“I CAN STEM” NJ Inductees

I CAN STEM

Role Models

New Jersey Inductees

The New Jersey STEM Pathways Network honors diverse STEM leaders who have made and continue to make significant contributions in STEM. 

"Equity is at the heart of all the work we do for STEM in the State. I CAN STEM is an initiative that will support our continued work towards our goal of making STEM accessible and representative of everyone."
Kim Case
NJSPN Manager

2022 New Jersey Inductees

January

Ralph Losanno

Supervisor of Technology at Flemington-Raritan Schools

Read BioRalph Losanno is the Supervisor of Technology for the Flemington-Raritan Regional School District in Flemington, New Jersey and is the Co-Lead of the HSMC (Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer Counties) STEM Ecosystem. Prior to his work in the Flemington-Raritan Regional School District, Mr. Losanno was honored to be a classroom teacher with over 15 years of experience. As an elementary classroom teacher, Mr. Losanno volunteered, led, and inspired both within his own district as well as across the nation. As one of the founding members of the National Geographic Education Steering Committee, a featured speaker at the Global Google for Education Summit in New York City, a STEM technology trainer, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Mr. Losanno is uniquely situated to use his personal knowledge and experiences to influence and advocate for those underrepresented populations whose voices are sometimes overlooked. As an educational leader, Mr. Losanno continues to live and serve as a passionate advocate for access, inclusion, and visibility in STEM. He looks forward to the day when all students have the opportunity to envision themselves situated confidently within the STEM community.

February

Maria Agapito

President of NJ Science Academy

Read BioDr. Agapito considers herself to be both a scientist and an educator at heart. She received a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry and a M.S. in biology with a concentration in molecular biology from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ. In 2013, she completed her doctoral training in neuroscience at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. After her PhD, she was accepted to the national institute of health IRACDA/INSPIRE Postdoctoral program. Dr.Agapito joined the pathology and laboratory medicine department at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and conducted research in the areas of developmental biology, neurology and ethanol toxicology using C. elegans as an animal model system. Dr. Agapito has published in various peer-reviewed journal articles, presented at various national conferences, obtained prestigious fellowships. She is currently the president of the NJ Academy of Science, serves as Rutgers RUYES teaching fellow and Assistant Professor of Biology at Bard HS Early College – Newark, NJ. Since 2011, Dr. Agapito has served Kean University as adjunct professor in the School of Natural Sciences. Dr. Agapito’s long-term goal is to change the face of America by enhancing curiosity, educating, and mentoring students to enter STEM related fields. In this way, we can create a diverse population of role models for the next generations to come.

March

Rachel Feller

Scientist of Discovery Sample Management at Merck

Read BioRachel Feller has been a dedicated member and leader in the Merck Rainbow Alliance (RA) since she joined the company right after college in 2006 with a position with the Discovery Sample Management Group. Getting involved with the RA right away helped in meeting many new LGBTQ+ friends and creating a safe space at work to be herself. Over the years Rachel remained in the same department, but her work tasks evolved and she remained after many company reorganizations. She took on leadership positions in D&I helping with department initiatives to spread awareness; she works to improve company culture through volunteer roles on the Leveraging Internal Networks and Knowledge (LINK) team, and outside of work, Rachel volunteers a lot of time with Hadassah The Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She expanded her network way beyond her department and job tasks. Rachel found a family with RA members and with her colleagues. Some projects at Merck that Rachel helped bring to life over the last year are ‘A Day in the Life of a Drag Queen’ – hosting New Jersey’s own Harmonica Sunbeam to share HERstory and accolades, giving insight into the real life behind the make up; The Power of Acceptance – hosting Amit Shah, M.D. and Aditya Madiraju to share their story of love and family acceptance in the Asian American culture and their abilities to host a wedding with their favorite Indian traditions; and presenting on Allyship and Psychological Safety to her department to build a progressive culture. Always highlighting the similarities versus differences and having folks share their stories – is the best way to reach others. The more people you know – the more accepting of others you become. Rachel is a social connector and leader who values building relationships into the core of the D&I work she contributes to at Merck. Building community is so important, and creating a space where people can feel at home while at work is truly fulfilling. Being involved in the D&I initiatives Merck offers, the volunteer work soon became about leadership, development and making visions come to life. Working with colleagues to build community and provide amazing programs within the LGBTQ EBRG and partnering with other EBRGs continues to be a highlight of her work. Rachel enjoys partnering with outside organizations like PFLAG, Garden State Equality and HRC to bring relevant expertise into Merck, raise awareness and welcome colleagues as allies.

April

Kamuran Soydam

Educator at Hudson Arts and Science Charter School of iLearn Schools

Read BioKamuran Soydam currently works as a STEM teacher and Coach for I-Learn Schools. At i-Learn Schools, he has contributed in providing leadership for professional development to other STEM/STEAM instructors and paraprofessionals in the school to promote learning and teaching best practices. He participated in the Eco-Green Panasonic Project that inspires students to think about recycling programs at their school. Kamuran has also been featured on NJTV’s education series, where he shared live science lessons during the COVID pandemic. In 2021, he was honored by the Association of American Educators (AAE) as part of National Charter Schools Week where charter school educators nationwide were asked to nominate an exceptional colleague to be one of five featured educators.

May

Pavithra Lakshminarayan

Creator & Chief of Mindbytes

Read BioPavithra Lakshminarayan is an Entrepreneur & a technology enthusiast with over 22 years of work experience in the field of Information Technology, learning and development, teaching, curriculum design, and building graduate programs from the ground up. It is when her passion for working with children met with her experience, she founded Mindbytes in 2011 through which she creates and provides year-round enrichment programs that address core skills in children. As part of this journey, she has not only built and delivered a variety of STEM skill development programs but has also had the opportunity to play numerous roles in the education space. She has been an advisor for education and research-based projects around strategic planning, curriculum design, course development, and training and integration. She has designed many STEM activities to increase student, teacher, and family engagement in STEM. She has also presented on diverse topics such as Broadening STEM Participation in OST (NSF Includes National Convening), Pathway to Invention Education & Family engagement for early learners (STEM Learning Ecosystems National Convening), Big Data in Education (NJ Education Technology conference by NJECC), Social Entrepreneurship for Children and Integrating Game Design (annual conferences of the NJAGC, NJEA convention), Phenomenon-Based Learning and Bringing Internet of Technologies (IoTs) to classrooms (NJEA Convention). She is the lead for the South Jersey STEM Innovation Partnership network, where she has designed and led activities to broaden participation in STEM education ensuring equitable access to all and created many programs to improve interest and retention of the underserved, and underrepresented students in K-12 STEM programs. Alongside running Mindbytes, she also chairs an early childhood learning priority group at the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network.

June

Coming Soon

July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

Coming Soon

I CAN STEM

New Jersey Inductees

The I CAN STEM New Jersey Inductees are selected through a nomination process which is reviewed by the NJSPN’s ​New Jersey STEM Strategic Advisory Board​. 

By including role models right in our State, students will have the opportunity to meet or hear from them in real life and learn about the various STEM industries that are right here in New Jersey.