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2017 Organizers and Participants


Matthew Z. Anderson (Cherokee)
Matt is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University with a joint appointment in the Microbiology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity in the College of Medicine.  He completed his Ph.D. in the Genetics Department at Stanford University followed by postdoctoral positions in Judith Berman’s lab at the University of Minnesota and Richard Bennett’s lab at Brown University.  His research interests center on how genetic variability contributes to phenotypic diversity in eukaryotes with a special focus on clinically relevant fungal pathogens and their hosts.

Jessi Bardill (Cherokee)
Jessi is an Assistant Professor at East Carolina University. Jessi earned her Ph.D. in 2011 from the Department of English, Duke University. She was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in American Indian Studies at UIUC in 2011-2012, a Lecturer at Stanford University in 2012-2013, and is affiliated with the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and Duke University’s Genome, Ethics, Law, and Policy Program. Her current research examines Native American literature, genetic testing, and queer kinship. She is also engaged in a tribally driven research project with an urban Native American community in the Triad region of North Carolina, documenting their history, presence, and continuance.

Rene Begay (Navajo)
Rene is a Masters of Science student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She plans to continue her education after her master's by entering into an MD-PhD. program. Her current research focuses on seeking cardiomyopathy genes in large family cohorts, and using gene information to recreate the human phenotype in Zebrafish.

Deborah Bolnick
Deborah is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated with the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She uses DNA from ancient and contemporary Native American populations, in conjunction with other lines of evidence, to help reconstruct population histories in the Americas.  As part of this research, she works closely with indigenous partners affiliated with communities in the southern United States.  Deborah is also interested in genetic ancestry testing, and how it both influences and is influenced by American understandings of race, ethnicity, and identity. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Davis.

Margaret Briehl
Margaret is a Professor of Pathology at the University of Arizona. She earned a Ph.D. in Cellular and Developmental Biology before completing postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her research laboratory has investigated why cancers in some patients are resistant to treatment while other patients with the same cancer and treatment are cured. Since 2013, she has served as Vice Chair of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program. As a leader of the Training Core for the Partnership of the Native American Cancer Prevention, she directs programs aimed at reducing cancer health disparities by encouraging AIAN students to pursue biomedical careers that require advanced degrees.

Katrina G. Claw (Diné/Navajo)
Katrina is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington working with the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network and the Center for the Genomics and Healthcare Equity. She is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at UW (2015-2016). She received a PhD in genome sciences with Willie Swanson at the University of Washington. Her research interests include using genomics to address health disparities, the ethical and social implications of such research, especially in Native American and other indigenous populations, and primate evolution.

Nathan Ellis
Nathan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona and Director of the Cancer Biology Program in the Cancer Center. He received his PhD from the Department of Genetics in 1987 at the University of Washington and trained in human molecular genetics at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London. He has previously held academic positions in New York and Chicago. His research has been dedicated to understanding the relationship between genetic variation and cancer susceptibility in humans. He is recognized for his work cloning the gene mutated in Bloom’s syndrome and he has recently been studying the genomics of colorectal cancers in diverse ethnic populations.

Keolu Fox
Keolu is a Ph.D. candidate and human geneticist at the University of Washington, School of Medicine (Department of Genome Sciences). His work focuses on health disparities, next-generation DNA sequencing, and indigenizing genomics technologies. Currently Keolu works with experts at Bloodworks Northwest, Seattle, WA. focusing on the implementation of next generation sequence (NGS) analysis of human blood group antigens to increase compatibility for blood transfusion therapy and organ transplantation.

Nanibaa’ Garrison (Navajo)
Nanibaa’ is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Garrison earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Center for Integration of Research on Genetics & Ethics, both at Stanford University. Her research was on the impact of the Havasupai Tribe lawsuit on genetic research and Institutional Review Boards. Nanibaa’’s current research interests include genetic research on Native American communities, informed consent, and issues of privacy and confidentiality.

