Institute of Health. She is currently a lecturer at Park University.

Edgar Arriaga

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Dr. Edgar Arriaga (He/him) is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. After earning a “Licenciatura” (BSc.) degree at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in 1985, Edgar sought opportunities to pursue graduate school and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The love for science was stronger than the culture shock he experienced and Edgar completed a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Dalhousie University in 1990. It took him two postdoctoral appointments, one at the University of Kansas Medical Center and one at the University of Alberta, to reaffirm his commitment to an academic career. Edgar joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 1990. His research on bioanalytical chemistry, supported through NIH, has been unveiling mysteries hidden by the innate heterogeneity of biological systems. His research team, a.k.a. the Organelle Group, is unique in its efforts of using novel measurements at the individual organelle level to investigate “Why we Age”. Dr. Arriaga is co-director of an NIH training grant,  co-leader of the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) Alliance, and chairperson for the Committee on Professional Training (CPT) of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Through these appointments and his personal life, Edgar strives to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect for All.


Edgar and his family currently live in Costa Rica.

Rigoberto Hernandez

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Dr. Rigoberto Hernandez is the Gompf Family Professor of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. His theoretical and compuational chemistry advances in transition state theory, multi scale molecular dynamics far from equilibrium, Janus particles, steered protein dynamics, and diversity equity has received numerous awards including the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, Research Corporation for Science Advancement Cottrell Scholar TREE Award, and the Herty Medal. He has served as the Director of the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) since 2011, and on the ACS Board of Directors since 2014.

He was born in Havana, Cuba, and was raised in Hialeah, FL. He has a PhD in theoretical chemistry from the University of California (Berkeley, CA) a BSE in chemical engineering and mathematics from Princeton University (NJ).

Renã Robinson

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Dr. Renã A. S. Robinson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at  

Vanderbilt University and inaugural Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips  

Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow, received her B.S. in Chemistry with 

concentration in Business from the University of Louisville and  

Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Indiana University under the  

mentorship of Professor David Clemmer. She developed  

proteomics methods to study aging in Drosophila (fruit flies) and  

continued working in aging as a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral  

Fellow with Professor D. Allan Butterfield at the University of  

Kentucky. During this fellowship she began to focus on  

neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and  

received a UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship.  

Dr. Robinson joined the Department of Chemistry at the University  

of Pittsburgh as Assistant Professor in 2009 and moved to Vanderbilt University in 2017. She  has a nationally and internationally recognized research program and is a leader in the field of  proteomics for her work in aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and applications relevant to human  health. Her laboratory is especially focused on using advancing proteomics and lipidomics  technologies to further understanding of health disparities in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Robinson  is the Leader of Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement for the Vanderbilt Memory and  Alzheimer’s Center, training faculty senior member at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Co Investigator of the Recruitment Innovations for Diversity Enhancements NIH Award to understand the effectiveness of storytelling as a recruitment tool into Alzheimer’s disease  research, and is President of the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black  Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

Industry Panel

Ace Galermo


Dr. Ace Gita Galermo is a Research & Development Scientist for Agilent Technologies. He transitioned to Agilent by acquisition of his former employer, ProZyme Inc (Hayward, CA.), where he joined in 2018. At Agilent, he is leading efforts in the product development and innovation of rapid high-throughput liquid-chromatography fluorescence/mass spectrometry-based solutions for glycan analysis. His research expertise involves leveraging both organic and analytical chemistry in combination with liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry to solve glycoprotein-based and plant-based carbohydrate structures.

In 2018, he received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from University of California, Davis where he studied under Prof. Carlito B. Lebrilla. At Davis, he collaborated with MARS Inc and Mengniu Dairy, developed the first liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry-based method for glycosidic linkage analysis, and co-invented a patented technology to create bioactive plant-based carbohydrates which has led to a start-up company (BCD Biosciences – Sacramento, CA.). In 2014, he obtained a B.A. in Chemistry from University of California, Santa Cruz where he was a fellow for both California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) and Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC). In 2012, he obtained an A.S. in Chemistry from Hartnell College (Salinas, CA.).

For fun, he enjoys occasional canyon driving along the bay area California mountains during summer months but enjoys playing electric rock guitar year-round!

