Group Members

SPAR exists on two separate Rutgers campuses – New Brunswick and the Newark Health Sciences campus. Living on two separate campuses means broadening our knowledge and skills as students, reaching a diverse audience, and engagement with multiple local communities.

SPAR – New Brunswick Campus

Jonathan Stoeber

Title: Co-President, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Biophysical Chemistry
About: I am a 4th year PhD candidate in Dr. Jean Baum’s group of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. My research is focused on understanding the protein aggregation implicated in Parkinson’s Disease by studying the protein’s interaction with tannic acid and gold nanoparticles. I became interested in SPAR after attending the AAAS 2019 CASE workshop.

Brian Conley Bio Picture

Brian Conley

Title: Finance Director, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Chemical Biology
About: I am a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Rutgers University. My research focuses on integrating nanomaterials with biomaterials to treat central nervous system injury and disease. I’m proud to be a part of SPAR which aims to bridge the gap between science and policy decision making, as well as promote scientific communication with the general public.


Heidi Yeh

Title: Communications Director, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Oceanography
About: I am a 3rd year PhD student studying interactions between the oyster immune system and its microbiome. I also play with microbes in my free time as I regularly make sourdough, yogurt, and kombucha. I am interested in the way that food and food systems can make science and the environment relevant to everyday people’s lives. l became involved in SPAR as a way to practice science communication and was a participant in the group’s 2019 trip to D.C.. In the future, I hope to build a career that leverages science to effect sustainable change in our food systems.

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Austin Grubb

Title: Logistics Director, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Oceanography
About: I am a  4th year PhD student studying the costs and benefits of calcification in marine microalgae called coccolithophores. I am interested in policy solutions to mitigate environmental issues, particularly around large and complex issues like climate change. I became involved in SPAR after participating in the group’s 2019 trip to D.C.. I also attended the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ 2019 “Science and Politics Training”, which gave scientists interested in policy and politics an overview of the New Jersey State Government.

Alanna Cohen

Title: Member, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Microbiology

Lauren Hall

Title: Member, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Microbiology

SPAR – Newark Health Sciences Campus

Hunter Lanovoi

Title: President, SPAR – RU Newark Health Sciences
Area of Study: Systems Neuroscience
About: I am a 3rd year Ph.D. Candidate at the Rutgers Newark Health Sciences campus, my doctoral work is focused on defining how body-brain communication impacts the development of social and emotional behaviors. My involvement and interest in SPAR stems from my undergraduate studies in philosophy and ethics. Stimulating group discussions along with rigorous written work allowed me to grapple with complex issues from mind to society. After attending several workshops and events at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, including an educational bootcamp on New Jersey State government designed to prime the first class of Eagleton science and policy fellows, the crucial need for effective communication between scientists and non-scientists at the local and national level became evident. SPAR plays an important role in this process by fostering an inclusive and forward-thinking environment where the intersection of science, policy, and communication can be explored by scientists and non-scientists alike.

Ian Campbell

Title: Communications Director, SPAR – RU Newark Health Sciences
Area of Study:

Giuseppina Marchesini Tovar

Title: SciComm Skills Representative, SPAR – RU Newark Health Sciences
Area of Study: Molecular Biology, Genetics and Cancer
About: I am a 2nd year PhD student in the Molecular Biology, Genetics and Cancer track of the Multidisciplinary PhD Program at Newark Health Sciences Campus. My scientific interests are varied, but I’m specially passionate about gene editing, immunology and virology. I first came across SPAR at the beginning of the program, and decided to join so I could improve my science communication skills, be able to push for science in the community and learn about science policy in the US. Before joining SPAR, I have had some experience with science policy relating to gene editing and plant transgenesis in the European Union, as I did my undergraduate thesis on genetically modified crops. Outside of lab I enjoy playing the flute, dancing and trying new foods. As well, I like to travel around the world and spend time with family and friends!

SPAR Alumni

Brian Canter

Title: Fmr President, SPAR – RU Newark Health Sciences
Area of Study: Radiation Biology and Biomedical Engineering (2020)
About me: I work in an NIH funded lab examining how a bone seeking radionuclide can treat breast cancer that has spread to bone. Besides my passion for scientific research, I’ve long been interested in policy and politics. I attended the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering workshop. There I learned how the federal government sponsors scientific research and met with several legislative staff members of the NJ congressional delegation. Since that workshop I’ve worked hard to educate my university, Rutgers, and my professional society, the Radiation Research Society, about how government policies affect research. Crucially, I see SPAR as an important link at Rutgers in fostering communication among scientists and between scientists and non-scientists.

Emily Atieh

Title: Fmr. President, SPAR – RU New Brunswick
Area of Study: Chemistry Education (2020)
About: I am a 4th-year chemistry Ph.D. Candidate in the Rutgers University School of Graduate Studies in New Brunswick, NJ. I am currently Rutgers’ first Chemistry Education Research (CER) PhD candidate, and I am studying the affective changes (e.g. beliefs about chemistry) that different students undergo as a result of pedagogical training. I was selected to attend the AAAS’s Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) workshop in April 2017, which really *catalyzed* my interest in science policy. My goal is to find ways to integrate what I know about science, education, and policy to serve as a liaison between policymakers, scientists, and the community. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, swimming, photography, and building things!