Maui Hudson (Whakatohea)
Maui Hudson is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato.  He is an interdisciplinary researcher with extensive experience across a diverse range of research areas including traditional medicine, indigenous research ethics, interface between indigenous knowledge and science, Maori economic development and Maori health.  Maui has been a member of a number of national and institutional ethics committees and was part of the team that developed Te Ara Tika: Guidelines on Maori Research Ethics – A framework for researchers and ethics committee members, Te Mata Ira Guidelines for Genomic Research with Maori, and He Tangata Kei Tua Model for Biobanking with Maori. Maui is one of the co-conveners of the SING-Aotearoa programme.  

Emilia Huerta-Sanchez 
Emilia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California Merced. She received her PhD in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University under the supervision of Carlos Bustamante and Rick Durrett. During her PhD work, she modeled evolutionary processes using stochastic models. After her PhD, she was a VIGRE Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of California Berkeley for one year, and after that she joined the laboratory of Rasmus Nielsen as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. Her current research interests involve detecting and characterizing natural selection in human populations, estimating human demographic histories and improving methods for the analysis of next generation sequencing data.

Ripan S. Malhi
Ripan is an Associate Professor in Anthropology and Animal Biology, and is affiliated with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign His research interests include using DNA analysis to infer the evolutionary history of Native Americans. Prior to his position at UIUC, he co-founded and served as the CEO of Trace Genetics, Inc., a biotechnology company located in the greater San Francisco area. Ripan received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Davis.

Pilar Ossorio
Pilar is a Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin (UW), where she is on the faculties of the Law School and the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at the Medical School. In 2011 she became the inaugural Ethics Scholar-in-Residence at the Morgridge Institute for Research, a private, nonprofit research institute that is part of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. Pilar serves as the co-director of UW's Law and Neuroscience Program, as well as a faculty member in the UW Masters in Biotechnology Studies program and the Graduate Program in Population Health. Prior to taking her position at UW, she was Director of the Genetics Section of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.

Kim TallBear
Kim TallBear is Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment. She is the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. She is a regular commentator in US, Canadian, and UK media outlets on issues related to Indigenous peoples, science, technology, and decolonial sexualities. She has published research, policy, review, and opinion articles on a variety of issues related to science, technology, environment, and culture. She established the Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society (Indigenous STS) social science lab at the University of Alberta. She has also founded a research creation group in decolonial sexualities that produces the new Edmonton-based sexy storytelling show, Tipi Confessions. Building on lessons learned with geneticists about how race categories get settled, Dr. TallBear is working on a new book that interrogates settler-colonial commitments to private property, disciplinarity, monogamy, and state-sanctioned marriage. She is a tribal citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota, U.S.A. and is also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. She blogs at You can also find her on Twitter @KimTallBear.



Charlene Aqpik Apok (Iñupiaq)
Charlene is Iñupiaq with family from the Bering Straits region of Alaska. Charlene’s experience works closely in community healing and wellness in the circumpolar north with an interest on gender relations. In 2013 she received a BA in American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington cum laude with her honors thesis Storytelling is Healing. In 2016 she received a MA in Rural Development with her capstone project, resilient spirits. Charlene joined the Southcentral Foundation Research Department in June 2016 where she leads a project on tobacco cessation and pharmacogenetics and is a clinical research navigator. She has served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)/Arctic Council initiative RISING SUN, and completed the United Nation’s Indigenous Fellowship Programme.  She and her son, Evan Lukluan, enjoy spending time with family, being outdoors, and traveling.

Alejandra Catalina Camacho (Mexican/ Paquime & Janos)
Catalina is currently a staff researcher at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In 2013 she completed a BS in microbiology from the University of Texas at El Paso and a MS in neuroscience from Texas A&M University in 2016. Catalina’s research has focused on molecular and cellular neuroscience of circadian rhythms and schizophrenia. She has also participated in diversity, inclusion and social justice conferences and organizations that help Mexican and Chicanx students continue a career in STEM. She hopes to one day obtain a PhD in sociology, to better study the indigenous genetic ancestry and history of her community and other border regions and how it connects to the health disparity that affects this population, specifically mental illness and brain health.

