Assistant Teaching Professor - Department of Biology and Biotechnology
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Natalie Farny is the President and co-founder of the AWIS Central MA chapter, and Associate Teaching Professor of Biology and Biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Farny earned a B.S. in Biology and Philosophy from Boston College in 2000, and a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University 2009, where she studied mRNA transport and translational control of gene expression. She completed postdoctoral research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School from 2009-2013 where she studied the role of translational regulation in neurodevelopmental disease. Dr. Farny joined the faculty of WPI in 2013, where she is also the Associate Director of the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center. She was a 2008 recipient of the AWIS Educational Foundation Predoctoral Award and has been an AWIS member ever since. In 2014, Dr. Farny co-founded the Worcester Area AWIS Affiliate Group, which transitioned to the Central MA chapter in 2016. Dr. Farny lives in Natick, MA with her husband and two sons, and enjoys hiking, gardening, and quilting.
Tracy Schmidt, PhD
Past- Vice President -
Associate Director - Corporate and Foundation Relations
Tufts University Medical School & Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Tracy Schmidt joined the Corporate and Foundation Relations team at Tufts University as Associate Director in September 2016. Working within the Tufts School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, she focuses on fostering relationships and securing private funding support from local, national and international partners in order to advance the institution's priorities and mission. Prior to joining Tufts, she held the position of Associate Director of Corporation and Foundations at UMass Medical School as well as an innovation management and commercial development role in their Office of Technology Management. Dr. Schmidt has over 15 years of biomedical research experience in the higher education and medical space; she has performed sleep, cardiovascular, and viral research in human, mouse and cell culture systems at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, University of Illinois at Chicago and UMass Medical School. Dr. Schmidt received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UMass Medical School and BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University. She currently resides in Holden with her husband Mickaël, a native Frenchman, and Australian Cattle Dog, Stihl, where they enjoy exploring the vast parks and hiking trails of Central Massachusetts.
Alicia Shields, PhD
Post-doctoral Associate Department of Molecular - Cell & Cancer Biology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Alicia Shields became a post-doctoral associate at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School in 2014. Her research focuses on different types of genetically controlled cell death. Her projects investigate novel regulators of apoptosis - one form of programmed cell death, mutations in genes that promote cell proliferation at the expense of cell death, and cell death executed in the absence of apoptotic effectors. Prior to UMass, Dr. Shields spent one year studying dengue virus transmission in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Dr. Shields received her PhD in Genetics from Stanford University where she performed stem cell research, and her BS in Biology from South Carolina State University. During her graduate studies at Stanford, Alicia became a member of AWIS. She participated in mentor-mentee circles and attended events hosted by AWIS. Dr. Shields joined the MASS AWIS chapter in 2015. In 2016, she responded to a call for persons interested in transitioning the Worcester affiliate group to a formal chapter of AWIS. Dr. Shields has been the treasurer of the Central MA chapter of AWIS since 2016.
Brittany Morgan, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow - Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Brittany is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her research focuses on using computer simulations to study protein structure and dynamics. She received her B.S in Mathematics and Physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and her M.A/Ph.D. in Physics from Clark University. Brittany has been a member of AWIS since 2015, joining the leadership board of Central Mass AWIS during the transition from affiliate group to full chapter.