Home > News and Events > Center for Biology and Society Welcomes New Biology and Society Graduate Student

Center for Biology and Society Welcomes New Biology and Society Graduate Student

October 23, 2019

The Center for Biology and Society is happy to welcome our new cohort of graduate students! Read more about their research and interests below.


Elijah Chambers

I am student in the accelerated 4+1 program, who graduated in May 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Society and is now in the graduate portion of his program. Having been the benefactor of many opportunities to work in education, I now study technology in current science education. My current work deals with student response systems and their possible differential impact to students in different demographics groups. With the mentorship of Dr. Bryan Henderson, Dr. Karin Ellison, and Dr. Matthew Chew, I am examining ways that we can use clickers more effectively in science education. 


Alexis "Lexi" Darby

Following my BS honors degree in May 2019 working with Dr. Jane Maienschein, I am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Biology and Society as part of the 4+1 accelerated program. Currently I am working with Dr. Jason Robert to focus my research on the complex arguments surrounding human-nonhuman chimera research and am interested in how science and scientific information is governed and regulated. I serve as an editor for the Embryo Project Encyclopedia and rescue orphaned kittens in my spare time.





Olivia Davis

I am a first-year PhD student in the 4E program.  I graduated from The College of New Jersey with a BS in Biology, where my research focused on social learning in stickleback fish.  I am a member of Leah Gerber’s Conservation Innovation lab, studying the intersection of conservation and policy. Some of our projects involve marine protected areas in the Galapagos, redefining actions in recovery plans for the Endangered Species Act, and the relationship between tourism and whale behavior. I hope to help bridge the gap between scientists and decision-makers, producing research that will improve conservation outcomes in today’s constantly changing world. I love nature and traveling, and I am excited to explore more of the West Coast over the course of the program.


Paul Ehmann

I am a first-year PhD student joining the Biology and Society program on the Bioethics, Policy, and Law track. I graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Neuroscience and Philosophy. During my undergraduate studies, I had a variety of research interests ranging from pediatric bioethics to issues of dual-use research of concern. During my time at ASU, I hope to work with Dr. Jason Robert to investigate more of the issues that are found at the intersection of biological/chemical weapons and national security. In my spare time, I love to run and hike, and am excited to have the opportunity to explore a whole new part of the United States.




Infinity Hill

I earned my Bachelor’s degree in health sciences at ASU in 2018 and discovered my admiration for biodiversity during my undergraduate studies. In 2019, I joined the Conservation Innovation lab directed by Dr. Leah Gerber and am pursuing a Master’s in Biology & Society. I am interested in human interactions and perceptions with nature. Specifically, I want to understand the life cycle of plastic and the implications of anthropogenic contaminates on environmental and consequently, human health.




Shane Jinson

I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the Biology and Society program in Manfred Laubichler’s lab working with the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative (GBCI) through the School of Life Sciences. I graduated from Johnson State College with a Bachelor’s in biology and an emphasis on field naturalist studies. During the past several years I have worked as a research assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, where I conducted vision research working with local elasmobranchs (Leucoraja erinacea), and worked with the summer Embryology Course at MBL. My current projects involve network analytics examining relationships between large datasets of academic papers to assess impact metrics and the evolution of knowledge in the fields of engineering, theoretical biology, and evo-devo in order to improve predictive modeling techniques in research. I hope to further implement a complex system approach into historical analysis of research and development, and to facilitate more constructive interactions between private R&D and academia/NPOs with regard to data availability for the purpose of knowledge-based research. I enjoy cycling, the outdoors, giving historical science tours, and spending free-time with friends.









Cassandra Lyon

I graduated from Eckerd College with a BA in Psychology and International Relations. Immediately following graduation, I worked and volunteered in a variety of animal-related contexts including a local animal shelter, a therapeutic horse-back riding center, and three different zoological facilities. Most recently I was the Animal Behavior Research Assistant at Disney's Animal Kingdom. These experiences and my life-long interest in animals led me to the 4E track in Biology and Society to work with Dr. Ben Minteer to study the human side of our widely varying interactions with and opinions about animals. 

