People

Have a question for our leadership team or want to help out? Email us at standwithscience@mit.edu

Samuel Brinton, Executive Director – I am pursuing a dual graduate program at MIT in Nuclear Science and Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. I am a graduate from Kansas State with a B.S. in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and a B.A. in Vocal Music Performance and a minor in Chinese Language. His research interests are concentrated on nuclear fuel cycle system analysis with subtopics of interest including waste management economics and dry cask storage analysis. With internships at the Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and Dow Chemical Company in various projects relating to nuclear engineering and systems analysis I know the absolute importance of federal research funding. I am a strong activist in a variety of civil rights and nonproliferation issues and finds that only with a constant interaction with our legislative representatives can we hope to make true and lasting impacts on policy. In my spare time I enjoy running, singing with opera companies, and cheering for the K-State Wildcats and MIT Engineers.

Clint Collier, Executive Coordinator – I graduated from Whitman College with a B.A. in biology and worked for two years as a molecular technologist in a clinical laboratory, testing patient samples for viral infection.  I also completed a master’s degree from Georgetown University in biomedical science policy & advocacy, which is where my interest in science and health policy stems from.  I am currently a first year medical student at the University of New Mexico, in my hometown of Albuquerque.  I am interested in learning more about how biomedical research can increase the quality and decrease the overall cost of health care, and also about how clinicians are using evidence-based practices to improve care for their patients.  I believe a robust national research landscape is crucial if we are to get a handle of some of the most costly diseases, like cancer, alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, as we move forward to become a healthier and happier country.

Mike Henninger, Deputy Director– I design 3-D imaging devices that can monitor neurons firing, making movies of brain activity. Although I’m getting my PhD in the physics department at MIT, federal research dollars–especially my NDSEG fellowship–allow me to explore high risk, high reward projects at the interface between physics and neurobiology. Before grad school I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, where I taught science in a rural school. I am about to become a dad for the first time, and I want to bring my little daughter into the best world I can.

Melinda T. Hough, Director of Public Relations – Melinda was named a Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences in August 2012 where she developed policy briefs and multidisciplinary outreach materials at the intersection of science and policy. Prior to her work at the NAS, Melinda was a Wellcome Trust Scholar at the University of Edinburgh (2001-2008) where she completed a master’s (2002) and PhD (2008) in molecular microbiology investigating how bacteria are killed by antibiotics. Over the past five years, she has worked to increase the profile of science on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2008, she helped found EuSci, a student magazine at the University of Edinburgh reporting cutting-edge research to non-specialist audiences and is currently International Editor-At-Large and contributing politics writer. Her photographs illustrated JF Derry’s book “Darwin In Scotland” (2010). Most recently, she consulted on the development of the first Seattle Science Festival EXPO Day, volunteered as a beach naturalist and is the Health Research Policy Advisor with ScienceDebate.org on both the national and Washington State campaigns. Having lived abroad for a decade, Melinda has a deep love for exploring new cultures and a knack for being mistaken as a local when not behind the lens of her Nikon.

Matthew Oishi, Director of Public Affairs– Matt completed his bachelors at Georgetown University in biology, history, and theology, and a masters degree from Georgetown in biomedical science policy and advocacy.  Currently he is enrolled in a joint dental-public health (DMD-MPH) program at the University of Pennsylvania, and serves as the 2012-2013 Gert Quigley Government Affairs Fellow at the American Association for Dental Research.  His main research interest is in health policy and advocacy as they relate to expanding access to care.  Specifically, he is interested in the financing of the dental health system and looking at ways to increase public-private-non profit partnerships.  Matt is also interested the role of dental education in shaping the dental workforce and investigating whether issues within the profession, including access to care, can be addressed through pre and post doctoral dental programs.

Sandra Saldana, Chief Financial Officer – Sandra completed a BA in biology at Cornell University, where she participated in nanobiotechnology research that nurtured her interest in science.  She is currently a PhD candidate in cancer biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and her dissertation research is in elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in brain metastasis of breast cancer and its potential therapeutic targets.  Sandra is a firm believer that promoting science and mathematics education is the key to enabling innovation, entrepreneurship, and future jobs creation.  For this reason, Sandra dedicates much of her spare time to encouraging youth to pursue STEM-related careers.  She is also interested in promoting entrepreneurialism among scientists, as she believes they are uniquely positioned to provide innovative solutions to the complex problems we face today, particularly in the healthcare field.

Nathaniel R. Twarog, Director of Outreach – Born in Lawrence, KS, I attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I received two bachelors degrees in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Theoretical Mathematics in 2007.  I went on to complete a doctorate in Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in 2012; my research focused on the computational nature of the human visual system, with particular emphasis on utilizing image and signal processing tools to extract structure and organization from raw visual data.  My research was supported by and NIH Training Grant from the National Eye Institute.  During my graduate study, I worked with several science policy and science engagement groups, including the MIT Science Policy Initiative, the Science, Technology and Policy Crossroads, and of course, Stand With Science.  I am particularly passionate about the need for scientists to take up the responsibility of communicating their research and understanding to the general public, and feel more should be done to encourage and train science writers, science journalists, and science communicators.

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