Seeding Labs Event Honors Donors, Scientists from Developing Countries

2016 Instrumental Access Awardees presentation

On March 24, Seeding Labs, an organization that aims to equip all scientists with the tools, training, and connections they need to be on the cutting edge of global discovery, hosted “Positively Instrumental,” a celebration of the 16 exceptional university departments selected for its 2016 Instrumental Access program, as well as the Seeding Labs’ community of supporters.

The event, which was held at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA, also honored five outstanding corporate donors whose contributions of equipment donations, funding, and volunteer time provided crucial support to Instrumental Access and Seeding Labs in 2015.

This year’s Instrumental Access program received 67 applicants from 25 developing countries around the world. Through the competitive application process, Seeding Labs identified these 16 awardees as having the most potential to use equipment to advance cutting-edge research, expand training opportunities for students, and build the infrastructure that’s critical to a thriving scientific community.

2016 Instrumental Access Awards

The 2016 Instrumental Access recipients represent the most talented global scientists in the developing world who will leverage donated equipment for a positive impact in their regions and beyond:

From Latin America and the Caribbean:

  • Universidad Iberoamericana Department of Research in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología Department of Biomedical Engineering in Lima, Peru
  • Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia Center for Global Health in Tumes, Peru
  • University of Technology School of Pharmacy in Kingston, Jamaica

From East and Central Africa:

  • Garden City University College Department of Medical Laboratory Technology in Kumasi, Ghana
  • Redeemer’s University Department of Chemical Sciences in Ede, Nigeria
  • Université des Montagnes Department of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Bangangté, Cameroon
  • University of Ghana Department of Biomedical Engineering in Accra, Ghana
  • University of Health and Allied Sciences Department of Biomedical Sciences in Ho, Ghana
  • University of Ibadan Department of Radiation Oncology in Ibadan, Nigeria

From West and Southern Africa:

  • Embu University College Department of Biological Sciences in Embu, Kenya
  • Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Biotechnology in Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Machakos University College Department of Physical and Biological Sciences in Machakos, Kenya
  • Open University of Tanzania Department of Life Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal Department of Pharmacy in Durban, South Africa
  • University of Zambia Department of Pharmacy in Lusaka, Zambia

Outstanding Donor Awards

In addition to the Instrumental Access awardees, Seeding Labs recognized five outstanding corporate donors at Positively Instrumental.

Corporate Engagement Awards

  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates as MilliporeSigma in the United States and Canada, was presented a Corporate Engagement Award recognizing its continued and expanding investment in Seeding Labs’ success in 2015, including the volunteer efforts of its entire Operations Leadership Development Team, which lent its expertise to Seeding Labs.
  • DSM Nutritional Products of Lexington, Mass., was also recognized with a Corporate Engagement Award for site-wide 100% staff engagement; DSM staff held a volunteer day and helped pack a shipment destined for Hawassa University in Ethiopia.

Most Valuable Donation 2015

  • Eisai Inc. from Andover, Mass., was recognized for making the Most Valuable Donation received by Seeding Labs in 2015, which also happened to be their first donation. It placed them in the Yttrium level of donors to Seeding Labs and included more than 200 pieces of essential lab equipment and supplies.

Most Donations 2015

  • Sanofi Genzyme was recognized for contributing the Most Donations in 2015 with five donations received from five different groups—a new Seeding Labs record for most donations received from a company in a single year.

Most Instrumental 2015

  • Merck was honored with Seeding Labs’ Most Instrumental Award for making the most cumulative lifetime donations to Seeding Labs. Since 2010, Merck has donated more than 1,200 pieces of lab equipment that have benefited Instrumental Access universities in seven countries. They are the first company to reach Seeding Labs’ highest equipment donor level Fermium, which denotes equipment donations worth $1M+ fair market value.

These life sciences and manufacturing corporations have provided critical support to advancing Seeding Labs’ efforts while demonstrating their commitment to corporate social responsibility as a means of catalyzing global science.

“Positively Instrumental was a tremendous opportunity to thank our corporate partners who helped us achieve our best year for equipment donations in Seeding Labs’ history. We were also thrilled to introduce the dedicated global scientists who will use the donated equipment to make meaningful scientific advances,” said Seeding Labs Founder and CEO Nina Dudnik, PhD.

“Despite the successes we celebrated, the widespread interest in Instrumental Access signals that the need is great for researchers in developing countries. We must continue to invest in these talented individuals to support scientific breakthroughs at a local level that can have global impact,” she adds.

Dudnik spoke at the event, along with 2016 Instrumental Access recipient Kingdom Kwapata, PhD, lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi [view Dr. Kwapata’s remarks]. Annica Wayman, PhD, Division Chief for the Research Partnerships for Development Team in the US Global Development Lab at USAID (funder of Seeding Labs) also spoke. The event was emceed by Ari Daniel Shapiro, PhD, science reporter and multimedia producer for NOVA and public radio.

Event sponsors included CBRE New England, Cell Signaling Technology, Sartorius, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Triumvirate Environmental, Troemner, and Robert Torresen, Esq.

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Paul Hohenberger

Paul Hohenberger

Director of Individual Giving

Paul is responsible for individual outreach to increase philanthropic support for Seeding Labs. He is an experienced fundraising professional with broad knowledge and understanding of resource development and advancement in major research universities and public trusts. 

In previous roles at The University of Massachusetts, MIT, Harvard University, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, Paul cultivated relationships within the philanthropic community, garnering support for programs and priorities spanning nuclear engineering, global health, climate science/energy, and demographic and survey research.

Paul’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is active in his alma mater, serving on the Department of Political Science Advisory Board, and was a former board member of the UMass Alumni Association. 

