Helen Fellows Alumni 2015-2016

2015-2016 Helen Fellows

Fellowship Alumni

Jillian Bellovary

Portrait of Jillian Bellovary, Helen Fellow cohort 1

Jillian Bellovary worked with Dr. Mordecai Mac Low, investigating whether migration traps exist within the accretion disks of supermassive black holes (SMBHs), and if so whether they are conducive to the formation of intermediate mass black holes.  She also investigated the repercussions of this phenomenon for gravitational wave detection.  Jillian published one first-author paper on this topic and has several more in progress.  She also presented this research at a conference and as a speaker at Columbia University’s theoretical astrophysics seminar.  Jillian was an invited speaker at “Computing the Universe” in Oaxaca, Mexico in June, and was also invited to give astronomy colloquia at Penn State University and Rutgers University.  She also participated in the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educator’s Professional Development Program, culminating in the teaching of a 1.5-day inquiry-based workshop on statistics and data analysis at Columbia this August.  Jillian is about to start her first semester as an Assistant Professor of Physics at Queensborough Community College, and will continue as a Research Associate at AMNH.


Emily Carlson

Portrait of Emily Carlson, Helen Fellow cohort one

Emily Carlson worked with Dr. Rebecca Oppenheimer. Her research included data collection at Palomar, data processing at AMNH, and database construction. She is working on a paper that will present the newly discovered binary stars from the Project 1640 survey. She holds a Visiting Scientist position at AMNH with Dr. Rebecca Oppenheimer so that she can continue work on this paper and maintain the database. Emily has just embarked on a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Tufts. She is joining Dr. Tom Vandervelde's Renewable Energy and Applied Photonics Lab, and will be focusing fabricating metamaterials to improve solar cell efficiency. She has been awarded a Provost Fellowship, a unique and prestigious award which recognizes the most promising doctoral applicants to schools across the university.


Jordan Koch

Portrait of Jordan Koch, Helen Fellow cohort one.

Jordan Koch worked with Dr. Brian Smith to develop models of speciation across a landscape. She organized a cohesive pipeline of Python scripts to compare simulated evolutionary patterns to empirical data on bird speciation. She also helped build a database containing genomic data of all described bird species. She presented this work at the Evolution meeting in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Norwich, England as a computational biology researcher at the John Innes Centre and is continuing to work remotely with Dr. Smith at AMNH.


Mali’o Kodis

Portrait of Mali'o Kodis, Helen Fellow cohort one

Mali’o Kodis is from a small town on the Big Island of Hawaii called Volcano Village. Her childhood curiosity towards the natural world and passion for science research earned her a life-changing trip to the American Museum of Natural History at a young age as the recipient of the Young Naturalist Award. Inspired by the awe-inspiring displays and world-renowned research at AMNH, Mali’o immersed herself in every opportunity to learn about the natural world and earned her BSc in Geology with a focus on Evolutionary Biology from Brown University. As a Helen Fellow, Mali’o worked with Dr. Mary Blair and Dr. Eleanor Sterling at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. She completed a comprehensive review of modeling techniques with applications towards biocultural conservation, an emerging field within conservation biology that works to understand the complex interactions between humans and their changing environment. Mali’o built an ecological niche model using R to determine prime prospective habitat for a key agricultural crop (taro, Colocasia esculenta) in Pacific Island communities threatened by climate change. Mali’o is currently working on a manuscript for this work, which will be submitted to the journal “Ecological Modeling.” 


Grace Newman

Portrait of Grace Newman, Helen Fellow cohort one

Grace Newman worked with Dr. Ward Wheeler. Her research was to implement a software suite to construct and analyze phylogenetic trees from both genetic and anthropological data. During her time at the museum, she focused on evolutionary distance algorithms.  She is now a visiting scientist in Dr. Wheeler's lab focusing on GPU computing, and is working full time in Silicon Valley as a Server Engineer at Syapse, a precision medicine software company.