Helen Lu


Dr. Helen Lu is a Technical Fellow at DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences.   Helen received her B.S. in Chemistry from Cornell University, and PhD in Organic chemistry from Yale University. Helen joined DuPont in 1998, as a research scientist in Nylon Intermediates R&D, working on next generation homogeneous catalyst development.  Since then, Helen had worked on a variety of discovery programs in DuPont CR&D, ranging from materials, nanocomposites, and biomaterials.  Helen is interested in inter-disciplinary research programs, at the interface of chemistry, material science, and biology.  Helen is currently a project leader on polysaccharide-based materials.

In her spare time, Helen enjoys reading, traveling, and a bit of running.

James Walker

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Dr. James Walker joined Dow in 2018 as a Senior Chemist as part of the Research Assignments Program (RAP). As part of the RAP, he has enjoyed the unique opportunity of exploring different divisions of Dow as a rotational employee. He began his initial rotation in the Chemical Science group, where his work focused on the development of new homogeneous catalyst for olefin polymerizations. Additionally, he utilized his synthetic skills in the development of optically clear adhesives for the Dow Performance Silicones business in collaboration with a large multi-disciplined team of scientist. Following his first year, James joined the Engineered Materials group of the Dow Performance Silicones business where he led the development of new conformal coatings. Currently, James is utilizing his skills in the Laminating Adhesives group of Technical Services & Development, where he is leading a large sustainability study across various product lines for future product development.

James received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State University. His doctoral research focused on olefin difunctionalizations, such as transition metal- and organo-catalyzed hydroacylation, and new developments in the area of formal carboacylation reactions.

James also spends time in the Great Lakes Bay Region communities as a leader for STEM education. He is currently the President of the Midland Professional Chapter of NOBCChE, where he dedicates his time to helping organize afterschool programming, local science bowls, and sponsorship of STEM events in the region. Outside of work and volunteering activities, James is an avid basketball player and loves to draw.

Mohammad Zia-Ebrahimi

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Mohmmad joined Eli Lilly & Company in 1990 and is currently a Senior Research Scientist.  During his 30-year career at Lilly he’s worked in several therapeutic areas:  Infectious diseases research, where he co-developed methods for the first total synthesis of three bacterial cell wall building blocks, The Park Nucleotide, Lipid I and Lipid II;  Central Nervous System disorders focusing on cognition and pain; and for the last 17 years in oncology research on the  discovery of targeted medicines to treat various forms of cancer.  His work has resulted in two clinical candidates, one of which is currently in phase one clinical trials.  He had assignments in Hamburg, Germany and Shanghai, China to help train and mentor Eli Lilly and research partner scientists at those sites.  Throughout his career he has been an advocate for mentoring and developing young scientists at Eli Lilly and has been an active participant in Lilly’s summer intern program as both a recruiter and a mentor. 

He received his BS in chemistry from the University of Minnesota and MS in organic chemistry from Butler University in Indianapolis, under the direction of Professor Leroy Salerni, where he worked on the preparation of bi-valent hydantoins for the treatment of epilepsy. 

Government and Non-traditional Panel

Sarah Brady


Sarah earned a Doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Oregon researching the degradation of plastics and Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and French from North Central College.  She was also a GK-12 Fellow and an NSF-IGERT Fellow where she worked at Hong Kong Baptist University.  Sarah is now the Deputy Director of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) where she leads outreach efforts to connect CCST’s network of experts with state decision makers and directs large-scale commissioned projects requested by the Legislature and state agencies.  Prior to joining CCST, Sarah served as Legislative Director in Assemblymember Susan Bonilla’s office where she was hired after her placement as a CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellow in 2014. During her time with Assemblywoman Bonilla, Sarah initiated policy work to retain women in STEM careers by preventing pregnancy discrimination in graduate programs. As a result of legislation that she conceptualized and staffed through the process, the law now requires all California colleges to establish a family leave policy for their graduate students. Sarah also spearheaded legislation to increase the use of biomethane, reduce the cost of college textbooks, and improve access to computer science education. In addition, she conducted bill analysis and provided vote recommendations to Assemblywoman Bonilla on all bills related to utilities and commerce, energy, water, natural resources, and environmental toxicity. 

Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel


Dr. Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel is the Director of Education and Outreach for the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As part of her position in the MRSEC, Anne Lynn works to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering and to help early career researchers improve their communication and mentoring skills.  Anne Lynn has been a Master Facilitator for the National Research Mentoring Network since 2015 and has facilitated trainings for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty interested in improving their mentoring practices at universities and professional society meetings.

Anne Lynn earned her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 1993 and her PhD. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999.  In her spare time, she is part of an all-female improvisation team. In 2015, Anne Lynn leveraged her hobby to co-develop an improv-based, graduate-level course designed to help students become more effective at communicating science. Anne Lynn has adapted elements of the course into interactive workshops for scientists which she has led for students and faculty at multiple institutions.

Pauline Serrano

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Dr. Pauline Nancy Serrano is an analytical chemist by training but transitioned into Health and Safety after graduating from the University of California- Davis (UC-Davis) with their doctorate. They are a first-generation, queer, LatinX and southern California native and self-professed "desert person" because they also grew up in Las Vegas, NV. While in Las Vegas, they matriculated at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) where they received a B.S. in biochemistry and a M.S. in chemistry (emphasis in nuclear chemistry). Their academic research experience has enhanced their career in EHS by providing practical and useful solutions. A major passion of Pauline's is mentorship; currently they are a mentor with the Cambridge, MA chapter of Science Club for Girls working with girls in the 3rd and 4th grades. In graduate school, Pauline was an NSF- REU, ACS Seed, and UCD-NexMex research mentor to 6 different undergraduates along with working with the Center for Student Retention targeting retention of the LatinX undergraduate population. They currently live in Salem, MA (yes, the witchy city) and works for an amazing gut microbiome biotech start-up (Finch Therapeutics) looking to cure C. difficile along with other gut related ailments in Somerville. They have experience in academia, non-profits, and government agencies/ labs from working at UC-Davis, MIT-LL, and The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. For fun she also enjoys food; eating, cooking, and every aspect in regards to food and food culture. 

Anna Jean Wirth


Anna Jean Wirth, PhD is a Physical Scientist at the RAND Corporation, a not-for-profit think tank and research organization. Dr. Wirth uses modeling, simulation, and data-analysis to inform decision making in National Security and Defense, with a particular focus on logistics and operational analysis. In recent work she has helped the U.S. Coast Guard understand how changes to assets (e.g. number and types of ships) impact mission performance and has worked extensively with the U.S. Air Force exploring a variety of issues ranging from the F-35A maintenance to technological innovation via analysis of patent filings.


In addition to conducting research, Dr. Wirth leads project teams, writes reports, and presents RAND analysis to government stake-holders. Dr. Wirth earned her PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, where she was an NSF fellow. Her research used a variety of spectroscopy methods—including fast laser spectroscopy and whole-cell fluorescence microscopy—to study protein folding. She leveraged her quantitative background and experience in data analysis to transition to the policy world, where she applies many of the same analytic techniques she used in science to problems facing government decision makers. 

Ning Xu

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Ning Xu came to the United States in 1990 with a Master’s degree in environmental chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Kentucky in 1994 and conducted her postdoc research at the US Environmental Protection Agency groundwater research center in Ada, OK, as the National Research Council postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Xu worked on groundwater contamination monitoring and remediation for eight years at the EPA Ada site prior to joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2006. She was the deputy group leader for the Actinide Analytical Chemistry group in the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos and led a group of 90 scientists and technicians to work towards solving national security challenges. Currently, Dr. Xu is on a temporary assignment to the National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy headquarters in Washington DC as a technical advisor to the Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control to develop international nuclear safeguards solutions.


Dr. Xu is selected as a member of the 2020 class of Fellows of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She is being recognized for her sustained contributions to actinide analytical chemistry in support of national nuclear defense, technical nuclear forensics, nuclear material safeguards and deep space exploration. Dr. Xu is widely recognized and acknowledged at Los Alamos and by the ACS New Mexico Section for her dedication to students and mentoring, her inspiring the next generation of scientists to pursue STEM careers through chemistry education outreach and her outstanding leadership of the ACS Central New Mexico Local Section.