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Our Board

Kishana Taylor, Ph.D., M.S.

Kishana Taylor

President and Co-founder

Dr. Kishana Taylor is a virologist and advocate for minoritized groups in STEM. Dr. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Delaware where she was named a Woman of Promise in addition to being an EPSCoR and Summer Institute Research Scholar. Dr. Taylor continued her education at The George Washington University earning a Master’s degree in Public Health Microbiology and Emerging Infectious where her work on the effects of concentrated poultry operation on the presence of antibiotic resistant E. Coli in Chesapeake Bay watersheds was supported by the Smithsonian Institute. Dr. Taylor went on to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in Interdisciplinary Biomedical sciences in 2018. Her research focused on developing laboratory animal models of virus transmission for epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus. Dr. Taylor is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University, Newark in the lab of Dr. Lily Khadempour. Her current research focuses on the ecology, evolution and epidemiology of endemic vector-borne viruses. Dr. Taylor’s research interest include arboviruses, zoonotic viruses and their epidemiology, ecology and evolution. Dr. Taylor also serves as a Councilor for Virology Trainees with the American Society for Virology and has served in several other leadership positions during her time in higher education.

Ariangela J. Kozik, PhD

Ari Kozik

Vice President and Co-Founder

Dr. Kozik is a microbiologist and advocate for minoritized groups in STEMM. Her primary research interests include the role of microbial-immune relationships in human health and disease, translational systems biology, and biopsychosocial frameworks to address health disparities. She earned a B.S in Biotechnology before attending graduate school at Purdue University, where she earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Pathobiology. She is currently a Research Investigator at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, where she uses multi-omic approaches to study the contribution of the respiratory microbiome to asthma pathogenesis and treatment responses in adults. Dr. Kozik is passionate about transforming systems to sustain future generations of research scientists, with emphasis on persons from historically excluded backgrounds and individuals with dependents. To that end, she has worked with several groups throughout her career to advocate for the improved policies/processes, increased resources, and support needed to achieve equity in the biomedical enterprise.

Chelsey Spriggs, PhD

Chelsey Spriggs

Treasurer

Chelsey is fascinated by how viruses interact with their host cells to complete their life cycles and how viral infection can lead to cancer. Earning a PhD in 2017 from Northwestern University, Chelsey researched the role of DNA damage repair pathways in human papillomavirus (HPV) replication and cancer development and is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan studying the cellular entry pathway of another cancer-causing virus—polyomavirus. Chelsey is excited to run her own research lab studying DNA tumor virus-host interactions while training the next generation of young scientists—starting Summer 2022! The lack of representation in STEM is, at times, discouraging; and Chelsey aims to serve as a role-model (and resource) for underrepresented minority students interested in biological research through engaging in outreach, mentorship, and teaching opportunities.

Nikea Pittman, Ph.D.

Nikea Pittman

Secretary

Dr. Nikea Pittman is a cryoEM enthusiast and protein biochemist. She uses the lens of structural biology to understand how microbes are able to do what they do best: 1) hijack their host to establish an infection, or 2) escape the immune response. Dr. Pittman’s pathogen hall of fame includes several virus families (parvovirus, poxvirus, alphavirus). However, most recently, she investigates defense systems in E. coli that protect against oxidative stress. Dr. Pittman completed her undergraduate and graduate training at the University of Florida. She now works as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also leads undergraduate courses at North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Pittman’s personal goals include combining her roles as researcher and educator to advocate for scientists of color, especially scientists in training. She lives for the thrill of working with a mentee and seeing that “aha” moment when everything clicks. If pretty EM images are involved, well, that’s the icing on the cake.

Ninecia Scott, PhD

Ninecia Scott

Board Member-at-Large, Membership

Dr. Ninecia Scott, a native of Raleigh, NC, attended North Carolina Central University (a HBCU – historically black college and/or university) and obtained her undergraduate degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biology. She earned her PhD at Washington University in St. Louis in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis understanding how the immune system can be beneficial and harmful during Tuberculosis infections in the lung. Dr. Scott is a currently a postdoctoral Immunology trainee that is seeking to understand how Streptococcus pneumoniae spreads throughout the body, particularly to the heart and causes cardiac injury at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is interested in how to translate these findings to the individuals impacted by pneumonia. Dr. Scott also is a MERIT- at- large trainee and teaches microbiology at Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL. Dr. Scott was recently named as a 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Fellow and one of 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists by Cell Mentor. She currently was the founder and holds an advisory position for UAB’s Black Postdoctoral Association, serves on UAB’s Equity Leadership Council and Racial Equity and Justice Task Force, and an executive board member of the Black Microbiologist Association. When she is not at the laboratory bench conducting experiments, you can find her traveling, looking for the next great food spot to try and finding new up and coming musical artists.