WEST's 10th Annual "Giving Back" Awards Ceremony

We already have 150 registered.  If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email [email protected].


Meet the extraordinary and inspiring women and men being honored and hear the stories of how they have made a profound impact on society. The honorees are role models who balance job and personal responsibilities while making a difference in their community. Join us to congratulate them, be inspired, network, and support the career advancement of women in the enterprise of science and technology! 

We received a large number of applications and will recognize many amazing women and men. We will also honor WEST volunteers and supporters whose dedication and outreach efforts have helped us reach our strategic goals.

Appetizers, wine, and dessert will be served.

Download the event invitation



Unsung Heroines Doing Extraordinary Things
  Sara Nochur, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

  Elizabeth O'Day, Olaris Therapeutics

Honorable Mention:
  Samantha Singer, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Making a Difference in Meaningful Ways
  Jane Rhodes, FORMA Therapeutics

  Lisa Tuttle, SPX Corporation

Honorable Mentions:
  Margot Brickelmaier, Biogen
  Tracy Callahan
  Cissy Young, Russell Reynolds

Guys Who Get It
  Robert Coughlin, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council

  Karuppiah Kannan, Takeda Pharmaceuticals 

Honorable Mention:
  Paul Clancy, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Making a Difference in the Community
  Brenda Jin, Slack/Girl Develop It

  Whitney Silkworth, Harvard Medical School

Honorable Mention:
  Shubhi Asthana, IBM Almaden Research Center

WEST Volunteer Awardees
  Lee Lawton, Dana Farber

  Jiyao (Ella) Zhang, Boston University School of Medicine

WEST Supporter Awardees 
  Elizabeth Spar, Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP
  Iris Stammberger, TALBOK Consulting LLC

Learn more about the awardees below.

Date and Time:
January 25, 2018
6:00 - 8:30 PM

Evening’s Schedule

6:00-6:45  Registration, Networking, Appetizers, Wine
6:45-7:00  Welcome, Acknowledgement of Sponsors, Overview of the Evening
7:00-8:00  Award Presentation
   - Honorable Mentions
   - WEST Volunteers and Supporters
   - Guys Who Get It
   - Making a Difference in the Community
   - Making a Difference in Meaningful Ways
   - Unsung Heroes Doing Extraordinary Things
8:00-8:15  WEST’s 2017 Accomplishments and Plans for 2018
8:15-8:30  Dessert, Networking 

Pfizer, 610 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Entrance is on Portland Street)

Location and Parking Information

$30 for Members, $60 for non-members

$550 for 10 tickets, $800 for 15 tickets and $1,000 for 20 tickets

Cancellation Policy:
All programs are non-refundable.


Become a sponsor and contribute to a great cause.  For more information, email [email protected] or call 857-600-2598.   



Thank You to Our Event Sponsors


Diamond Level Sponsor

Gold Level Sponsor 



Bronze Level Sponsor 




More About the Awardees 

Shubhi Asthana is a Research Software Engineer working at IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California. She leads research and development of end-to-end solutions and analytical tools in the areas of Cloud Services, Machine Learning & IoT, for which she has been also awarded 8+ patents. In only 3 years after finishing her Masters in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University, Shubhi has developed an incredible passion for helping women early in their software engineering careers. This has inspired her to speak & educate women on her innovative work at top-tier conferences, like IEEE SCC, IEEE AI & MS & NIPS. She was recently invited to speak at the IEEE Women in Computing Summit to introduce women to Machine Learning. She actively blogs on Medium & her posts on how women can thrive in tech have been read by more than 3000 people around the world. To introduce non-engineering women to tech, she also pioneered a new technical column named “Tech Jargon” in the city newspaper The Campbell Express.

