Skip to Main Content

Speaker Bios

Featured Speakers

Mahzarin Banaji

Mahzarin Banaji, PhD
Mahzarin Banaji taught at Yale for 15 years where she was Ruben Post Halleck Professor of Psychology. Since 2002 she has been Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard while also serving as the first Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is also currently Harvard College Professor in recognition for excellence in teaching and advising.

Banaji is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Herbert Simon Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the British Academy. She has received several awards, among them Yale’s Hixon Prize for teaching excellence, a Guggenheim fellowship, a citation from the President of the American Psychological Association, the Diener Prize for outstanding contributions to social psychology and named William James Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science for significant lifetime contributions to the basic science of psychology. In 2014 she received Barnard College’s highest honor, the Medal of Distinction and in 2015 an honorary degree from Smith College.

Professor Banaji studies unconscious thinking and feeling as they unfold in social group contexts, especially implicit decisions about people’s worth, goodness, and competence. She is the author of the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People with Anthony Greenwald, published by Random House.

Sarah S. Richardson

Sarah S. Richardson, PhD
Sarah S. Richardson is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. A historian and philosopher of science, her research focuses on race and gender in the biosciences and on the social dimensions of scientific knowledge. She has broad interests and expertise in the history of molecular biology, biomedicine, genetics, the philosophy of science, science and technology studies, and feminist science studies. She is the author of Sex Itself: Male and Female in the Human Genome (Chicago, 2013) and co-editor of Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (Rutgers, 2008) and Postgenomics (Duke, 2015).

In Sex Itself, Richardson traced the history of genetic theories of sex differences from 1900 to the present. The book demonstrates how the human X and Y chromosomes became the pillars of a particular way of thinking about biological sex as an unalterable binary encoded at the level of the genome.

Her current book project, The Maternal Mystique, is a history of maternal effects research, which refers to the influences of a mother’s behavior, exposures, and physiology on her offspring’s future health and development. The book explores the intersection between the rise of maternal effects research in the life sciences and changing conceptions of motherhood, health citizenship, and genetic determinism in the twentieth century.

Richardson received her PhD from the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University.

Eileen Pollack

Eileen Pollack, MFA
Eileen Pollack is a professor on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. She graduated from Yale University with a BS in physics and later earned an MFA from the University of Iowa. She chronicles her departure from science in the 2015 book The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club (Beacon Press) which was named one of The Washington Post’s “Notable Nonfiction Books of 2015.” The book was excerpted as an article, “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” in The New York Times Magazine.

Eileen is also author of many other works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel Breaking and Entering, which was awarded the 2012 Grub Street National Book Prize and was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection. Her book of creative non-fiction, Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull, won a 2003 WILLA finalist award. Her novella “The Bris” was chosen to appear in the Best American Short Stories 2007 anthology, edited by Stephen King and essay “Pigeons” was selected by Cheryl Strayed for the 2013 edition of the Best American Essays.

Her latest book is a novel, A Perfect Life to be published by HarperCollins in May 2016. It continues the women-in-science theme started by The Only Woman in the Room, and is about a genetics researcher who is hunting for the marker for the neurodegenerative disease that killed her mother and might be hiding in her own genome.

Dr. Franklin's Legacy

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin
A member of Rosalind Franklin University's Board of Trustees since 2004, Ms. Rosalind Franklin is proud to represent the Franklin family in honor of her aunt and namesake, whose pioneering work in X-ray crystallography led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Ms. Franklin currently serves on the board's committees for strategic initiatives, institutional advancement and nomination.

She is a certified professional coach and consultant and principal of Rosalind Franklin Group, providing executive coaching for nonprofit and individual clients. She is also senior vice president of client services for Harvest Earnings, a Chicago-based consulting group that helps large companies implement new ideas to reduce costs and increase revenue while improving customer service, efficiency and direction.

Ms. Franklin also serves as a consultant for the Taproot Foundation, which provides marketing and strategic planning resources to nonprofit organizations. She is immediate past president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the San Francisco Bay Area. A musician (harpist), she co-founded The California Symphony, an award-winning nonprofit arts organization.

