Seeding Labs Celebrates 10th Anniversary at “Positively Instrumental” Event, Honoring Donors, Instrumental Access Awardees

2018 Instrumental Access Awardees

Fourteen outstanding research labs in developing countries around the world have been awarded scientific resources and equipment through Seeding Labs’ 2018 Instrumental Access program.

Seeding Labs announced the 2018 Instrumental Access awardees at its third annual “Positively Instrumental” event held at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass., on March 21.

The event also commemorated Seeding Labs’ 10th anniversary, marking a decade of empowering global scientists to transform their communities.

The 14 Instrumental Access awardees selected for Instrumental Access 2018 were hand-picked from a pool of 51 applications received from 22 countries—underscoring the worldwide need for scientific infrastructure, including lab equipment.

During a rigorous vetting process, each Instrumental Access applicant outlined how an infusion of equipment would remove barriers to STEM education and research at their institution.

They all felt strongly that equipment was essential to building much-needed scientific capacity that in turn, enables hands-on opportunities for students and new avenues of inquiry for researchers.

In addition to introducing the new Instrumental Access awardees, Seeding Labs honored three donors from the private sector. They were recognized for their instrumental role in advancing science in the developing world in partnership with Seeding Labs.

At Positively Instrumental, Global Visionary Awards were presented to:

Global Visionary Awardees logos
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific for pioneering programs that integrate participation in Instrumental Access with their core business, including instrument trade-in programs, cause marketing campaigns, and the engagement of their service division Unity Labs Services in managing quality control of donated equipment.
  • MilliporeSigma, the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, for initiating innovative ways to engage employees company-wide in Instrumental Access, including co-developing the TeleScience platform with Seeding Labs to share their expertise with global scientists, and developing participatory processes to mobilize equipment for donation.
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals for including the Instrumental Access partnership as part of their R&D Access to Medicines strategy, including equipment donation and virtual mentorships among employees and researchers in developing countries.

Strategic partnerships and donations of funding and equipment from these honorees, as well as Seeding Labs’ 140+ other private-sector partners, will help the 2018 Instrumental Access awardees pursue their research across biological sciences, biomedical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, forensic science, pharmaceutical sciences, agriculture, oral health, veterinary medicine, and science education and pedagogy.

Instrumental Access 2018 awards span 11 countries across Asia, South America, and Africa, including one country new to the program: Benin. The 2018 Instrumental Access awardees are:

In Asia and South America:

  • Maratha Mandal’s NGH Institute of Dental Sciences & Research Centre, India
  • Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru

In East Africa:

  • Mount Kenya University, Kenya
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
  • United States International University-Africa, Kenya

In West Africa:

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Ghana
  • Lead City University, Nigeria
  • Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin
  • University of Cape Coast, Ghana
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria 
  • University of Ilorin, Nigeria

In Southern Africa:

  • Lupane State University, Zimbabwe
  • Malawi University of Science & Technology, Malawi
  • University of Namibia, Namibia

Representatives from 11 of the 14 awardees were present at the event, indicating the excitement around the transformational nature of these awards.

The equipment that will be sent to 2018 Instrumental Access partners is expected to impact nearly 15,000 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students, and more than 300 faculty members in the awarded departments alone—and likely many more across these universities.

“Over the past decade, Seeding Labs has created a unique community of scientists and institutions worldwide,” said Nina Dudnik, PhD, Founder and CEO of Seeding Labs. “Positively Instrumental was an opportunity to celebrate our Instrumental Access awardees, who demonstrate unequivocally that talent is universal, and that providing them with the right tools catalyzes transformational changes in their communities–for education, research, entrepreneurship, and so much more. I’m grateful to our donors who have made that possible by believing in our mission and generously sharing their resources over the past 10 years.”

Dudnik spoke at the event, along with 2018 Instrumental Access awardee Enoch Achigan-Dako, PhD, an Associate Professor in Genetics and Plant Breeding at the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Benin.

The event was emceed by Ari Daniel, PhD, Senior Digital Producer, NOVA; Senior Producer, Story Collider; and independent science reporter.

Positively Instrumental was sponsored by presenting sponsor Takeda Pharmaceuticals; anniversary sponsors Cell Signaling Technology and Merck; scientist sponsors GE Healthcare and Thermo Fisher Scientific; and fellow sponsors the American Chemical Society, Innova Recycling, Neta Scientific, New England Biolabs, Addgene, Alexandria Real Estate, Proskauer Rose, and in-kind sponsor Fucci’s Photos.

2018 Instrumental Access sponsors logos

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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

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.