Meet our Core Team

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Caitlin Vander Weele, PhD

Founder & CEO

Caitlin Vander Weele, PhD

MIT-trained neuroscientist turned digital strategist and professional science storyteller, Dr. Caitlin Vander Weele, leverages her analytical background to develop smart, data-forward strategies that enhance messaging signal-to-noise and reach target audiences online. As founder and CEO of Stellate Comms, she is passionate about helping her clients tell their stories in an accurate, comprehensive, and engaging manner.

Caitlin received her B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at The University of Michigan and her doctorate in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focused on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in emotion and decision-making– work that has been published in the field’s top peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Science, and Cell.

Prior to founding Stellate Communications, Caitlin was a PR professional specializing in executive thought leadership and social strategy for biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies. She is a frequently invited speaker on the subject of professional branding, networking, and thought leadership on social platforms.

She resides in New York City with her husband, their daughter Lili, and golden retriever Zelda.

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Gabriela Serrato Marks, PhD

Partner

Gabi Serrato-Marks, PhD

Dr. Gabi Serrato Marks is an MIT-trained scientist with a passion for expanding access to science. As a Partner at Stellate Communications, she primarily supports academic researchers, facilitating greater engagement with scientific and non-scientific audiences alike. Gabi received her B.A. at Bowdoin College and her doctorate in geochemistry from MIT. Her research focused on generating records of past climate change using cave deposits.

She enjoys creating all types of media: Dr. Serrato Marks has published work in Scientific American, Audubon, and the PBS Eons YouTube Channel, and has been featured in several articles and podcasts (Nature Career Guide, Physics Today, Disability Visibility). Gabi is also co-editing an anthology of personal stories from disabled scientists (under contract with Columbia University Press). You can find Gabi on Twitter as @gserratomarks, or in Boston drinking iced coffee with her husband and two cats, Spock and Moose.

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Kathryn (Kitty) Flaherty

Controller

Kathryn (Kitty) Flaherty

Kathryn (Kitty) Flaherty is a Corporate Content Strategist with 23 years experience in guiding a hospitality management company. In this role, she managed the finance, accounting, human resource, building and business of the management company and the seven hotel entities in the DML Management, Inc. portfolio. She worked closely with the owner and managing partner in all the aspects of the business.

Kitty has a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Accounting from Grand Valley State University. She is an avid fan of University of Michigan athletics, plays pickleball, and cherishes relaxing family time at her lake home in western Michigan on the shores of Silver Lake. She resides there in the summer, and at Nettles Island, Florida in the winter with her life partner, Ken Smith. She has three adult children and is ecstatic to be the grandmother of Liliana Pearl Feghali.

She is excited to be joining the expert team at Stellate Communications.

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Fernanda Graciolli

Web & Design Lead

Fernanda Graciolli

Fernanda is a neuroscience researcher turned web developer. In her early career, she studied psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, and later worked as a neuroscience research assistant at UC Davis, where she collected and analyzed data from both human and non-human primates. All throughout her career, Fernanda has been involved with various mental health initiatives, from helping children with autism build essential life skills, to playing a pivotal role in growing the Yolo County division of NAMI.

As Web & Design Lead at Stellate Communications, she and a talented team of designers and strategists help scientists build their brand and web presence via logos, illustrations, and websites. When not at her desk, you can find Fernanda at one of Massachusetts’ beautiful parks with her partner, twins, and dog.

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Dara Afraz

Web Developer

Dara Afraz

Dara is a web developer who is passionate about building beautiful, accessible, and performant websites. Dara has several years of experience building software for scientific experiments at UCLA Human Perception Lab, including for various research projects in visual perception, cognition, and learning.

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Ariana White

Account Supervisor

Ariana White

Ariana White is a passionate about making science accessible to a wide audience. As an Account Supervisor at Stellate, she helps our clients develop their overall branding and is excited about implementing creative ways to help clients achieve their goals. Previously, Ariana worked in Public Relations focusing on executive thought leadership and media strategy for biopharmaceutical and healthcare executives, developing deep expe rience in science storytelling and crisis management.

