Meet the Panelists


Aleida Perez

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Aleida Perez is the supervisor of Student Research and Community Science for Brookhaven National Laboratory’s (BNL) Office of Educational Programs (OEP).  Before coming to BNL, Dr. Perez was scientist in the biopharmaceutical industry and educator in higher education.  Dr. Perez has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan.  She has a strong background in virology and molecular biology research.  As a researcher, Dr. Perez worked in the field of oncolytic viruses and gene therapy.  Dr. Perez oversees the High School Research Program, the STEM Prep Summer Institute and the community science programs which includes SPARK and Open Space Programs. Through these programs, Dr. Perez is actively involved in the development and implementation of authentic educational research programs for students and teachers to access BNL user facilities and scientific staff.  She also collaborates with Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center in the Barcode Long Island Project.  She is also committed to inclusion and diversity at BNL’s educational programs. Dr. Perez was a WDTS program participant herself, as an undergraduate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.


Priscilla Antunez

Brookhaven National Laboratory

As the Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships at CFN, Priscilla Antunez guides researchers and businesses in the exploration of potential collaborations and funding opportunities. She also manages communications and engagement at CFN and is a strong advocate for inclusion and diversity. At Argonne National Lab she worked as a Business Development Executive and used her postdoctoral experience from IBM to help researchers protect their IP and publish their work. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, where she published 9 papers, obtained 6 patents, and received Invention Plateau Awards in 2016 and 2017 for her work on solar cell devices. Priscilla received a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Southern California, where she researched materials for solar cells. She also received a BS in chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona (2009) and majored in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering (2001) at the University of Sonora.

Kimberly Horvat

Riverhead High School

Kim Horvat is a senior at Riverhead High School. She is interested in pursuing a career in astrophysics to study other galaxies and exoplanets and hopefully one day working at NASA. Her favorite subjects in school include mathematics, physics, and astronomy. She also has volunteered for tutoring other students in mathematics. 

Throughout her high school years, Kim has taken part in many STEM extracurricular activities, including an Electrical Engineering workshop at Stony Brook University, the High School Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) club organized through Stony Brook University, Scientific Computer Coding held by Brookhaven National Laboratory, her school’s mathematics and robotics club, and most recently she  participated in the 2020 High School Research Program sponsored by Brookhaven National Laboratory. During this research project, she worked with accelerator physicists on the National Synchrotron Light Source-II.

Nancy Savage

University of New Haven

Dr. Savage is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of New Haven and serves as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and earned her doctorate in Chemistry from The Ohio State University, investigating materials as high-temperature, harsh-condition gas sensors. Dr. Savage was the recipient of a National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellowship, which supported her work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. Previously, she served as the director of the Summer Institute for Young Women and the Chair of the 2019 Women’s Leadership Conference, both held at the University   Prior to serving as a Department Chair, Dr. Savage was Associate Dean in the Tagliatela College of Engineering. She lives in West Hartford, CT with her family and, like many chemists, is an excellent cook. 

Giovanna Scapin

NanoImaging Services

Giovanna Scapin graduated Magna cum Laude in 1985 from Padova University (Italy) with a degree in Organic Chemistry. In 1989 she received her PhD in Organic Chemistry from the same university with a thesis in Structural Biology. In February 1990 Giovanna joined the laboratory of Dr. James C. Sacchettini at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx (NY), as postdoctoral fellow, and subsequently as Instructor. Her interest was initially for a class of small fatty acid binding proteins that had been related to obesity and diabetes. Subsequently most of her work was involved in bacterial enzymes that could be used as target for the design of novel antibiotics. During the 6 years Giovanna spent there, she mentored several graduated students and post-doctoral fellows.

In 1997 Giovanna joined Merck and Co., Inc, where she was involved in several drug discovery projects, providing structural biology support for diabetes, inflammation and oncology targets. Her more recent work focused on the diabetes target DPP-4, on novel antimicrobial targets, and on the structure-function of antibodies. After spending 18 month as embedded scientist at the New York Structural Biology Center – Simons Electron Microscopy Center to learn hands-on single particle CryoEM, in 2018 Giovanna went back full time at Merck, where she established a new cryoEM facility.

In March 2020 Giovanna joined NanoImaging Services as Chief Scientist of the newly established NIS-East Client Center in Woburn, MA.

Janna Shaftan


Janna Shaftan is currently a Technical Program Manager at Google, working on next generation operating systems. Before this, she spent four years at Apple, working in the kernel and driver spaces as an Engineering Project Manager. She has her dual B.Sc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University, and has interned at MIT, Brookhaven National Lab, RocketSpace and Dell EMC.