Students

The Student Council (StC)

Students,

Welcome to the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) Student Council (StC) website! We are excited to provide a platform for students, postdocs, and early-career professionals to network, share experiences, discuss research, and simply get involved with the most dynamic group of young professionals that microscopy and microanalysis has to offer. Undergraduate and graduate students, now is the time to take advantage of opportunities to meet people from your discipline and others to develop collaborations and begin to build your professional network. MSA StC is a great place to get started. Our Pre-meeting Congress (PMCx60) has proven to be a perennial success bringing together medal winners, student scholars and sponsoring exhibitors. The PMCx60 provides the opportunity for young microscopists to communicate their research through a weekend of presentations and posters. Additionally, social activities create an unparalleled opportunity to network with MSA council members and industry representatives. The PMCx60 is the premier event for students, postdocs, and early-career professionals – unlike any other, unmatched by any other society! We provide opportunities for leadership through the growing StC and PMCx60 planning committee. This year we are introducing mid-year programming to enhance professional skills.

As a growing community, and an international one, we hope to take advantage of electronic communications and social media platforms to connect students and young scientists world-wide. Postdocs and early-career professionals, we value your experience and insight and hope to foster mentorship opportunities for our emerging students in the field. Involvement in MSA StC builds more than just your professional network, it fosters friendships and bolsters your professional skills. Consider membership in MSA and get involved in StC – We need you to help our community grow! Email StC for more information on leadership opportunities and follow us on social media for updates on events.

Best Regards,

The Student Council
Email: Email

Get to know the Student Council officers. Each year new students are elected to these positions to develop new programs and events for students at the yearly M&M meetings. Click on the office title to learn more about the responsibilities involved in holding leadership within the Student Council.

Cameron Varano

President
Cameron Varano
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Structural Oncology
Biomedical Engineering
Penn State University

 

Janet Gbur

Past-President
Janet Gbur
Research Associate
Materials Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

 

Erica Stevens

President-Elect
Erica Stevens
PhD Student, NDSEG Fellow
Materials Science & Engineering
University of Pittsburgh

 

Jackson Spurling

Secretary
Jackson Spurling
Sophomore Student
Materials Science and Engineering
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

 

Kartik Venkatraman

Treasurer
Kartik Venkatraman
Graduate Research Associate
Arizona State University

 

Ethan Lawrence

Program Chair
Ethan Lawrence
Graduate Research Associate
Arizona State University

 

President

Cameron Varano

Cameron Varano
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Structural Oncology
Penn State

I recently completed my doctorate at Virginia Tech. I work at the in the Center for Structural Oncology in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State. My research is aimed at examining the link between protein structure and function in human disease. My work is predominantly focuses on the effects of post-translational modifications to the BRCA1-BARD1 protein complex in metastatic breast cancer. I combine biochemical assays and cryo-EM to gain insights into the mechanisms of disease progression. The goal is to elucidate how BRCA1, an imperative tumor suppressor, is silenced. The knowledge gained could impact how metastatic disease is both screened and treated.

My interest in service on the MSA Student Council stems of a desire to have a wider interaction with individuals within the world of microscopy. In 2016 I attended and gave a talk at M&M in Columbus, OH. It was an incredible professional development opportunity. It was in Columbus that I had a serendipitous selfie and tweet which connected me to the MSA Student Council. I participated in the many events at the meeting and was extended a formal invitation to join the Student Council and serve as Secretary. Having benefited greatly from these experiences, I am enjoying the opportunity to help shape the Student Council.

At the 2017 Student Council meeting, I was elected to serve as president elect for the MSA Student Council. My goal as president is to provide a platform for professional and technical network, while enhancing engagement and involvement in the society throughout the year. I hope to see you in Portland, OR in August.

President-Elect

Erica Stevens

Erica Stevens
PhD Student, NDSEG Fellow
Materials Science & Engineering
University of Pittsburgh

Nothing excites me more than microscopes and microscopy. The ability to see matter from a vastly different perspective, the unique opportunity to fuse art and science, and the possibilities for reaching non-technical audiences through visual appeal is absolutely the best of all worlds for me.

I am a fourth-year Materials Science and Engineering PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh with Dr. Markus Chmielus. My primary research focuses on additive manufacturing (3D printing) of functional materials, particularly magnetocaloric materials (which change temperature when a magnetic field is applied). I use scanning electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, and micro-computed tomography as primary characterization tools.

When I first discovered my passion for microscopes, I made the decision to attend the Microscopy & Microanalysis conference in 2016 in Columbus, OH — the experience fully solidified my resolve to work towards a career in microscopy. Throughout the conference, with each new person I met, all I could think is, "these are my people, I belong here." It is a combination of this feeling of community and my overwhelming love for microscopy that led me to the StC; I want to meet more people, help other student/early-career microscopists connect with each other, and share my microscope-induced excitement. I served as the 2017-18 Regional Liaison Chair, and was elected to the President-Elect position at M&M 2018.

My hope is that everyone who finds their way to the StC will have an avenue for learning and networking and ultimately will think: "these are my people, I belong here."

