As part of Marymount Manhattan College’s CityEdge program, each academic department sponsors an Advisory Board composed of accomplished professionals with knowledge, experience, and expertise in fields related to our respective programs. Members of the Natural Sciences Advisory Board provide insight on careers in the sciences and identify job openings, internships, and other professional opportunities for our students.
Advisory Board Members
Keaven Caro is an alumnus of the B.S. Behavioral Neuroscience and B.S. Biology programs with minors in Dance and Chemistry. He received two Gold Keys for academic excellence in both of his majors and was the President of the neuroscience and pre-medical clubs his senior year. He spent three undergraduate years working as a research assistant and then lab manager in Dr. Deirtra Hunter’s MMC Music, Mind, and Brain Lab, where they studied psychophysiological responses evoked by emotionally charged music in human participants. In his junior year, Keaven interned as a research assistant in the Morishita lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where they studied the synaptic plasticity and postnatal development of a neural circuit critical for the visual spatial attention faculty. This internship led to a part-time job as a senior in college, then a full-time job for two years after graduation.
Devin Columbus is a biomedical research professional with a focus on globally relevant infectious diseases. She currently works as a project manager within the NIH-funded Tuberculosis Research Unit Network, which integrates scientific and clinical research disciplines to study human Tuberculosis in endemic countries. Devin is a proud alumna of Marymount Manhattan College, having received her B.S. in Biology in 2009. She holds a Masters of Biology from CUNY Hunter College and is a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator.
Hannah DeFranzo graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in February of 2020 with a B.A. in Dance concentrating in Body, Science, and Motion with a Biology Minor. Hannah is an advocate for fighting climate change and a Climate Reality Leader. In the fall of 2020, she will be working as a Laboratory Supervisor Assistant at MMC.
Julia Furnari is an alumna of the B.S. Biology Program in the Department of Natural Sciences. She graduated in the class of 2020. While at MMC, she was the President of the Science Society, for which she organized many outreach events for the school community. She also held leadership positions on the college’s Sustainability Team and as a Class of 2020 Senior Marshal. For all of the outreach activities she was involved in, she was awarded the Raymunde McKay Award at graduation. Julia conducted research under faculty advisor Dr. Ann Aguanno, where she studied the role of CDK5, a protein kinase, in connecting Alzheimer’s Disease and Type II Diabetes Mellitus. She wrote and defended a thesis on this work, allowing her to graduate with Honors in the Biology major. Julia is also a member of the Chi Omega Lambda honor society.
Julia is now a research technician in Department of Neurological Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She works under Drs. Jeffrey Bruce and Peter Canoll and runs the Gabriele Bartoli Brain Tumor Tissue Bank, where she collects, processes, and stores intraoperative research specimens. This laboratory studies glioma brain tumors and immune-based therapies to treat patients with these types of cancers. Julia plans to use the experience she is obtaining while working, along with the skills she learned at MMC, to guide her into a career in medicine.
Catherine Gaissert graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2015 with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences. She is a practicing Physician Assistant with a specialty in Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery. Catherine graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Master of Health Services.
Kirtan Kaur, Ph.D., earned her doctorate from New York University Langone Health Center in environmental/public health and toxicology. Her research interest and focus reside in the area of developmental toxicology; assessing how xenobiotic exposures during pregnancy can impact fetal development, increasing susceptibility to adverse health outcomes in later life. She conducted her dissertation research on human placental samples collected from a birth cohort study to discern the effects of gestational air pollution exposure on placental gene expression and how that impacts fetal growth. She graduated from MMC in 2012 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies.
Hope Kenmore is a biology researcher and artist based in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College in 2020 with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Biology. While at Marymount, she worked on background research for Dr. Aguanno’s team, investigating molecular pathway links between Alzheimer’s Disease and Type II Diabetes. She also interned with Dr. Lundquist studying the urban ecology and insect biodiversity of upper Manhattan. Hope also choreographed several dance pieces on fellow students, and often used concepts from the life sciences as inspiration.
