Ex-officio Voting Members
Lynn Cooley (she/her), Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Jo Machesky (she/her) '24 PhD, Engineering & Applied Science (GSA Chair)
Anna Barry (she/her) ’98 PhD, Chemistry (Immediate Past GSAA Board Chair)
Stephanie Grilli (she/her),’80 PhD, History of Art (YAA Board of Governors)
Non-voting Advisory Board
Kemal Ciliz '95 MA, International Development Economics
Jasmina Besirevic Regan (she/her) ’04 PhD, Sociology
Associate Dean for Partnerships and Special Projects, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Jia Chen ’00 PhD, Physics (Chair)
Dr. Jia Chen is a Product Leader of Blockchain solutions for Healthcare and Life Sciences at IBM’s Innovation and Solution Incubation team. She serves on the IBM Academy of Technology Leadership team.
She previously led technical strategy at IBM Watson Health Innovation, with a focus on data and AI. Prior to that, Dr. Chen was the global leader of Watson Experience Centers at IBM, responsible for Watson AI client experiences across all Watson group.
She held leadership positions for Innovation and client engagement at IBM Corporate Headquarters as well as emerging markets. She was formerly the Director of Health Solutions for Smarter Cities at IBM, and the Director of Technical Sales & Innovation for IBM’s Growth Market Units. She led the identification, structuring and execution of first of a kind technology and business initiatives that provide innovative and sustainable differentiation for IBM’s clients.
Dr. Chen’s work was recognized as one of the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ by Science magazine in 2001. She was named as one of the top 35 technology innovators under the age of 35 worldwide by MIT’s Technology Review in 2005, the Best Researcher of the Year by Small Times magazine in 2006 and one of the top 26 tech women innovators at IBM in 2015. She’s an innovation catalyst with over 40 issued patents, 8 book chapters and 50+ journal and conference papers. She serves on the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association Board.
Edward Balleisen is Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, as well as Professor of History and Public Policy. Balleisen has written widely on the historical intersections among law, business, and policy in the United States, as well as the evolution of American regulatory institutions and contemporary debates on regulatory governance. His most recent book is Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (2017). A national leader in conversations about the need to expand the versatility of doctoral students, Balleisen has spearheaded a process of reform at Duke. As Vice Provost, Balleisen facilitates cross-school undertakings around research, teaching, and civic engagement.
Ajay Dhankhar ’97 PhD, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry (Secretary)
Ajay Dhankhar is a Senior Partner at McKinsey and Company and the global leader of McKinsey’s Strategy, M&A and Risk practices for the Lifesciences industries. He previously also led their global R&D practice, co-founded their Indian healthcare practice, and has been a long-standing “McKinsey Master Faculty” focused on training their partners to be better global leaders. At Yale, Ajay was in the lab of Professor Robert Gerson Shulman; he is enormously grateful for the lifelong friendship, encouragement and mentorship that Professor Shulman has provided him.
Ajay has helped deliver more than 35 major transformations, including one of the top-five largest restructurings in the financial industry, and three of the top ten in life sciences. He has extensive experience in corporate and business-unit strategy, portfolio transformations including divestments, capital management, activist investor responses, enterprise risk, and large-scale post-merger integrations. He has also led McKinsey’s overall client service for multiple leading life sciences companies across North America, Europe, and Asia focusing on organic growth, productivity improvements, and inorganic moves. He is a thought leader on M&A and strategy and regularly publishes in leading journals.
Outside of work, Ajay enjoys golf and skiing with his family and friends, and serving on the boards of several not-for-profit institutions including The Antara International Foundation and Newark Academy.
Tavneet Suri ’06 PhD, Economics (Treasurer)
Tavneet Suri is the Louis E. Seley Professor of Applied Economics and an Associate Professor of Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Her expertise is in the role of technology in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tavneet is editor-in-chief of VoxDev; Scientific Director for Africa for J-PAL; CoChair of the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative at J-PAL; Chair of the Digital Identification and Finance Initiative at J-PAL Africa; and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Pamela Adams '85 PhD, Political Science
After completing her Ph.D. at Yale University, Pamela Adams joined the faculty of the Business School of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy and directed their MBA program. She has taught management in many countries including France, Spain and Switzerland, where she was most recently part of the faculty of Franklin University Switzerland. Pamela has been a Member of the Board of the Illy Coffee company, and has been on the executive team of two startups. She has held management positions in Italy's largest bank and has been a management consultant for several Italian companies. She recently moved back to the United States and is currently Associate Professor of Management at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University.