Past-President

Janet Gbur

Janet Gbur
Research Associate
Materials Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

Upon graduation, I accepted a Research Associate position in Materials Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I work in the Nitinol Commercialization Accelerator Laboratory and Advanced Manufacturing and Mechanical Reliability Center under Professor John Lewandowski, and I am also a member of the DARPA HAPTIX iSens project team under Professor Dustin Tyler in the Functional Neural Interface Lab in Biomedical Engineering. My current research focuses on the fatigue and fracture of wire-based systems used biomedical applications as well as reliability of medical devices used in neuromodulation. Additionally, I am an Adjunct Faculty member in the Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Department at Youngstown State University teaching a course in Engineering Materials.

My first involvement with MSA was the M&M 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon as a member of the Student Bursary Program. I was encouraged by my PI and the surface analysis center director to learn more about the various microscopy techniques through participation in vendor tutorials and attending talks and short courses while at the conference. I enjoyed being a part of the planning for the Inaugural PMCx60 and development of Student Council and I am continually energized by the outstanding leaders focused on contributing to our success. I hope to improve the visibility of student-specific leadership opportunities and encourage participation and leadership from students through early-career professionals to provide a natural mentorship and transition into roles within MSA.

I am a member of the Microscopy Society of Northeastern Ohio, a MSA Local Affiliate Society. During 2016-2017, I served as the Inaugural Pre-meeting Congress (PMCx60) Co-Chair for Physical Sciences and President-Elect for Student Council, followed by Student Council President in 2017-2018, and I am the Student Council Past-President for 2018-2019. The value I gained as a member and leader in MSA Student Council far exceeded my expectations and the networking I developed with scientists and vendors absolutely had a positive impact on my research. Whether you are an undergraduate student just learning about microscopy or an emerging scientist, MSA Student Council is a place to share, grow, and learn – Why wait, get involved now!

Treasurer

Kartik Venkatraman

Kartik Venkatraman
Graduate Research Associate
Arizona State University

I am a fourth-year Materials Science & Engineering PhD candidate at Arizona State University working with Prof. Peter A. Crozier. My current research focus is to develop the technique of high spatial resolution vibrational spectroscopy using monochromated electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) in an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). Previously, I attended the Indian Institute of Technology at Varanasi, India where my undergraduate research project was focused on synthesizing differently sized CdS and CdSe quantum dots for optoelectronic applications.

My first interaction with the MSA community was during my first M&M in 2016 at Columbus, OH. Being a fresh graduate student, I was amazed by the extraordinary level at which the attendees performed scientific research. More so, I was blown away by the number of professionals who made themselves available for scientific discussion; this gave me a sense of inclusion in this community. I was also impressed by the amount of effort the society put in bringing students together to interact with the community – in the form of the Student Bursary Program that I was a part of, the Student Mixer and the ‘Meals with a Mentor’ event. It was at that M&M that the MSA Student Council (StC) was formed. After lots of interaction with the StC members over two M&M conferences, I served as the Regional Liaison for the MSA StC for the southwest region (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, HI, UT) for the 2017-18 academic year and promoted MSA activities across the student community affiliated with microscopy research at universities in this region. For the current academic year (2018-19), I was elected to serve as the Treasurer of the MSA StC. The support system provided by the community motivates me to be actively involved in the functioning of the StC.

As the Treasurer for the MSA StC, I oversee all financial transactions, develop a budget and maintain accurate records of income & expenses, develop sponsorship activities and solicit funding for the PMCx60 2019. I want to use this opportunity to inspire more students to become involved with the StC after showing them our accomplishments at M&M 2019! The goal is to foster fraternity in the student community and develop future leaders for the MSA. The PMCx60 has been a huge success the past two years and we intend to push ourselves to do better the next year.

Secretary

Jackson Spurling

Jackson Spurling
Sophomore Student
Materials Science and Engineering
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

I am a freshman at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I have no research focus at present; as a freshman, I haven't had an opportunity to be involved in undergraduate research during the school year, however I have been and plan to continue as a student researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory working with both scanning and transmission electron microscopes. The primary project I helped with last summer involved running an experiment with a magnesium oxide indicator to verify the presence of water vapor within a gas cell as a precursor to running and in situ experiment.

Program Chair

Ethan Lawrence

Ethan Lawrence
Graduate Research Associate
Arizona State University

I am a fifth-year Materials Science & Engineering PhD candidate at Arizona State University working with Prof. Peter Crozier. My current research focus is to use atomic-level in situ imaging and spectroscopy to more completely elucidate the role of surfaces and interfaces on oxygen exchange reactions on CeO2-based catalysts which may enable the reaction pathways and active sites to be determined – a fundamental outstanding problem in heterogeneous catalysis. Previously, I attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA where my research was focused on chemical and optical properties of various glass systems.

