“Positively Instrumental” Event Honors Donors, Instrumental Access 2017 Awardees

2017 Instrumental Access Awardees

Fifteen outstanding institutions from around the world have been chosen to receive scientific resources and equipment through Seeding Labs’ 2017 Instrumental Access program.

We announced the 2017 Instrumental Access awards at our second annual “Positively Instrumental” event at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge on March 22.

The 15 awardees chosen for Instrumental Access 2017 were selected from a pool of 65 applications received from 24 countries.

As part of a rigorous screening, each applicant outlined the ways that an infusion of scientific equipment would remove barriers to STEM education and research at their institution—paving the way for new avenues of scientific inquiry and expanding hands-on opportunities for students.

In addition to introducing the new Instrumental Access awardees, Seeding Labs honored three donors for their instrumental role in advancing science in the developing world through partnerships with Seeding Labs. Honorees include:

  • The Sustainer Award was given to Harvard University for supporting global science through Seeding Labs since the organization’s inception. This award also recognizes Harvard’s innovative approach to increasing the environmental sustainability of science. By partnering with Seeding Labs, Harvard University is utilizing its resources for the greatest scientific impact, both at home and across the globe.
  • GE Healthcare Life Sciences was presented with the Rising Star Award for the most impactful first-time corporate engagement. On the heels of expanding in the Boston area, GE Healthcare Life Sciences demonstrated its commitment to strengthening the scientific community not only in its new home, but in countries around the world.
  • Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) was honored with the Global Catalyst Award in recognition of the company’s unmatched worldwide impact. Since 2010, Merck has set an example for the sector, working with Seeding Labs to provide new scientific opportunities for thousands of international scientists and their students.

Donations from these awardees, as well as Seeding Labs’ 100+ other private-sector partners, will help the 2017 Instrumental Access grantees pursue their research across the biological sciences, chemistry, chemical engineering, nanotechnology, and science education and pedagogy.

The 2017 Instrumental Access awardees are:

In Latin America & the Caribbean

  • Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, México
  • Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia
  • University of the West Indies, Jamaica

In West Africa

  • Redeemer’s University, Nigeria
  • Université de Dschang, Cameroon
  • University of Lagos, Nigeria

In East & Southern Africa

  • Dar es Salaam University College of Education, Tanzania
  • Moi University, Kenya (Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry)
  • Moi University, Kenya (Department of Medicinal Biochemistry)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

In Europe & Asia

  • The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India
  • Institute of Molecular Biology at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, Armenia
  • Nong Lam University, Vietnam
  • Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University, Ukraine

Instrumental Access 2017 is the most geographically diverse group of partners in Seeding Labs’ history, spanning 13 counties, 5 of which are new to Seeding Labs: Armenia, Colombia, Mexico, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

“Positively Instrumental was truly a night celebrating the power of global science,” said Seeding Labs Founder and CEO Nina Dudnik, PhD. “The diverse community represented at the event was a testament to our belief that science is a global endeavor, and that the scientific community is strongest when everyone can fully and actively contribute. I’m grateful to our partners who support our work and am honored by their generosity that will help Seeding Labs catalyze research and teaching at 15 outstanding institutions worldwide this year.”

Dudnik spoke at the event, along with 2016 Instrumental Access awardee Dr. Robert Paulino, Director of the Institute for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at Universidad Iberoamericana in the Dominican Republic. The event was emceed by Ari Daniel, PhD, Digital Producer, PBS NOVA & independent science reporter.

With thanks to our event sponsors:

2017 Instrumental Access sponsors

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EK Wahome

EK Wahome
Logistics Intern

EK Wahome started working for Seeding Labs in 2024 primarily in the Instrumental Access Program. She is currently a Junior at Tufts University studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

EK is passionate about making research equitable and accessible to all.

Jennifer Raymond

Jennifer Raymond
Director of Corporate Relations

Jennifer partners with corporations, universities, and nonprofit organizations to identify opportunities to repurpose surplus scientific laboratory equipment that will in turn empower talented scientists in developing countries through the Instrumental Access program.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, Jennifer served as a Development Officer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she managed relationships with donors, foundations, and corporations to advance the groundbreaking work of research scientists.

She also directed membership programs for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and alumni relations for the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Jennifer graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in French studies and a minor in philosophy.

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 media@seedinglabs.org

As the CEO of Seeding Labs, Dr. Melissa P. Wu connects scientists and institutions around the world to help reduce barriers to scientific discovery.

Part scientist, part engineer, and part facilitator, Melissa brings strategic insight and rigorous methodology to her work, together with a dedication to helping people.

Melissa is driven by two overarching values: that scientific research is a critical tool for improving human lives, and that research thrives and we as a community make the best discoveries when we foster diversity in perspectives, approaches, and ideas. Joining these two ideas has given her a career focus on creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to engage in scientific research.

Prior to being named CEO of Seeding Labs in 2019,
Melissa served as Senior Vice President of Operations. She revamped Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access program to increase its efficiency while expanding its impact.

Melissa’s previous positions at the Harvard Office for
Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership and the BioBuilder Educational Foundation helped spread scientific knowledge to students nationwide.

She is proud to have mentored many students through
programs at the Journal of Emerging Investigators, Harvard, 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.