Program Director, School of Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Diana Chien has worked with the MIT Communication Lab since its launch in 2013, and became program director in the spring of 2017, following the departure of founder Jaime Goldstein. From 2013-2015, Diana was a Biological Engineering (BE) Communication Fellow, while she was a PhD student in the Microbiology graduate program. From 2016-2017, she led the BE Communication Lab and taught the communication curricula for BE’s two communication-intensive undergraduate courses. During that time, she also led the launch of the Communication Lab’s suite of online resources, the CommKit, which she co-designed with BE Communication Fellow alumnus Dr. Scott Olesen.
Diana’s dedication to science communication grows out of her longtime passion for both biology and writing: as an undergraduate at Princeton University, she majored in ecology and evolutionary biology and minored in creative writing. Her poetry has received awards from and been published in major literary magazines. She is thrilled to be able to combine her two passions through her work with the Communication Lab.
Manager and Instructor, Biological Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Prerna Bhargava works with the Biological Engineering Communication Fellow team to innovate in the space of scientific communication. She is also an instructor in the Biological Engineering department teaching the communication components of 20.109 (Lab Fundamentals in Biological Engineering) and 20.380 (Biological Engineering Design).
Originally from Connecticut, she graduated from Brandeis University with a dual degree in biology and legal studies. She completed her PhD at Harvard University under Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, and her postdoc at MIT in Dr. Jim Collins’ lab. Her interdisciplinary research has encompassed molecular biology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, and cellular biology. During this time, Prerna also mentored dozens of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. She has TA’d and taught several classes, from dance to medical microbiology, and was a Communication Fellow with the Broad Research Communication Lab. Through all these experiences, Prerna has developed a deep interest in supporting higher education and improving the classroom experience to make science more accessible, encourage more students to enter and stay in STEM fields, and support critical thinking beyond the classroom.
Manager, Mechanical Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Svetlana Boriskina works with a team of Mechanical Engineering Communication Fellows to provide resources and guidance to MechE students, post-docs, and faculty in communicating their research to the world and advancing their careers in technical fields. Svetlana is also a Research Scientist in MechE, leading research projects on solar energy harvesting, optical sensing, and smart materials design.
Originally from Ukraine, Svetlana holds a Ph.D. degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Kharkov National University, one of leading research universities in the former USSR. She worked at the University of Nottingham in UK and at Boston University prior to joining MIT in 2012. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching expertise ranges from optics and electrical engineering to solid state physics and thermodynamics. She has long been dedicated to student mentorship, and has guided dozens of middle-to-grad-school student mentees during her career in academia. She leverages her experience as an editor at the Journal of Optics and Optics Express, a symposia organizer for the Materials Research Society and the Optical Society of America, and a proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy to improve science communication in MechE.
Instructor, Biological Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Sean Clarke first joined BE as a Ph.D. student in 2005, so he has seen the department’s evolution and expansion firsthand. After completing his thesis and a postdoc in Eric Alm’s lab, he worked on applied microbial challenges in two contexts: at the Cellars at Jasper Hill, an award-winning Vermont cheesemaker, and at Sample6, a startup using synthetic biology to solve food safety challenges. Wanting to contribute to the innovative and inspiring BE community, Sean returned in 2016 to a dual position. Half of his work is as a communication instructor for the undergraduate communication-intensive lab and capstone courses. In conjunction, he has a new industry liaison role working to improve connections between BE and the thriving local biotech ecosystem.
Manager, Nuclear Science and Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Marina Dang joined MIT in 2014 to launch the Communication Lab program in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Marina holds a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from Brandeis University where she studied protein structure, function, and dynamics. Upon graduating, she taught Principles of Chemistry at Emmanuel College before becoming a science curriculum developer at Ergopedia, now part of PASCO Scientific. Marina’s passion for teaching, both in formal and informal settings, stems from her belief that each individual holds great potential. Whether Marina taught thermodynamics at Emmanuel, coached underserved students through the Posse Foundation, or tutored immigrants for a nonprofit organization, her motivation has been to instill a sense of empowerment in all her students. She is excited to continue this work in her role at the Communication Lab.
Instructional Designer, School of Engineering Communication Lab
Dr. Jesse Dunietz develops and presents training materials for Communication Fellows across all departments. He also supports other central Comm Lab activities, such as educational assessments and the Summer Institute for prospective Comm Lab founders at other institutions.
After attending MIT as an undergraduate, Jesse went off to Pittsburgh for a Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he attempted (occasionally successfully) to teach computers to understand language about cause and effect. During his Ph.D., Jesse became a passionate participant in the science communication community: he co-founded a science communication training program at CMU, helped organize ComSciCon workshops for graduate students, and was a 2017 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at Scientific American. He has since written dozens of science journalism articles and YouTube video scripts, both as a freelancer and and as a Fellow at the SAFE think tank. In addition to his role with the Communication Lab, he currently works as a researcher at Elemental Cognition, a startup dedicated to building transparent AI that can partner with humans to augment our reading and reasoning.
Manager, Chemical Engineering Communication Lab
Caitlin Stier serves as the ChemE Communication Lab manager. She brings over ten years of experience working as a science communicator and producer in publishing, broadcast, and education. She earned a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Smith College and an M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University, where she also served as a graduate writing fellow.
From research briefs to a YouTube miniseries, Caitlin has designed science communication in a range of media, for a range of audiences. Prior to her role in ChemE, Caitlin developed educational resources for PBS LearningMedia that taught kindergarteners about topics like solar flares using NASA media. Her work as a reporter for New Scientist exposed her to the realities of distilling complex science for a broad audience, while her role at Nature Publishing Group taught her how to formulate content for other experts.
Caitlin is thrilled to use her experience to help chemical engineers expand the reach and impact of their research through effective communication. She sees good communication as a practice any engineer can master with the right tools and guidance.
Gordon Engineering Leadership Program
Industry Director and Senior Lecturer
Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, UPOP, Communication Lab
Dr. Reza Rahaman returned to MIT in 2018 after a 29-year career in the Consumer Packaged Goods, Pharmaceuticals, and Agricultural Chemical Industries. Immediately prior to MIT, Reza was the Vice-president of Research, Development, and Innovation for the Specialty Division of the Clorox Company. In that role he was accountable for developing innovation strategies for a diverse set of businesses and ensuring robust technology roadmaps and innovation pipelines to deliver growth and profit targets for 45% of the Clorox Company portfolio.
In addition to his passion for developing leaders, Reza is passionate about workplace equality and is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, the world’s premier nonprofit promoting LGBT+ workplace equality.
Reza received his BSc.(Eng.) in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, University of London, and his MSCEP in Chemical Engineering Practice and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT.
Manager of Finance and Administration, Gordon Engineering Leadership Program
Eliana Marques Runyon is the Manager of Finance and Administration for the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. Previously, she was an Area Officer in the Management Science Area and Assistant Director at the Office of External Relations at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Eliana has served in leadership roles for 25 years: prior to coming to MIT, she worked to establish a theological institute in the Portuguese language based in Malden, MA. Eliana also served as a regional superintendent of a group of churches in Massachusetts for many years, teaching leadership development and community engagement. She is a lecturer in the Master’s program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS), and co-pastors the Lynn Foursquare Church with her husband.
Eliana earned the degrees of Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and holds a Bachelor Degree in Education from PUC-SP in Brazil.