Who We Are

Our Mission:

  • Communicate: Create an atmosphere where members can connect, generate ideas, and share advice with fellow scientists
  • Educate: Learn about the problems caused by the disparity of success between female and male scientists, as well as the inspirational work done by female scientists throughout history
  • Articulate: Discuss ways to solve these problems and encourage each other to achieve our potential as scientists

Executive Board: 

Gulden Othman

img_1766_editedGulden is a third year graduate student in the Physics and Astronomy Ph.D. program at UNC. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Houston in Houston, TX. She currently works in the Experimental Nuclear and Astroparticle Physics group at UNC searching for evidence of neutrinoless double beta decay. She is proud to be a part of WISE, as it gives her the opportunity to help make a positive difference in the lives of current and future women in her field, and in other fields where they are underrepresented. Ensuring diversity in STEM fields is essential to the progression of ideas and technology, and she is excited to be a part of a group working toward increasing and sustaining diversity. 


Megan Schutzbachwise-headshot

Megan is a second year graduate student in the Nicewicz lab where she works to develop novel chemical transformations via photoredox catalysis.  She received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Illinois University where she worked for Dr. Kraig Wheeler on studying the relationship between molecular shape and reactivity in a family of crystalline materials.  Being a member of WISE has been particularly valuable for her as she navigates the waters of graduate school and decides upon a career.  She is looking forward to engaging in more outreach activities and increasing the presence of both men and underrepresented minorities in WISE.



StephanieStephanie Murray Stephanie is a third year organic chemistry graduate student in the Meek group working on the development of new, copper catalyzed, enantioselective, carbon-carbon bond forming reactions. She completed her undergraduate degree at Stonehill College in Easton, MA where she began doing chemistry research under the direction of Professor Leon Tilley. This will be Stephanie‘s second year on the executive board. This year she hopes to continue to expand the group’s outreach activities in the community and develop stronger partnerships with the other women in science groups on campus. 

CortneyCortney Cavanaugh Cortney is a third year graduate student in the Nicewicz lab where she works on the synthesis of small molecules via photoredox catalysis. Before arriving at UNC, she obtained her BS in chemistry from Monmouth University in New Jersey. As a WISE board member, she is hopeful to provide the support and opportunities to students in STEM of which WISE has consistently been an excellent provider. Outside of lab, Cortney enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her cat as well as painting and cooking.

Me - LarsCaitlin McMahon Caitlin is a fifth year organic chemistry graduate student in the Alexanian lab, where she works on the development of transition-metal-catalyzed radical reactions for use in organic synthesis. She got her B.S. in chemistry in 2010 from Messiah College in Grantham, PA where she did research with Dr. Anne Reeve. She then spent a year in Central African Republic working with an orphan care center, where she also developed a passion for bringing science to those that are underrepresented in the field. She served on the WISE executive board for one year, and enjoyed the opportunity to lead meeting discussions and outreach/networking events and work to further the conversation and advancement of diversity in STEM.

Courtney_Roberts wise pictureCourtney Roberts Courtney is a second year graduate student the Meek lab developing transition metal catalysts for C-H functionalization reactions. Before coming to North Carolina, she grew up in  Redondo Beach, CA which is a suburb of Los Angeles. She began her chemistry career working on developing catalysts for making the biodegradable polymer PLA in the lab of Dr. Joseph Fritsch and obtained her BS from Pepperdine University in 2011. Most of Courtney’s free time is spent being a mother to a border collie named Pippen. She is excited to serve on the board of WISE because she believes that creating a diverse scientific community will allow scientists to solve the most difficult problems facing our world today.

Emilie Mainz Emilie is a graduate student studying Analytical Chemistry in the Allbritton lab, where she uses peptide-based approaches paired with capillary electrophoresis to study kinase activity in single cells.  She believes scientific advancement for all genders starts with earnest discussion and community outreach, and is excited to help expand WISE membership in the year to come. 


kgreevesKyle Reeves 
Kyle is a third-year graduate student in the Kanai Lab.  He is a theoretical and computational chemist who studies the quantum dynamics of electrons in both nanoscale and bulk materials.  Previously, Kyle studied semiconducting polymer nanoparticles and their photophysical properties under the guidance of Prof. Dhandapani Venkataraman at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  He is excited to serve on the executive board of WISE because he believes in engaging all scientists in conversations about diversity in STEM.

Jazz Dickinson, Co-founder, Former executive board member

Jazz is originally from Kansas and got a BA in chemistry and history at Swarthmore College.  She is now a graduate student in the analytical chemistry department at UNC.  She is working on using automated single-cell capillary electrophoresis to study kinase activity in leukemia stem cells.   Jazz believes that scientific progress will be greatly advanced by making the scientific community more inclusive, diverse, and open-minded.  She is excited to discuss solutions to the challenges that face women in science and some of the inspirational women who have overcome these challenges.

photo  Abby Turner, Co-founder, Former executive board member, Website administrator

Abby earned her Bachelors of Science in Chemistry with a minor in French from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, where she performed her undergraduate thesis work in Physical and Analytical Chemistry under Dr. Karl Zachary.  She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Nancy Allbritton’s lab, where she develops fluorescent peptide reporters for single-cell enzyme assays.  Abby first became interested in women’s issues while at Mary Baldwin College studying feminist literature by French women writers like Hélène Cixous.  Aside from research, Abby enjoys painting and studying religion and philosophy.  

whowearephotoMary Zeller, Co-founder, Former executive board member


meStephanie Kramer, Project Leader

Stephanie is originally from Kentucky; she completed her Bachelor of Science in chemistry at Northern Kentucky University. She discovered her passion for chemistry through undergraduate research under the direction of Dr. Keith Walters. She is now an inorganic chemistry Ph. D. student at the UNC. Throughout her chemistry career, Stephanie has worked to promote science in the community through various outreach programs. She has led many science demonstrations at public libraries and schools, engaging children in hands-on experiments.

UNCWISE croppedTien Nguyen, Co-founder, Former executive board member

Tien  obtained her B. S. in chemistry from NC State University then worked for 2 years in medicinal chemistry before starting the organic chemistry Ph. D. program at UNC-CH in 2009.  Her interests beyond research include reading, editing, writing, cooking, and relaxing with friends and family. She is dedicated to the communication of science through public outreach; check out her blog at http://www.mustlovescience.com.  She is very motivated to develop a better understanding of gender equity issues and how to respond as individuals to effect positive changes.

Michelle RienerMichelle Riener, Co-founder, Former executive board member Michelle is originally from California where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of California- Santa Cruz. She discovered her passion for synthetic chemistry during a summer research program held at the University of California- Los Angeles and decided to pursue a doctoral degree in synthetic chemistry. Michelle is currently working on her graduate work at the UNC, which focuses on developing a method employing photo-induced electron transfer for the synthesis of unique small molecules.  Aside from chemistry, Michelle spends her free time rock climbing and salsa dancing!     

Val2011bValerie Schmidt, Co-founder, Former executive board member Originally from Maryland, Valerie earned her bachelor’s degree from Towson University before moving to the Tar-Heel State and completing her PhD in chemistry within the Alexanian Lab. Valerie is the first WISE member to graduate and is moving on to pursue Postdoctoral studies at Princeton University in the Chirik Lab. Her research interests include catalysis, new reaction design, science advocacy, and using a research based approach to identify solutions to inequalities, particularly in STEM fields. She distinctly remembers her first foray into the realm of gender studies being a video report in the third grade during Women’s history month, in which she dressed up as and interviewed various prominent suffragists (luckily this was in the days before YouTube).




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