STEM Ambassadors

STEM Ambassadors

Being a Governor’s STEM Scholar isn’t just a one-year commitment. Each year, our alumni continue to participate in our program. One way they participate is by volunteering to help past and present scholars. If you have a question about the program or if you are interested in learning about what a scholar is doing now, please feel free to reach out to any of the alumni listed below.

Bianca Acot

Bianca Acot was part of the Governor’s STEM Scholars class of 2017. She is a freshman at Princeton University, where she will be studying environmental engineering. She was part of the Chemistry Club, Young Science Achievers Program, and NJ Governor’s School in the Sciences class of 2016. She plans on pursuing medicine in the future.

Bianca can be reached here

Mahaa Ahmed

Mahaa Ahmed is a junior at Rowan University. She is pursuing biological science, philosophy, and religious studies. She intends to study medicine as she continues her education. She currently works as a research assistant in the department of chemical engineering.

Mahaa can be reached here

Shivani Aggarwal

Shivani Aggarwal is a freshman at Harvard University and is planning to study integrative biology. In the future, she hopes to engage in research, possibly in an industry setting. Shivani joined the GovSTEM class of 2017 while a senior at Leonia High School. She volunteered at the Liberty Science Center during her high school years and conducted research at Rockefeller University on RNA editing in murine macrophages over the summer.

Shivani can be reached here

Joyce An

Joyce An is a member of the Ridge High School class of 2017. She plans to explore chemistry or chemical engineering as she continues her education. Joyce is an active participant in her high school’s science league, Co-President of math league, and an editor of the newspaper. As a member of the Class of 2017, Joyce and her team used the Briggs-Rauscher reaction and an original colorimetric device to research how boiling duration and freezing affect antioxidant capacity.

Joyce can be reached here

John Anderson

John Anderson is a Senior at North Hunterdon High School. He is interning at Rowan University over the summer for biomedical engineering. He plans on studying biomedical engineering and medicine as he continues his education. John is a Varsity track athlete and an Eagle Scout. He is an active member of National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, and Model United Nations.

John can be reached here

Monika Chung

Monika Chung participated in the NJ Governor’s STEM Scholars program as a university student during the 2015-16 academic year. Monika graduated from William Paterson University with a B.S. in biotechnology and will be pursuing a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) in Translational Biomedical Research at the University of Cambridge. As an aspiring MD/PhD candidate her interests lie in the basic sciences and its application to medicine. In the future she hopes to treat patients and also be engaged in basic research that will lead to better and more effective treatment of diseases.

Monika can be reached here

Sandeep Dhagat

As a 2017 Governor’s STEM Scholar from Raritan Valley Community College, Sandeep’s winning team focused on the application of a novel colorimetric device in the measurement of antioxidant activity of organic strawberries exposed to different durations of boiling action using the color-changing Briggs-Rauscher reaction. Although majoring in chemistry, pre-pharmacy, and environmental science, he is looking forward to continuing my studies at Kean University in the field of Biology. His current research interests include environmental toxicology, forest ecology, plant chemistry, and analytical food science. He is a recipient of the Galileo STEM Scholarship, the Van Doren Scholarship, and the Russell W. Myers Scholarship from the Land Conservancy of NJ. Sandeep is currently working on a paper for publication based on measurements of stand-age at logged portions of Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Sandeep can be reached here

Heather Farrell

Heather is a senior at Immaculate Heart Academy. She is in her high school’s STEM program and was a member of the Governor’s STEM Scholars class of 2017. Heather is a co-captain of her school’s Science Olympiad team, executive editor-in-chief of the school paper, and on the executive board of the Science National Honor Society. She has received the Girl Scout Gold Award and performed chemical engineering research at NJIT during the summer.

Heather can be reached here

Jacqueline Fezza

Jacqueline Fezza is a freshman at The George Washington University as part of the 7-year BA/MD program. She enjoys playing soccer and participating in community service projects. She developed Science in Motion, a program that promotes STEM subjects to children in the tri-state area, and received the Girl Scout Gold Award for this initiative. She felt that being a member of the NJ Governor’s STEM Scholars was an excellent learning experience and taught her information and skills that she will use for years to come.

