The AAAS Committee on Opportunities in Science (COOS) serves as the Advisory Council for SEA Change. The members of COOS are appointed by the AAAS Board of Directors. COOS guides the Association in a continuing review of issues that affect diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, including informing AAAS programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Ayanna Howard, PhD, is Chair of the School of Interactive Computing and the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is also the Director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab (HumAnS). In 2015, she founded and now directs the $3M traineeship initiative in healthcare robotics and functions as the lead investigator on theNSF undergraduate summer research program in robotics. She has previously served as the Associate Director of Research for the Georgia Tech Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and as Chair of the multidisciplinary Robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech. In 2013, Dr. Howard founded Zyrobotics as a university spin-off and holds a position in the company as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Zyrobotics, LLC is currently licensing technology derived from her research and has released their first suite of mobile therapy and educational products for children with differing needs.
Elizabeth Phelps, PhD, is the Pershing Square Professor of Human Neuroscience at Harvard University. Dr Phelps’ research in the department of psychology focuses on three main topics: mechanisms of threat control, emotion and decision making, and emotion and memory. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Experimental Psychology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Joseph Graves, PhD, is a professor of biological sciences in the Department of Nanoengineering, part of the Joint School of Nanosciences and Nanoengineering at North Carolina A&T State University, where he previously served as the Associate Dean of Research. Dr. Graves’ research interests include the genomics of adaptation, the response of bacteria to metallic/metallic oxide nanoparticles, the study of aging, and the history and philosophy of science as it relates to the biology of race and racism in western society. Dr. Graves is a leading scholar in the social construction of race.
Michael Yassa, PhD, is the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SEA Change Charter Member University of California, Irvine School of Biological Sciences, as well as the Director of the UCI Brain Initiative and Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Psychiatry, and Neurology. Dr. Yassa’s research focuses on how the brain learns and remembers information, and how learning and memory mechanisms are altered in aging and neuropsychiatric disease.
Rigoberto Hernandez, Interim Chair
Rigoberto Hernandez, PhD, is the Gompf Family Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University as of July 1, 2016, and remains as the Director of the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) since 2011. Before Hopkins, he was a Professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, and Co-Director of the Center for Computational Molecular Science and Technology he co-founded. Dr. Hernandez is the recipient of a NSF CAREER Award (1997), Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award (1999), the Alfred P. Sloan Fellow Award (2000), a Humboldt Research Fellowship (2006-07), the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences (2014), the CCR Diversity Award (2015), the RCSA Transformative Research and Exceptional Education (TREE) Award (2016), Herty Medal (2017), the ACS Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences (2018), and the RCSA IMPACT Award (2020). He is a Fellow of AAAS (2004), the ACS (2010), the APS (2011) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (2020).
Rory Cooper, PhD, is the founding director and VA senior research career scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence in partnership with Pitt. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 300 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has 20 patents awarded or pending. He is the author of two books: "Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection and Configuration”, and co-editor of “An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering”, “Warrior Transition Leader: Medical Rehabilitation Handbook” and the award winning book “Care of the Combat Amputee”. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, as well as RESNA, IEEE, AIMBE and BMES.
Stephen C. McGuire
Stephen C. McGuire, PhD, is the James and Ruth Smith Endowed Emeritus Professor of Physics at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he previously served as professor and chair of the department of physics. Dr. McGuire has pursued his interest in optical materials as part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). During his tenure with the university, Dr. McGuire has led the establishment of the partnership between LIGO and Southern University and A&M College, and he served as the LIGO Scientific Collaboration Principal Investigator. Dr. McGuire is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Tonya M. Matthews
Tonya M. Matthews, PhD, is the CEO of the International African American Museum. Dr. Matthews received her PhD in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University. She has proven track records in organizational leadership, strategic planning, diversity and inclusion, program development, project management and vast visitor, and community engagements initiatives.
Dr. Matthews is the founder of The STEMinista Project, a ground-breaking, national initiative that inspires middle-school girls to consider tools and careers in STEM. The initiative uses a collective impact program design and global role model database to provide 1000+ hours of STEM experiences for participants every year. Previously, Dr. Matthews was the Associate Provost of Inclusive Workforce Development and Director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center at SEA Change Charter Member Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
Valerie Taylor, Former Chair
Valerie Taylor, PhD, served as the Chair of the Committee on Opportunities in Science and still sits on the committee. Dr. Taylor is the director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991. She then joined the faculty in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Northwestern University, where she was a member of the faculty for 11 years. In 2003, she joined Texas A&M, where she served as head of the computer science and engineering department and senior associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering and a Regents Professor and the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science. Her research focuses on performance analysis and modeling of parallel, scientific applications.
Zaneta Thayer, PhD, is an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College. A biological anthropologist, Dr. Thayer is interested in understanding how (biological mechanisms) and why (evolutionary origins) environmental experiences shape patterns of human biology and health. One important application of this interest is understanding how social inequalities create health inequalities. Much of her research has explored the health impacts of exposures such as poverty, discrimination, acculturative stress, and historical trauma in both New Zealand and among Native American communities in the United States.