Her research interests include the management of innovation, entrepreneurship, industry analyses and strategic marketing. Her research has been published in Organization Science, The Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Research Policy, Industry and Innovation, and the Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management. She has also published teaching cases in the Harvard Business School case collection and in strategic marketing textbooks.
Ellen Babby ’80 PhD, French
Ellen Babby is an independent consultant with more than 35 years of experience in non-profit executive management. Her areas of expertise are strategy and planning; advancement; strategic alliances; foundation and corporate relations; organizational development; management; governance and program design.
In 2012, after several years in leadership positions in higher education nonprofit organizations, Babby moved to Phoenix, Arizona and launched her consulting firm in nonprofit management. She has provided strategic advice to a broad range of nonprofit organizations including the American Council on Education, Council of Graduate Schools, Association of American Law Schools, National Association of College Admission Counseling, Be A Leader Foundation, and the Center for the Future of Arizona, where she serves as a Senior Fellow.
Previously, Babby served as Vice President, Advancement & Planning at the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, DC, the major coordinating organization in higher education representing college and university presidents. She led the Council’s strategic planning process over several years, expanded ACE’s partners
hips, raised significant support for program initiatives and worked closely with staff on the design of new programs. While at ACE, Babby also served as Executive Secretary to the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, working closely with the chief executive officers of numerous organizations serving colleges and universities.
Prior to joining ACE, Babby served as a member of the leadership team at NAFSA: Association of International Educators where she was responsible for strategic planning, corporate/foundation relations, and program design. Selected other positions included Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the National Foreign Language Center at The Johns Hopkins University and Executive Director of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, an organization that promotes the study of Canada at US colleges and universities.
Babby is the author of several articles on the Quebecois writer, Gabrielle Roy, and the book, The Play of Language and Spectacle in Selected Works of Gabrielle Roy. Her dissertation was the first through Yale’s French Department on a French-Canadian author.
A native of Montreal, Babby splits her time between Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, DC.
Yana Bebieva '18 PhD, Geology and Geophysics
Yana Bebieva is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech. She received her Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics with a focus in Physical Oceanography from Yale in 2018. She has a diverse set of research interests in fluids, including the dynamics and thermodynamics of the oceans as well as wildfire dynamics. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, snowboarding, making European desserts, and hiking.”
Laura Brown ’20 PhD, Music History
Laura Brown is a user experience (UX) researcher in the e-commerce space, currently working as a User Research Lead at Wayfair. Laura graduated from Yale in 2020 with her PhD in Music History. Her research at Yale explored how music software has reshaped the way composers create music for film, TV, and other media. While at Yale, Laura served three terms in the Graduate Student Assembly, including one as Vice Chair in 2017-18. She also coordinated the Humanities & Social Sciences Professionalization Series for two years as a McDougal Career Fellow at the Office of Career Strategy. In her free time, Laura enjoys producing music, running, and playing softball.
Mahala Burn, '10 MPhil, '13 PhD, Cell Biology
Mahala Burn's work is to empower cutting-edge, life-saving healthcare technologies worldwide. Xe serves as a Director of Corporate Development and Strategic Financing at bioMérieux, where xe is responsible for healthcare diagnostic technology scouting, investing, and M&A. Mahala previously worked in strategy consulting, leading operations as Practice Director of EY-Parthenon's Life Sciences business and advising life sciences and private equity clients at L.E.K. Consulting. Mahala earned xyr Cell Biology PhD in the lab of Yale GSAS Dean Lynn Cooley, and earned xyr BS at age 17 from The Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College. When not at work, Mahala can be found updating xyr photography portfolio (www.cicatriximages.com), watching documentaries, reading, travelling, spending time outdoors, video gaming, playing music, studying Buddhist philosophy, attending cultural performances / classes, and playing with xyr dog Adenine. Additionally, xe enjoys using xyr skills to mentor, serve on industry and leadership panels, and foster diverse and inclusive work environments.
