Our STEM VIP Mentors

We have attempted to put our STEM VIP mentors into categories, such as academia, business and government.

Yet, as you see in their descriptions and LinkedIn profiles, many of our mentors have experiences in multiple domains. For example, a person may have started out in academia, gone to work for a small high-tech company and then started their own business.  Seeing how much careers often evolve is, in fact, a big reason for creating the STEM VIP program.

By the way, you might be tempted to focus only on mentors who have the same degree as you are getting/ have. Please don't succumb to this temptation. You can learn a lot from all the mentors.

Note: Additional mentors are being added as we speak.

Founder, Chairwoman


Stephie Althouse, Ph.D.

Founder and Chairwomen of STEM VIP. Ph.D. Chemist, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1994. Founder and CEO of Top-Notch CEO. Dr. Stephie's career spans academia, working in small and large business as a scientist and as a top executive, starting her own businesses, and growing/turning out existing businesses. She is a strategic consultant and talented coach. She is the author of two business books, "101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies" and "101 Quick Tips for ESOP Leaders."

Dr. Stephie is facilitating all the video conferencing sessions. She is responsible for teaching and coaching the students in a systematic approach to goal setting and follow through and for establishing a foundation for networking skills. She is also sharing her career and life experiences. 




Professor, Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Prof. Craig Barnes

Dr. Barnes received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College in 1977; he earned a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Stanford University in 1982. He then undertook postdoctoral work in chemistry at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University as a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow. In 1984, Dr. Barnes joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee. His experiences include being the Head of the Department of Chemistry.

LinkedIn Profile

Deborah Huntley

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Saginaw Valley State University

Prof. Deborah Huntley

Deborah Huntely earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and her master's degree and doctorate from Cornell University. She worked as a research chemist for 14 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. She then came to Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) as a chemistry professor in 1998. She also was associate vice president for academic affairs for three years prior to becoming the college dean. She received SVSU's Earl L. Warrick Award for Excellence in Research in 2006. In 2014, Deborah Huntley was appointed as Saginaw Valley State University's provost.

LinkedIn Profile

Sam Yat-Long Poon_300

Professor of biology and environmental science, San Diego Miramar College and The Art Institute of California; Filmmaker

Prof. Sam Yat-Long Poon

Yat-Long “Sam” Poon, MAS MBC 2013, dedicates his life and work to science education. Sam splits time between teaching and filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Sam collaborates with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to produce videos for StarTalk and other web-based science education programs. Sam also imparts his knowledge and expertise as a professor of biology and environmental science at San Diego Miramar College and The Art Institute of California. Sam continues to seek new opportunities to bring science to the public, taking his Capstone Independent Research Project Remixing Education to the next level.

LinkedIn Profile



CEO, Confirm Biosciences

Zeynep Ilgaz

Zeynep is the founder, president, and CEO of Confirm Biosciences, a global leader in providing drug testing and wellness solutions. She received her MBA from SDSU in 2001 and now lectures there for International Entrepreneurship.

LinkedIn Profile


CEO, QUASAR Federal Systems, Inc

Yongming Zhang

Dr. Zhang is the chief executive officer of QUASAR Federal Systems, a world leader in electromagnetic (EM) field sensors and EM sensing instrumentation. His previous experiences include developing RF devices and digital circuits for Conductus and technology for cell phones at 3G Cellular. He received his Ph.D. (Applied Physics) and postdoc at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

LinkedIn Profile


CEO, Science Delivered

Oliva Mullins

Dr. Mullins is the founder of the non-profit Science Delivered, specializing in elementary science education and communication. Prior to Science Delivered she earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia. She is also the author of the book "Experimenting with Science," a part of Wiley's Dummies Junior series containing simple science experiments for kids.

LinkedIn Profile

Man-Ling Lee_300

Senior Scientist (Cheminformatics), Genentech

Man-Ling Lee

Dr. Lee is an application developer with 10 years experience in scientific data management in the pharmaceutical industry. Her specialties are in software project management and development of scientific data management software. Prior to working in industry, she earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from The Philipp University of Marburg in Germany.

