STEM Program Mentors
Dr. Michael Bankson
STEM Program Coordinator, Adjunct Faculty
I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in History from Texas A&M University. This degree choice was because I was unwilling to work hard enough to be a Mechanical Engineer, although the two years of classes I took as an Engineering student have served me well over the years. While I was partying my way through a Psychology degree, I decided to investigate a rumor that I could get credit for doing undergraduate research. After talking to several faculty in the Psychology Department with no luck, I found my way to the basement of the Psychology building. I had heard that research was going on there. After being admitted to the basement laboratory complex, my curiosity went into high gear! The first question was, “What is that horrible smell?” That was followed by, “Why are those rats doing that?” The guy who let me in replied, “Rats smell bad, and I just gave them cocaine.” This was a beginning for me.
A few years later, I completed a Doctorate in Biomedical Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. I wrote my dissertation on the behavioral effects of 3,4‑methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”)—in rats, of course. Upon finishing my PhD, I did post-doctoral work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Boston University School of Medicine where I focused more on the neurochemical effects of these drugs. I did a few years in the pharmaceutical industry, and found it not to my liking. Then I took on an adjunct position at Massasoit Community College and later became the STEM Program Coordinator. The best part of my job is helping to provide undergraduate research opportunities to our students in the hopes that it has the same effect as it did on me.
Born and raised here in Southeastern Massachusetts, Adam received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2009. After graduating, Adam pursued a career working with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Brockton, Massachusetts, and later entered nursing school at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After only one year, Adam realized his passion lay elsewhere. Fortunately, before attending nursing school, Adam worked as a STEM research intern at Massasoit Community College, in the program’s pilot semester (2014). This experience, being part of an ongoing ecological study, strengthened Adam’s interest in science, and inspired him to pursue a career in biology. In 2017 Adam once again joined the STEM research program at Massasoit Community College, but this time as a mentor. Adam’s main focus within the project is training new students to catch, identify, and curate local wild bees, in an effort to continue the long-term monitoring of these important keystone pollinators. With a strong passion for and commitment to the advancement of science, Adam ultimately aspires to earn a graduate degree in biology or a related field.
STEM Scholars Coordinator, Adjunct Faculty
LeeAnn Griggs obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Assumption College and began working at what is now Siemens Biological piloting new products as well as leading the Purification Department specializing in purifying antibodies. Looking to take her career in a new direction, she began teaching at Massasoit and loved it! The next step was to obtain a Masters Degree in Teaching and Biology from Bridgewater State University. While at Massasoit, she has looked for opportunities to engage with students in other ways. She has taught a wide variety of Biology courses in both face to face and online modalities. LeeAnn has been a student advisor for years. In 2009, she co-authored a paper entitled “Varying Pedagogy to Address Student Multiple Intelligences” to address the need to vary pedagogy at the collegiate level and advance the outdated concept of lecturing. LeeAnn is currently involved with the STEM Program at Massasoit in two ways. As the STEM Scholars Coordinator, she works with a group of motivated STEM students looking to expand their soft skills outside the classroom setting. This program aids students in building and developing soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, professionalism, and more. She is also actively involved with the S‑STEM Scholar Associates scholarship program that awards qualified students semester scholarships.
Dr. Andrew Oguma
Lead Mentor, Professor
There are many ways in which you may interact with me at Massasoit Community College. Currently, I teach Biological Principles I and II, and I taught Introduction to Environmental Science in the past. I also serve as Biology Department Chair. Finally, I’m a mentor and academic advisor to STEM students.
Out of high school, I immediately failed out of a Chemistry BS Degree Program at James Madison University. I spent the next ten years somewhat lost. On the plus side, I developed a strong work ethic and became ‘well-rounded’ doing a range of work from landscaping and autobody to bartender and sushi chef. On the minus side, I became sick with alcoholism and drug addiction—I am fortunate to have survived. However, once I had hit my bottom, the path forward became clear, and I found some true motivation. I realized that I loved nature, and that nature was threatened. I want humans to become a sustainable part of the biosphere. I believe this starts with education.
After getting clean and deciding I wanted to teach, I went back to college, attending Western Connecticut State University for biology. Alongside my coursework, I did some undergraduate research around a biological control for an invasive aquatic plant species. That experience, along with my bachelor’s degree, helped me join an environmental toxicology lab at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette under a paid PhD fellowship position. My undergraduate education was the base that allowed me to earn my PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology. I studied the effects of toxic metals on the community of organisms living on the bottom of a contaminated lake. After that, I gained teaching experience as an adjunct professor at a few colleges in Connecticut. Eventually, my search for full-time employment led me to Massasoit, and I’m not sure the fit could be any better.
While I hope students can avoid pitfalls like the ones I experienced, I also hope that my experiences can help students find their own motivations to succeed and can inspire some students to bounce back. I hope some of my love for the natural world rubs off too. A college degree is hard work—particularly in the STEM fields. It is supposed to be. But it can be the key to unlocking the meaningful future you envision. My plan to help the planet only works if I can help others succeed in their own science educations.
STEM Coach and Analyst
You may have seen my name in your email inbox. As one of the STEM coaches, my two main priorities are being a consistent contact person for students and student outreach.
After high school I took a few college courses but spent most of my time working a variety of jobs. Finally, in 2006 I decided that I was not happy just working to make ends meet and wanted something more rewarding. I returned to school and attended a Community College for one semester. It was then that I knew it was time for me to commit to my education full time. I began pursuing my bachelor’s degree in biology at Western Connecticut State University. I truly believe that waiting to go to college was the best choice for me. My work experience gave me the drive I needed to complete my degree in four years and graduate with honors, all while continuing to work part time.
After graduation I moved down to Louisiana where my degree made it possible for me to become a zookeeper at a small privately owned zoo. There, I was charged with caring for a variety of animals such as: lions, leopards, bears, several species of primates, birds, and more. Being a part of wildlife conservation was extremely rewarding albeit a dirty job. I made life-long friends and amazing connections to others that share my passion. I absolutely loved my time there and still miss it today.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend the first few years of my children’s lives as a stay-at-home mom. At times it felt pretty similar to zookeeping. Then in the fall of 2019 I joined the Massasoit STEM team as a coach. I love my interactions with students, and hope that my experiences help me guide students through their programs and reach their goals.
Dr. Christina Orazine
Lead Mentor, Adjunct Faculty
Dr. Orazine began teaching at Massasoit as an adjunct professor in 2019 and has worked as an adjunct professor since 2016. She is currently involved with the Massasoit STEM research group as a student mentor. Also an avid gardener she has helped maintain the Massasoit Edible Garden.
Prior choosing to pursue a career in academics, she spent three years as an American Public Health Laboratory Fellow at the Rhode Island Health Laboratories in Providence. There she designed and ran a study on prenatal cigarette smoke exposure in collaboration with a local hospital which utilized a state of the art liquid chromatography system coupled to a triple quad mass spectrometer to analyze nicotine metabolites in fetal cord blood.
After earning a BS in Environmental Biology from Southampton College in New York in 1997, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry for five years as an analytical chemist. There she gained skill in a wide range of laboratory procedures used in testing of products produced under FDA guidelines.
In 2002 she started graduate school in pursuit of a degree in Analytical Chemistry at Northeastern University. There while working in Dr. William Hancock’s research group, she studied glycoproteins found in the plasma of a mouse model of breast cancer. This work resulted in an important manuscript regarding the use of animal models in proteomic cancer research. Also while at Northeastern, she established a course to teach principles of chromatography including chromatographic theory and practical operation of HPLC instruments to biotechnology graduate students.
Lead Mentor, Adjunct Faculty
Prisca moved from Haiti to the United States in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the State University of Haiti, Haiti and a Graduate Diploma in Airport Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She began attending Massasoit Community College in 2011, where she assumed the roles of peer tutor and lab technician. However, it was Prisca’s undergraduate research experience in a biochemistry lab at Boston University (2013) that strengthened her resolve to pursue a career in the sciences. In 2014, she received her associate’s degree in Sciences from Massasoit Community College, transferred to the University of Massachusetts, Boston to study biology, and was invited to join the Massasoit STEM internship program as a peer mentor. In 2016, Prisca earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and was promoted to the Lead Mentor position at the Massasoit STEM internship program. Within the internship program, she ensures maximum productivity by implementing professionalism and effective leadership among staff interns, advises and guides students in determining their individual scholastic paths, and assists interns in strengthening and improving their mathematical skills. In 2019, Prisca joined the ranks of the adjunct faculty and is highly involved in the facilitation of a strong campus community through attendance and engagement in participation in faculty meetings. She is also currently working toward her master’s degree of science in mathematics at Indiana State University, while also operating her private tutoring business, Inspired Learning Center, and acting as its President of Academic Affairs.