Brian Dunican '15 PhD, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
During graduate school Brian Dunican studied the biophysics of RNA, was Chair of the GSA and a frequent attendee of GPSCY trivia night. He then worked for McKinsey & Company, advising large pharma clients in R&D and corporate strategy. In 2020 he joined AbbVie Pharmaceuticals as Senior Director of Innovation, identifying and driving adoption of new ways of working across functions. In his spare time Brian enjoys travel, skiing, sailing and SCUBA.
Alicia E. Ellis ’09 PhD, Germanic Languages and Literatures
Alicia E. Ellis is Associate Professor of German and Chair of the Department of German and Russian at Colby College. She completed her undergraduate education with a double major in German Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College. Ellis also earned an M.A. in African American Studies while at Yale.
Her first book Gender and Identity in Franz Grillparzer’s Classical Dramas: Figuring the Female is an intervention that offers feminist textual analyses of 19th-century dramas. Ellis’ interdisciplinarity is most prominent in several fields beyond German Studies such as the 20th century novel, autofiction and life writing, Black feminist poetics, the Black diaspora, and African American and Anglophone literatures.
Ellis serves on two significant committees in her primary professional organization, the German Studies Association (GSA). She is a member of the Committee on Institutional Transformation and Social Justice (ITSJ) which promotes an anti-racist and inclusive mission at the GSA. Additionally, Ellis is on the Community Fund Selection Committee where she reads applications and awards grants to individuals (lecturers, adjuncts, non-tenure-track colleagues, visiting faculty, and independent scholars) in financial and/or professionally precarious positions that allow them to participate in the organization’s annual conference.
For several years, Ellis has been an active member of the faculty reading/writing group at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (IHGMS) at UMASS Amherst. At Colby, she has chaired search and reappointment committees, is on the African American Studies and Global Studies Advisory Boards, and serves on the President’s Committee on Mission and Priorities, among many other service and professional commitments.
Jasmine Escalera '10 PhD, Pharmacology
Jasmine Escalera is a Program and Operations Director with 10 years of experience designing and running large scale clinical research programs within academic, medical, and non-profit settings. Jasmine received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Pace University and PhD in Pharmacology within the School of Medicine at Yale. Jasmine has a deep commitment to managing the daily operations and designing programs for organizations that use research to promote the quality of life and healthcare access for populations in need. She is also an entrepreneur who started an executive coaching business that supports women of color to achieve career success.
Tarek Fadel ’11 PhD, Engineering & Applied Science
Tarek Fadel is the Assistant Director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Before joining MIT, Tarek was a Staff Scientist at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), the coordinating body for the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). During his time at NNCO, he served as the Executive Secretary for the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the White House’s National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Technology.
Tarek received his PhD from Yale University in 2011, where he continued as a post-doctoral researcher to develop nanoscale platforms for cancer immunotherapy. He previously held positions as Vice President for Research at the International Technology Research Institute, and Product and Systems Engineer at Hewlett Packard.
Federico Galizia '98 PhD, Economics
Federico Galizia is the Chief Risk Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He leads the Office of Risk Management, advising the President, the Executive Vice President, and the Board of Directors on their oversight of market, credit, socio-environmental, and operational risk, in accordance with the shareholders’ triple-A mandate. A founding member of the Multilateral Development Banks Chief Risk Officers Forum, he sponsors implementation of the G20 Action Plan to Optimize Multilateral Development Banks Balance Sheets.
Holding to his ideals on the importance of developing key talent and promoting career diversity, Federico has been a long-serving member of the IDB’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which has been instrumental in expanding representation of women in mid- and senior-level staff positions. He has also valued the opportunity to guide and empower colleagues in their careers, and has been recognized and awarded “Outstanding Mentor” by the IDB.
Before joining the IDB, Mr. Galizia was Head of Risk and Portfolio Management at the European Investment Fund, supporting small business finance during the European sovereign crisis. Previously, as Adviser to the President of the European Investment Bank, he designed guarantee instruments leading up to the Junker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments. He also established the team tasked with monitoring systemically important financial institutions at the International Monetary Fund during the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-09. Lessons learned from this experience were published by Risk Books, in the edited volume Managing Systemic Risk: a risk management framework for SIFIs and their markets.