She is currently completing a MA in Biotechnology and holds a dual BA in Cognitive Science and Psychology from Johns Hopkins University.

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Deb Joye

Account Executive

Deb Joye

Deborah Joye is a neuroscientist and science communicator completing her PhD at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She received her BS in Psychology/Behavioral Neuroscience from UC San Diego. Her scientific research focused on the neurobiology of circadian rhythms and how circadian biology can be leveraged to improve human health. During her career, Deb has built a skill set translating scientific ideas into stories that can engage wider audiences including work with UCSD’s BioClock Studio, neuroscience outreach seminars to local high school and middle school students, and volunteering as writer and editor for BrainPost, a science blog that specializes in clear and accessible summaries of cutting-edge neuroscience research.

At Stellate, Deb primarily supports academic researchers to help scientists find accessible and creative ways to tell their science stories to the world. You can find Deb on Twitter as @damjoye, or hanging out in the Midwest with her partner and her cat, Ramona.

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Cindy Reyes

Account Executive

Cindy Reyes

Cindy Reyes is a trained behavioral neuroscientist with over 15 years in the academic science realm. As a science communicator she uses the analytical and problem skills she developed in the lab to help clients reach a wider audience. She received her B.S. in Biospychology from UC Santa Barbara and holds a Masters of Science in neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is widely involved in STEM outreach through volunteer work and believes effective scientific communication is essential for increasing equity and inclusion within STEM fields.

She is a mother to a small human and a dog named Jadzia Dax, a wife, and maker with a fondness for textile crafts and baking.

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Swetha Mohan, PhD

Account Coordinator

Swetha Mohan, PhD

Swetha Mohan, PhD is an experienced consultant and a neurodegeneration subject matter expert, with a vast background in cellular and molecular mechanisms. At Stellate, Swetha is excited to help investigators achieve their scientific and professional goals with her support in project management and technical writing — leveraging her deep understanding of the academic and biotechnology landscapes.

Swetha completed her PhD in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University studying sensory neurons and how they are maintained with age. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center where she studied molecular mechanisms underlying Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s Disease using patient-derived cells and engineered disease models. Transitioning to industry in 2019, Swetha joined Engine Biosciences, where she was pivotal in establishing their neurodegeneration program and helping support the company's oncology program towards Series A.

Outside of work, Swetha enjoys sewing and spending quality time with her husband and children.

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Adriana M. Padilla Roger

Account Coordinator

Adriana M. Padilla Roger

Adriana M. Padilla Roger is a neuroscientist, writer, and artist with a deep knowledge of media. At Stellate, she is delighted to use her talents in grantsmanship and creative strategy to help clients craft compelling science stories.

During her early career, she investigated art history and media, writing about the impact of technology on artistic communication. She received a B.S. from the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras, studying Biology and Psychology, and holds an M.S. in Neuroscience from UCSF, where she researched sex differences and estrogen-modulated brain circuits. She won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her project exploring the connection between female metabolism and emotional memories and the Longevity Impetus Grant for her research on female cognitive decline and the reversal of aging by gene editing.

Adriana led outreach initiatives throughout her studies, leveraging the power of art to envision science brand identities. You can find her roaming around San Francisco searching for old books and vintage artifacts, painting, or lounging with her corgi, Pixie.

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Stefania Cerisano, PhD

Account Coordinator

Stefania Cerisano, PhD

Stefania Cerisano, PhD is a cognitive scientist specializing in working memory, divided attention, and psychological indices of cognitive effort. At Stellate Communications, she aims to use her research and leadership experience to help others achieve their science communication and professional goals.

Stefania completed her PhD in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, where she studied the complex relationship between listening in noise, dual-task demands, and cognitive effort. While at McMaster, Stefania had the opportunity to lead two student groups focused on community engagement, science communication, and the promotion of equity in science and academic study.

Beyond Stellate, Stefania loves baking, hiking in the waterfall capital of the world, and playing flute with a concert band of talented local musicians.

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