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Chapter Committees and Officers

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 Dr. Bita Nickkholgh

Membership Chair

As an MD, PhD, Dr. Nickkholgh have experience in clinical work, human reproductive biology and cell signaling. Currently, she is working as an academic process development scientist. As part of Manufacturing Development center of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, her work is to try to fill the gap between researchers and FDA by advising researchers on developing projects aligned with FDA regulations. She is involved in designing various project-based safety and stability studies for Regenerative Medicine Products that aim for clinical trials.

Dr. Nickkholgh is also passionate about teaching science and transferring knowledge to next generation. She teaches undergraduate, graduate master level and medical students. She is also an ambassador of IMPACT program (Inspiring Meaningful Programs and Communication through Science) with the goal of Science communication for public at different levels.

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Amber Foust, MS

Communications Co-Chair (Social Media/Flyers/Emails)

Amber Foust is a Technical Specialist with the Human Applications Lab at Carolina BioOncology Institute, where she works in translational research, biospecimen banking and procurement, and cell manufacturing for immuno-oncology applications. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters in Pharmaceutical Science where she developed her passion for early drug discovery and research. Amber also serves as a Communications Officer in the US Army Reserve and enjoys being able to work in the STEM field from multiple angles. She is excited to be a member of the AWIS-North Carolina team and to continue support women and diversity in science!

Dr. Gauri Kulkarni 

Communications Co-Chair (Website/Newsletters/emails)

Dr. Kulkarni is a Regenerative Medicine Scientist at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Winston Salem, NC;  leading a Drug discovery and development Biology team focused on developing novel Small Molecules based Therapies for fibrotic diseases and In Situ Tissue Regeneration using high throughput assays and body-on-a-chip platform. Her expertise and specialized Research areas include tissue engineering, stem cell therapy, organ-on-a-chip devices and drug discovery to repair damaged or diseased tissues and organs to make patients lives better. She also has an experience in Intellectual Property and Technology Commercialization. Dr. Kulkarni has served as a Chair of Women Postdoctoral Scientists' events and is a member of Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) at Wake Forest School of Medicine.  Besides research, she is an International Space Station Ambassador, actively engaged  in enriching young minds through STEM education, mentoring, professional development and community outreach in USA as well as rural students in India. She is also a visual artist and has exhibited her Science inspired paintings in the professional art galleries to bring social awareness.

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Joan F Schanck, MPA

Outreach Chair

Joan is Chief Education   Program Officer at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Joan’s work is focused on providing high quality educational programming within the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In her role, she also works to increase awareness of the Institute’s leadership role within the field of biomedicine. Joan's professional background includes more than 20 years of specialized experience in administration, education, research, fund raising, collaborative team building, program development and direct care/services delivery within the university, community and non-profit, public health, and education setting. Throughout her career, she has recognized the importance of education and the need to develop collaborative, multidisciplinary education and research training across formal and informal educational environments. Joan received 'the 2023 Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS-AM) Educational, Training and Outreach Award'.  As an outreach chair, Joan will be focused on developing academic and Industry affiliated mentoring and educational  programs for high school and undergraduate female scholars.

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Aynsley Szczesniak

Student STEM Program Chair 

Aynsley Szczesniak is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she has been awarded the prestigious Honors Carolina Scholarship as well as membership in the Accelerated Research Program. She’s a proud STEMinist on a mission to empower women to blaze their own trails in STEM, and she plans to attend medical school and pursue research in regenerative medicine. She is thrilled to be a part of the vibrant and inspiring community of AWIS because she believes having a network of support is essential for the success of women in STEM, and as Student STEM Program Chair, she strives to facilitate a community for STEMinists of all ages to feel safe, welcomed, and powerful.

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