While Hope feels connected to the arts in NYC whenever possible, since graduating, she has focused on her scientific research career. In 2020, Hope began working at Weill Cornell Medicine as a lab technician for their Institutional Biorepository Core (IBC) lab. As a core facility of Weill Cornell Medicine, the IBC processes samples for many different types of pathology research, and has focused on multiple COVID-19 studies over the past year.
In 2021, with a desire for broader non-clinical experience, Hope started as a technician at an exciting start-up called Aanika Biosciences. In this molecular and microbiology R&D environment, Hope is working on multiple research projects developing a new product based on inserting unique, traceable barcodes into the DNA of harmless microbial spores. The company’s goal is to improve tracking of items along supply chains, such as fresh produce, allowing an outbreak of E. coli, for example, to be sourced and accurately recalled within hours or days, as opposed to weeks.
Hope lives in NYC with her boyfriend and their very spoiled rescue dog Kipo. She looks forward to the opportunity to share her experiences with the MMC Natural Sciences community.
Dr. McCauliff works as a Research Technical Specialist at the Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to that, she worked at Iontox, LLC, a contract research service company specializing in ADME-PK and toxicology-based research, in Kalamazoo, MI. Dr. McCauliff led and supported projects dealing primarily with in vitro toxicology and safety screening of various chemicals, drugs and food additives for a number of commercial and academic clients. After relocating to the Atlanta, GA, area in 2017, Dr. McCauliff continued her relationship with Iontox as a science writer, aiding in the preparation of company press releases, client updates and website based client services.
Dr. McCauliff has served as a consultant to Dr. Judith Storch of the Nutritional Science Department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, since 2015. Her work focuses on intracellular cholesterol trafficking, specifically with respect to the mobilization of free cholesterol within the endo/lysosomal compartment by the Niemann Pick C2 protein. The collaboration with Dr. Storch has resulted in over half a dozen publications.
Dr. McCauliff currently resides in Decatur, GA, with her family.
Ashley Pirovano graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. While attending Marymount Manhattan, Ashley conducted research in environmental chemistry with Dr. Leri, which sparked her interest in the sciences and convinced her to pursue a career in scientific research. After graduating, Ashley attended graduate school at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, where she studied interactions between endophytic bacteria and plants and earned a Master’s degree. Ashley found her way back to MMC after graduate school, working for two years as the Laboratory Supervisor and Instructor of the General Chemistry Laboratory. Along her career path in science, she felt dissatisfied by the lack of diversity in academia, particularly in the sciences. For this reason, in 2018 Ashley joined the nonprofit organization BioBus, where she works to bridge the gap between academic research and the community of NYC. Her overall career goals are to make science fun and accessible to all and to help girls and minority students explore and pursue science.
Raymond Romano is a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. His focus is in health services research, and his specific interests are in the detection, diagnosis, and care of dementia in the primary care setting, particularly early biomarkers of disease. His interest in dementia began during his undergraduate career at MMC in the laboratory of Dr. Ann Aguanno, where he studied the role of the protein Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 in insulin-related neurodegenerative diseases. He explored the molecular pathway hyperinsulinemia has on the aberrant behavior of CDK5 contributing to the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. After his undergraduate education, he received a Master in Public Health from Boston University and began working in clinical research at the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. He moved to Nashville to join the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center. He completed the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program as a pre-specialty student in 2015 and is currently working as an FNP in primary care practice with the Metro Nashville Public School system and at the Gaylord Opryland Clinic. Particular studies he has worked on have focused on vascular health and Alzheimer’s disease pathology, subjective memory complaints, and barriers of minority groups to participate in research.
Alice Trye earned her B.S. in Biology from MMC in 2015. While at MMC, Alice conducted research with Dr. Ann Aguanno, was on the executive boards for the Science Society and Pre-Med clubs, and presented her research at multiple regional and national conferences. After graduating from MMC in 2015, Alice worked as a research associate at NYU School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics. She is currently a medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (Class of 2021). Her interests include global health, women’s health, and healthcare disparities.
Rosie Wenrich graduated from MMC in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Biology, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and a Chemistry minor. After graduation, she was hired at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a research technician in the genomics core. She is currently in medical school at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine.