FASEB Names Early-Career RepresentativesFriday, August 26, 2022
FASEB announced the appointment of four early-career scientists to serve on the FASEB Board and the Science Policy Committee (SPC). Denise Cornelius and Sophia Kaska were appointed ECRs on the FASEB Board. Brita Kilburg-Basnyat and Kristen Walker were appointed ECRs for the SPC.
Early-career scientists comprise a significant portion of the biological and biomedical sciences community. The newly appointed ECRs will help represent this critical group's unique insights and opinions at the highest levels of Federation leadership and help foster dialogue between current and future generations of researchers. Each ECR will serve a two-year term, which began July 1.
Denise C. Cornelius, PhD, is Associate Professor and Director of Pre-Clinical Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Mississippi (UM) Medical Center. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Howard University, a master's in biomedical sciences, and a doctorate in microbiology and immunology from UM Medical Center. Previous positions at UM Medical Center include instructor and assistant professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology. She was appointed to her current position as an associate professor in 2021.
Cornelius' interest in serving as an early-career representative stemmed from being an active member of two FASEB member societies: the American Physiological Society (APS) and Shock Society. She currently serves as a member of the Water and Electrolyte Homeostasis Steering Committee and Finance Committee for APS. Cornelius finds great benefit from these societies through networking, attending annual meetings, mentorship, and volunteer opportunities.
As an ECR, Cornelius hopes to help FASEB continue to support and connect scientists and researchers in their goal to advance health and well-being. She is passionate about increasing diversity in the science workforce—by creating an inclusive environment in STEM and promoting collaborations and networking to support individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Sophia Kaska, PhD, is Manager of Science Initiatives and Outreach at Research! America. She received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Kansas and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology-environmental toxicology from Michigan State University. Kaska served on the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET, a FASEB member society) Young Scientist Committee. As an ASPET Washington Fellow, she met with representatives to advocate for biomedical research and how funding supports human health, society, and the economy. She currently serves on ASPET's SPC.
Kaska believes having early-career researchers represented on FASEB's Board of Directors is essential to ensure their voices are heard, especially for decisions that will directly impact ECRs. Having gone through a doctoral program and postdoctoral training, Kaska has had first-hand experience with the traditional academic system. With her passion for advocating for her fellow peers, Kaska also hopes to work with leaders in the nonprofit and scientific communities as an ECR to shape opportunities for change in the early career experience. She looks forward to helping advance FASEB’s mission.
Brita Kilburg-Basnyat, PhD, is a senior scientist in Safety Assessment at Arcus Biosciences. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Loras College and a doctorate in human toxicology from the University of Iowa. She was formerly a toxicology study director at LabCorp, Inc, and a toxicologist and health risk advisor at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Kilburg-Basnyat was previously on the Society of Toxicology's (SOT, a FASEB member society) Postdoctoral Executive Board and has contributed to SOT's Communiqué Blog as a postdoctoral scholar. Kilburg-Basnyat currently serves as a councilor of the Midwest Regional Chapter and as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Occupational and Public Health Specialty Section of SOT.
Kilburg-Basnyat's interest in science policy was amplified during her time as a toxicologist for the state of Wisconsin and the need for science policy to reflect scientific-based research. She understands the importance of animal research in the drug development process and the importance of shared research resources. She looks forward to contributing to the improvement of science policy initiatives in a way that promotes equal access to science and scientific resources as well as the view of member societies.
Kristen Walker, PhD, is Laboratory Manager and Support Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. She received her bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a master's degree in animal sciences from Kansas State University. She is currently completing her doctorate in bioenvironmental science from Morgan State University. Walker is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB, a FASEB member society).
As an intersectional minority, a woman and African American, in the field, Walker sees that her input and experiences are often overlooked in policymaking. She wants to work alongside other experienced committee members to gain knowledge and capability to counteract those exclusions and make efforts toward preventing biases in legislation.