Jacqueline can be reached here

Kathie Jin

Kathie Jin graduated from the Governor’s STEM Scholars Class of 2016. Her research project explored how to construct efficient disaster relief shelters. Currently, she is studying engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 2021) and plan to pursue both engineering and business in the future. In high school, she was a member of her school’s FIRST Robotics Team, Student Council, and Math Team.

Kathie can be reached here

Susan Knox

Susan Knox is a second year graduate student at Yale University where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical biology. Susan graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2016 with a major in chemistry and a minor in biology. In college, she conducted research in both biochemistry and computational chemistry. Susan interned at Johnson & Johnson, where she conducted research on new technology in Oral Care.

Susan can be reached here

Samantha Magda

Samantha “Sam” Magda is a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology. She is studying chemical engineering as part of a five year Masters in Engineering program. Samantha is an alum of the Governor’s STEM Scholars 2017 class and is a member of her class’ winning team. Their winning project, titled “Evaluating the Effects of Boiling Duration on Antioxidant Capacity Using the Briggs-Rauscher Reaction,” successfully used a photoconductive cell to measure the effects of various conditions on antioxidants in fruits. This innovative approach has useful implications in the fields of medicine and nutrition. Sam loves learning new languages and speaks French. Additionally, she is a varsity athlete at Stevens, where she fences sabre. In high school, Sam was a member of the French, English, Science, and National Honor Societies and served as a Student Ambassador and an Executive Council member for Relay for Life.

Samantha can be reached here

Deblina Mukherjee

Deblina Mukherjee joined GSS during her junior year at Scotch Plains – Fanwood High School. Her team created a 3D printed wheelchair for dogs as their independent project. Although her main research interests are currently data science (especially as it relates to other fields like politics, finance and journalism) and philosophy (especially regarding a field called humor theory), she loves exploring new areas and she’s always willing to lend her rudimentary CAD skills to a team in need.

Deblina can be reached here

Brenda Okereke

Brenda Okereke is a sophomore at Rutgers School of Engineering. She is majoring in Biomedical Engineering on the Tissue within the Engineering and Molecular Biology Track, and pursuing a minor in Computer Science (with a concentration on bioinformatics). Brenda holds the Research Chair position for the Minority Engineering Educational Task and also served as Freshman Representative for the Society of Women Engineers, working with both the Internal/External Vice President Committees. She is also involved in the Rutgers Biomedical Engineering Society and currently works as an undergraduate research assistant at Rutgers Stem Cell Research Center. She is currently researching how to improve protocol for dopaminergic neurons differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells and human embryonic stem cells. While in GSS, her research group focused the study of the kinetic mechanisms and the efficiency of the destruction of chlorofluorocarbons in corona discharge, both for the utilization of CFC stockpiles as well as the possible applications to atmospheric chemistry models. The project was titled, “Destruction of Chlorofluorocarbons in Non-Thermal Plasma.”

Brenda can be reached here

Maria De Abreu Pineda

Maria De Abreu Pineda graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. At Stevens, Maria was the founder and president of the Transfer Student Association and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society. She also conducted research at New York University and interned at Stryker. Maria is interested in continuing her education to maximize her impact in the biomedical field.

Maria can be reached here

Anna Pietrzak

Anna Pietrzak is a Management Information Systems (MIS) major with an Honors Concentration at Rowan University. She is interested in further focusing her studies in forensics/fraud investigation. Anna is an active leader on her university’s campus, participating in Leadership Rowan (mentor), MIS Club (treasurer), Ballroom Dance Club, Tennis Club, and Residence Hall Association (RHA)/Hall Council. She is also a mentor within the Honors Concentration. She believes that her opportunity to be part of the 2016 Governor’s STEM Scholars class allowed her to confirm her interest in STEM, and inspired her to work hard and become a leader among her peers.