Anastasia "Taya" Misheva

I’m a first year Biology and Society PhD student, working in Dr. Sara Brownell’s Biology Education Research Lab studying human evolution education. I began college at Northwestern University as a biology major with a broad interest in evolution. A “Human Origins” course in my sophomore year helped spark my interest in human evolution, which prompted me to change my major to anthropology, with a concentration in biological anthropology. I graduated from Northwestern in 2015 with a BA in Anthropology, and the goal of entering academia to study human evolution. I thus arrived at ASU that same year, where I began to pursue a PhD in Biological Anthropology. Over the first two years, however, my interests shifted more towards teaching human evolution, rather than researching it. I thus left the program with an MA to pursue a certificate in Scientific Teaching in Higher Education at SoLS. This led to my informal involvement in Dr. Brownell’s lab through a research project on teaching evolutionary medicine. This year, I’m formally entering the lab as a PhD student to continue collaboration on several evolutionary medicine projects. I will also examine acceptance of human evolution, asking what factors influence students’ acceptance of human evolution, how human evolution is viewed by non-experts, and how it can be taught in a more effective and inclusive manner.









Erika Nadile

I am a first-year student in the PhD program in Biology and Society. I completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology at the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), an institution close to my hometown. Through meeting faculty from different disciplines during college and at conferences, I became interested in understanding biology student motivation and how to make undergraduate education more accessible for students from different backgrounds. Currently, I am a member of Dr. Sara Brownell's Biology Education Research lab where I wish to further explore equity and access in the undergraduate biology classroom. I am particularly interested in exploring the role of first-generation status as I am the first in my immediate family to attend college. I not only hope to become a research professor one day, but also to continue to make a lasting impact on the future generation of biologists, educators, and researchers!


Nicholas Shadid

I am a first year PhD student in the Biology and Society PhD program, having completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and then gaining international experience at the intersections of science, society, and policy.  In the past, I have worked on projects related to human trafficking, minority language policy and environmental policy in China. This experience led me to the contributions of Dr. Ben Hurlbut at ASU. I will be working with him on issues related to the ethics and governance of human genome editing in China.  







Zachary Shifrel 

 I am interested broadly in how we solve otherwise intractable problems with mathematical modeling. As I completed my Master’s degree from Virginia Tech and State Uninversity, I learned about the History and Philosophy of Science PhD program, where I am working under the guidance of the program director Dr. Richard Creath. My current research focuses on the foundations of physical theories and climate science, with a special interest in how to engage the public and communicate scientific consensus. Recently, I worked with the LIGO collaboration on improving models of gravitational waves, as well as with physicists and biologists on handling inconsistency in science.



Lucille "Lucy" Tournas 

I graduated from the Sandra Day O’Conner School of Law at ASU in 2018, earning the Strouse Prize for Science and Technology in the Law. There I earned certificates in Biotechnology and the Law, Big Data and Privacy, and Health Law. Additionally, I worked on a project from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on gene editing, and co-authored a law review article, book chapters, as well as other technology and the law articles. After graduation, I worked as a research fellow in ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society with Dr. Diana Bowman, focusing on mitochondrial DNA replacement therapy. Working now with Dr. Ben Hurlbut, I aim to work on the governance and policy considerations of neurotechnologies and the use of Artificial Intelligence in the brain. 









Staley Lane

 I recently graduated from ASU’s Biology and Society program with my Bachelor’s degree and now continue to work towards my Master’s. I was originally set to study developmental and cell biology until I took a conservation biology course during my second year in college. This caused me to conservation, sustainable education, and communication. I interned with OdySea Aquarium's Education and Conservation team, allowing me to learn about marine conservation and education initiatives the company is doing to promote marine sustainability. From there, I recently moved to the Phoenix Zoo as a Wildlife Research Technician. The Phoenix zoo currently offers me a chance to work with endangered species both locally and internationally on multiple projects. As I work toward my Master’s degree, I want to communicate and educate audiences of all kind about the fascinating conservation efforts taking place in communities globally. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, hiking, and painting. 


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