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Emerging Leaders

KSA recognizes and values members at all stages of their careers, and believes that engaging Kendall Square’s emerging leaders will ensure the future is bright. With the way we work now–in person, hybrid or remote–it is important to foster connections and to develop and engage our future leaders.

Alex Cheung

Director of Venture Cafe – Cambridge, CIC

Alex is the Director of Venture Café Cambridge–he has devoted the last decade in Kendall Square to connecting innovators for the purpose of improving lives. Entrepreneurs from around the world are drawn to Venture Café’s Thursday Gatherings. Alex is passionate about building platforms for communities to thrive, and he hopes to continuously push the bounds of what it means to connect, learn, and share with others.

Alex brings experience in building innovation ecosystems, both physically and conceptually. At CIC, he has managed operations for C3 (CIC’s coworking community) and the 245 Main Street building in Cambridge. Beyond this neighborhood, he has helped with expansion in Rotterdam and Tokyo, as well as with the opening of MIT’s The Engine.  

Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology, and Society with a minor in Economics from Vassar College. 

Cayla Franco

Senior Associate, Property Manager, The Bulfinch Companies, Inc.

Cayla is responsible for overseeing the property management of Bulfinch’s state-of-the-art life science campus Osborn Triangle, located in Kendall Square. Osborn Triangle includes three buildings totaling over 677,000 SF and is home to several internationally recognized pharmaceutical companies.

Cayla’s background includes operations management experience for TD Garden, where she collaborated with cross-functional teams to resolve operational inconsistencies, track and monitor operational finances, oversee contractors, and manage capital projects.

Dedicated to giving back, Cayla Co-Chairs Bulfinch’s Engage Committee which serves as a vehicle to encourage and empower the Bulfinch Team to actively participate in all areas of civic engagement. A key highlight includes the launch of Bulfinch’s donor-advised fund (DAF), The Bulfinch Engage Fund. The Fund is a charitable giving vehicle that empowers the company, employees, and stakeholders to contribute to causes they care about most. 

Cayla also works closely with Building Impact, a non-profit organization that offers corporate volunteering opportunities for Bulfinch tenants and team members that create measurable impact for nonprofits in the community. She is an active member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and is a member of BOMA’s Emerging Professionals Committee.

A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a digital marketing and analytics minor, Cayla is an avid Huskies fan.

Patrick Giroux

Senior Integration Manager, BioMed Realty

Patrick Giroux is the Senior Manager of BioMed Realty’s Integration team where he manages the company’s global acquisitions and dispositions process. Patrick joined BioMed in 2019 and prior to this role, Patrick worked in various operations-related roles for BioMed and CBRE. Patrick has spent his commercial real estate career in Kendall Square and enjoys partaking in many of the Square’s events and food offerings.

Patrick received his BA in Organizational Communication from Assumption University.

Alex Jones

Global Sourcing Project Manager, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Alexander is currently serving as the Global Sourcing Project Manager within Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

He manages a set of tools and executes search landscapes across all therapeutic areas to source external early-stage innovation on a global scale.

Previously, Alexander held multiple positions within Johnson & Johnson in the innovation space, including as a 3D Printing Engineer and a manger providing training to J&J Supply chain on emerging capabilities.

Alex earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Buckeye Leadership fellows The Ohio State University.

Rohan Kundargi, PhD

K-12 Community Outreach Administrator, MIT

Dr. Rohan Kundargi is a member of MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations team where he serves as the K-12 Community Outreach Administrator. Through his work at MIT, Rohan leads an effort to deepen the relationship between MIT and Cambridge by building collaborative programs that engager young scholars and learners of all ages. 

A first-generation Indian-American and child of immigrants, Rohan was raised in Northern California before earning an undergraduate Earth Science degree from UCLA (2010), a Masters in Earth Science from Boston University (2013), and a PhD in Earth Science from Boston University (2016). As a geoscience researcher he investigated the dynamics of Earth’s internal processes by designing and utilizing 3D numerical simulations to better understand how specific volcanoes erupted. While at BU, Dr. Kundargi was also a National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow and co-taught a 7th grade science classroom at Broad Meadows Middle School in Quincy, Massachusetts. After graduate school Rohan ran Science In Action!, Gonzaga University’s largest STEM outreach program to the 2nd largest school district in the state of Washington, before returning to MA to work with MIT OGCR.

He is a proud Board Member of Cambridge non-profit CitySprouts and is an active member of the MIT Museum’s Advisory Board.

