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Department Of Neurobiology & Anatomy Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity (NGSD)

Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity (NGSD) provides a safe and inclusive environment for graduate students, research assistants, laboratory technicians and post-doctoral fellows within the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity was established to increase the sense of community, belonging and support that encompasses the intersectional experiences of diverse students and staff and their peers through open and honest conversation to discuss and promote diversity in all aspects of their experience. Learn more about our founding story.

Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity works closely with department faculty to ensure that concrete steps are taken to:

Meet our leaders!


First tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m.; duration: 90 min

  • Topics include our progress on the list of demands, outreach and concrete steps toward the goals outlined by this group
    • Following administrative meetings and concrete group establishment, meeting topics will begin to include candid discussions of current events involving race, gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, etc., in science and academia, and how these affect the neuroscience community and research.

There will be separate meetings to discuss outreach, duration: 90 min; second tuesday of every month 6:00 p.m.

  • Frequency of meetings will increase as outreach activities draw closer

Monthly Book Club where we will discuss books pertinent todiversity in science

  • Meetings will take place the last thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m.
  • Suggested books include:
    • How to be an Antiracist: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
    • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Rebecca Skloot
    • Superior: The return of race in science: Angela Saini


STAR Scholars Program - Students Tackling Advanced Research

Fall seminars open to everyone! Go to to register and receive information on how to access the virtual sessions. For more information, download the brochure.

2020-2021 Goals

  • Include the President of NGSD on the Neuroscience Steering Committee for 2021
  • Include the Vice President of NGSD on the Neuroscience Recruitment Committee for 2021
  • Increase the diversity of invited seminar speakers, with a primary focus on Black/African American neuroscience faculty
  • Establish a fund to raise money for outreach activities, including the high school summer camp and application fee waivers
  • Each member of the NGSD must participate in at least one outreach activity per semester; you MUST be a member of parent NGSD to participate in outreach.
    • Proposed outreach activities for 2021 include:
      • Providing virtual presentations and discussions about neuroscience, including demonstrations of brain and spinal cord anatomy, for K-12 children within Philadelphia County.
  • Upon official recognition of this group by the department faculty, NGSD is prepared to move forward with contacting K-12 schools and planning official events. The NGSD will also continue events with previously established primary and secondary schools associated with the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy.
  • Theresa Connors has agreed to provide teaching materials and equipment for virtual demonstrations
  • Ashley Opalka has gained support through the Philadelphia Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (PCSFN) to provide further outreach materials
    • Provide virtual information sessions on STEM research as a career path and applying to graduate school to local university students
  • NGSD has gathered contacts for local historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and clubs at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) and will reach out to such programs
    • Setup and hold at least one fundraising activity by 2021
      • Can be adjusted to a virtual activity if COVID-19 does not permit in-person fundraising
  • Hold the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy faculty accountable for the list of demands that was presented at a town hall (07/16/2020)
  • The NGSD President will serve as a peer resource to assist and support staff and trainees, if they feel comfortable, in reporting macro/microaggressions that they encounter in their daily lives to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The NGSD President will also support and guide trainees through the formal reporting process if this is the route the student wishes to take.
  • Set up a website to chronicle NGSD progress and provide outreach resources such as video demonstrations, lectures, learning material, etc.


Meet our leaders!


  • Oversees all other positions; meeting and agenda organizer
  • Maintains administrative/official requirements associated with Drexel University
  • Primary faculty contact
  • Member of the Neuroscience steering committee
  • Sarah Bennison is nominated to assume this role

Vice President

  • Works closely with the President to assist in organizing all positions and meetings
  • Be a member of the Neuroscience recruitment team
  • Taylor McCorkle is nominated to assume this role


  • Note-taking during meetings
  • Emails out notes from each meeting
  • Maintains meeting records
  • Cassandra Alexandropoulus is nominated to assume this role


  • Oversees finances and monetary responsibilities
  • Coordinates and advises on fundraising strategies, goals, and ensures effective monitoring and reporting of funds
  • This role also includes outreach treasury responsibilities
  • Nancy Mack is nominated to assume this role

PR and Communications

  • Proofs all communications between NGSD, faculty and students
  • Web director
    • Responsible for social media accounts and website
  • This role also includes Outreach responsibilities such as contact gathering, organization and communication with local schools
  • Miceala O’Reilly is nominated to assume this role

Web Content Designer

  • Creates all virtual content for NGSD’s social media and website
  • Kayla Socarras is nominated to assume this role

Outreach Chair

  • Serves as the leader who is responsible for overseeing and managing community outreach efforts for NGSD
  • Works with members to coordinate community events and promote science education in Philadelphia County
  • Ashley Opalka is nominated to assume this role

Faculty Advisor

  • Serves as an advisor to the NGSD group and maintains open communication with students
  • Facilitates NGSD and outreach activities by contributing to planning events, developing ideas and providing support to students
  • Drs. Ramesh Raghupathi and Theresa Connors have volunteered to assume this role

Members 2020

Emily Black, John Walker, Joseph Arena, Shrobona Guha, Jennifer Pastorino, Kayla Socarras, Megan Detloff, Peter Baas, Jaclyn DeFinis, Taylor McCorkle, Micaela O'Reilly, Kyle Samson, Breanne Pirino, Ankita Patil, Nancy Mack, Genevieve Curtis, Cassandra Alexandropoulos, Ashley Opalka, Theresa Connors, Ramesh Ragupathi, Sadie Bennison, Cameron Trueblood, Candace Rizzi-Wise, Pamela Olonso, Jennifer Connors, Hager Mohamed, Michael Lane, Tara Fortino, Kim Dougherty

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