LinkedIn Profile

Alberto Gobbi_300

Principal Scientist (Cheminformatics), Genentech

Alberto Gobbi

Dr. Gobbi is a Principal Scientist in Cheminformatics at Genentech. Previously, he worked as a Distinguished Principal Scientist at Anandys Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing medicines for hepatitis C and oncology. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from The Philipp University of Marburg, Germany.

LinkedIn Profile

Marium Iftikhar_300

Scientist in BioPharmaceutical Department, Nitto Avecia Pharma Services

Mariam Iftikhar

Dr. Iftikhar is a recent Ph.D. graduate from UC Irvine in Chemical Biology. Her dissertation was on single-molecule protein functionalized nanocircuits. After a brief postdoc position, she began working in the biopharmaceutical department of Nitto Avecia Pharma Services. She also has lots of tutoring experience in multiple STEM disciplines, both at the high school and college level.  Dr. Iftikhar will share with us her recent experiences of getting into the job market and her experiences as a woman in STEM.

LinkedIn Profile


Civil Engineer III (Lead Engineer), Black & Veatch (large employee-owned engineering firm)

Osai Robinson

Osai is a Civil Engineer at Black & Veatch, where he provides engineering support for water-related projects. His experience includes pipeline design, condition assessment/rehabilitation, and pilot plant start-up and operation. Osai is also a martial arts instructor and owner of West Coast Dragons Tang Soo Do in Carlsbad California.

LinkedIn Profile

Ravi Bhola_300

Partner, RA Holdings Limited

Ravi Bhola

Ravi Bhola has 30 years of experience in investing in and growing technology companies. He has grown and sold 7 companies and invested in dozens of early-stage ventures. Furthermore, he has investment fund management/partner experience with a focus on due diligence. His Fortune 500 management experience includes General Dynamics, GDE Systems and Orinco. He has led the leveraged buyout of a $300M company and sale to BAE Systems. Ravi got his formal education (BSEE, MSEE, MBA) at Washington University and bsides that, he has a PhD in the "school of hard knocks".

LinkedIn Profile

Kaitlin Pugliese

Scientist 2, Illumina

Kaitlin Pugliese

Kaitlin received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine in February 2016, where she explored biochemical and protein engineering strategies to better understand DNA polymerase at the single-molecule level. Currently, she works as a Scientist at Illumina in the Protein Engineering and Enzymology group, leading a small R&D team in all aspects of protein engineering for a new DNA sequencing technology, including mutagenesis, protein expression & purification and assay development.

Linkedin Profile


Boeing Technical Fellow (Electromagnetics), Pioneer of Stealth – retired

Don Berg

Don Berg enjoyed a 28-year career as a participator and leader in a multitude of aerospace programs with McDonnell Douglass & Boeing. The programs involved included software development, fusion energy, and advanced material development and testing. He completed his aerospace career in Stealth Technology as a Pioneer of Stealth. He received a B.S., M.S. in physics and electromagnetics. He has lifetime teaching certification in mathematics and Physics in Missouri and California and taught High School, University, and Industry classes for over 45 years. He has 6 US Patents with one still pending. He sold one patent to Procter & Gamble and was recently granted a Licensing Agreement for a patent pending invention. He presently mentors and teaches students of all ages. He is now working on the completion of a life’s dream – The development of a ‘Theory of Everything’ in Physics.

Linkedin Profile



Team Leader, Computational Science & Engineering, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Brett Okhuysen

Dr. Brett Okhuysen is a dynamic research engineer and mathematician with a unique, extensive background that spans many scientific and engineering fields. He has an established record of designing, implementing and delivering end-to-end research products and systems for customers that fulfill requirements and exceed expectations. An outstanding scholar, facilitator and integrator, he is consistently singled out for leadership roles because his demonstrated technical excellence is coupled with excellent communications skills and unbridled enthusiasm.