Jadyn Damon (Assiniboine/ Sioux, Fort Peck Tribes)
Jadyn graduated with a degree in Microbial Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004; she subsequently earned a PhD in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015. Her graduate research explored the impact of tRNA modifications on cellular fitness and stress responses in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Jadyn’s interests include host-pathogen interactions, science writing/ communication and the many ways in which science and technology intersect with society and culture. 

Jennifer N. Daw (Diné/Navajo)
Jennifer is seeking a Master of Science in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the U of A as well. Currently, she is conducting prostate cancer research at the Arizona Cancer Center in the Heimark lab where she focuses on a microRNA known as miR-27a, which has been reported to play a role in tumorigenesis. Her goals are to continue her education with a PhD in the biological science field while engaging in research involving indigenous communities.

Ki Taurangi Bradford (Ngapuhi)
Ki Taurangi obtained her BSc from Victoria University of Wellington in 2016 and majored in Ecology and Biodiversity. Her research interests are based around indigenous genomics of native/endemic plants in New Zealand, especially those that are sacred to her tribe. Ki Taurangi currently works in the Forest Genetics group as a Senior Technician at Scion Research Limited. She plans to pursue an MA at the University of Auckland in 2018 with a focus on genomics and gene expression.

Alec Calac (Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians)
Alec received a B.S. in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science and Molecular & Cellular Biology with a minor in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona. He is a Fellow in the Laboratory of Functional and Molecular Imaging at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, MD. His research interests include developing novel imaging techniques to study brain structure and function and understanding the social determinants of health. He recently started a fellowship in health policy granted by the National Indian Health Board. He is currently applying to medical school for Fall 2018 admission.

Aaron Bia (Navajo)
Aaron is an incoming first year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, AZ. He completed a Master’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the University of Arizona in 2017 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Health from Arizona State University in 2016. Aaron is interested in the clinical and genetic cardiomyopathies in American Indians populations. As a future physician, Aaron wishes to pursue cardiology or family medicine as specialty to serve American Indian populations.

Nauvoo Begman (Ngati Hine of Aotearoa / New Zealand)
Nauvoo is a BSc student at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand, majoring in biochemistry. He intends to graduate in 2018 and pursue a Master of Arts degree at Waikato University or Auckland University. He is a participant in the Te Āhurutanga Waikato University Māori Student Leadership Programme and is a member of the Waikato Student Union and the Waikato Māori Student Association (Te Waiora o Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato). He plans to develop a career in human molecular genetics, more specifically in the identification of genetic changes that contribute to hereditary disorders common in Maori populations.

Morgan Farley (Navajo)
Morgan is a member of the Navajo Nation, from Kirtland, NM. She is a junior at the University of Arizona majoring in Public Health and minoring in American Indian Studies.  She is currently working with Dr. Gachupin helping with research on Native American youth’s health and wellness. Her career goal is to become a physician assistant and work in clinics/hospitals on the Navajo Reservation.

Steven Gabriel
Steven earned his BA from Colgate University in 2015 where he majored in Molecular Biology. As an undergraduate, his thesis focused on mammalian Orthoreovirus inclusion formation and cellular responses to infection. He then went on to earn his master's degree in Biological Sciences from the University at Buffalo in 2017. His graduate work discussed Native American health disparities throughout the life course and sought to identify ways to improve the oral health of indigenous children in particular. Steven intends to enroll in a combined Doctor of Dental Surgery and Masters in Public Health program in order to improve the system by which Native American health concerns are documented and reported. His research interests include program planning among the underserved, issues regarding access to care, and how the microbiome informs oral and systemic health. 

Detroit James (Navajo)
Detroit James is from the Deer Spring clan, born for the Big Water clan, and currently earning a Bachelors of Health Sciences and a Bachelors of Science in Education at the University of Arizona. He is currently employed under the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine’s Family and Community Medicine Department, and conducting research on Native Youth and Health. He is also participating in clinical rotations within the University Medical Center. Detroit plans to become a Trauma Surgeon or a Pediatric Surgeon, and return to the Navajo Nation to serve his people.