Margot Brickelmaier has been a part of Biogen Research for over 27 years; in that time, she has had the opportunity and support to give back to the community. Through Biogen’s Community Lab, Margot has dedicated hours of her time to teaching kids about careers in science and how to conduct experiments. She has played a particular role in reaching out to girls interested in science whether it is a chat over lunch, having a shadow for an afternoon, or mentoring budding researchers on their science fair projects. Quick to volunteer for the odd weekend. Margot has also participated in the Powerlunch/Read to a Child literacy program for elementary school children for the past nine years. She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and adamantly supports girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM disciplines.

Tracy Callahan, Ph.D., built the Biogen Community Lab program and served as its director for 15 years bringing hands-on science and awareness of careers in biotechnology to over 40,000 middle and high school students. Her volunteer efforts include being on the leadership team for Biogen’s WIN (Women’s Innovation Network) and leading outreach efforts for the group to specifically engage girls in STEM. These included collaborations with external programs such as the Girls STEM Summit, Boston Area Girls STEM Collaborative, Big Sister, Posse Foundation and the Cambridge Science Festival. Her passion for exposing students to the world of biotechnology extends beyond the Community Lab to bring science experiences out into the community through events such as MIT’s Science on Saturdays. Tracy was recognized with the “Community Partner Award” for a decade of impact by the CURE program at Dana Farber which works with under-served and under-represented youth. She also volunteers at her son’s school on the STEAM PTO committee helping to bring more hands-on science experiences to these elementary students.

Paul Clancy is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a position he took in July of 2017. Previously, Paul worked for Biogen for over sixteen years including being the Chief Financial Officer for Biogen from 2007 through 2017. He oversaw rapid growth and transformation of Biogen over his sixteen year career. Paul was voted in the Top 3 Biotech CFOs in the Institutional Investor Survey for all years from 2011 through 2018. He was also awarded the Top Five CFO across all industries by the Wall St Journal in 2012. Paul worked in the consumer products sector early in career in a range of general management, strategy and finance positions at PepsiCo. Paul serves on the Board of Directors of Agios Pharmaceuticals and Incyte Corporation, both biotech companies in the field of oncology. Paul received an undergraduate degree in Finance from Babson College and received an MBA from Columbia Business School. Paul stands out because finance departments are notoriously male-dominated, but he took great strides to ensure a large number of women were employed in his department and took time to mentor and train them.

Bob Coughlin is President and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), where he works to advance Massachusetts' leadership in the life sciences. Over the last decade, Bob has truly become a champion for patients by ensuring innovative companies have the best environment possible to research, develop, and commercialize breakthrough therapies and cures for people around the world who need and deserve them. He’s also made diversity & inclusion a key initiative of MassBio’s – working to improve female representation at the highest levels of management and on boards. Before joining MassBio, he served as the Undersecretary of Economic Development within Governor Deval Patrick's administration, where he prioritized both healthcare and economic development issues and was a strong advocate for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. Prior to that, he was elected as State Representative to the 11th Norfolk district for three terms, and held senior executive positions in the environmental services, capital management and venture capital industries. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Bob is an active member in the community, currently serving on the board of directors for The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and Aridis Pharmaceuticals. 

Brenda Jin is a Staff Engineer at Slack, where she has led and built features for every major release during her time there. She launched the Slack Platform in 2015, and later designed and built the patent-pending compliance APIs for Slack’s Enterprise Grid. As the Platform Tech Lead for Shared Channels, she designed the Conversations API and led a cross-functional team to deliver a seamless upgrade path for third-party developers while accelerating feature development for internal Slack development teams. Before Slack, she launched the first responsive shopping experience at Macys.com, a website that does $73 million in transactions per day. Brenda is a Board Member and volunteer Chapter Leader for Girl Develop It (GDI), a non-profit organization that teaches thousands of adult women software development every year. GDI’s workshops remove the barriers to participation that have kept women out of technology. 