Bhaskar Ghosh ’95 PhD, Computer Science
Bhaskar Ghosh (“BG”) is a Partner and CTO at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 8VC. BG has been a builder and engineering executive for over twenty years - conceiving and scaling consumer and enterprise software products and teams in companies such as LinkedIn, Nerdwallet, Yahoo and Oracle. At 8VC, BG focuses on investing in and partnering with entrepreneurs to build generational companies in the data, cloud and AI-enabled spaces, and, as the firm’s CTO, also helps incubate and start disruptive tech-driven companies. When not whiteboarding with entrepreneurs, BG makes music in an Indian folk-fusion band in Palo Alto and is passionately engaged with nonprofits and social-entrepreneurs innovating in STEM education, health-care and arts in the American deep-South and South Asia. BG is committed to expanding and deepening the collaboration and relationship between Yale and Silicon Valley in the areas of internships and career-acceleration, entrepreneurship in software, AI and biotech, funding Yale’s incubated companies, and in bringing Yale’s academic depth and humanities-informed compassionate world-view to the practical “build and iterate” mentality of Silicon Valley.
Chun Hu '22 PhD, Pharmacology
Chun Hu is an Associate at McKinsey & Company, advising clients in the life sciences and healthcare industry. Chun’s PhD research discovered a ‘decision switch’ in mutations linked to common brain tumor, which was published in Nature. While at Yale, Chun co-founded and served as President of Yale Student Business Society, now the Yale Biotech Club. He spearheaded the creation of many flagship programs, such as Business Essentials Bootcamp and Life Science Career Fair. He served on boards of the Yale Graduate Student Consulting Club and the Department of Pharmacology DEI Committee. He was also selected as a Canaan-Yale Venture Fellow in 2018. In his spare time, Chun enjoys biking, skiing, and learning fine cooking.
Tammy Ingram 07 PhD, History
Tammy Ingram is a historian who publishes on southern politics, crime, and punishment. She received her PhD from Yale University in 2007 and is currently an associate professor in History and an affiliate in Urban Studies; Women’s & Gender Studies; and Crime, Law, & Society at the College of Charleston. She has also held positions as the Kirk Visiting Professor at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University.
Professor Ingram has written essays and op-eds for such media as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the History News Network, Huffington Post and The Metropole. She has given talks before both academic and general audiences at the Virginia Festival of the Book and the National Archives (both of which aired on C-SPAN), Yale University, and the University of Georgia and conducted radio interviews and podcasts on NPR in Atlanta and Chapel Hill and the Gilder Lehrman Center.
Professor Ingram’s first book, Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the American South (UNC Press, 2014) received awards from the Georgia Historical Society, the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council, and the Business History Conference. Her current book project, The Wickedest City in America is under contract with Harvard University Press and has been optioned for television.
Tammy works in Charleston but lives in New York. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, motorcycling, and running. She's a five-time veteran of the NYC Marathon and a devoted dog mom.
Sadia Khan '91 MA, Economics
Sadia Khan was appointed Commissioner, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) in March 2020, the first female to hold that post. Prior to that, she has served as the President & CEO of the Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG).
Ms. Khan has pursued a versatile career path traversing investment banking, development finance, financial regulation, family businesses and entrepreneurship across three continents. With Masters degrees in Economics from both Cambridge and Yale, Sadia started her career at Lehman Brothers in New York. After obtaining her MBA from INSEAD in France, she has worked with various international institutions and local regulatory authorities, including the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines, the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the State Bank of Pakistan. For the past two decades, Sadia has remained a passionate advocate of corporate governance and has served on various boards as an independent director. Her book entitled “Corporate Governance Landscape of Pakistan” was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.
In 2014, the French Government conferred on her, the prestigious French award, “Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite” (Knight of the National Order of Merit). Ms. Khan served as the Honorary Consul General of Finland in Karachi during 2012-2020. Her leadership and strategic management skills were recognized in a Case Study published by INSEAD in 2021, on her tenure as the Global President of the INSEAD Alumni Association. She was recognized by the International Directors Network (IDN) for excellence in governance as the first recipient of their Good Governance Award in 2021.
