Panelist Bios

Panel 1: Improving Soft Skills in STEM

Moderator Eugenia Covernton

Eugenia Covernton is a virologist by training but has been working in science communication since the end of her PhD in 2018. She currently teaches different forms of science communication at graduate and postgraduate levels, does consulting work for scientists and research institutions and works as the scientists coordinator of Lecturers Without Borders.


Meenakshi Narain

Prof. Narain is a professor at Brown University and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. As an experimental high energy physicist, she conducts her research with the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland), and the DØ experiment at Fermilab (Batavia, IL). Prof. Narain holds a PhD degree in physics from Stony Brook University.  She was instrumental in the discovery of the top quark, the heaviest fundamental particle and participated in the discovery of the Higgs Boson. 

Prof. Narain is the elected Chair of the Collaboration Board of U.S. CMS (2018-2022). Prof Narain created history by being the first woman to hold this elected position. She is a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel which advises the Federal Government on the national program in high energy physics (2019-2022). In January 2020, she was selected to co-lead the activities of the “Energy Frontier” for the APS/DPF Community Planning Exercise to develop a 20 year future vision for particle physics research within the US. Prof. Narain is a co-author on about 800+ peer-reviewed journals, is a TEDx speaker, has given numerous public lectures and has appeared as an invited speaker at major conferences around the world. Prof. Narain has been actively engaged in STEM outreach activities to encourage participation of young women and URM groups  in science. Her outreach efforts are numerous, e.g. recently, she spearheaded a pilot program to combine STEM activities with art and design at “WaterFire Providence”.

Nikolena Christofi 

PhD student in complex systems modelling, diagnosis & safety at the IRT Saint Exupéry, LAAS-CNRS & Airbus DS. ISAE-SUPAERO (space systems engineering AM) & NTU Athens (mechanical engineering, aeronautics & robotics) graduate. She’s worked at ESA-ESTEC (NL) and GMV in Madrid. BEST trainer & alumna.

Tram Anh Nguyen

Tram Anh Nguyen is the co-founder of CFTE, based in the UK, setup in 2017, one of the fastest growing knowledge platforms in Fintech and Digital Finance. 

She serves as Board Advisor, Industry Fellow Imperial College, she is an advocate of lifelong learning and believes that continuous education is the best tool to help people adapt to a fast-changing world. Tram Anh strongly believes that in a world dominated by technology, people must remain at the center of society and organizations, and that education and training are key to help individuals adapt to a fast changing world. This was the motivation that drove her to launch CFTE to help finance professionals up-skill, find more opportunities and build better finance.

She works tirelessly with governments, policy makers, industry experts and academia to push initiatives in financial education for Finance 2.0. She followed her passion to bring about a skills revolution in finance to not only transform the industry, but to help a multitude of stakeholders like women and people from different backgrounds and walks of life to enter the new world of finance. The platform includes hundreds of experts (from heads of innovations in banks to CEOs of challenger banks and CEOs of Fintech VCs), created a platform that helps the industry acquire this knowledge quickly, from Fintech to Artificial Intelligence to Open Banking to Extrapreneurship programmes, with an engaged community with 100,000+ alumni around the world. CFTE is based in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Paris and works with most Tier 1 financial institutions.

Highly respected in the industry, Ambassador for the Singapore Fintech Festival in 2020, Senior Leader Women in Fintech, London’s top Women in Fintech 2019 by Business Insider. Top100 Asians in UK Tech 2019. International Speaker at global events, mentor and judge for the industry. Of Vietnamese origin, Tram Anh was born in France and lived in Paris, New York and now London, she provides a great understanding of both Asian and Western cultures and is always keen to bring the best of them together.

Pankaj Jain

Pankaj has a PhD in Molecular Biophysics from the IISc, Bangalore. He did a postdoc on Neuroscience of Stress (InStem, Bangalore) and became a ‘Mentor for Change’ for Atal Tinkering Labs. He coordinated the mentoring programme for PRODIGY, gifted children programme and he hosted learning shows for PM eVidya TV channels.
Following his research career, he ventured to pursue passion in the field of school education and co-founded Seed2Sapling Education, a school education startup with a group of equally passionate researchers turned educators.

Panel 2: Ethics and Credibility in STEM

Moderator Victor Warlop Piers de Raveschoot

Victor is a Belgian engineering student whose goal is to apply science to find sustainable and humanistic solutions to the many problems the world is facing today. Focussing on applied physics, Victor obtained a BSc. In General Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark in 2020, during which he went on exchange at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where he specializes in nanotechnology. He intends to combine the fields of nanomaterials and deep learning and work in biochips and medical imaging.


