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News & Press: Leadership

2018 NPA Board Election Results Announced

Monday, October 29, 2018  
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October 29, 2018


The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has elected three individuals to the Board of Directors for the three-year term of service beginning on January 1, 2019: Tracy Costello, Ph.D.; Natalia Martin, Ph.D.; and Claudia Spani, Ph.D.


The directors were elected from a field of three candidates during the 2018 election, which ran from September 17, 2018 through October 1, 2018. The newly elected directors will join the following members of the Board: Andrew Bankson, Ph.D.; Tullia Bruno, Ph.D.; Stephanie Eberle, M.Ed.; Josh Henkin, Ph.D.; Barbara J. Natalizio, Ph.D.; Shakira Nelson, Ph.D.; Kristen Scott, Ph.D.; and Yvette Seger, Ph.D.


As director of postdoctoral affairs at Moffitt Cancer Center, Tracy Costello, Ph.D., is creating brand new programs to enhance the postdoc experience beginning with postdoc recruitment, implementation career and professional development training through one on one career exploration and coaching. As the current chair of the Board of Directors of the NPA, she leads the organization’s efforts to enhance the postdoctoral experience at both the local and national level and provide a national voice for postdoctoral scholars. She has served at the National Science Foundation on both postdoc fellowship study sections and a committee of visitors and began serving on a National Institutes of Health study section this year.


Costello earned a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, in mathematics and physics from The University of Southern Mississippi before going to The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in biostatistics and genetics, where she earned her doctoral degree in biomathematics & biostatistics and human & molecular genetics in 2004.


She received both predoctoral and postdoctoral R25 fellowships in cancer prevention during her graduate school and postdoctoral training before becoming a senior statistical analyst in health disparities research. Her research interests, though varied, have resulted in over 25 publications, have basis in the development of statistical methodology and have focused on data mining and meta-analysis methodologies with applications in genetics, extensions to regressive logistic statistical theory applied to genetic anticipation, epidemiological analyses in a variety of disorders, longitudinal, mixed model analyses of smoking cessation clinical trial data in underserved and minority populations and factor analysis of psychological questionnaire data. She left the University of Texas MD Anderson to pursue an opportunity with Exagen Diagnostics in 2010 which resulted in a patent application for a diagnostic and prognostic test for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. She returned to MD Anderson to expand the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs between 2012-2016 and was recruited to Moffitt Cancer Center in 2017 to create a brand new office as the director of postdoctoral affairs.


Natalia Martin, Ph.D., is a senior research associate in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) Department at Michigan State University (MSU), investigating the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis in nosocomial bacterial pathogens. Martin has served several leadership positions at the MSU PDA and is currently the co-chair of the MSU-PDA, as well as the chair of the professional development committee. She also co-advises the MSU chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. She is an active member of the NPA and is currently serving in the Advocacy Committee. Martin transitioned to MSU from Duke University, where she was a Pew Latin American postdoctoral fellow in biomedical sciences. She obtained her doctoral degree in biological sciences from the National University of Rosario, Argentina. Martin has over 12 years of experience in STEM research as well as experience mentoring and advising undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. Martin has a great interest in career choices and professional development programs for junior scholars and provides career exploration through mentoring and advising undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.


Claudia B. Späni, Ph.D., is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, where she is investigating brain proteome changes associated with cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. She is originally from Switzerland, where she obtained her doctoral degree from the University of Zurich in 2015, showing that the adaptive immune system plays an important role in Alzheimer’s Disease pathogenesis. She already completed a two-year postdoctoral training period at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, studying the influence of neuroinflammation on traumatic brain injury. Additionally, she is an active member of the “Women’s Brain Project,” an international organization advocating for women’s brain and mental health, and a committee member of “The Chicago Women in STEM Initiative” and the NPA’s Meetings keynote and plenary subcommittee. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, reading, and scuba diving.


Current members of the Board who will complete their term are: Juliet Moncaster, Ph.D., and Jana Stone, Ph.D. We thank them both for their service.


The NPA's executive director, Julie Fabsik-Swarts, M.S., CFRE, CAP, serves as an ex officio member of the Board of Directors.