Tom Kimberly ’08 MA, International Relations, MBA
Tom Kimberly is a product and technology executive in the financial services and wealth management industry. He is currently Head of Product at Edelman Financial Engines, the nation's largest independent advisor firm with more than $270B in assets under management. In that role, he is responsible for EFE's technology product vision and execution. He was previously an SVP and Managing Director at Fidelity Investments and the General Manager of Betterment’s consumer and advisor businesses. Prior to Betterment, Tom was co-founder and CEO of Upside, a robo-advisor that was acquired by Envestnet (NYSE:ENV) in 2015. He has also been VP of Strategy and M&A at Barclays and a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.
Tom earned an MA in International Relations and an MBA from Yale University and a BA magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. He lives in Winchester, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Sandra Kuzmich ’89 PhD, Pharmacology
Sandra Kuzmich is Managing Partner of Haug Partners LLP. She has over 20 years of experience in patent litigation and strategic intellectual property counseling in the areas of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and biotechnology. With particular expertise in pharmaceutical patent litigation, Sandra offers a distinctive approach to obtaining and maximizing the value of intellectual property assets in her patent procurement practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Recognizing that product life-cycle management is continuous and dynamic, she develops, manages, and protects diverse patent portfolios, taking into consideration the immediate and long-term business objectives related to the asset.
She specializes in the creation of strong and diverse intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals and biological products during early research, and how to expand that protection throughout development, product launch, and beyond. Having spent years in the pharmaceutical industry supporting preclinical research and clinical drug development, Sandra brings a uniquely informed perspective to bridging the legal and technical challenges involved in litigating intellectual property assets in the life sciences.
After obtaining a BA from Douglass College, Rutgers University, Sandra earned a PhD in Pharmacology from Yale University in 1989, with her research focusing on mechanisms of anticancer drug resistance. She continued this line of research as a postdoctoral research associate at the Fox Chase Cancer Center and then in the pharmaceutical industry. Sandra earned a JD from Fordham School of Law in 2001. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Federal Circuit Bar Association, which includes being a frequent lecturer at various international conferences throughout the year. In her role as Managing Partner, she is responsible for Haug Partners’ sponsorship and mentorship of the next generation of attorneys, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented groups in the legal profession.
Cory McCruden '10 MPhil, Political Science
Cory McCruden is Senior Vice President, Advisor & Client Experience of Waddell & Reed, Inc., the wealth management subsidiary of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Reporting to the President of Wealth Management, McCruden leads strategy and innovation and is responsible for shaping and executing the vision and end-to-end client and advisor experience driving the business’s growth, innovation, and profitability goals. What excites her most about this work, is the opportunity to empower everyone to take control of their financial futures.
McCruden previously was with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), with her most recent role as Head of Digital Client Experience & Strategy for Business Banking leading digital transformation efforts impacting approximately 800,000 business customers. Previously, she was a Vice President at BNY Mellon Wealth Management serving private clients and foundations, overseeing $2 Billion in assets.
McCruden is fascinated by financial markets, investor behavior, psychology, and technology, and is passionate about causes which support financial literacy and access to financial services, especially among young people. She is a mentor and frequent speaker on topics related to diversity, innovation, and leadership. She is a CFA Level III Candidate, a co-founder of the 30% Club, and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor.
Benoit Mercereau ’02 PhD, Economics
Ben Mercereau is Chief Investment Officer at Arvella Investments. A sustainable wealth management boutique with offices in Paris and London, Arvella strives to excel at investing while making the world a better place. Before founding Arvella, Ben was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs in London. He started his career at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Ben received a PhD in Economics from Yale under Nobel Laureate Chris Sims and a BSc in Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique. A wine enthusiast, he is a Knight of Burgundy’s Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (members include two US Justices and past US Ambassadors to France).
Zlatko Minev ’18 PhD, Applied Physics
Zlatko K. Minev is a research staff member at IBM Quantum, project and technical lead of IBM quantum device design & analysis Qiskit Metal project, and the product manager and host of IBM Qiskit’s Quantum Information Seminar Series. Minev received his Ph.D. with distinction from Yale University in the field of superconducting quantum physics, under Michel Devoret. Recently, MIT Technology Review named Minev one of their 35 Global Innovators Under 35, and his dissertation work on catching and reversing a quantum jump mid-flight was selected as the top Math/Physical Sciences discovery in Discover’s The Top 50 Stories of the Year. He is a laureate of the Presidential John Atanasoff Award. Minev serves as a Member of the Executive Board of the Yale Graduate Alumni Association (GSAA). In 2012, at Yale, Minev founded a nationwide science outreach and career pathways organization (Open Labs), which opens pathways for underrepresented and underprivileged young scholars to pursue careers in the sciences. For his leadership, Minev was awarded the Yale-Jefferson Award for Public Service. Minev received his B.A. from UC Berkeley with distinction and high honors, under Irfan Siddiqi. Minev’s work has been featured in mainstream media worldwide (100+ news publications), national tv and radio interviews (e.g., NPR).
