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Cornell’s first annual Impact Week took place Sept. 28 - Oct. 4 and CALS faculty, alumni and graduate students joined undergraduate students to share their personal and professional journeys.

Organized and funded by the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cornell’s first annual Impact Week took place Sept. 28 - Oct. 4. With more than 14 events ranging from strengthening community to managing stress to a full weekend hackathon, there was something for everyone to participate in. 

At the Alumni Roundtables event, CALS faculty, alumni and graduate students joined undergraduate students to share their personal and professional journeys. “These small, in-person interactions with faculty, alumni and graduate students go a long way towards building an inclusive environment at Cornell, and can be transformative for current students” explains Stella Hein, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for CALS. “They provide informal and authentic spaces for students to ask candid questions and learn about the unique pathways BIPOC professionals and scholars took to get to where they are now.” 

The Alumni Roundtable event was attended by 133 CALS students from 23 different majors, indicating a strong desire for students to connect in spaces where they feel they belong. In addition to the undergraduates, Neil Lewis, Jr., assistant professor of communication, was in attendance, along with current Ph.D. students Drea Darby (Entomology) and Katie Elaine Randolph (Biological and Environmental Engineering). Alumni Michael Cook, B.S. ’02, M.B.A. ’07, and Brianna Tate Ph.D. ’22 also participated in the roundtable event. 

Alumni Roundtable Participants

Neil Lewis, Jr.

Neil Lewis, Jr. (he/him) received his bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell in 2013. Neil is a behavioral and intervention scientist in CALS and Weill Cornell Medicine, where he is an assistant professor in the department of communication, division of general internal medicine, and graduate field of psychology. He also co-directs Cornell's Action Research Collaborative, which brings together researchers, practitioners, community members and policymakers to address pressing issues in society.

Alumni Roundtable Participants

Michael Cook

Michael Cook (he/him) currently serves as the Chief Asset Officer of Resi-Shares and the Chief Investment Officer of MCB Capital, overseeing a $50 million single-family rental portfolio along with the development of two build-to-rent communities totaling 120 homes in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  

Michael received an M.B.A. with a concentration in Real Estate Finance from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and a B.S. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Alumni Roundtable Participants

Drea Darby

Drea Darby (she/her) is a Ph.D. Candidate in Brian Lazzaro’s lab in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University. She currently studies the impact that diet, particularly high sugar diets, has on infection dynamics in the mighty fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. 

Drea is the first person in her family to go to college, and as a Black Filipino woman, has never had an instructor throughout her entire education who identified as either of her racial identities. That is why she is invested in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to empower and make space for people historically underrepresented in STEM.  As a Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Drea is a co-lead for the Diversity Preview Weekend, and is president of Cornell's Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. When she is not making flies sick and challenging systemic oppression in STEM, she also gardens, watches anime, reads webcomics and plays video games.

Alumni Roundtable Participants

Brianna Tate

Brianna Tate (she/her) graduated with her doctorate in Animal Science from Cornell University in 2022, exploring the effects of lysolecithin administration on dairy calf nutrition, health and immunity. Brianna received both her Master of Science in Cell & Molecular Biology and her Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Appalachian State University in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Brianna joined the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Fellow in July 2022. As a NIH T32 training fellow, she conducts research exploring how breastmilk composition affects infant immunity transmitted via ingestion of maternal milk and how maternal vaccination status heightens host defenses in the pediatric gut.

Alumni Roundtable Participants

Katie Elaine Randolph

Katie Elaine Randolph (she/her) is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Biological and Environmental Engineering at CALS. She is from Las Vegas, Nevada where she earned her undergraduate degree. Katie also did a Master of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. At Cornell, Katie works in Andrea Giometto's group using budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as a genetically tractable system to investigate evolution dynamics of surface-associated microbes. She aims to graduate in 2025. To cultivate wellness & joy Katie maintains a yoga practice, spends time with her 2-year old nephew and dances like no one is watching.

Neil Lewis Jr. headshot
Michael Cook headshot
Drea Darby
Brianna Tate headshot
Katie Elaine Randolph headshot

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