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Emily Bass, M.A.
Director, Research Proposal Development Service - Health Sciences, UC San Diego
As the director of UC San Diego’s Research Proposal Development Service—Health Sciences in the Office of Research Affairs, Emily Bass helps develop large, interdisciplinary grant proposals in the biomedical sciences and works with faculty and investigators at all stages to grow their research careers. Her previous roles at UC San Diego include serving as a grant writer, manuscript editor, and project manager for research groups studying hospital policy and quality improvement, radiology, neurological disorders, and nanoengineering, among other topics. She has also written and edited web content, press releases, and health- and technology-centric news articles for clinical, lay, and student audiences. Prior to joining UC San Diego in 2007, Ms. Bass wrote and edited patient-education and complementary/alternative medicine content for a San Diego-based health insurer. In addition to her BA in History and French from the University of Houston Honors College, Ms. Bass holds an MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies and an Advanced Certificate in Technical & Scientific Writing, both from San Diego State University.

Yuchen Cao, Ph.D.
Patent Agent, Morrison Foerster
Yuchen Z. Cao is a patent agent in Morrison & Foerster’s San Diego office. Her practice focuses on the prosecution of U.S. and international patent applications in the areas of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. She also has experience in conducting IP due diligence including freedom to operate and patentability analyses. Dr. Cao received her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC San Diego, where her thesis research focused on the synthesis and development of small molecule-based targeted drug delivery systems (DDSs) for cancer therapy. Prior to joining Morrison & Foerster, Dr. Cao interned for a global pharmaceutical company and worked as a research scientist at a composite materials company. She also consulted for a medical device startup in San Diego. Dr. Cao received her B.S. in chemical biology from UC Berkeley. She is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Monique Crandal, Ph.D.
Director, Student Affairs Case Management Services, UC San Diego
Monique Crandal, Ph.D. is the Director of Student Affairs Case Management Services and co-chair of the Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Team at UC San Diego. Her office assists with early intervention of students of concern and collaborating with campus departments, faculty and staff to prevent the escalation of a crisis. Dr. Crandal is also a licensed psychologist and previously served as a counseling psychologist and coordinator of a suicide prevention grant, at UC San Diego Counseling and Psychological Services. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the UC Irvine and Masters and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri.

Pete Giella, MSME
Consulting Engineer, Turbine Heat Transfer, Aero/Thermal and Performance, Solar Turbines, Inc.
As a Consulting Engineer in the Turbine Heat Transfer Group at Solar Turbines, Pete Giella oversees various technical projects in relation to secondary cooling, turbine airfoil heat transfer, and combustion technologies for numerous industrial gas turbine engines and their applications. He holds two U.S. patents for cooling configurations. Before joining Solar Turbines in 2004, Mr. Giella worked in the Turbine Durability Group in both East Hartford, CT and West Palm Beach, FL for Pratt & Whitney, where he spent five years designing turbine hardware for various classified military programs such as the F/A 22 Raptor and other stealth demonstrators. He graduated with honors and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rutgers University, and completed his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering program with a focus on Compressible Flow and Heat Transfer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the evenings while at Pratt & Whitney.

Donald Johnson, Ph.D.
Director, Product Development, Vali Nanomedical Corporation
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Donald D. Johnson earned his bachelors of arts degree at Occidental College in Chemistry with honors and distinction. During his time as an undergraduate student, he worked under Eileen M. Spain, Ph.D., on nanoparticle films at liquid-liquid interfaces. Don then went on to work under George Patterson, Ph.D., at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) as a post-baccalaureate fellow on direct evolution of photoactivatable fluorescent proteins for super resolution light microscopy techniques, such as PALM and dSTORM. During his time in the Patterson lab, Don’s interest in tying materials chemistry to microscopy development grew and led to his Ph.D. work under Mark H. Ellisman, Ph.D., at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) at University of California, San Diego. Working in the Ellisman lab, Don not only built on the efforts made in developing high-throughput multi-modal correlative microscopy with the introduction of universal markers, but also worked on efforts analytically assessing and developing conductive materials for serial block-face scanning electron microscopy. Currently, Don is the Director of Product Development at Vali Nanomedical Corporation in Monrovia, CA.