David Sanchez was a Fulbright, Tinker, Ford Foundation and Yale Concilium Fellow. Sanchez created and headed the LatAm and Asia M&A Departments at JP Morgan and Bankers Trust. Since 1989, he has been a hedge fund investor and specialist serving as CEO of his firm, Sanchez Global LLC, and as a managing director with Zanbato Securities, the first SEC registered ATS private company share exchange with over US$38 billion in listed shares.
Sanchez has served twice on the YAA Board of Governors and was inaugural Chair of the Yale Day of Service. Currently he is treasurer of the Yale Club of South Florida and Chairman of the Yale Latino Alumni Network. Sanchez sits on numerous non-profit boards. He is Chairman of the National Executive Service Corps of NY/NJ/CT founded by David Rockefeller in 1977 and is Vice Chair of La Unidad Latina Foundation. He is an advisor to a West Point endowment and is a Hap Arnold Lifetime Giving Fellow.
Levi Smith ’19 PhD, Cell Biology
Levi Smith is a Senior Research Scientist at Halda Therapeutics, a New Haven based biotech company spun out of Yale University in 2019. Levi’s PhD research focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and discovering treatments that prevent the loss of neuronal connections caused by the disease. In 2017, Smith’s work was recognized with the Young Investigator Award from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. While at Yale, Levi served as President of the Yale Graduate Student and Postdoc Biomedical Careers Committee, a student-led organization that provided career development programming including an annual career fair for PhDs in the biomedical sciences. He was also selected as a Canaan Partners Venture Fellow in 2017. Prior to Yale, Levi trained as a pharmacist at Butler University and received his PharmD in 2013.
James V. Staros '74 PhD, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
James V. Staros was a NSF Graduate Fellow at Yale, where he earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry in 1974 under the guidance of Fred Richards. He then served as a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Harvard in the laboratory of Jeremy Knowles.
Staros began his faculty career at Vanderbilt in 1978, was tenured in 1983, promoted to professor in 1986, and served as a department chair 1988-2002. In 2002, he was named Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Stony Brook University (SUNY). In 2009, he became Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a faculty appointment as Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, a position that he assumed full time in September 2014 when he stepped out of his administrative post and back into life as a faculty member until his retirement in September 2019.
In addition to leading a vigorous research program, Staros has been an innovator in graduate and undergraduate education. On the graduate side, he served on numerous NIH review committees and site visit teams focused on interdisciplinary graduate education, including the principal study section for NIGMS training grants, which he chaired 1990-1992. He founded the NIH-funded Molecular Biophysics Training Program at Vanderbilt in 1989, and he was one of the small group of department chairs who founded the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in 1991, one of the first programs in the country to offer admission to Ph.D. training in the biomedical sciences across departmental and school lines. Prior to becoming Dean, he trained numerous undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in his laboratory, serving as dissertation advisor to eleven Ph.D. students, four of whom were in the combined M.D.-Ph.D. Program.
Matthew Tanico is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Academic Support and Outreach in the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to working in the Graduate School, he was the Associate Director at the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration. Matthew graduated with a BA in Spanish and Italian from New York University and went on to complete his PhD in Renaissance Studies at Yale in 2017. He returned to NYU after completing his doctorate and taught courses in Spanish Renaissance literature. Before RITM, Matthew was a Project Specialist in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Deans’ offices at Yale. Matthew serves on several boards in the Yale and New Haven communities.
Gale Tenen Spak ’76 PhD, Political Science
For nearly three decades, Gale Tenen Spak was Associate Vice President of Continuing and Distance Education at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey where she developed and oversaw educational and training programs to help emerging and seasoned professionals succeed in their chosen careers, both inside and outside the academy. Often her initiatives involved boundary-spanning collaborations among academe, industry and government, utilizing, where appropriate, digital instruction and platforms. Writing and presenting broadly on these topics, in 2020 she was designated an “Iconic Leader” in her home state of New Jersey.
