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Announcing the Yale University Bouchet Honor Society Inductees 2020 and 2021

April 9, 2021

2020 BGHS Inductees

Dr. Mahlet Garedew
Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering

Dr. Mahlet Garedew is currently a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering working on electrochemical conversion of biomass waste to valuable products while implementing the principles of green chemistry to maximize carbon efficiency and reduce process energy requirements and losses. She is a recipient of the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies Donnelley fellowship and was selected as one of the 2019 CAS Future Leaders. Prior to joining the Center at Yale, Dr. Garedew received her BSc. and MSc. degrees in Material Science and Engineering and MSc. and Ph.D. in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University. Her graduate research focused on conversion of biomass to value-added intermediates using pyrolysis and electrocatalysis. Specifically, she investigated the effectiveness of a ruthenium catalyst for improving energy content and stability of lignin-derived phenolic compounds. She was also part of the Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP) and a recipient of the ESPP climate, food, energy, and water (C-FEW) and Urban environments summer fellowships. Dr. Garedew is passionate about mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM. In graduate school Dr. Garedew volunteered her time working as a tutor and a mentor with programs such as Engineering and Science Success Academy, Summer Research Opportunities Program, and College Assistance Migrant Program. At Yale, Dr. Garedew continues to provide one-on-one mentorship to graduate and undergraduate students in the lab and through various mentoring initiatives. It is her passion to help underrepresented students overcome the many challenges and barriers of pursuing a career in STEM and assist them to become well-rounded researchers and leaders.

Professor Anjelica Gonzalez
Biomedical Engineering

Anjelica Gonzalez currently serves as Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Faculty Director of Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale. Her research has focused on the development of human biomimetic materials for use in investigation of immunology, inflammation and fibrosis. Prof. Gonzalez has a dedicated interest in training the next generation of scientists to think in an interdisciplinary way and approach problems from a scientifically global perspective. With a multi-disciplinary approach, the Gonzalez Lab combines organic chemistry, molecular biology, mathematics, computational modeling and image analysis to develop and use engineered scaffolds to dissect the chemo-mechanics of immunological processes. This work has led to significant advancement specific to an array of diseases and disorders, including vascular inflammation, stroke, fibrosis, and sepsis. Beyond her primary research efforts, Prof. Gonzalez has been nationally and internationally recognized for her teaching at Yale, her efforts in promoting diversity in science, and her development of affordable and appropriate technologies for resource limited environments.  To date, Prof. Gonzalez’s research and social efforts have been acknowledged by national organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, NBC, Biomedical Engineering Society, the World Health Organization, Microcirculation Society, American Society for Investigative Pathology, the American Physiological Society and The Hartwell Foundation.

Professor Patrick Holland
Chemistry

Patrick Holland received his training at Princeton (A.B.), University of California-Berkeley (Ph.D.), and University of Minnesota (postdoctoral) before starting his independent academic career at the University of Rochester. In his research, Prof. Holland has pioneered the chemistry of three-coordinate iron compounds for reactivity, catalysis, biomimetic reactions, and magnetic properties. His group's research has led to over 160 research papers; he is particularly well-known for his group's research on the chemistry of nitrogen, and how this stable molecule can be captured from the atmosphere and transformed into other useful molecules. Through this research, Prof. Holland has trained 30 Ph.D., 9 Master's, and dozens of undergraduate students, as well as 21 postdoctoral scholars, who bring science to life in numerous fields. He moved to Yale University in 2013 and is now Professor of Chemistry. After settling at Yale, Prof. Holland has led many diversity and equity initiatives for graduate students in the Chemistry Department, such as workshops about sexual harassment and racial bias, student wellness and mental health, professional development, and a symposium for women in Chemistry. Prof. Holland founded a student Diversity and Climate Committee and supports graduate student efforts toward empowerment and diversity. Since 2018, he has been Director of Graduate Student Climate and Diversity in the Chemistry Department. He is proud to be associated with Dr. Bouchet, who is an inspirational Yale figure.

Dr. Danielle H. Speller
Physics and Astronomy

Danielle Speller is a researcher in experimental nuclear and particle astrophysics. Her work centers on understanding the nature of matter and mass through low-energy, cryogenic searches for physics beyond the standard model. Professor Speller is a collaborator on both the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) and the Haloscope at Yale Sensitive to Axion Cold dark matter (HAYSTAC), as well as related R&D projects.  Her graduate work was with the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment (SuperCDMS). Professor Speller was a Park Scholar at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and graduated with a double-major in physics and applied mathematics.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the Maruyama Lab at Yale University’s Wright Laboratory in 2017 as a Postdoctoral Associate.

2021 BGHS Inductees

Lucylle Armentano
Social and Personality Psychology

Lucylle (Lucy) Armentano is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Social and Personality Psychology at Yale.  Her dissertation examines the potentially differential functions of verbal and nonverbal emotional expressions for building close relationships. Lucy’s research illustrates that verbal emotional expressions are linked to greater commitment in the relationship whereas both verbal and nonverbal expressions are linked to greater responsiveness and trust in one’s partner. Lucy was privileged to mentor almost 30 undergraduate research assistants during her graduate studies, many from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. This included designing a novel seminar course focused on research skills and professional development and mentoring students through the process of applying to graduate programs. Lucy developed a passion for advocating for graduate students through her service activities.  As Chair of the Graduate Student Assembly, she had the opportunity to advocate for the needs of graduate students within the highest levels of the university administration. Central to her platform as Chair was a diversity initiative, in partnership with the Office for Graduate Student Diversity and Development, to understand how graduate students conceptualize diversity and its importance within graduate studies. In addition, Lucy has also served on numerous university-wide and departmental committees, including the IRB’s Human Subjects Committee to review and approve human subjects research and the Psychology Department’s Space Steering Committee to represent students in the design of a new departmental space, among others. In recognition of years of service to graduate students, Lucy was awarded the Department of Psychology’s Jane Olejarczyk service award in 2020.