Anna can be reached here

Bret Silverstein

Bret Silverstein is proud to say he was one of the first Governor’s STEM Scholars as part of the 2015 inaugural class. He is now graduating the Academy of Allied Health and Science in Neptune, NJ, and will be an incoming freshman at Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science in the fall of 2017. Bret plans to study Computer Science and was influenced in this regard by his STEM Scholars project. His group designed a Geofencing application that allows users to set alerts on their mobile device to inform them when they are in a defined perimeter. The project informed Bret about many different aspects of computer programming, as well as teamwork. It also sparked an interest in engineering that led to participation in the New Jersey’s Governor’s School of Engineering at Rutgers University. Throughout high school, Bret was extremely active in the community service club he founded and led at Allied. He also served as a class officer, and an officer of National Honor Society. He was a staff writer for an online STEM magazine and is an avid reader. He also plays tennis. Bret is happy to talk to anyone interested in his STEM Scholar experience, his research project, and his upcoming studies at Columbia University.

Bret can be reached here

Maureen Stephens

Maureen Stephen is currently a high school mathematics teacher at Westfield High School in Westfield, NJ and is also a professor for the School of General Studies at Kean University in Union, NJ. She got her Master’s in Instruction and Curriculum and her Bachelor’s in Science, Technology, and Mathematics: Mathematics Option, both from Kean University. Maureen was apart of the Governor’s STEM Scholars program in the 2015-2016 year. While in the program, she enjoyed researching with her team of students, exploring STEM facilities and networking with STEM professionals from across the state. Her advice to current scholars is to network and learn as much from the STEM professionals as you can, because they are the teachers of your field of interest.

Maureen can be reached here

Hima Tammineedi

Hima Tammineedi is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, and is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Machine Learning. He attended the Middlesex County Academy high school in Edison, NJ, and was a STEM scholar in 2015. He was involved in robotics competitions in high school and led a team in the creation of an autonomous agricultural drone. In college, he is a teaching assistant for CMU’s data structures class and conducts research in machine learning.

Hima can be reached here

Melissa Tu

Melissa Tu is a freshman attending Rutgers University and is pursuing a degree in civil engineering. She was a member of her high school’s National Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, and Girl’s Tennis Team. She was also Chairperson of the Franklin Township Youth Council.

Melissa can be reached here

Joan Tubungbanua

Joan Marie is a rising senior at High Tech High School and was part of the Govenor’s STEM scholars class of 2017. This summer, she spent two months in Portland, Oregon as a high school software developer intern at a tech company called CDK Global. She is extremely interested in studying the cross section between Technology and the Arts and plans to major in Computer Science in college. Joan loves to discuss inclusion in tech and plans to conquer the challenge of implementing solid computer science education in elementary and middle schools. She’s also heavily involved in performing arts and have sang at Carnegie Hall.

Joan can be reached here

Nupur Turakhia

Nupur Turakhia is a senior at Stevens Institute of Technology pursuing her degree in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Structural Engineering and a minor in Green Engineering. She was part of the Governor’s STEM Scholars Class of 2017. She is the treasurer of her university’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders and a member of Tau Beta Pi-The Engineering Honor Society, Chi Epsilon- The Civil Engineering Honor Society, and the America Society of Civil Engineers.

Nupur can be reached here

Joy Xie

Joy Xie is a junior at Mountain Lakes High School. She plans to pursue pediatric medicine as she continues her education. She has participated in research programs at Kean University. Furthermore, she is the editor-in-chief of the Gauss Mathematics and is an active member of her high school’s environmental club. She worked on a water purification with solar disinfection research project during her time as a Governor’s Stem Scholar, and she has been accepted into the Governor’s School in Sciences for 2017.

Joy can be reached here

Jessica Zhang

Jessica Zhang graduated from GSS Class of 2016 while she attended Madison High School. She is currently a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis and is pursuing biomedical engineering on the pre-medicine track. She was active in the Morris County 4-H and is one of eight youth on the 2017 National 4-H Congress Youth Design Team.

Jessica can be reached here

Herb Zieger

Herb Zieger is a sophomore majoring in Software Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a member of the inaugural Class of 2015 Governor’s STEM Scholars. His team won the research presentation for their work designing and building a drone to eradicate mosquitos. He is also the recipient of the Edwin A. Stevens Scholarship, the Seton Hall Prep Headmaster’s Scholarship and the NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Herb can be reached here