LinkedIn Profile

Wayne Moore_300

Manager,Nuclear Facilities; Support Manager, Radiochemical Processing Laboratory; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Battelle

Wayne Moore

Wayne Moore has worked in the nuclear industry for 33 years including 6 years in the U.S. Navy nuclear power program. He is currently a Nuclear Facilities Manager for Battelle at the Pacific Northwest National Labs. His role includes managing facility records, procedures, corrective action management, the Nuclear Training program, and Conduct of Operations.

LinkedIn Profile

Jordan Corbey_300

Staff Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Jordan Corbey

Dr. Jordan Corbey earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, working on air-sensitive coordination complexes of the rare earth elements to understand their fundamental and magnetic properties. She is currently a scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory working in the National Security Directorate where much of her research focuses on the fundamental characterization of uranium, plutonium and americium compounds. She also works to develop analytical techniques that could be used for nuclear forensics. Her work is performed mainly in the Radiological Processing Laboratory (RPL) at PNNL which is a category 2 nuclear facility located on the Hanford Site.

LinkedIn Profile


Sr. Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Department of State

Courtney Millburn

Courtney is a senior mechanical engineer in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations for the U.S. Department of State, working to own, build, and maintain embassies and consulates worldwide. His previous experience includes contingency engineering services for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and product engineering and development for Automated Fire and Water Effects, Inc. He earned his Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

LinkedIn Profile

Katrina Walker

Nuclear Training Specialist, Pacific Northwest Laboratory

Katrina Walker

Dr. Katrina Walker has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and started her professional career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics at a small women’s college. She then transferred her passion for teaching into the corporate world by training the trainers at a nuclear power plant, leading to a three-fold increase in instructor performance. Now a Nuclear Training Specialist at PNNL, Katrina enjoys the variety of training personnel across various disciplines and experience levels.

LinkedIn Profile

Tracey Wellington

Technical Staff Member, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (until recently: AAAS Science & TEchnology Policy, U.S. Dept. of State)

Tracey-Ann Wellington

Dr. Tracey Wellington has a Ph.D. in Energy Science and Engineering and has an extensive background in Materials Science and Physics. Three years ago, right after graduating with her Ph.D., she started her position as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the Dept. of State in the Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation. Recently, she became a technical staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

LinkedIn Profile

Professionals Who Work With STEM Professionals


Founder, Director & Treasurer, Precision Healthcare

Tyler Orion

Ms. Orion is retired from a career supporting technology business development in a wide range of industries. She remains passionate about helping entrepreneurs to develop and thrive. As the leader of several business incubators and accelerators, she helped nurture hundreds of science- and technology-based start-ups. Tyler holds an MBA in Health Services Management, currently serves on several non-profit boards and is a co-founder of a patient-centered healthcare enterprise.

LinkedIn Profile


CEO, P5 Marketing

Robert Donnell

Robert is online growth guru extraordinaire.  He holds an MSA and an MBA and has business experience in big pharma and biotech interfacing with researchers and physicians. His methods are based on the modern idea of helping prospects on their journey to discover their challenges and find a solution to them - rather than the old way of hard-selling. He is also a master in SEO and knows just about every tool for online marketing.

He is co-owner of P5Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in working with scaling business owners who have marketable expertise.

LinkedIn Profile


Beverly (Hansen) Crawford-Westre

Sr. Marketing Manager, Executive Communications, Qualcomm

Beverly Crawford-Westre

Beverly is a marketing professional with over 10 years of experience in communication, design, and Website management. She is a creative collaborator, storyteller, and team leader, dedicated to the delivery of quality content and exceeding business goals, with proven ability in leading effective global marketing strategies while minimizing costs and driving profit. Prior to Qualcomm, she was a Communication Consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates U.S. College Ready Program.

LinkedIn Profile

Raj Chatkara_300

Technical Recruiter at TEKsystems

Raj Chatkara

Raj Chatkara works as technical recuriter at TEKsystems in the area of software engineering.  He is responsible for full life cycle recruiting of technical professionals for contract, contract to hire, and direct hire opportunities. He specializes in partnering with candidates within the software applications space. Raj will share with STEM students what recruiters are looking for.

LinkedIn Profile

June Chocheles

Business Mentor - Athena, ARCS, mystartupXX, Veterans Ventures

June Chocheles