Before joining NJIT, she was Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Education at New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, New York and led one of America’s first virtual universities. Earlier she served as the Director of the Center for Energy Policy and Research and authored “how to” energy and sustainability reports which were sent to every American Governor and which continue to be read today through their availability from the U.S. Library of Congress.
Now an NJIT emerita, and passionate about “giving back” and “playing it forward”, Tenen Spak established Build Their Future, LLC in 2019 to provide talent and workforce development consulting appropriate for adult learners based on what she has learned over a lifetime career in higher education. Illustrative of her volunteer activities specifically for Yale University, currently she is completing her term as a Delegate-at-Large, and contributed to the 1stGen initiative, and the 50Yale150 Anniversary year celebration.
Studying in a prototypical cross-disciplinary program with the Psychology Department, she earned her Yale University Doctor of Philosophy degree in Political Science om 1976.
Anne Toker ’88 BA, ’98 PhD, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Anne Toker is a partner in the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, where she focuses her practice on biotech and pharmaceutical patent litigation. She has litigated biotech and pharmaceutical patent cases in the U.S. district courts and in the United States International Trade Commission on matters involving next generation sequencing technologies, targeted enrichment PCR methods, diagnostic assays, single cell transcriptome technology, microfluidic droplet-based library preparation methods, blockbuster drugs, and protein chromatography systems. Anne is admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. She has spoken on patent law issues at the American Conference Institute Paragraph IV Disputes Conference, served on the New York City Bar Association Patents Committee, and been a member of the Harvard Law School Women’s Alliance of New York. Anne is committed to mentoring young lawyers, and has served as a faculty member for the Quinn Emanuel Trial Advocacy Programs, a co-director of the summer associate program for the Quinn Emanuel New York office, and a Quinn Emanuel Summer Associate Mentor.
After obtaining her BA from Yale College, Anne obtained a JD in 1991 from Harvard Law School, where she was a Supervising Editor of the Law Review. She served as a law clerk in the Southern District of New York for the Honorable Pierre N. Leval, now on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After her clerkship, Anne earned her PhD from the Yale Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and then completed a postdoc in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie at Columbia University as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow. Anne has conducted and published original research in the fields of molecular biology and developmental neurobiology.
Anne and her husband have four children and live in New York City.
Yu (Shawn) Xiang '07 PhD, Engineering and Applied Science
Yu (Shawn) Xiang is currently the Head of Greater China and Emerging Asia Region at Abbott Diabetes Care.
He previously worked at Novartis in various business management roles in China and as global pharma strategy director in Switzerland. Before Novartis, Shawn was a consultant at McKinsey in Philadelphia office, serving a wide range of clients across healthcare. Shawn lives in Shanghai, China with his wife and 2 children.
Esther Zirbel ’93 PhD, Astronomy
Esther Zirbel is a first-generation high-school graduate who went on to earn a Bachelor of Science, three master’s degrees and a PhD. As the oldest of four daughters of immigrants who settled in Turkey after World War II, she grew up as an ethnic and religious minority in her home country. She recognized that education was the key to bootstrap herself out of poverty, fought to attend and finish high school, secretly applied to college, received a stipend, and left her home at 17. She lived and worked in many countries and speaks five languages.
After graduating with an award-winning Yale PhD in Astrophysics, Esther researched back holes in the distant universe and her projects flew on the Hubble Space Telescope. In her first faculty positions (at Haverford College and Wellesley College), she discovered a passion for teaching and to date taught thousands of undergraduate students. To leave a larger impact in teaching students, she transitioned to teacher education (at Tufts University) and then to coaching professors in teaching and learning (at Brown University). While collaborating with businesses and government officials and realized that universities did not adequately prepare students for 21st Century careers. So, to better train students for the ever-changing workforce, she left academe and launched her own non-profit organization. The objective of Learning Ledgers is to create transformational educational programs for educators, so they can better prepare students for careers of the future. She believes everybody should have access to an excellent education with equitable opportunities to learn, have a chance to succeed in their careers, and be able to live a meaningful and significant life.