Additionally, he has completed professional certificate programs at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health and MIT, enhancing his expertise in policy, politics, and innovation.

Alyssa Tran headshot

Alyssa Tran
Logistics Intern

Alyssa Tran started working for Seeding Labs in Summer 2024 in the Instrumental Access Program. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Clark University (Class of 2026).

Being a Biology major has allowed her to develop skills within research labs and understand various types of laboratory equipment, which gives support to the program.

Jennifer Raymond

Jennifer Raymond
Director of Corporate Relations

Jennifer builds and stewards Seeding Labs’ partnerships with corporations and other life science institutions. Our partners’ financial and lab equipment contributions help support universities and research institutions in under-resourced settings.

When these talented scientists, researchers, and educators have the resources they need to create and maintain strong scientific institutions, new solutions are created for both local development needs and global challenges.

Before joining Seeding Labs, Jennifer raised funds and engaged constituents for

the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Brandeis University. She graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in French studies.

Manisha Patel

Manisha Patel
Scientific Director

Manisha uses her scientific expertise to implement the equipment-related aspects of Seeding Labs’ programs and plays a key role in Instrumental Access.

She provides support to Instrumental Access awardees, helping them choose the instruments that best meet their research and teaching goals. She also advises the Corporate Relations team on equipment that would be useful in our awardees’ labs.

Manisha has extensive experience in managing academic research labs with knowledge spanning lab setup, compliance, and equipment training. Most recently, she oversaw labs at Harvard University.

For the past decade, Manisha directed an undergraduate internship program focused on one of her passions:  diversity and inclusion in STEM. She holds a BS in ecology from Rutgers University and an MS in ecology from the University of Vermont.

Micaela Leaska

Micalea Leaska
Programs Specialist,
Metrics & Evaluation

Micalea works with the Programs team to develop and implement metrics and evaluation tools, and to monitor the worldwide impact of Instrumental Access. She compiles and analyzes quantitative data and qualitative stories that exemplify our mantra, “talent is everywhere.”

Her prior work experience includes consulting for the World Bank, working on Water Security Assessments for Peru and Central America, and improving access to safe water in rural Ecuadorian communities with the nonprofit WaterStep.

Micalea holds a BA from Saint Michael’s College and completed her Master’s degree in Climate Change and Global Sustainability from SIT Graduate Institute, where she studied global science issues alongside scientists, stakeholders, and community members in Iceland, Tanzania, and Ecuador.

Chiudo Ehirim

Chiudo Ehirim
Instrumental Access

After completing an Atlas Corps Fellowship with Seeding Labs, Chiudo now provides support to our Instrumental Access partners from his Rumines Ltd. office in Lagos, Nigeria. Chiudo is CEO of Rumines, an environmental technology and management consulting company.

Prior to his fellowship, Chiudo was a country manager for Nigeria with Climate Scorecard, a US-based organization that monitors how the top 25 greenhouse gas-emitting countries implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Chiudo earned a BS in pure and industrial chemistry from the University of Nigeria and a Master’s of Science in environmental technology and management from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

David Borman

David Borman, PhD

David works to highlight the innovation and scientific successes of Instrumental Access awardees. In telling these scientists’ stories, he helps to show the global impact of the Seeding Labs mission.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, David worked as the alumni affairs director for Brevard College in North Carolina and managed communications for Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies, a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, that provides services to children with special needs.

David earned his PhD in English from the University of Miami. He holds an MA in English from the University of Louisville and a BA in English from Bellarmine University.

Christine Srivastava

Christina Viola Srivastava

Vice President of Programs

Christina is responsible for program development, planning, and implementation at Seeding Labs. 

Christina has experience as a research program evaluator and science policy analyst. She’s held roles with the consulting firm Abt Associates, Inc. and the Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Prior to entering the consulting world, Christina worked for the Boston-area nonprofits Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Urban Ecology Institute. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College

Rick Sherman

Rick Sherman

Vice President of Philanthropy

Rick is responsible for the fundraising activities at Seeding Labs, engaging with corporations, foundations, and individuals to increase their financial and equipment donations to the organization.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, Rick spent 17 years working in a similar capacity at a number of science-focused organizations, including Keystone Symposia, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute).

Rick earned an MS in Finance from Drexel University, and a BS in Paper Science and Engineering from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

David Qualter

Vice President of Operations

David is responsible for global logistics at Seeding Labs, overseeing the efficient movement of lab equipment worldwide.

He joined Seeding Labs from Image Arts, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, where he provided logistics direction for the company with $110 million in annual sales.

He brings 20 years of supply chain management experience with in-depth knowledge of international logistics, warehouse execution, and distribution center operations.

Originally an art student at Southeastern Massachusetts University, David now uses his creative talents to develop logistics strategies that produce operational efficiencies and quality customer service.

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Please direct speaking requests to

Melissa is the CEO and a co-founder of Seeding Labs. She began as a volunteer leader of the Harvard Medical School student group; later, as a founding board member, she supported its transition to a nonprofit organization. In 2014, she joined the staff of Seeding Labs, leading the USAID-sponsored $3M scale-up of the Instrumental Access program. In 2019, Melissa became CEO, committed to increasing capacity for developing countries to use science. 

Operating with a deep belief in the power of science to transform lives, Melissa has dedicated her career to creating scientific research opportunities for historically underrepresented and excluded communities. In addition to roles at Harvard and the BioBuilder Educational Foundation, Melissa has mentored many students in the sciences through programs at the Journal of Emerging Investigators, Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and MIT.

Melissa earned a PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and holds an SB in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.