Ms. Franklin was instrumental in facilitating the creation of the university's Franklin Fellows Program in 2012. Established through a generous gift from Martin and Julie Franklin on behalf of the Franklin family, the Franklin Fellows Program serves to develop a community of students dedicated to interprofessional service, leadership and educational excellence. Each year, 12 RFUMS students are selected for this very competitive fellowship; in addition to receiving scholarship funds, the Franklin Fellows develop and implement community service and education programs that improve the health of populations in need. Ms. Franklin has been an energetic and steadfast champion of this university named for her aunt. In 2016, an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, was conferred upon Ms. Franklin for her contributions to the university and its students, and her service to the RFUMS Board of Trustees.

Workshop Speakers

Monica Vela

Monica Vela, MD
Dr. Monica Vela is an Associate Professor of Medicine within the Department of General Internal Medicine. A graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, she completed her residency training at the University of Chicago. She has established herself as a leader in scholarship and education related to health care disparities and diversity in medicine. In 2006, Dr. Vela piloted and implemented an innovative new curriculum in health care disparities which has become an important feature of the curriculum at the Pritzker School of Medicine. This work has been presented nationally, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Dr. Vela serves as the Associate Vice Chair for Diversity within the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at the Pritzker School of Medicine. In 2010, she received the Mentor of the Year Award from the National Latino Medical Student Association. In 2011, she was awarded the AAMC Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine and has been granted a Pritzker Favorite Faculty of the Year for three years because of her student mentorship activities. In 2012, she won the American College of Physician’s National Award for Diversity and Access to Care.

Jonathan Eisen

Jonathan Eisen, PhD
Jonathan Eisen is a Full Professor at the University of California, Davis with appointments in the School of Medicine and the College of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Eisen’s research focuses on communities of microbes and how they provide new functions – to each other or to a host. His study systems have included boiling acid pools, surface ocean waters, agents of many diseases, and the microbial ecosystems in and on plants and animals. He is also coordinating the largest microbial sequencing project to date – a Genomic Encyclopedia – being done at the DOE Joint Genome Institute where he holds an Adjunct Appointment. His overarching goal in his research is to create a “Field Guide to the Microbes” much as exists for birds or trees.

In addition to his research, Dr. Eisen is a vocal advocate for “open science” especially “open access” to scientific publications and is the Academic Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Biology. He is also an active and award-winning blogger and science communicator.

Prior to UC Davis he was on the faculty of The Institute for Genomic Research and held an Adjunct Appointment at the Johns Hopkins University. He earned a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and an A.B. in Biology from Harvard College.

Abbie Wazlawek

Abbie Wazlawek, PhD
Dr. Abbie Wazlawek is a visiting assistant professor and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Management and Organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She is an organizational scholar who studies the boundaries of appropriate behavior—such as the point at which negotiators are seen as pushing too hard or contexts in which expressions of gratitude seem misplaced. She considers what causes people to cross the line into inappropriateness and why they have, or lack, awareness of having done so. She also examines what shapes the standards that observers apply to others’ behavior and the consequences of perceiving someone else’s behavior as inappropriate. Dr. Wazlawek’s work has been published in Psychological Science and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. She holds a doctoral degree in business from Columbia Business School, Columbia University and Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and economics from the University of Southern California.

Anna Katz

Anna Kaatz, PhD, MPH
Dr. Anna Kaatz is Director of Computational Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Women's Health Research. She holds a PhD in clinical investigation, an MPH, and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a data and intervention scientist her research uses new technologies in novel ways to study and address contributors to the underrepresentation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) fields. One area of her work involves developing, implementing and evaluating interventions to boost women's self-efficacy for research and leadership, and to reduce gender bias in STEMM fields. Such an approach can mitigate the impact of phenomena like stereotype threat, and help change department and institutional climates in ways that support women's career persistence and advancement. Dr. Kaatz has particular expertise in identifying and addressing unintentional cognitive bias (i.e., implicit bias) that can disadvantage women and racial/ethnic minorities in evaluation processes critical for advancement. Currently, a major NIH funded project in her lab involves examining the extent to which race and gender bias contribute to disparities in NIH award outcomes; the goal of this work is to identify targets for intervention to help increase the diversity of the scientific workforce.


