top of page


Natalie Farny, PhD

Past-President -

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

Past-Treasurer -

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

Past-Secretary -

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.

Emily Stackpole, PhD 


Post-doctoral Associate - Department of Molecular Medicine

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Emily Stackpole works as a post-doctoral associate at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.  Her research broadly focuses on post-transcriptional mechanisms in both the healthy and the diseased brain.  Emily grew up in Maine and went to Smith College in Northampton, MA where she received a BA in Neuroscience in 2007.  After college, Emily spent a year studying neurodegenerative diseases as a research assistant at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA.  She then continued her education at Brown University in Providence, RI where she focused on post-transcriptional mechanisms underlying learning and memory.  She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2014.  Emily joined AWIS in 2014 and has been the Membership director for Central MA AWIS since its transition to full chapter in 2016.

Robyn Marty-Roix, PhD

Vice President -

Biosafety Associate - Environmental Health & Safety

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Robyn Marty-Roix has over 15 years of scientific research, leadership, communication, and problem solving experience in biomedical science spanning multiple therapeutic areas.  She is currently a Biocompatibility Specialist at a global medical device company ensuring patient safety while enabling early product development decisions, product design direction, product approvals, and market launch for product commercialization.  Formerly at UMass Medical School, Robyn completed her postdoctoral training in the Dept. of Medicine specializing in vaccine research, immunology and infectious disease before transitioning to Biosafety where she assisted with the management of the biosafety program for more than 400 labs while working closely with local, state and federal regulatory bodies.  Robyn encourages others to recognize their full potential, and during her postdoc, co-founded the Industry Exploration Program at UMass Med which provides the opportunity for students and postdocs to explore non-academic careers with industry professionals. To continue this outreach. She graduated with a degree in Biology from the College of Wooster and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from UMass Medical School. 

Headshot 3_edited (1).jpg

Kimberly Negrin, PhD

Past-President -

Associate Sales Director

Cell Therapy, HemaCare

Dr. Kimberly Negrin is a scientist with an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for building business relationships.  She is the Associate Sales Director for Cell Therapy at HemaCare, where she plays a leadership role overseeing and supporting clients as they mature through research, clinical and commercial development of novel engineered and manufactured cell therapy products and applications.  She previously worked at Agilent Technologies and Seahorse Bioscience. 

Kimberly completed her doctoral training at UMASS Medical School in the Dept. of Molecular Medicine where she earned her PhD in Biomedical Science.  She is active in the Boston area scientific community as a member of several local women’s entrepreneurial and technologically focused groups and is the Vice President of the Association of Women in Science, Central Massachusetts chapter.


Lindsey Smith, PhD 


Senior Manager of Academic Medical Center Solutions


Lindsey is an experienced neuroscience researcher with a strong background in synaptic physiology, the neuroendocrine system, and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  Since 2013, Lindsey’s research efforts have focused on elucidating mechanisms of synaptic decline, using preclinical animal models of AD. In her Senior Field Application Scientist role at Aiforia, Lindsey empowered researchers to create custom AI models that profoundly expedite data analysis for preclinical research, across a wide spectrum of human disease.

Ambily Abraham, PhD

Past-Vice President –

Senior Scientist


Ambily Abraham is a senior scientist at the Cell and Protein Sciences division at AbbVie, Worcester. Previously she was a postdoctoral associate at the UMass medical school and worked on diverse translational projects including development of yeast microparticle based vaccine delivery platform and development of microbial crystals for the treatment of gastrointestinal nematodes. During her doctoral studies at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, she developed a novel virus-based intracellular antibody delivery vehicle. Apart from her scientific tinkering and hiking, she is interested in growing a network of curious minds and joined AWIS as a communication director in 2019.

Heleen van ‘t Spijker, PhD

Past-Treasurer - heleen.van'

Postdoctoral Associate – Molecular Medicine

University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School

Heleen van ‘t Spijker worked as a post-doctoral associate in the lab of Joel Richter at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her research is focused on regulation of translation in autism models. Heleen grew up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and studied in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where she received a BA in Literature and a BA in Biomedical Sciences. She continued to study in Utrecht for an MA in Neuroscience and Cognition. She then studied the regulation of neural plasticity by perineuronal nets at Cambridge University, UK, to receive her PhD in Clinical Neuroscience in 2019. Heleen joined AWIS in 2019.


Ishani Dasgupta, PhD 

Past-Events director -

Senior Scientist


.Ishani Dasgupta works as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School. Her research is focused on studying the role of mechanical tension in signaling pathways implicated in cancer, cell growth, differentiation and organ development. Prior to joining UMass in 2017, Dr. Dasgupta completed her PhD in molecular and cell biology from NTU, Singapore. During her doctoral studies, she studied the role of osmotic pressure in the regulation of cytoskeleton during mitosis. Dr. Dasgupta is interested in science communication and writing. She joined AWIS as the Events Director for the Central Massachusetts Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) in 2018. Besides, she also serves as a board member of Industry Exploration Program at UMass Medical School, which provides the opportunity for students and postdocs to explore careers in biotech industries and network with industry professionals.
She is a trained classical dancer and enjoys dancing, quilling and travelling when she is not doing science.

bottom of page