Stephanie Larson

Senior Project Manager, Jacobs

Stephanie is a licensed architect with over 15 years of professional experience and strong expertise in education, life science, and corporate interior design. She earned a BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley; she’s also AIA certified and LEED accredited.

As Senior Project Manager at Jacobs, Stephanie works with her teams to efficiently deliver beautiful, quality workplaces to her clients, who include many Fortune 500 companies. She also founded and leads the Jacobs New England Interiors Business Development Group.

Carles Monterrubio Martinez

Associate Director, Transactions – Early Innovation Partnering, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Carles currently serves as an Associate Director of Transactions focused on external partnerships for Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson in 2022, Carles worked at Cell Signaling Technology, a leading biotech company that commercializes monoclonal antibodies and other research reagents and provides services to the life sciences community. In his global Business Development role at Cell Signaling, Carles focused on bringing external innovation to the company and expanding the partner network. Before joining biopharma, Carles worked at the MIT Technology Licensing Office where he partnered on and out-licensed MIT’s assets and technologies.

As a bench scientist working at the Barcelona Children’s Hospital, Cebiotex Biomedical Nanofibers, and later on at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Carles contributed to the preclinical development of drug delivery systems that are now moving into clinical development. He is passionate about innovation and has collaborated with several organizations, including investment firms such as MBX Capital and Capital Cell, as well as non-profit and governmental institutions such as MassBio and the European Innovation Council.

Carles holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Barcelona, as well as a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Morgan McLain-Smith

Software Engineer

Morgan McLain-Smith is a software engineer at Meta where she works at the intersection of privacy and data infrastructure. Beyond her technical work, she contributes to the office community by organizing and facilitating site wide events to encourage connections across teams and orgs. She is interested in strategies for increasing community engagement and fostering effective collaboration. 

Morgan received a B.S. in computer science from Tufts University.  

Saadiya Mutawakil

Senior Manager, Strategy and Operations, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Saadiya has spent her career supporting companies as they prepare for the future. As Senior Manager in the Strategy & Operations group of Johnson and Johnson Innovation (JJI), she provides strategic portfolio and analytics support across the organization’s entire portfolio. She works on behalf of all global therapeutic areas and the JJI Leadership team.

Before Johnson & Johnson, Saadiya focused on innovation strategy in management consulting, helping organizations like Pfizer, AbbVie, GSK, Viacom, the US Department of Education, and Amazon pivot to meet the demands of a changing world. She spent a few years leading consumer research and healthcare strategy focused on rare diseases, and has also worked in design strategy within the health and tech spaces.

Nina Pittas

Product Manager, Pear Therapeutics

Nina is a Product Manager at Pear Therapeutics leading their provider dashboard product ( team. In her free time she enjoys running, playing piano, and spending quality time with friends and family.

She earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Tufts University.

Aviv Preminger

Senior Associate Scientist, Sigilon Therapeutics, Inc

Aviv is a Principal Associate Scientist at Sigilon Therapeutics, a biotech startup focused on harnessing the power of cells to treat chronic illnesses. As a bench scientist he is utilizing tissue engineering to produce improved stem cell derived pancreatic islets with the goal of providing a functional cure for patients with type one diabetes. Prior to joining Sigilon, Aviv graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in biology, neuroscience, and economics. 

Aviv will be starting a new journey this fall and pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering. After completion of his degree he hopes to return and contribute to the Boston startup ecosystem.

Varun Ramdevan

Global Digital Health and Technology Partnerships, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Varun is responsible for external innovation partnering for Digital Health, Data Platforms and Enterprise Technology at Johnson & Johnson Innovation. He works across J&J and the early-stage technology ecosystem to help shape early incubation, investment and partnerships that shape J&J’s health technology portfolio. He also leads a global technology organization supporting the J&J Lung Cancer Initiative and New Ventures group.

Varun has an MBA from Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business and has gained rich experiences in areas including Medical Device R&D M&A and economic research. Before his current role, Varun guided strategy and data-driven approaches for J&J’s Medical Devices R&D investment decisions. He also has helped bootstrap digital health initiatives related to post-orthopedic surgical care. 

Varun supports a Boston startup ecosystem as a mentor and angel investor in energy tech and health tech.