Oliver Geffen

Oliver Geffen is an epidemiologist with expertise working on national and sentinel surveillance programmes, and evaluating deep biases that impact the quality of data used to inform policy. As a surveillance scientist at Public Health England (PHE) he worked on trends in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), and identified sources of bias in sentinel surveillance systems that produce evidence used for national antibiotic treatment recommendations.

Having taught on the Imperial College London graduate course in epidemiology for a number of years, he recently returned to Imperial College as the co-lead of the online course: Science Matters – Let’s Talk about COVID-19, which he helped grow to over 140,000 learners, and was the most popular on-line Coursera course in 2020. After leaving Imperial College, he made a number of media appearances where he discussed the policy and public implications of issues around vaccines, new variants and testing approaches for COVID-19 and wrote about the impact of issues in health data-systems on national security, including in a book about COVID-19 and global security soon to be published by Palgrave Macmillan.

He has also worked on several projects with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the Israeli Ministry of Health, the Bill and the Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States. Oliver holds a Master of Research (MRes) in synthetic and computational biology, which he obtained with distinction from Imperial College London, as well as an MSc in Health Economics and Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Rajan Kumar

Rajan (Raj) Kumar is a Lecturer in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Stanford University. He teaches a variety of core undergraduate courses, including both lecture and laboratory sections. Raj enjoys discussing fundamental materials science concepts with students and strives to help them develop strong research and communication skills.

Raj received his both his BS (Northwestern) and his PhD (UC Berkeley) in Materials Science and Engineering. During his PhD, Raj studied electrochemical energy storage devices with an emphasis on developing printable batteries for integrated electronic systems. He also completed part of his PhD at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory through the Department of Energy SCGSR Fellowship. As a graduate student, Raj received the UC Berkeley Teaching Effectiveness Award and Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. He also led workshops on effective teaching strategies for first-time graduate student instructors.

Melissa Sterry

Melissa is the founder/director of London-based biofuturism consultancy Bioratorium® [Est. 2019], its lab Labioratorium®, and of Bionic City® [Est. 2010], which asking “how would nature design a city?”, explores the potential of biodesign, biomimetics, and biotechnology in the built environments of the now, near and far future. Developing original research, concepts and creative works, Bionic City® has attracted a global community of interest and has collaboration and co-creation partners across multiple cutting-edge disciplines worldwide. Her earliest interrogations dating to the early 90s, Melissa has 25+ years experience in researching and developing original biomaterial, bioinformatic, and bioinspired concepts in textiles, fashion, architecture, construction, urban planning, and infrastructure. 

Since 2010, Melissa has conducted transdisciplinary research into the potential for building urban and peri-urban resilience to major meteorological, geological, and ecological disruptions through the mimicry of the biochemistries, behaviours, relationships and systems of flora and fauna, and the assemblages the form.  Outputs include her PhD, which completed at the Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research [AVATAR] group in London, posits a radical new architectural and urban design paradigm for the wildland urban interface. Her thesis and its legacy research and publishing works are shared through digital open access project Panarchic Codex® [est. 2018].

To date, Melissa has contributed as keynote speaker, panelist and/or panel chair at more than eighty leading international conferences, seminars, festivals, awards ceremonies, and product launches in regions including Europe, Northern America, Asia, and Russia, for clients including World Bank, Unilever, Toyota, Interface, McKinsey, Schneider Electric, Balfour Beatty, Ministry of Defence, Manchester International Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival, University of Oxford’s Climate Forum, and University of Cambridge’s Festival of Ideas, amongst many more. Melissa has further contributed in the capacity of editor-in-chief, guest editor, editorial board member and curator to several digital and print design, architecture, urban, arts, and style books and magazines worldwide.

Peter Bai James 

Dr Peter Bai James is a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) at Southern Cross University. In addition to his undergraduate qualification in Pharmacy, Peter has postgraduate qualifications in ethnopharmacology (MMed) and public health (PhD). Prior to doing his PhD, he worked as an associate lecturer at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone and as a Drug regulatory officer at the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Government of Sierra Leone.

Peter has acquired methodological knowledge and skills in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method research, systematic reviews, public health, and health service research. To date he has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals and a book chapter and has peer-reviewed for over 30 international reputable journals.