Lee N. Lawton, Ph.D., is currently a Senior Scientist in the Dr. Margaret Shipp’s group at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute focused on genetic basis of immune invasion and associated therapeutic strategies in lymphoid malignancies. Dr. Lawton performed pre-graduate work at the Columbia Genome Center where she was involved in the coordination of mapping and sequencing data with other genome centers. She holds a PhD in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan where she studied the epigenetic stability of genomic imprinting and X-inactivation in the lab of Dr. David Burke.  During her post-doctoral training with Dr. Rick Young at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research she made seminal discoveries on the epigenetic regulation of transcriptional networks in hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis. Dr. Lawton led a program project on the Molecular Mechanisms of T-cell Leukemogenesis joint between the Young Lab and Dana Farber Cancer Institute researchers, led by Dr. Tom Look. Subsequently she joined a drug discovery start-up, Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, to develop novel “epigenetic” small molecule inhibitors currently in phase I trials. She became a WEST member as a participant in a year long training program at the Whitehead institute during her post-doc. She became an active WEST volunteer after returning to Boston after a year of travel sabbatical. 

Karuppiah Kannan is a Director in the department of Drug Development Management at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where he has been working for the past 8+ years. Prior to that, Kannan was at AVEO Pharmaceuticals, joined as one of the first five employees of the company, helped building the company to be a 200 employee company by the time he left, leading various efforts in Discovery and Translational research for oncology drugs. He is a founder/treasurer of Boston Pharmaceutical and Biosciences Society, a non-profit organization that fosters education and training among early career scientists in the greater Boston area. Through his school days he has fought against female infanticide, dowry system and gender inequality specifically fighting for education for women which were common problems in the region where he grew up. He was an ardent supporter of women in STEM through active participation and volunteering in Diversity & Inclusion programs at Takeda, DIGITs program, Cambridge Science Fair, MSSEF etc. He is also a founding biking Team Captain for Team Takeda, helping team members train and ride Pan Mass Challenge and raised ~$290K in 7 years to support cancer research.  

Saraswathy (Sara) Nochur is Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, where she has worked for nearly 12 years.  She has been in the biotechnology industry since 1989, soon after she graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She loves her job because of the opportunity it provides to bring innovative medicines to patients.  Over the years, Sara has been a mentor to several young professionals in the biotechnology industry.  She has previously served on the Board of the Green Decade Coalition in Newton.  Sara and her husband help organize annual fundraising events for the All India Movement (AIM) for Seva (meaning “service” in Sanskrit), a non-profit organization that enables young children in rural and tribal India to stay in school by providing them with homes where they are given free food, shelter and supportive extracurricular activities.  They have raised over $500,000 in the past 5 years toward this cause.  Additionally, for more than 15 years, they have been hosting scores of patients and their families who come from all over the world, providing them free accommodation at their home in Newton as part of the Boston Hospitality Homes program.   

Dr. Elizabeth O'Day is CEO and Founder of Olaris Therapeutics, a precision medicine company that identifies “biomarkers of response” (BoR) to stratify patients into optimal treatment groups, increasing survival rates, decreasing adverse events, and reducing unnecessary healthcare costs. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology, serving on the advisory board for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and a speaker at the annual meeting in Davos. As a "nominated change maker," she was invited to the first United State of Women Summit convened by the White House. ​Dr. O'Day founded Lizzard Fashion, an apparel company using fashion to promote science, and Proyecto Chispa (Project Spark), a 501c3 non-profit that recycles electronics and uses the resale of parts to build computer centers in orphanages worldwide. As adjunct faculty at Boston College, she teaches metabolism and entrepreneurship. She started Women in Science & Technology, which in 12 years, has brought hundreds of female high school students to the Boston College campus to be mentored by female undergrads pursuing science degrees. Dr. O’Day, who mentors scientists and entrepreneurs, started PhiSB, a female-only networking group that connects and celebrates females across the globe who strive to make a positive impact.  