Raheleh Rezaei-Araghi

Senior Scientist II, BioNTech

Raheleh is a Senior Scientist II and scientific leader of an immuno-oncology project at BioNTech. She has received her PhD in Organic Chemistry from Free University of Berlin, Germany and started her post-graduate career at Kendall Square by joining MIT as a postdoctoral researcher. Either as part of larger organizations or startup companies in Cambridge, she has led medicinal chemistry efforts and had contributions in several drug discovery projects from early stage to clinical candidate selection.

Lyndsey Rissin

Site Head, LabCentral 238

Lyndsey Rissin is the Site Head and Director of Operations at LabCentral 238. She is passionate about science and the people that make it happen! Lyndsey is grateful to lead an amazing team of operations, lab operations, and facilities personnel who collectively support 238’s bold resident companies who are developing novel therapeutics such as cell and gene therapies. She is excited to build upon 238’s emphasis on process development and manufacturing readiness given its critical impact on a therapeutic’s success.

Previously, Lyndsey worked in Lab Operations at LabCentral’s flagship location at 700 Main Street and for Quanterix Corporation where she worked on process development and technology transfer projects. She is a Tufts University “double Jumbo”, with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management.

Outside of work, Lyndsey enjoys being a mom to her toddler daughter and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

Megan Keegan Rivera

Senior Manager, Operations, LabCentral

Megan Keegan is a senior manager of operations at LabCentral. She works on LabCentral’s expansion projects, including the buildout and design of the space as well as managing ongoing construction and operational readiness. She also works with companies looking to join LabCentral to help determine their fit for various sites and runs the Selection Committee process.

Megan joined the LabCentral team in 2014 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rhode Island and is currently working on her MBA from Boston University.

Rachele Ryan

Director, Partnerships, LabCentral

Rachele Ryan is the Director of Partnerships at LabCentral, a Massachusetts non-profit organization, founded in 2013 as a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups. In this role she is responsible for business development strategy, resident company growth and development, and leading entrepreneurship programming for LabCentral’s newest initiative, LabCentral Ignite. 

Rachele’s professional career has revolved around connecting startups to the Boston/Cambridge innovation ecosystem. Prior to joining LabCentral, Rachele led the MassCONNECT mentoring program at MassBio, the Massachusetts biopharma industry association. In that role, she matched life sciences entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life science professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. Previously, as a part of the International Business Development team at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, she assisted Canadian companies with their expansion efforts into New England and supported fast-growing startups participating in the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Boston (CTA@Boston).

Rachele holds a BA from College of the Holy Cross and an MA from Middlebury College. She currently serves as an Advisory Board member for the digital-health focused accelerator PharmStars.

Rahul Sangodkar

Principal Engineer, Amgen

Rahul is a Principal Engineer in the Drug Substance Technologies organization at Amgen. He has worked across different stages of clinical and commercial pharmaceutical process development, notably, to develop, characterize, transfer and validate processes that are robust and sustainable, which are enabling to the delivery and supply of drug substance. Rahul has contributed to the advancement of several clinical products and approved products, including, Lumakras®, Corlanor®, Kyprolis®, and Tavneos®. He is passionate about defining and optimizing cross-functional business processes and strategies to enable continuous improvement with focus on technology transfer and risk assessments. In addition to his cross-functional leadership roles at Amgen, Rahul leads collaborative initiatives for new technology development across 15 pharmaceutical and biotechnology member companies through the Enabling Technologies Consortium, and is an advocate and active member of outreach efforts in the community.

Rahul earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering and Graduate Program in Management Practice from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Namrata Sengupta, PhD

Associate Director for Science Engagement, Policy, and Advocacy

Namrata Sengupta is the associate director for science engagement, policy, and advocacy at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Based in Broad’s offices of communications and government relations, she develops and leads programs and community partnerships to advance Broad’s public engagement efforts and organizes strategic thinking and connectivity on matters concerning government relations and public policy across the institute. Sengupta facilitates Broad’s relationships with neighboring communities; local, state, and federal government; international delegations; and the general public. She is also responsible for overseeing the Broad Discovery Center and related public outreach and educational efforts.

Outside of Broad, Sengupta serves as an adjunct professor of science communication at Clemson University. She is on the board of directors of two Boston-based nonprofits, Asian Women for Health and The Innovation Trail of Greater Boston, and is one of the Kendall Square Association’s Emerging Leaders. She speaks at various career panels and gives invited lectures on STEM careers and science communication in the higher education community. 

Sengupta holds a Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from Clemson University, an M.S. in biotechnology from Bangalore University, and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Calcutta.