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Juneteenth Celebration of Black Scientists and Engineers

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June 17, 2022

8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
Room M203, 2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, Virginia



Recognizing and Celebrating the Contributions of Black Scientists and Engineers

The Virginia Tech community gathered at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC for the Juneteenth celebration on June 17 in Roanoke. Black researchers, educators, and leaders described their career paths and research contributions in the health sciences. The program also highlighted the importance of embracing opportunities for all under-represented groups through diversity, equity, and inclusion advocacy.

Location: Room M203, 2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke Virginia

Event Schedule:
7:30 – 8:00 a.m.: Registration 
8:00 – 8:05 a.m.: Welcome Michael Friedlander, Ph.D. 
8:05 – 8:15 a.m.: Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D. 
8:15 - 9:00 a.m.: Manu Platt, Ph.D. 
9:00 - 9:45  a.m.: Kaela Singleton, Ph.D. 
9:45 – 10 a.m.:  Break
10:00 – 10:45 a.m.: Margie Lee, D.V.M., Ph.D. 
10:45 - 11:30 a.m.: Lance Collins, Ph.D.
11:30 – 12:30 p.m.: Facilitated Round Table Discussion/Lunch 
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Panel: Vernal Branch, Aziza Platt, Ph.D., Pernessa Seele, Ph.D. 
1:30 – 1:45 p.m.: Closing remarks, Sylvester Johnson and Michael Friedlander


Speakers and Panelists

Vernal Branch

Independent Research Patient Advocate

Lance Collins, Ph.D.

Inaugural Vice President and Executive Director
Virginia Tech Innovation Campus
Virginia Tech 

Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D.

Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities
Director, Center for Humanities
Virginia Tech

Margie Lee, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Professor and Department Head
Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech

Aziza Platt, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist and Health Disparities Researcher

Manu Platt, Ph.D.

Wallace H. Coulter Distinguished Professor
Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Diversity Director
Georgia Tech


Pernessa Seele, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO
The Balm in Gilead, Inc.


Kaela Singleton, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
President-Elect, Black in Neuro
Emory University