Jane Rhodes is a mother, and a scientist with entrepreneurial tendencies. She has had an eclectic career journey in research, program leadership, digital health and most recently business development.   An ardent believer in enabling education and continual growth and development, Jane tries to contribute outside of her day job in small but meaningful ways, including authoring grant applications for the local middle school music program, volunteering at the Biogen Community Lab, career development mentoring through the HBA mentoring program and enabling education for children in rural Uganda.  For a number of years Jane has been involved with a charity called Arlington Academy of Hope [aahuganda.org/], recently joining their fund-raising committee. AAH is a transformational organization that has created a network of high performing elementary schools in south eastern Uganda bringing the opportunity for a quality education to thousands of children.

Whitney Silkworth is a PhD student at Harvard University, where she works to understand melanocyte biology to identify novel therapeutics for melanoma. Her interest in drug discovery and cancer biology began when she worked as a research technician at the Broad Institute and now continues to study in the laboratory of David Fisher. Her passion for cancer research drove her to seek out a more immediate means to help cancer patients, and in her third year of graduate school, she helped found Camp Casco, a non-profit organization, that provides a free week of summer camp for kids with cancer. Whitney is currently involved in many aspects of Camp Casco, serving on the Board of Directors, as Director of Grants, and as a volunteer camp counselor. Over the past 2 years, Whitney has raised over $64,000 and made Camp Casco a second “home” for more than 30 campers. 

Samantha Singer is the Chief Operating Officer of the Broad Institute, where she oversees the business development, finance, IT, HR, facilities and legal teams. She also currently serves as an independent Director on the Board of Rodin Therapeutics, a private company focused on diseases with significant memory-related symptoms. Singer holds an M.S. in molecular biology from The Rockefeller University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Samantha works every day to ensure that biomedical scientists are better able to fight disease – but this fall, outside of work, she took that fight literally, by becoming an amateur boxer in order to raise money for cancer research. As part of the Haymakers for Hope “Belles of the Brawl” event, Samantha spent four intense months training to become the “Kansas City Cobra”. She and her opponent, orthopedic surgeon Suzanne Miller (a.k.a. “Bone Crusher”), raised over $83,000 – the most funds from a single bout in Belles history.

Elizabeth Spar is a life sciences attorney with a focus on intellectual property and patent law at Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers, LLP. She advises clients on strategic development and management of their patent portfolios, particularly with issues involving patent drafting and prosecution, and contributes to infringement, validity and patentability analyses, including performing IP diligence for transactions such as licenses, acquisitions, and initial public offerings. Elizabeth began her career as a scientist. After earning her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. After 12 years working at the lab bench, she made a career change and decided to pursue a career as an intellectual property attorney. She became involved with WEST seven years ago when she attended a Giving Back Awards event. She was struck by the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere of the event, and was inspired by the incredibly powerful and successful women, from graduate students to CEOS, pursing careers in all areas of science and technology. She continued to attend WEST events and eventually joined the advisory board 5 years ago. Through WEST she has developed meaningful friendships with amazing women. She is proud to be part of an organization that provides incredible support to women in science and technology at all stages of their careers. 

Iris Stammberger, MSEE, MEd, PhD, is the founder of TALBOK, LLC, an operational excellence and change management consultancy.   With a focus on how to improve the efficiency of business processes, TALBOK' projects have been as varied as implementing new educational models at universities, launching clinical trials at a growing pharmaceutical company, designing a strategy implementation model for a medical device startup, improving IS processes at a research institute, and launching a new product development team at a software company.  In her work Iris combines her experience as an engineer and consultant, her behavioral science training, and her interest on how to improve human cognition and decision-making in technologically mediated work environments. Iris has a podcast “Distributed Minds: conversations about the tools that make us smart” and is working on a book “The 5-Minutes Mindfulness Solution”: How to make better work, love and life decisions”. Iris is also on the board of 3 Boston-based non-profit organizations. She loves teaching mindfulness at her local community center.