Temet McMichael (Luiseño and Wailaki)
Temet obtained his B.S. in biochemistry from California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) in 2012. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP) at The Ohio State University (Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity) and is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam fellowship. He works in the laboratory of Dr. Jacob Yount where his research focuses on an antiviral protein called the interferon induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) which restricts infection by a broad range of viruses. His goal is to mitigate the health burden faced by both indigenous and global populations as a result of infectious diseases, focusing primarily on viruses.  

Kathryn (Kat) Milligan-Myhre (Inupiaq)
Kat, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was raised in Kotzebue, Alaska. She earned her B.S. in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and  PhD in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying microbes that cause disease. She was trained in host-microbe interactions, systems biology, and evolution as a postdoc at the University of Oregon with Drs. Karen Guillemin and William Cresko. She now uses stickleback fish, an evolutionary and biomedical host organism, to determine how the host genetic background contributes to the relationship between microbes and their host. When not teaching or researching, she runs, raises two rambunctious kids, and performs a lot of outreach.

Melanie Quiver (Diné/Navajo, San Felipe/Isleta Pueblo, Lakota)
Melanie is a Biology Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she studies human population genetics. As member of the Lachance Lab in the School of Biological Sciences, her research has focused on human demography, eQTLs, natural selection, and the genetics of liver metabolism. Prior to becoming a PhD student, Melanie studied white nose syndrome in the Foster Lab at the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics and obtained a B.S in biology from Northern Arizona University in 2014.

Austen Rogers (Athabascan/Aleut)
Austen Rogers is an Athabascan/Aleut from Anchorage, Alaska. His academic interests include microbiology, pathology, and chemistry. Austen currently attends the University of Alaska Anchorage pursuing a bachelor of science in biology. He enjoys hiking the Chugach Mountain Range, science-fiction movies, and spending time with his sisters.

Corbin J. Schuster (Yakama)
Corbin is an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation and is pursuing his B.S. degree in biomedical science at Heritage University. Corbin will complete his degree in May 2018 and has aspirations to pursue a dual degree in medicine and human medical genetics. It is his desire to conduct research that investigates genetic factors within the Native American population that contribute to the complex traits and disease susceptibility of the native peoples. His past research experience includes evaluating molecular markers that indicate resistance to certain pathogens that cause root rot disease in pisum sativum (peas). This project was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at Washington State University. Corbin is currently an intern at the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducting research in neuroscience. He hopes to gain valuable knowledge from both SING and the NIH that he can one day in the near future use to conduct his research goals.

Aliassa Shane (Shoshone-Paiute and Aleut)
Aliassa earned a B.A. in American Indian Studies from San Diego State University in 2015. In February 2016 she accepted a position as a Program Coordinator in the Research Department at the Southcentral Foundation, a tribally owned and operated health facility in Anchorage, AK. Her primary role is to assist the manager by assembling, tracking, and updating all department grant budgets. In addition to her administrative duties, she has the opportunity to work on various department research projects that include a longitudinal cohort study and pharmacogenetic studies. Aliassa is beginning the Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice program  at the University of Alaska, Anchorage this fall.

Keyah Stone (Sicangu Lakota)
Keyah Stone is entering her senior year at the University of Minnesota , Morris and will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Biology and American Indian Studies in the spring of 2018.

Victoria Thomas (Tohono O'odham/ Navajo)
Victoria is in her third year of college studying Literacy, Learning, and Leadership with a minor in American Indian Studies for a Bachelors degree in Education at the University of Arizona. She is currently employed under the University of Arizona's College of Medicine's Family and Community Medicine Department. Once finished she plans to work for the Tohono O'odham community to better Indian Education. 

Violet Walker-Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Currently completing Masters in Maori/Indigenous Studies with Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi. Thesis proposal is on Utilising Maori freehold land and changing Cultural Ideologies of Financial Institutions. Last employment of 5 years was teaching second chance learners Customary Fishing and Fresh Water Management to outreach rurally isolated communities. Currently I am employed with Education Unlimited teaching Adult Numeracy and Literacy. I am a member of Te Herenga which is a group of Maori cultural and environmental practioners giving cultural perspectives on Hazardous Substances and New Organism applications made to the Environmental Protection Authority in N.Z.