The #IAm Project

#IAm Fireside Chat Series

Historically women of color have been underrepresented in STEM fields, making it difficult for those who aspire to enter STEM to not see themselves as the “perfect” fit. Additionally, when women of color do manage to enter the space, they often are faced with multiple barriers such as the lack of a support system. We at the #IAm Project wanted to combat that issue and provide a space where we could celebrate, support, and connect women of color in various STEM fields, which is how the #IAm Fireside Chat Series was born. 

  • December 2, 2020

Episode 1 - Fireside Chat w/ Michelle Ma

Michelle is a current Associate Product Manager at Yahoo (Verizon Media) and the co-creator of APM Map. She recently graduated from Swarthmore College where she studied computer science and philosophy. Michelle cares deeply about building tech and product for social good. She’s constantly thinking a lot about AI ethics, and what the intersection of tech and self, community, and structural care can look like. 

  • January 7, 2021

Episode 2 - Fireside Chat w/ Shundene Key

Shundene Key (Navajo, Kiowa, and San Carlos Apache) graduated from Westwood High School in 2010 and went on to graduate with an Associate of Arts from Haskell Indian Nations University in 2013. She then completed her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Arizona State University in 2017. Her experiences are diverse in disciplines and include environmental engineering research, biochemistry research, clinical laboratory, teaching, and environmental policy. She has taken several breaks throughout college yet remains passionate about science and has applied her education to serve the communities she is from. Shundene is currently a Biochemistry PhD student at Arizona State University and aspires to continue her work in scientific research after she earns her degree!

  • February 10, 2021

Episode 3 - Fireside Chat w/ Elaine Montilla

Elaine Montilla is the Assistant Vice President and CIO for Information Technology at The Graduate  Center, CUNY, a Forbes Technology Council member and contributor, and an AMA Women’s Leadership Center presenter. She is an accomplished senior executive with over two decades as an IT  leader in higher education. Montilla is also a TEDx speaker and the founder of, a company and social media brand dedicated to empowering women and minorities, especially in Tech, with a mission to demonstrate how businesses can be powerful platforms for social change.

  • April 14, 2021

Episode 4 - Fireside Chat w/ Ashley Walker

Ashley Walker is a planetary astrochemist and science communicator. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Chicago State University where she became the first astrochemist in the university’s history. Ashley has interned at both Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. She has specialized in the ice chemistry on early planet-forming disks and on the aerosol analogs on Saturn’s moon, Titan which served as her senior thesis. She was a post-baccalaureate scholar at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Spice Lab. In the Spice Lab, she specialized in the cloud chemistry of planetary atmospheres on Saturn’s moon, Titan. She has been featured in an array of interviews which includes Scientific American, BBC America’s “Space Week”, Katie Couric’s “Thank you Notes”, and Face of NASA. She advocates for students of color and highlights Black scientists during Black History Month. She is also the founder of #BlackInAstro week, co-founder of #BlackInChem and #BlackInPhysics week, and a committee member for AAS CSMA and the Women Of Color Project. 

  • May 26, 2021

Episode 5 - Fireside Chat w/ Peggy Randon

Peggy is a University of Michigan alumna with a B.S. in Microbiology. Her thesis studied a novel immune checkpoint inhibitor drug, UMCD6, which targets the CD6-CD318 axis for cancer treatment. She intends to pursue an M.D and a Ph.D. in Immunology. Peggy would like to one day play a role in bridging the STEM education gap through mentorship in her hometown (Detroit, MI). Outside of research, she has been most inspired while leading creative-art workshops in a juvenile detention center and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and while mushroom foraging in Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.

  • June 23, 2021

Episode 6 - Fireside Chat w/ Karishma Hosein

Karishma Hosein is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Mottola at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. At the Exercise and Pregnancy Lab, Karishma is working to find the best way to help pregnant people begin being physically active and eating well during their pregnancies, and even after the baby is born. Her work can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and improve the health of two generations: mom AND baby! Outside of research, Karishma works as a dance and fitness instructor and volunteers with Safe Space London, a support centre for sex workers, women, and gender non-conforming individuals. In August, Karishma will be taking part in ComSciConCAN 2021, a science communication workshop for graduate students.

  • July 29, 2021

Episode 7 - Fireside Chat w/ Katrina Miller (#IAm Project's Co-founder)

Katrina Miller is a physics PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, where she studies how neutrinos interact with matter and what these tiny particle can tell us about the existence of our Universe as we know it. She is also a 2021 AAAS Mass Media Fellow spending her summer writing for WIRED, a media outlet that focuses on emerging science, technology, and culture. With a passion for working toward more accessible, inclusive science, Katrina co-founded #IAm in hopes of making it a little easier for women of color to follow in her footsteps. In her spare time, you can find Katrina reading, thrifting, and walking along the Chicago lakefront soaking up the summer sun.

  • August 19, 2021

Episode 8 - Fireside Chat w/ Rosalía Hernández

Rosalía (Rosie) Hernández is a project manager and aspiring product manager, and is therefore working on her presentation and speaking skills as the treasurer of the Women in Product Toastmasters Club. Outside of her professional life, she advocates for access to education for underrepresented students through political activism and by serving as the co-founder of the #IAm Project. When the weather permits you can find Rosie outside training for another half-marathon or enjoying a nice day at the park with her dog.

  • September 21, 2021

Episode 9 - Fireside Chat w/ Pratiti Deb

Pratiti is a PhD candidate in physics at the University of Chicago, where she studies molecular qubits for applications in quantum information processing and quantum sensing. She is originally from Kolkata, India, and got her bachelor’s degree in physics from Cornell University. She is passionate about racial, gender and caste equity and justice both within and outside academic physics, in the US and in India. She loves Chicago, most of all for its people, but also for its bookstores, museums and food.

  • October 27th, 2021

Episode 10 - Fireside Chat w/ Yadira Flores

Yadira is a software engineer at Adobe, working on the UX design platform Adobe XD. She is a first generation graduate from UC Berkeley and is deeply passionate about increasing BIPOC representation in tech, and strives to make tech careers accessible to all. Originally from California’s Central Valley, Yadira currently resides in San Francisco where she enjoys exploring the city and all the great views and food it has to offer.