Demar Lewis
Sociology and African American Studies

As a doctoral candidate in Sociology and African American Studies at Yale University, Demar Lewis’s research leverages multiple methods to broadly examine health consequences of lynching, policing, and social inequities in the United States. Since Spring 2018, Demar has served as the academic collaborator to the Monroe and Florence Work Today Project, which represents the largest, nationally-encompassing inventory of U.S. lynchings spanning 46 states. In another project, he is working with scholars at Harvard University and Columbia Law School to produce an original, publicly-available dataset of media-tracked police killings between 2004-2017 to strengthen future empirical analyses of fatal police violence. From 2017-2019, Demar served as a research assistant for the Portals Policing Project championed by faculty at Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory, where he held significant data management and thematic interview coding responsibilities. Demar has cultivated an exciting dissertation project that is certain to make strong contributions to academic and policymaking circles. His dissertation, Black Ideologies of Community Safety in the 21st Century, examines how Black people’s lived experiences shape their perceptions of the institution of U.S. policing and community safety priorities, attentive to how these perceptions and priorities vary by socioeconomic status and neighborhood of residence. Topically, Demar’s dissertation contributes to interdisciplinary debates in Sociology, Criminology, Political Science, and Black Studies while advancing knowledge in the substantive areas of policing, inequality, and racial discrimination. As 21st Century calls to “defund the police” proliferate, Demar’s dissertation reveals how addressing the perennial health needs and safety concerns of Black residents across class strata are inextricably linked.

Shanelle Shillingford
Chemistry

Shanelle Shillingford is an immigrant from the Commonwealth of Dominica, and currently a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Chemistry Department at Yale. Her research interest focuses on a protein phosphatase, known as MKP5. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase 5 (MKP5) is a dual-specificity phosphatase (DUSP) whose aberrant function has been linked to several diseases involving inflammation and fibrosis, including muscular dystrophy.  MKP5 belongs to a subgroup of DUSPs called MKPs, that dephosphorylates the MAPKs; serine/threonine kinases that play important roles in cell proliferation, death, and migration.  These MAPKs have also been linked to many diseases, and as such, are actively studied as therapeutic targets, with several small molecule drugs already successfully developed. However, development of their regulatory MKPs as potential therapeutic targets, has proven difficult. High sequence similarity within the catalytic domain and a negatively-charged active site has largely designated the MKPs as “undruggable” and has limited insight into their mechanisms of action. Progress has been made on this front, with the discovery of a low potency, allosteric inhibitor of MKP5. This small molecule required further development for improved potency but served as an excellent explorational tool into MKP5’s mechanism of action that led to the discovery of a novel allosteric site. Interestingly, while this allosteric site shares sequence similarity across MKPs, this small molecule had high specificity for MKP5. To this end, further exploration of this site in MKP5 and other MKPs using mutagenesis, cell-based activity assays and other biochemical assays have revealed that this site modulates activity and signaling differently amongst the MKPs. This discovery holds the potential for greater knowledge into MKP functionality and a new approach for the development of MKP inhibitors for the treatment of certain human diseases.

Cera Smith
African American Studies and English

Cera Smith (they/she) is a fifth-year PhD candidate in African American Studies and English at Yale.  Their dissertation research analyzes representations of the Black internal body in 20th- and 21st-century U.S. Black literature and visual art.  Cera does so by putting literary studies, Black Studies, the study of visual art, and the medical and health humanities into conversation. Dominant American literary criticism treats “interiority” as synonymous with psychology, emotions, and consciousness. While these themes remain relevant, Cera’s research approaches the topic of interiority from the angle of the biological.  Cera investigates how and why depictions of internal bodily processes and somatic experience show up in U.S. Black writing. Besides research, Cera spends their time teaching classes on U.S. Afro-Latinx literatures and African Americanness, where students explore the complex relationships between race, ethnicity, and nationality. Cera works as a Fellow for Yale’s Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity, specializing in recruitment and retention of underrepresented graduate students through the Transitions Program. They also work as a Degree Coordinator Fellow for the Yale Prison Education Initiative, where they are building out an associate degree program for incarcerated students in partnership with the University of New Haven. Outside of school, Cera supports local community organizations working towards racial justice, such as CT Community Organizing for Racial Equity (CTCORE)—Organize Now!.

Brandi Waters
History and African American Studies

Brandi Waters is a Ph.D. candidate in the departments of History and African American Studies. Her dissertation, “Debating ‘defects’: Slavery, Disability, and Legal Medicine in Late Colonial Colombia” examines how ideas about health and the body impacted the implementation of slavery laws and the practice of legal medicine in the last half-century of Spanish colonial rule in Colombia, then known as New Granada (approximately 1760-1810). This research employs archival methods and analyzes various sources, such as contract disputes, medical treatises and evaluations, and trial records from archives in Colombia, Spain, and the United States. It uncovers how enslaved people with health “defects” (chronic illnesses and disabilities) endeavored to use the law strategically to gain access to healthcare and to avoid health threats. Through close analysis of four legal mechanisms, this research illustrates how medical and legal authority combined to create the stakes of becoming chronically ill or disabled while enslaved. Enslaved people, in turn, responded by leveraging medico-scientific ideas and relying on medical evaluators in their legal petitions. Ultimately, this dissertation illustrates slavery’s connections to debates about medical ethics and the early practice of legal medicine in Latin America. It also contextualizes the long history of Afro-Colombians’ ongoing struggles against medical disparities and juridical inequities.