Helen Fellow Alumni 2016-2017 main content.

Helen Fellow Alumni 2016-2017

Jessie Contour

A headshot of Jessie Contour.

Jessie Contour is a creative technologist, animator, and designer from San Diego. She received her BFA in digital art and animation in 2013 from Northeastern University in Boston. After graduating, she worked for a year in AAA game development and as a professor at Northeastern University and Lesley University. She received her MFA in design and technology in 2016 from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Jessie was recently hired as the director of a summer engineering program for high schoolers called BlueStamp Engineering. Jessie also continues to teach 3D animation/Game Development/Digital Storytelling classes at Parsons and Hunter College, and is leading workshops on emerging technology with Decoded.   

Jessie worked with Helene Alonso in the Exhibitions Dept. and Daniel Zeiger of the Discovery Room, to redesign the Discovery Room earthquake exhibit. She designed the new exhibit layout, prototyped several physical interactives for production, and developed a new interactive map of live earthquake data. She also contributed to the Exhibitions department’s work on the special exhibits ¡Cuba!. She presented her work at the Instint Conference in January 2017 in New Orleans.  

During the fellowship, Jessie valued the opportunity to work with the talented young Brown Scholar women in a close mentoring relationship. She considers it an invaluable experience to become familiar with the type of educator that she wants to embody as she moves forward into a career in higher education.

Abrial Meyer

A headshot of Abrial Meyer.

Abrial Meyer went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. There she double majored in Biology and Environmental Studies, with a minor in Informatics and Modeling. Abby grew up in Seattle, Washington where she became fascinated with the critters of the intertidal. In college, she focused her studies on ecology and evolution with the aim of asking and answering the huge questions in biology with computational approaches. Her thesis was on human/microbial interactions, specifically the relationship between helminths (parasitic worms) and autoimmune disorders.  

Abby worked with Dr. Ward Wheeler on software to improve phylogenetic analysis of whole genome data. With increased ease of sequencing whole genomes comes increased need for robust tools for analysis of sequences in their entirety. Abby worked on aligning mitochondrial genome datasets without prior annotation. The eventual goal is to incorporate a multiple sequence aligner into Dr. Wheeler’s phylogenetic tree building software.  

Outside of research, Abby has found teaching and mentoring to be extremely fulfilling, especially watching the students become passionate about science and research.

Natalia Rodriguez Nuñez

A headshot of Natalia Rodriguez.

Natalia Rodriguez Nuñez holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science with minors in Business and English. She has written and tinkered with Co.Labs at Fast Company, as well as authored the course for Sass recently released on Codecademy. She conducts STEM diversity outreach through the Technolochicas campaign and the Anita Borg Institute. She is currently is a curriculum developer at CodeAcademy. 

As a Helen Fellow, she worked with the department of Science Bulletins with Vivian Travinski to develop data visualizations for scientific projects pursued at the Museum. In addition to collaborating with the Science Bulletins team on new media prototypes tested on museum visitors, her research focused on building an interactive prototype explaining the ecological regions in the hall of African Peoples.  

Natalia describes her Helen Fellowship as an incredible opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, and to think outside the box and combine disciplines seemingly polarizing in any other role.

Lillie Schachter

A headshot of Lillie Schachter.

Lillie Schachter graduated from Connecticut College with a BA in Computer Science and spent the subsequent year instructing in Introductory CS and Data Structures courses offered there. During this time she also worked at the ‘mini bootcamp’ Apprentice100, teaching JavaScript through the framework Meteor.  

Working with Dr. Louise Crowley and Dr. Katherine St. John, Lillie was the lead teacher and developed the Brown Scholar high school curriculum, wherein students learned Python, SQL, and data visualization tools. Through project-based learning, the students tackle scientific questions such as categorizing influenza DNA, comparing climate change data, and the placement of turtles in the tree of life. Lillie was also the lead CS teacher of the program’s Middle School week-long workshops ‘Coding Climate Change’. She implemented an interactive Python eTextbook for this workshop in an effort to export it to middle school classrooms, fully accessible on any internet-capable device.  

Throughout the fellowship,  Lillie has felt particularly empowered by the opportunity to work with CS educators from around the city, seeing the methods and resources she learns in action, thereby empowering the Brown Scholars in turn.

Carolyn Sy

A headshot of Carolyn Sy.

Carolyn Sy grew up near San Francisco and completed her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, with a double major in Computer Science and Molecular and Cell Biology. Carolyn discovered her love for coding during her undergrad, and was fortunate to be able to gain experience in both software engineering and molecular biology research. Since then, she has become interested in how computer science can be applied to the natural sciences in order to answer questions about evolutionary history and to improve medicine and healthcare. Carolyn Sy is currently a software engineer at 23andMe.   

Working with Dr. Frank Burbrink in the Dept. of Herpetology, Carolyn studied  how mutation rates change among ratsnake mitochondrial genomes, and how this relates to the mitochondrial replication process in snakes and other vertebrates. Primarily using Python and R, she is building visualizations of different models of replication and performing various statistical tests on their hypotheses.  

Carolyn’s favorite part of the Helen Fellowship hwas getting to work with the amazing Brown Scholars (high school students) and with the team of other Fellows who share the same passion for science, technology, education, and empowerment.