Neelum Aggarwal

Neelum Aggarwal, MD, '92
Dr. Aggarwal is a population health neurologist and Associate Professor in the Departments of Neurological Sciences and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She also serves as the Director of Research at the Rush Heart Center for Women, founder of the RHCW Cardio-Cognitive Clinic, and is a Chicago Innovation/MATTER mentor. Neelum has published numerous peer reviewed clinical research articles on aging, cognitive function, and population health and is the Principal Investigator for multiple National Institute on Aging and industry sponsored clinical trials in aging and Alzheimer's Disease. She was appointed to serve as the first chief diversity officer for the American Medical Women’s Association - the oldest women’s physician medical organization in the U.S, and is responsible for defining strategic diversity and inclusion objectives, enhancing the diversity of AMWA’s leadership team, and designing innovative programs within the organization, to educate physicians, residents, medical students and allied health professionals.

She has served on multiple panels focusing on Diversity, Inclusion, Life Sciences and STEMM, is Chair of the Chicago Women In Bio Mentoring, Advisors and Peers (MAPs) Committee, Senior Advisor of Women's Health Equity, Research, and Policy for the Health Equity, Leadership, Exchange Network (HELEN) and most recently was the recipient of the 2016 AMWA Woman in Science Award. Dr. Aggarwal received an Honors Degree in Biology (Hon. B.Sc.) from the University of Windsor and her Doctorate of Medicine from the Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine. She completed a fellowship in Aging and Neurodegenerative disorders from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Phil Hajduk

Phil Hajduk, PhD
Phil Hajduk is Vice President, R&D Information Research for AbbVie. He earned his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin Madison and began his career at Abbott Laboratories in 1993. He was appointed to his current role at AbbVie in January, 2016.

Since joining AbbVie’s Discovery organization, Dr. Hajduk has had a significant impact on science and technology platforms. He played a key role in the development and integration of diverse technologies to enable and expedite drug discovery, including cheminformatics, high-throughput screening, and data analytics. Dr. Hajduk led the Platform Informatics and Knowledge Management (PIKM) group at Abbvie, which developed a vast repertoire of scientific informatic tools that are empowering AbbVie scientists with the knowledge required to discover compelling targets, identify optimal drugs, and improve patient health. Most recently, Dr. Hajduk was appointed Vice President of Information Research – an integrated organization that delivers IT platform solutions across all R&D business areas.

In addition to his key roles leading scientific advances at AbbVie, Dr. Hajduk has also been involved with the Discovery Leadership Development Program at the company, enabling and training the leaders of tomorrow.

Ramona Sequeira

Ramona Sequeira, MBA
Ramona Sequeira, President, United States Business Unit, is responsible for the company’s commercial operations in the U.S. She serves as a member of Takeda’s Executive Team.

Prior to joining Takeda, Ms. Sequeira held various senior roles of increasing responsibility at Eli Lilly, both in the U.S. and the U.K. During her career, she led several successful product launches, managed relationships with partners, improved operational performance and workforce engagement. In her role as General Manager, U.K. Hub, she had responsibility for all affiliate operations in the U.K., Republic of Ireland and Northern Europe. She was a member of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Ms. Sequeira is a member of the PhRMA Board of Directors. PhRMA is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing the country’s leading biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies. Additionally, Ms. Sequeira is a board member of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of executives from all disciplines within American healthcare. It is the exclusive forum for the nation’s healthcare leaders to jointly develop policies, plans, and programs to achieve their vision of a 21st century system that makes affordable, high-quality care accessible to all Americans.

Ms. Sequeira received a BS with honors in molecular genetics and molecular biology from the University of Toronto, and later received an MBA from McMaster University in Canada.

Kimberlydawn Wisdom

Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS
Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS is the Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness and Diversity Officer at Henry Ford Health System. She is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician, the Chair of the Gail and Lois Warden Endowment on Multicultural Health, and Michigan’s and the nation’s First State-level Surgeon General. In 2012 she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. Since 1987 she has been on the faculty of University of Michigan (UM) Medical School’s Department of Medical Education and adjunct professor in the UM School of Public Health. Dr. Wisdom focuses on health disparities/health care equity, infant mortality/maternal and child health, chronic disease, unintended pregnancy, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, and tobacco use. She has worked collaboratively with school districts, faith-based organizations and the business community.

