SWIGS | Society for Women in Graduate Studies in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego

Society for Women in Graduate Studies in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego

Our mission is to foster a community for inspiring the pursuit of gender equality in STEM.

Upcoming Events

February Monthly Meeting

When: Wed, Feb 1st, 1-2pm Where: Pac Hall 4501 Topic: Science communication with podcasts - come early at 12:30pm for pre-meeting socializing and first dibs on snacks!

February Brewery Visit

When: Thurs, Feb 16th, 6:30pm Where: Modern Times, 3000 Upas St.

March Monthly Meeting

When: Wed, Mar 1st from 1-2pm Where: Pac Hall 4501 Topic: TBD - come early at 12:30pm for pre-meeting socializing and first dibs on snacks!


Professor Stacey Brydges approached graduate stduents Alissa Sasayama and Jane Henderson during their first year in the Kubiak group with her ideas for starting a women’s group in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. The ladies ran with the idea and created SWIGS in spring of 2011. Alissa continued to develop SWIGS as President for the following four years. In 2012, Melissa Helm joined the Kubiak group as a first-year graduate student and quickly became involved with SWIGS. Melissa served as vice president from 2013-2015, before becoming president for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Thanks in large part to the women who have come before us, SWIGS has grown over the last 5 years to reach 35 members and a total of 109 mailing list subscribers. In the last year alone, SWIGS hosted 51 events averaging 12 attendees with discussion topics such as “Negotiation Tactics: Getting to Yes,” professional development seminars such as “Finding and Applying for Non-academic positions,” outreach activities such as Expanding Your Horizons San Diego, and a number of social gatherings outside of the lab.

2013-2014 2013-2014 Left to right: Melissa Clark (Vice President), Alissa Sasayama (President) and Lisa Adamiak (Outreach Coordinator).
2014-2015 2014-2015 Left to right: Lisa Adamiak (Outreach Coordinator), Jacquelin Kammeyer (Secretary), Alissa Sasayama (President), Jessie Peters (Interclub Liaison), Melissa Clark (Vice President), and Katherine Nadler (Seminar Coordinator).
2015-2016 2015-2016 Left to right: Faith Katz (Secretary and Marketing Coordinator), Jessie Moreton (Professional Development Coordinator), Melissa Helm (President), Katherine Nadler (Vice President), Yanice Benitez (Junior Outreach Coordinator), Gwen Merlen (Junior Outreach Coordinator)
2016-2017 2016-2017 Left to right: Faith Katz (Secretary and Marketing Coordinator), Joey Palomba (Inter-Club Liason), Katherine Nadler (President), Naneki Collins (Vice President), Yanice Benitez (Co-Outreach Coordinator), Katia Charov (Co-Outreach Coordinator)

2016-2017 Principle Members

Katherine Nadler - President

Katherine is the new President of SWIGS, having been last year's VP and a member since 2012. She is looking forward to continuing the growth of SWIGS through member-led initiatives, while expanding the presence of SWIGS in the community by networking with local companies and research institutes. Her research as a 5th year student in the Continetti lab examines the physicochemical properties of atmospheric aerosols using optical spectroscopic methods. Outside of lab work, Katherine enjoys cycling, soccer, various intramural sports, and eating donuts.

Naneki Collins - Vice President

Naneki has been a member of SWIGS since 2014 and is the new Vice President for the 2016-2017 academic year. She is also a founding member of ChemPAL, an undergraduate mentoring organization at UCSD. Since 2014, she has been working in the Gianneschi lab synthesizing multi-functional, ROMP polymer-based nanoparticles for targeted cancer drug delivery. Her undergraduate years were spent at Portland State University, where she earned her B.S. in chemistry/biochemistry while investigating simple methods to detect homocysteine, which is implicated in cardiovascular disease. Prior to studying chemistry, she earned a B.A. in psychology from the UC Santa Barbara. Her other interests are in worldwide food history and culture, learning new languages, European history, dancing, cosmetic chemistry, and perfumery.

Faith Katz - Secretary and Marketing Coordinator

Faith has been the secretary and marketing coordinator for SWIGS since June 2015 and is especially passionate about helping to build community among women graduate students through SWIGS. She graduated from Scripps College in 2013 in Claremont, CA, and started at UCSD later that year. Faith is a 4th year in the Tezcan Lab, where her research focuses on elucidating the mechanism of biological nitrogen fixation by nitrogenase. Currently, Faith is working to adapt biophysical and bioanalytical techniques to the study of this complex metalloenzyme. She is a San Diego native who loves everything about southern California, and when Faith is not in the lab, you can usually find her at a nearby coffee shop or brewery.

Yanice Benitez - Co-Outreach Coordinator

Yanice was a co-junior outreach coordinator for SWIGS in the 2015-2016 academic year and is continuing as an outreach coordinator for the following school year. As a co-junior outreach coordinator, Yanice created a new workshop for the Expanding Your Horizons conference and helped organize and lead other outreach workshops. She hopes to continue carrying out SWIGS’ mission of encouraging younger generations to enter STEM fields through hands-on chemistry workshops and demonstrations. She has been involved in numerous outreach activities since beginning her educational journey at Santa Monica College. Yanice went on to receive a B.S. in Chemistry from UC Davis and is currently entering her 3rd in the Continetti lab at UCSD. Her research is in photoelectron-photofragment coincidence spectroscopy which helps characterize the reaction dynamics of transient gas phase species produced by photodetachment of mass-selected precursor anions. For leisure, she loves to read non-fiction books in physics, explore San Diego's culture, hike, and hang out with her dog.

Katia Charov - Co-Outreach Coordinator

Katia is a new member of SWIGS and an even more recent addition to the SWIGS officers. As a Co-Outreach Coordinator, she is looking forward to offering a variety of fun events throughout the year to connect members of the department with the scientists of tomorrow. Katia is a member of the Burkart lab where she designs and synthesizes chemical probes to study protein-protein interactions in fatty acid biosynthesis. She received a B.A. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2014 and, after taking a gap year to teach snowboarding in Colorado, started at UCSD in the fall of 2015. Outside of lab, Katia has enjoyed her time in San Diego so far between backpacking, hiking, and playing beach volleyball.

Joey Palomba - Inter-Club Liason

Joey joined SWIGS in 2015 when he started grad school at UCSD and is the Inter-Club Liaison for 2016-2017. He is excited about the opportunity to continue the great work the club does and expand and find new connections to further the success of SWIGS. Joey is a member of the Cohen lab and works on the integration of polymer and porous materials. He graduated from undergrad from Boston College in 2015 with a degree in chemistry. Also while there he participated in Bystander Intervention, an effort to prevent sexual violence, and was the president of the club cycling team. In his free time he enjoys riding bikes, playing board games, and going to the zoo.

Jessie Moreton - Networking and Professional Development Coordinator

Jessie Moreton has been the SWIGS Professional Development Chair since June 2015. She is a 3rd year in the Cohen group working on metal-organic framework and polymer composite materials. Jessie received her undergrad degree in 2011 from UC Berkeley, where she worked for the JMJ Frechet research group, synthesizing new materials for organic photovoltaic devices. She then spent two years working in the biotech industry before starting at UCSD. When not in lab, Jessie enjoys running, reading and exploring new breweries.

Stacey Brydges - Faculty Advisor

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