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.

Adam Germaine

Lead Men­tor

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.

LeeAnn Griggs

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.

Amber Oguma

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.

Prisca Sanon

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.