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Meet Our Team

Current Committee Members

Associate Professor, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Cindy Yuexing Gulis's faculty web page

As a member of the Next STEPS committee, Cindy Gulis is interested in improving diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM education. Her research focuses on the formation, evolution, and properties of galaxies and black holes by combining numerical simulations and multi-wavelength observations.


Associate Professor of Statistics
Ephraim Hanks' personal website


Associate Professor, Physics
Associate Professor, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Chad Hanna's group website

Winner of the 2021 Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement, Chad Hanna is an educator and mentor committed to improving undergraduate education at Penn State and hopes being a member of Next STEPS will be another opportunity to do so. His group is part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and uses gravitational waves as a probe of fundamental physics and a tool for astronomical discovery.


Professor, Statistics
David Hunter's personal website

David Hunter is a founding member and the secretary/treasurer of the American Statistical Association's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI outreach group. He is also the associate director of partnerships for the Math Alliance, a group dedicated to increasing the number of doctoral degrees in the mathematical sciences among groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in those fields. As co-founder of Penn State's grass-roots Data Science Community among other data science-related leadership roles, he promotes data science as a genuinely multidisciplinary and inclusive endeavor. David’s research interests include network models, mixture models, and computational statistics.


Associate Professor of Biology, Associate Department Head of Graduate Education

Associate Professor, Biology
Tim Jegla's group website

Tim Jegla comes to the Next STEPS committee looking to further his goal of providing an environment for both students and faculty in which everybody can pursue their dreams. Tim hopes to lower the institutional and cultural barriers students face in order to broaden accessibility to science. Having previously worked in biotech, Tim returned to an academic career because of his strong interest in education. His research focuses on the evolution of the cells and proteins that underlie neuronal signaling.


Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics


Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Mahony Lab Website


Assistant Professor, Psychology
Assistant Professor, Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Jes Matsick's faculty web page

As the Director of the Underrepresented Perspectives (UP) Laboratory, Jes Matsick’s research incorporates feminist perspectives into the social psychological study of stigma, with an emphasis on improving psychological outcomes for marginalized groups. She joined the Next STEPS committee to apply her knowledge and expertise to diversity-focused initiatives in ECoS, and she very much values the interdisciplinary partnerships created through this committee.

Jes is a recipient of Penn State's Graduate Mentoring Award in Psychology and the Academic Achievement Award from Penn State's Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, and she also advises Penn State's unique dual-title Ph.D. program in Psychology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts.


Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Timothy Meredith's faculty web page

Tim Meredith is excited to be part of the Next Steps committee, and is particularly interested in understanding best practices for equity, inclusivity, and excellence as it relates to the tenure-track faculty hiring and retention. Tim's research is focused on understanding microbial cell envelope structures, and their role in bacterial physiology and detection by immune system receptors.


Paul Berg Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program

Paul Berg Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
and Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program
Melissa Rolls' lab website

Melissa was a founding member of Next STEPS and returned in 2023 as part of her role as Interim Associate Dean for Faculty Equity and Diversity. She has been involved in many of the programs in the College aimed at fostering a positive and inclusive environment including the College Climate and Diversity Committee and Launch Committee. She is also very committed to undergraduate and graduate education and has trained over 100 undergraduates in her lab to be independent researchers and is Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program and co-Director of the Penn State MD/PhD Program.


DuPont Professor, Materials Chemistry
Raymond Schaak's faculty web page
Raymond Schaak's group website

Ray has been part of the Chemistry Department’s faculty search committee for nearly a decade, including serving as chair of the committee from 2016 through 2021. During this time of strategic growth for the Department, he helped to oversee hiring at both the junior and senior levels, which resulted in a significant expansion of the diversity of the Chemistry Department faculty. He joined Next STEPS to learn more about evidence-based practices for recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty and to help identify practical strategies for implementing them. Ray’s research focuses on developing new methods for making materials and discovering new catalysts for clean-energy technologies.


Associate Professor of Biology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Moriah Szpara lab website

Moriah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Moriah comes to the Next STEPS committee after many years of search committee service and DEI advocacy -- an average of one search per year over the last decade at Penn State, across multiple colleges and units. Moriah's group is a founding member of the Rainbow Science Network in the Eberly College of Science, working to support an inclusive environment for our LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Moriah also serves as a Gender Equity Ambassador, working with the Gender Equity Center at Penn State to build awareness of the effects of interpersonal violence on our campus community. Moriah's research focuses on viral genomics and evolution, and the impacts of viral diversity on the outcomes of infection.


Former Committee Members