I began to feel a sense of belonging to MSA at M&M 2015 in Portland, OR, the first M&M meeting that I attended. The number of microscopy professionals that made themselves available for discussions with students was astounding. The level of inclusion that I felt within the society inspired me to become more involved. This started with the Student Bursary Program at M&M 2016 in Columbus, OH where I was also able to network with other students at the social mixer, the MSA Student Committee meeting, and various other events. Ultimately, this led me to become a member of the newly formed MSA Student Council and an organizing member of the MSA Student Council Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress (PMCx60). I served as Treasurer of the MSA Student Council and Activities/Social Chair for PMCx60 for the past two years. The level of support that I have witnessed from many MSA members continues to reinforce my desire to be an actively engaged member of the Society.

As the Program Chair for PMCx60 2019, I want to encourage other students to become interested in leadership roles and to engage in as many student networking opportunities as possible. PMCx60 has been huge success the past two years and I hope to inspire other students to become involved with the MSA Student Council after seeing what we have been accomplishing at M&M! I am extremely excited to help create an even bigger and better PMCx60 at M&M 2019. Be on the lookout for updates on our Microscopy Society of America – Students Facebook page!


Communications Chair

Bukola Obayomi

Bukola Obayomi
Graduate Research Associate
Arizona State University

I am a second year PhD student in Biology at Arizona State University under the mentorship of Dr. Debra [Page] Baluch.  My project focuses on the regulation of smooth muscle in mouse uterine tissue. Utilizing confocal and lightsheet microscopy, I study the role of biogenic amines in uterine contraction. Understanding alternative mechanisms that induce uterine contractions could ultimately help to develop better treatment options in stopping pre-mature birth.

As a member of the scientific community, I am well aware that outreach is an essential part of education and engagement. I am currently the president/ co-founder of the Sun Devil Microscopy Club and I am also the vice president of the Society for Women in STEM Club at Arizona State University.  My participation in these organizations allows me to strengthen my leadership skills by being able to organize/chair various events such as Hands on Science. This particular event encourages young females (grades k-12) in science to pursue a career in STEM.

My interest in service on the MSA Student Council began when I attended and gave a talk during the biological sessions of the M&M 2017 Inaugural Pre-Meeting Congress for Early Career Professionals in Microscopy & Microanalysis, St. Louis MO. This was my first time giving a talk at a professional conference and every member of the student council made me feel extremely welcome and significantly helped to calm my nerves. When I expressed my interest in being on the student council, I was appointed as the Biological Sciences Co-Chair for the 2018 PMCx60 in Baltimore.

I now serve as the Communication Chair, which entails me maintaining and updating the student council social media platforms. My goal is to use these platforms to get everyone excited about M&M 2019! I will also be posting about exciting new microscopy related research.

Regional Liaison Chair

Surya Narayanan
Graduate student and researcher
In situ nanomedicine lab
University of Illinois at Chicago

I am a fourth year graduate student at UIC. I work with Dr Tolou Shokuhfar in the in situ nanomedicine lab. My PhD thesis is focused on understanding the iron regulation mechanism in ferritin using in situ liquid microscopy. To be able to study this, I combine liquid microscopy with biochemical experiments. I believe that the knowledge gained from my research will contribute in the area of diagnostics.

As a graduate student, I always believe that the skill-set I acquire from school is not limited to research and classes, but also a holistic development which builds the overall personality. With that said, I have always looked upon leadership and communication as a potential way to develop my skills. I have been attending M&M from 2016. As a first-time attendee, I found student council to be helpful to meet and interact with folks with similar level. I have been interested to be a part of Stc and wanted to give back to the community. Besides, through the years of my PhD, I believe that the concept of scientific thinking evolves from a community and group of people sharing their thoughts. I believe that MSA Stc provides such a platform to talk to students and mentors across the nation.

I am appointed as a Regional Liaison (RL) for the Midwest area. As a RL, my goal is to connect to microscopists in my community, walk them through the benefits and encourage them to join MSA. This would help me connect with people in the society as well as give me a sense of happiness to have helped someone.

Region X Liaison

Nhu Trieu

Nhu Trieu
MSc Student
Biology
University of New Brunswick

I am a first year M.Sc student in Biology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I work with Dr. Bryan Crawford in his lab focused on matrix dynamics. My research is aimed at characterizing the ultrastructural differences in the extracellular matrix surrounding cancer cells. I use confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to compare zebrafish xenografted with highly invasive cells to zebrafish xenografted with poorly invasive cells. This characterization will yield better understanding of the role of the tumour microenvironment and its connection with invasiveness.

I volunteered for the regional liaison position because I wanted to form better connections between the microscopy communities in Canada with the microscopy community in the United States. My major interest is in developing better tools for advocacy at the university and government levels and improving the current state of the gap between having the majority of our skilled, knowledgeable microscopists retiring in the next 10 – 20 years and not having easily accessible resources for training our next microscopists and the support necessary to ensure that this field is continuously being cultivated. Microscopy is important, not only for its role in research, but also for its role in exciting the general public because, for many, seeing is believing and better for understanding. I look forward to working with everyone to further build our community and to increase awareness and advocacy for microscopy.