Executive Board (2023-2024)

PRESIDENT: Paola E. Peña Garcia 

Paola is a PhD Candidate in the Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences program at the Larner College of Medicine. Paola is a cellular biologist interested in understanding the contribution of obesity in asthma, and how asthma resolves upon weight loss. She utilizes a cell-based system in which she is able to study the effect of samples from obese asthmatic and obese non-asthmatic patients on airway cells to clarify the relationship between weight and asthma severity. As a chapter officer, Paola hopes to build upon the strong foundation of community that previous leaders in UVM SACNAS have established. She hopes to achieve this goal by continuing to foster the growth of the chapter through community building activities and workshops that engage student members across all stages of their professional development and across all fields of study. Paola strives to contribute to creating an environment that is inclusive and truly diverse in STEM.

VICE PRESIDENT: Saúl Huerta de la Cruz

Saúl is a Pharmaceutical Chemist with a Master and PhD degree in Neuropharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics from Cinvestav-IPN in Mexico City. Currently, Saúl serves as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Pharmacology at the Larner College of Medicine of the University of Vermont. His research focuses on understanding the electrophysiological features and the functional interaction among the cells that comprise the neurovascular unit to provide insights into the mechanisms underlying functional hyperemia. Beyond his academic achievements, Saúl actively engages in community science initiatives, bridging scientific discoveries with social impact.
As someone who is aware of the challenges faced by underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, Saul is deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in science. Thus, his goal as a SACNAS officer is to leverage his experiences and dedication to empower others, create opportunities, and foster a more equitable and diverse scientific community for the benefit of all.

SECRETARY: Lara Monteiro

Lara Monteiro is a 2nd year PhD student in Natural Resources and a Graduate Fellow at the Gund Institute for Environment. Lara is a Brazilian ecologist interested in investigating the challenges and incentives to promote restoration in grassland and savanna ecosystems, particularly in the Brazilian Cerrado. She is an enthusiast of citizen science tools and participatory research methods. In her free time, Lara enjoys hiking, doing handstands, yoga, and climbing. Her goal as the SACNAS secretary is to help create more inclusive environments for underrepresented communities in Vermont, especially through the promotion of professional development activities in STEM.


Adam is a Masters student in the Complex Systems and Data Science program at the Vermont Complex System Center. Adam works as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He is interested in the dynamics of conversation and using data science to find out the patterns for efficient communication. As the chapters Communications Manager, Adam works to relay pertinent information to keep the chapter in sync and also build and develop connections to other organizations and universities.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Tamara Aguirre

Tamara is an international student from Mexico getting her Master’s degree in Special Education at UVM. Ever since she was young girl, Tamara has always been passionate about helping others. She believes that through education you can help people to become the best version of themselves. She hopes to develop equal opportunities that respect and support diversity and cultural backgrounds. After her masters she aspires for a PhD in developmental psychology basing her research on trauma and early development.


Sam is an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Sciences and minoring in Japanese at the University of Vermont. Currently, she is researching the epigenetic mechanisms behind insecticide resistance in the Colorado Potato Beetle for her Honors Thesis. She hopes to use her research to improve agricultural systems and to limit our dependence on insecticides. As a chapter officer, Sam strives to increase undergraduate membership within SACNAS and to continue building community for underrepresented students throughout STEM.