Twin Cities, MN Chapter

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GWIS Twin Cities, MN Chapter Board 2019-2020


President: Jessica Fiege, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, UMN contact

I received my Ph.D. in 2014 at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. My thesis work studied the role of an immune cell adaptor protein in T cell memory formation after bacterial and viral infections. After obtaining my Ph.D., I shifted my focus from immunology to virology. We study influenza A virus tropism and interactions between the immune system and virus infection. I am still an immunologist at heart, but I enjoy learning about viruses and how the immune system and viruses are in a constant battle. In addition to my research interests, I love teaching. I have been an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas for immunology and virology classes. One of my goals for the next year is to be more involved with teaching and supporting young women in science. I have lived in Minnesota for 8 years. Away from work, I love crafting, reading novels, and bingeing on Netflix. I have been involved with GWIS since 2012. GWIS has been a valuable resource for me during graduate school and into my postdoctoral fellowship. Other GWIS members are extremely supportive and have excellent advice on everything from troubles with an advisor to making the next step in my career. I am excited to be your president and involved with chapter activities!


amandahayward.jpgTreasurer: Amanda Hayward, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, UMN contact

Amanda received her Ph.D. in 2019 at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities from the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics department. She is currently a Postdoctoral associate in Dr. Mike Smanski’s lab. She is utilizing a technology to reduce mosquito populations in a controlled way called Synthetic Gene Incompatibility (SGI). In her spare time, she enjoys playing video games, cooking, and reading.






UshaMishraVice President, Membership:   Usha Mishra, M.S.; University of Minnesota Center for Orphan Drug Research contact

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and my graduate degree from Mankato State University. I have worked as an analytical chemist in the Twin Cities for both industry and academic institutions. Currently, I am a lab scientist at the University of Minnesota‘s Center for Orphan Drug Research. I utilize mass spectrometry and chromatography techniques on several different projects testing oxidation levels in neurological disorders, including clinical trials for a neuroprotective agent in newborns.Outside of work I enjoy volunteering as a judge at local/regional science fairs and science bowl competitions. I also devote time to several local non-profit organizations that are devoted to increasing disease awareness (e.g. MS Society, Epilepsy Foundation, South Asian Family Wellness). I have served on the Minnesota Mass Spectrometer Society board and participated in the organizing and education committees for the Minnesota Chromatography Symposium for nearly a decade. I also enjoy spending time with my husband, son, and three daughters. I have been a Twin Cities GWIS member for over ten years and I am looking forward to working with current members and helping to expand our membership’s reach even further. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas or suggestions for our membership goals.



Co-Vice President, Programs, Newsletter Editor:   Robin Lindeman, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, UMN   contact

Robin is currently a postdoc in the laboratory of David Zarkower at the University of Minnesota where she studies the genetic networks that control gonadal sex using the mouse as a model system. Her graduate studies were conducted at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she investigated genes important during fertilization in zebrafish. Her scientific interests include reproductive biology, mammalian genetics, gene regulation, and contraceptive development. In her spare time, Robin enjoys playing volleyball, biking, reading books, and checking out new restaurants and breweries.



HalenaVanDeusenCo-Vice President, Programs:   Halena VanDeusen, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Pharmacology, UMN   contact

Halena earned her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015, studying how tumor suppressor proteins impact viral replication. After that, she spent two years as a postdoc, furthering our understanding of how metabolism regulates insulin secretion in the context of type 2 diabetes. In 2017, she relocated to the Twin Cities, returning to the field of Cancer Biology as a postdoc at the University of Minnesota studying signaling pathways in advanced prostate cancer. Since moving to Saint Paul, Halena has enjoyed volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota, walking her dog along the Mississippi River, and exploring the cities!



IrinaSecretary:   Irina St. Louis, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Center for Infectious Diseases Microbiology Translational Research, UMN

Irina St. Louis earned her M.D. degree from one of Russia’s major medical schools, Ural State Medical Academy. Soon after graduation, during her residency, Irina successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in clinical immunology and pediatrics. She received international recognition for her work, and was subsequently awarded a fellowship from the American Academy of Allergy Asthmas & Immunology to continue her research in the United States. Dr. St. Louis joined the Department of Microbiology, at University of Minnesota, as a postdoctoral trainee in 2003, followed by fellowships at the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and Lymphoma Research Foundation. In 2013, Dr. St. Louis was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicine. Irina’s research, at the Center for Infectious Diseases Microbiology Translational Research, focuses on the role that post-transcriptional gene expression plays in human health and disease.

maggieTravel Awards:
Maggie Jilek, Ph.D.; Department of Food Science and Nutrition, UMN contact

Maggie Jilek received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of St. Thomas in 2005. She then worked at 3M in the mass spectroscopy group of the corporate research analytical laboratory. In 2012 Maggie earned a Master’s degree in food science specializing in grain chemistry and has just completed her doctorate in food science specializing in flavor chemistry at the University of Minnesota in September 2016. Maggie grew up on a farm near Madelia, MN. She currently resides in Oakdale, MN with her husband and two cats. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and attending concerts.




SuzieHsuNewsletter: Suzie (Szu-Yi) Hsu; Graduate Student, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, UMN.

Suzie is currently a biochemistry PhD candidate working with Dr. Michael Smanski at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Her research focuses on accelerating the discovery of natural products as therapeutic molecules by reprogramming the genetics of antibiotics-producing bacteria (especially actinomycetes). She is also interested in intersections of science and art, business and communication. When Suzie is not working, she enjoys hanging out on Twitter, reading books (the latest book she is reading is “Bacteria as Multicellular Organisms” by James A. Shapiro), tending her vegetable garden, and cooking new recipes. Suzie became a GWIS member and a part of the board of GWIS Twin Cities Chapter in October 2018. She loves the vision and the leadership opportunities provided by GWIS. Her goal as newsletter chair is to design, edit and curate content that is valuable to GWIS members and connect more STEM women in the Twin Cities area.


Social Media: Shannon Kordus

Outreach:  Open


Mercedes Ruiz Estevez 2Social Media:  Mercy Ruiz Estevez, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Associate, Stem Cell Institute, UMN

Mercy has been a postdoc at the Stem Cell Institute (University of Minnesota) since 2015 in the group of Nobuaki Kikyo, where she studies the role of peptidyl-prolyl isomerases in muscle proliferation and regeneration, both in vitro (in cell culture) and in vivo (in mice). She began her career in science at the University of Granada (Spain), where she earned her PhD in Evolutionary Genetics in 2013. During her PhD, she was working with a species of grasshopper with an extra and inactive chromosome in its genome. Her goal was to study the evolution of that chromosome and how it became active again. After her PhD, and before moving to Minnesota, she had a postdoctoral position at the same university (Granada, Spain) in 2014, where she studied the differential expression of genes involved in development of the sporophyte and gametophyte of an endangered fern species. She loves Molecular Biology and especially the field of Genetics. Outside of work, she is a volunteer in the Activities Committee of the Como Student Community Cooperative because she likes planning fun and engaging events for people. In her spare time, she also enjoys cooking, exercising, playing sports, reading, traveling and, in general, spending time with family and friends. She became a Twin Cities GWIS member in 2017 with the purpose of meeting new women with similar interests as her, but different backgrounds, because she thinks that everybody is enriched when meeting different people and it makes life happier.

Website Support:  contact


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