Ravi Kolla, Ph.D.
Director, Business Development, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Ravi Kolla received his Ph.D. in Biology from UC San Diego where his graduate and postdoctoral studies were focused in immunology where he gained specific expertise in immune cell activation and regulation in the context of infectious disease, vaccine development, and autoimmunity. Following his postdoctoral studies, Dr. Kolla transitioned to become a Project Manager at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LJI) and subsequently Novartis where he prepared and managed large program NIH, DoD, and research foundation grants and contracts, managed pre-clinical drug development programs across diverse disease areas, and performed alliance management with academic, research foundation, and pharmaceutical partners. Dr. Kolla is the Director of Business Development at LJI, where he promotes translational research and entrepreneurial efforts of the institute.    

Elisa Maldonado, Ph.D.
Graduate Student Affairs Officer Diversity Outreach, Recruitment, and Retention, UC San Diego
Adjunct Professor, San Diego City College
Elisa Maldonado, Ph.D. is a Graduate Student Affairs Coordinator for Diversity Outreach, Recruitment, and Retention in the Graduate Division at UC San Diego. She is also an Adjunct Professor at San Diego City College. Previously, Dr. Maldonado was a National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Fellow in the Aizenberg laboratory in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Through a combination of preparation, luck, and timing, Dr. Maldonado has built a fulfilling career dedicated to increasing diversity in higher education.

Roark Miller, Ph.D.
Director, International Faculty & Scholar Office, UC San Diego
Roark Miller has worked in international education for over 15 years, advising international scholars and student on the full gamut of academic visa classifications, at such institutions as Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and UC San Diego.  He received his Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Michigan and his B.Mus. in Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory.  Dr. Miller received a Fulbright Fellowship for dissertation research in Italy, and has published articles in refereed journals and taught at Emory University and Southern Methodist University.

Melanie Nelson, Ph.D.
Principal Consultant, MRN Consulting
Melanie Nelson is a consultant specializing in scientific data management and the effective management of people and projects. Prior to starting her own consultancy, she led teams and projects in the biotechnology industry. She has more than ten years of experience as a hiring manager, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Scripps Research Institute. She is also the author of Navigating the Path to Industry: A Hiring Manager’s Advice for Academics Looking for a Job in Industry and Taming the Work Week: Work Smarter Not Longer. You can find her online at

Barbara Preston, Ph.D.
Recruiter; Co-Founder, PharmaScouts, Inc.
Dr. Barbara Preston made the transition to her current role as a scientific “talent scout” after many years as a research scientist.  She obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology at the University of Maryland, learned molecular biology at NIH, and earned her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Cornell University.  Subsequently Barbara did her postdoc with Palmer Taylor, then Chair of UC San Diego’s Department of Pharmacology, looking at neuronal differentiation of pluripotent cells.  However, the opportunity to recruit executive management and scientists in the biomedical field combined her love for both science and people and she joined a national recruiting firm to build their scientific office.  Within four years she billed and collected $1 Million for her employer through successful placements.  In 2003 she stepped out in faith and co-founded PharmaScouts, Inc. where she continues attracting top talent for biomedical companies.  Dr. Preston is an active member of several scientific, professional, and volunteer organizations including the Association for Women in Science where she has served in committees, on the Board, and as Vice President.

Elizabeth Vu, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Implementations Lead, Foundation for Learning Equality
Elizabeth Vu is a Co-Founder and Implementations Lead for Learning Equality, a start-up non-profit organization dedicated to enabling universal access to high quality open educational resources by creating tools optimized to work in areas where Internet access is lacking or costly. As Implementations Lead, she supports the use of KA Lite, an offline version of Khan Academy, in over 160 countries.  She uses her research background to understand how students and teachers use educational software in varied formal and non-formal educational contexts. Dr. Vu has a B.S. in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Jonathan Whitmore, Ph.D.
Data Scientist, Silicon Valley Data Science

Jonathan Whitmore has been a Data Scientist for the past 2 years. He is the author of the O'Reilly screencast: Jupyter Notebook for Data Science Teams. He facilitated his transition between academia and industry in 2014 with an Insight Data Science Fellowship. Before moving into the tech industry, Dr. Whitmore worked as an astrophysicist in Melbourne, Australia, and he starred in the 3D IMAX astronomy documentary Hidden Universe. Dr. Whitmore received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, San Diego (2011), and graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University (2005) with a Bachelor of Science triple major in physics, philosophy, and mathematics.