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VPA Leadership

Cole Zmurchok, Senior Co-Chair

Cole is a second year postdoctoral fellow working in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in collaboration with William Holmes. Cole uses mathematical modeling, analysis, and computation to predict and understand how biological systems organize and function from the interactions of many parts. Cole completed a Ph.D. in Mathematics at The University of British Columbia, and received a M.Sc. and B.Sc. from the University of Alberta, in Canada. When Cole is not doing mathematics, thinking about teaching and learning mathematics, or chairing VPA meetings, Cole can be found outside cycling, skiing, or drinking coffee.

Mariya Kovaleva, Junior Co-Chair

Mariya Kovaleva, RN, PhD, AGPCNP-BC has been working as a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing since May 2019.  She is working under the mentorship of Dr. Ruth Kleinpell. She graduated with a PhD in nursing from  Emory University in December 2018 and has completed post-Master's certificate program at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University in August 2018 as Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Mariya's research interests include geriatrics and acute, perioperative, and perianesthesia care for persons living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. She is also studying transitional care for persons living with dementia, including transition from acute care to home.  As a VPA board member, she enjoys working with post-docs from VU and VUMC and organizing scholarly, career development, and community engagement events for all post-docs.

Stella Child, Treasurer

Stella is a second year postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry, in the Guengerich laboratory. She received her BSc. and Ph.D. in Chemistry, both from the University of Adelaide in Australia. She studies the reactions of cytochrome P450s, a family of enzymes that are critical for drug metabolism and steroid hormone synthesis in humans. As a member of the VPA, she is interested in advocating for improved postdoc outcomes and access to academic careers for underrepresented groups.

Rei Ukita, Secretary

Rei is a first year postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Matthew Bacchetta in the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His research focuses on whole organ repair, regeneration, and replacement platforms for addressing end-stage organ diseases. He received his BS in Biomedical Engineering at Brown University and then PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jim Sears, Community Outreach Chair

Jim is a third year Postdoc in Biological Sciences and the Vanderbilt Brain Institute in the Broadie lab. Jim uses the fruit fly genetic model to probe mechanistic and disease-associated roles of Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein, whose lost expression results in Fragile X syndrome. He received his PhD in Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University. As a member of the VPA, he is interested in expanding community outreach.

Susanne Seitz, Diversity, Equity and Justice Committee Co-Chair

Susanne is a second year postdoctoral fellow in the Earth and Environmental Science Department. Her current research focuses on magmatic processes leading to volcanic eruptions. She is developing an approach to study magmatic processes and frequency of past volcanic eruption by looking at the chemical zoning of minerals that did not erupt. Susanne holds a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and a Master’s degree in Geology from the University of Potsdam in Germany.

ReAnna S. Roby, Diversity, Equity and Justice Committee Co-Chair

Dr. ReAnna S. Roby, is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College in the Department of Teaching and Learning. She holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Washington State University, and a Bachelor's in Chemistry from Alcorn State University. Currently, she's a Post-Doc with the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program Regional Center of Excellence in Broadening Participation. As a first-generation scholar, Roby’s background as a Black Southern woman in science greatly informs her service, research, and teaching—praxis. Roby’s scholarship employs Critical Race Feminism, Curriculum Theory, and Critical Qualitative methodologies to explore the ways in which the narratives of Black women and girls in science (formally and informally) could be used to reconceptualize science.