The Science & Education Policy Association (SEPA) is a student-run organization founded at the Tri-Institute – Weill Cornell Medicine, The Rockefeller University, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – aiming to facilitate the interaction between scientists and the world of science policy. Launched in 2016 by Sarah Qamar and Dane Samilo, SEPA is continuing its work to advocate and raise awareness for the need for policy engagement within the scientific community.

Mission & Vision

Scientists are uniquely qualified to speak on science-related issues, both to advocate on behalf of science research and to communicate how science is beneficial to the public good. Bringing scientists to the forefront of these conversations will lead to more informed policies. Within the Tri-I and broader NYC community, SEPA aims to:

  • Educate scientists on the intersection of science and policy
  • Explore science or education policy as a career path
  • Train scientists to communicate to non-scientific audiences for advocacy and general public outreach.

Meet Our Team

Sarah Qamar

Weill Cornell Chair
PhD candidate, Weill Cornell

Sarah Qamar is a sixth year graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Park which focuses on the characterization of molecular pathways that regulate normal and malignant stem cells in the hematopoietic system. In addition to her scientific endeavors, she actively involved in STEM education initiatives.

Mireia Crispin, PhD

Research Fellow, MSKCC

Mireia Crispin is a postdoctoral research fellow at MSKCC, working on predictive modelling of cancer treatment outcomes. A particle physicist by training, she spent her PhD years looking for new particles at the Large Hadron Collider. She is interested in the intersection between global multidisciplinary science and society.

Avital Percher

Rockefeller Chair
PhD candidate, Rockefeller University

Avital Percher is a PhD candidate at the Rockefeller University studying chemical biology and microbial pathogenesis. When not worried about his experiments, he ponders upon our looming post-automation society.

Dane Samilo

PhD candidate, Weill Cornell

Dane Samilo has worked as a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Eric Pamer whose research focus centers on understanding interactions between antibiotic-resistant pathogens, the host, and the microbiota to develop novel therapies. In the realm of policy, Dane is interested using creative modes of outreach to combat misinformation and pseudoscientific beliefs.

Zach Gershon

Education Officer
PhD candidate, Rockefeller University

Zachary Gershon is a Graduate Fellow at The Rockefeller University. His research interests focus on the molecular basis of cognition and complex behaviors. With SEPA, Zach focuses on Outreach efforts to educate K-12 & undergraduate students on science policy issues and ways to get involved in science policy.

Sarah Ackerman

Education Officer
PhD candidate, Rockefeller University

Sarah Ackerman is a graduate student in Dr. Paul Cohen's Laboratory at the Rockefeller University. As a member of SEPA she is involved in the educational outreach mission which aims to educate young students about science policy.

Marian Mellen, PhD

Event Coordinator
Research Associate, Rockefeller University

Marian is a young investigator currently at the Molecular Biology Lab, The Rockefeller University, New York. She has a broad knowledge in neuroepigenetics. Marian enjoys traveling the world and making documentaries, and is also actively involved in science policy, mentoring and education.

Get involved

Are you a concerned scientist in the New York City area, a policymaker with an interest in scientific issues, or an engaged science-driven citizen? Contact us and join our growing team.