Lisa Tuttle is Chief Information Security Officer at SPX Corporation, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.  She has experienced incredible personal transformation, beginning her career as a secretary and progressing to the C-suite.  Her genuine and enthusiastic approach to paying it forward is evidenced by the many speaking events she volunteers to give for high schools, universities and professional organizations, as well as her service on various technology boards.  A strong proponent of mentoring, Lisa formed a Women in IT group at SPX where she coaches women on developmental topics.  She regularly shares her philosophy on visualizing success and committing to personal growth to achieve your goals.  Lisa believes being in the minority as a woman in technology is actually an advantage, as it allows you to stand out from the crowd and bring unique perspective to the conversation.  Women can achieve success by looking inward and pushing forward.

Cissy S. Young, PhD is a Managing Director at Russell Reynolds Associates.  Based in Boston, Cissy specializes in Board appointment and C-level recruitment for biotech and pharma companies.  As part of the firm’s Diversity Practice, Cissy also advises companies on the initiation and implementation of diversity & inclusion initiatives.  With her personal and professional commitment to advancing diversity representation in the life sciences industry, Cissy serves on MassBio’s Diversity Advisory Committee and is a frequent speaker on the topic.  Prior to joining Russell Reynolds Associates, Cissy led business development in several emerging growth biotech companies backed by blue-chip venture capital investors. Outside of work, Cissy served on the Board of Directors of Community Rowing Inc. (CRI), one of the largest public rowing clubs in the United States, advancing the mission of “Rowing For All.”  She led CRI’s Annual Fund on the Development Committee and transformed its fundraising strategy, resulting in tripling the size of its campaign. Cissy is a member of the Healthcare Business Women's Association (HBA) and served as a mentor in the Boston Chapter Mentoring Program. She is also a member of the Brown Alumni Association and a volunteer on BrownConnect, mentoring young alumni on career development opportunities.​  Cissy received her B.A. in biology from Brown University, her Ph.D. in cancer biology from Columbia University, and her M.B.A. in entrepreneurship and strategic management from The Pennsylvania State University.

Jiyao (Ella) Zhang, a clinical research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine, is interested in novel therapies for cardiovascular disease prevention in diabetic population. Her current work focuses on effects of dietary intervention, especially chemicals mainly found from plants, on endothelial function, vascular functions, and arterial stiffness. Her work was awarded and recognized by various regional and international conferences. She is also interested in mitochondria-targeted antioxidant and aims to advance knowledge of this type of supplementation on diabetic vasculature health. Prior to BU, Jiyao got her PhD in Molecular Nutrition at Cornell University. She used animal models to investigate fatty acid metabolism and signaling pathways in chronic diseases, including breast cancer, neurodegeneration and obesity. Jiyao is enthusiastic about giving her knowledge & skills and space time back to society. She became a volunteer of WEST in 2017 and helped more than 5 workshops and participated in market committee meetings and discussions. She works hard to make WEST known by her friends, colleagues and university and she will continue doing that in the future!

More About the Finalists

Millie Kwan is Founder and President of The WSI Touch, a digital marketing agency that serves small to medium-sized businesses in Greater Boston. She is Vice Chair of Operations for IEEE Boston Entrepreneurs Network (ENET), a non-profit organization whose goal is to connect early stage entrepreneurs with information and resources necessary to transform an idea into a successful product or service business. ENET puts on 19 evening programs for science and technology startups each year. In addition to managing ENET’s operations, Millie has organized and served as moderator for several speaker panels on marketing and sales in these evening programs.

Dr. Magdalene Moran is the Senior Vice President of biology at Hydra Biosciences, where she has been part of the scientific team for over 15 years. She is currently the most senior scientific officer on staff and leads discovery and early development projects in pain, pulmonary, CNS and renal diseases. Before Hydra, Magdalene received her PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. David Clapham. Her undergraduate degree is from Williams College. Outside of work, Magdalene volunteers at the Brookline Public Library where she chairs the town-wide community reading event "Brookline Reads" (this year's event features author Colson Whitehead). She also co-chairs of the Library’s Programming committee and is a former trustee. She has mentored many young scientists through the Hydra Summer Internship program and other venues. Magdalene enjoys snow skiing and water skiing with her husband and their son.