Dr. Wisdom provides strong leadership in community benefit/population health, and improving the health of those disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. She founded the award-winning African American Initiative for Male Health Improvement (AIM –HI) and most recently, the Women Inspired Neighborhood (WIN) Network which aims to improve access to healthcare and reduce infant mortality in neighborhoods in Detroit. Since 2008, she has chaired the Detroit Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force. In 2007, she founded a youth leadership development effort – Generation With Promise (GWP) – designed to equip youth to drive policy, environmental and behavioral change in their school and community. GWP youth were featured on the cover of Modern Healthcare in June 2014. Dr. Wisdom is the recipient of numerous awards, has authored several peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and appeared on national television, including ABC’s Nightline, and has presented to audiences across the country and internationally.


K. Michael Welch

K. Michael Welch, MB, CHB, FRCP
Dr. K. Michael Welch is President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Dr. Welch is a neurologist and world-renowned researcher whose career has focused on the study of brain function and structure in cerebrovascular disease, stroke and migraine.

Dr. Welch earned his medical degree at the University of Bristol School of Medicine, United Kingdom and came to the United States in the early 1970s.He held several positions at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas) including Chief of Neurology at the Ben Taub Hospital before relocating to Michigan in 1981 to become the founding chair of the Department of Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital (HFH), now the Henry Ford Hospital and Health Sciences Center which, as vice president for Academic Affairs, he founded and was instrumental to negotiations that culminated in its academic affiliation with Case Western Reserve University.

Also at HFH, Dr. Welch was director of the NMR Research Center, the Principal Investigator of two NIH-funded centers for stroke and headache research, and the clinician responsible for the overall conduct of the NINDS tissue plasminogen study (the first to establish effectiveness of thrombolysis in acute stroke). He also became the Principal Investigator of the SPARCL trial, the first to establish statin treatment for secondary stroke prevention.

In 1999 Dr. Welch served as Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Kansas Medical Center and President, Research Institute. He also established the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at KU and initiated construction of a new sixty million dollar basic science building funded by the Kansas legislature.

Dr. Welch continues to serve NIH as chair of several oversight committees for clinical trials. He has served as Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan, Professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University, and as Adjunct Professor at Oakland University and the University of New Mexico.

Since becoming President of Rosalind Franklin University in 2002, Dr. Welch renamed the University and successfully implemented a full institutional assessment that launched a new mission and vision for the university, integrating the education of all health professions with the goal of enhanced delivery of health care into a model of interprofessional education. In 2012 Dr. Welch established an Alliance for Health Sciences with DePaul University.

In July 2006, Dr. Welch received an honorary Doctorate of Medicine Degree from his alma mater, the University of Bristol.

Mildred M. G. Olivier

Mildred M. G. Olivier, MD
Mildred M. G. Olivier, MD, is Assistant Dean for Diversity, Global Health Chair for Chicago Medical School and Professor of Ophthalmology at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Her academic work includes clinical instruction of medical students and residents in glaucoma. She is the founder and CEO of the Midwest Glaucoma Center, P.C. Dr. Olivier is a member-at-large of the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Past President of Women in Ophthalmology. She serves on the Diversity Issues Committee, Women in Eye and Vision Research, and Women’s Eye Health at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). She previously served on the Advisory Council of the National Eye Institute, and the Women’s Physician Section and is an AAO delegate to the American Medical Association. Since 2004, she has been a member of the steering committee for AMA’s Commission to End Health Care Disparities. In addition, she is past president of the Chicago Glaucoma Society and is Treasurer of the American Glaucoma Society Foundation. Dr. Olivier served on the board for Prevent Blindness America. She is also a board member of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Dr. Olivier has published in peer-reviewed journals and has co-authored books and book chapters. She served on the AAO’s COMPASS panel for glaucoma. Dr. Olivier has been conducting regular medical missions to Haiti since 1993. She is frequently called upon to speak on glaucoma, health care disparities and global health at national and international medical conferences.