Our STEM Ambassadors

Garnet Abrams

Garnet grew up in the rural lumber company-owned town of Scotia in Northern California. With the mentorship of local scientists, her junior high science projects evolved into year-long research endeavors that reached the state competition in Los Angeles. Her passion for adventuring in the outdoors also began with backpacking and fishing trips with her father and younger sister. Garnet attended Stevenson high school on the Monterey Peninsula as a boarding student, where her interests in science and the outdoors were further nurtured.

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, she majored in Geoscience, focused on large scale database analysis and model forecasting for circulation patterns in the oceans and atmosphere. For her senior thesis, she worked with the Atmospheric Chemisty Group of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept. on the field deployment of its VCSEL hygrometer on NSF HIPPO campaigns IV & V. Research took her to Boulder, CO, Kona, HI, Anchorage, AK, and onboard the research craft as it travelled to 89.5°N. She presented analysis of atmospheric findings at the AGU Annual Conference in December 2011, a rare honor for an undergraduate. Meanwhile, her outdoor interest expanded to include rock and ice climbing and she had the invaluable experience of volunteering as an EMT and rescue technician with the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad.

Since graduation, Garnet has worked as a Field Engineer in Drilling & Measurement for oilfield services provider Schlumberger, based out of St. John’s, NL, Canada – the eastern-most point in North America. Work also frequently took her to the Gulf Coast, including Lafayette, LA and Houston, TX, as well as Alberta, Canada, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Colombia, and Alaska. Stationed on land and offshore oil rigs for several weeks in a row, she was responsible for operating well positioning and geological analysis technologies while drilling. She has continued to explore the outdoors wherever she is, including cross-country and downhill skiing. In fall 2016 she will enter the MBA program at the University of Utah Eccles School of Business and is thrilled to encourage STEM learning in her new home.

Gabriela Lizarbe

Gabriela Lizarbe was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in New Jersey. She is currently a first-generation student at Utah Valley University, double majoring in Biology and Emergency Services. She attended a vocational high school, studying medicine, in which she became CPR, and EMT Certified.  Throughout her college career, Gabriela has volunteered at Intermountain Healthcare, held leadership positions through the Science Association of Women, and is currently working at the Walmart Vision Center as an Optician. With her ambition and enthusiasm to one day become an Emergency Medicine Physician, she will be attending the Paramedic Program in the Fall of 2017.

As a young girl, it was always a priority to lend a helping hand, so volunteering became a lifestyle that she loves. Gabriela became interested in STEM when she attended a summer program in middle school, and it opened her eyes to the various science fields available. Now that she is in college, she believes that STEM programs are a great way to mentor youth and guide students to help them succeed in a field that they enjoy. As an Ambassador for the STEM Action Center, Gabriela wants to contribute to her community and inspire others to do the same. She is excited and thrilled to be a part of an amazing organization that will impact the students of Utah.

Micaela Purdin

Micaela Purdin is a junior at Northridge High School in Layton, Utah.  She plans to pursue a career in Mortuary or Forensics Science and is excited to participate in an internship at a mortuary this fall.  Micaela is also Assistant Director with the Up with Kids! children’s theater troupe in Kaysville where she works with students age 3-15 to learn scripts, songs, and choreography. Micaela enjoys volunteering at STEM Action Center booths and encouraging students to pursue STEM activities and careers.

Melanie Prettyman

Melanie Prettyman grew up in a small town in Maryland and is the eighth of ten children. During high school Melanie pursued theater, but switched to medicine after being inspired at SheTech, a STEM event for high school girls. Melanie is studying Pre Medical at the University of Utah, so that she can become a gynecologist. She spends her free time volunteering at the downtown homeless shelter and the Maternal Newborn Unit at the Hospital. Melanie has her CNA and works at the University of Utah in the Cardiovascular Surgical Unit. Her hobbies include swimming, reading and working to excite others younger than her to pursue their passion for STEM.

Michelle Ngo

Michelle Ngo is currently a pre-med student at the University of Utah. She plans on achieving a BS in Biology, minoring in Pediatric Clinical Research and Chemistry, and hopefully becoming a pediatrician one day. Michelle is a class representative for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) at the U of U, through this leadership opportunity, she has been able to help promote the health sciences and be involved with recruitment for prospective members.
As an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), she dedicates time to volunteer during the events they hold. These involve elementary school field trip visits to the University to learn and experience different chemical experiments. Michelle is also an Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant and enjoys assisting students with their knowledge of the topic. She is continuously seeking ways to promote STEM and hopes to apply her experience towards representing as an ambassador for the state of Utah and presenting opportunities for those interested in the STEM field.

Sasha Singh

Sasha is a junior at Beehive Science and Technology Academy. As a junior, she is also enrolled at Salt Lake Community College, and hopes to finish her Associates degree in the next 2 years. She is determined to do her best at school and has kept a straight 4.0 GPA all three years of high school, which has earned her two president’s education awards, principal distinction award, student of the month, and other certificates. She is also very interested in technology and has attended several camps and classes. She has a state certificate for Computer Technology, Digital Media, and Computer Science.
She is currently taking an AP Computer Science Principles class. Another program Sasha is participating in is the Congressional Award promoting Technology, Volunteering, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and exploration/expedition in her life. She is working towards her goal to earn a gold medal, that is awarded by the Congress in Washington D.C. Her biggest accomplishment as of this past year is being a STEM Ambassador for the state of Utah. She works with the governors office and STEM Action Center to help students and educators implement stem in their daily lives at school, work, home, etc. She is excited to contribute more and become a part of helping kids learn how exciting STEM can be!

Connor Bell

Connor was born and raised in Ogden, UT. He is currently earning his masters in Mechanical Engineering at Utah State University. His love of engineering stems from when he built (with the help of his dad) a 25 ft. draw bridge to cross the canal in his backyard. As an Ambassador for the STEM Action Center, his goal is to inspire kids and young adults to pursue STEM careers, even if they think it might be too hard for them. He had plenty of doubts along the way, and there were some amazing mentors that gave him reassurance, and he wants to “pay it forward.” When not studying or doing Thermo-Mechanical Fatigue (TMF) research, Connor love’s playing soccer, hiking, snowboarding, running, and supporting Chelsea F.C.

Ansley Funes

Ansley Funes, Miss Utah County, started in the Miss America Organization in 2015, she received 2016 Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen Committee Award and Scholastic Scholarship Award; In 2017, she was Pleasant Grove first attendant and won the Platform/Interview Award. Ansley graduated with her Associates of Science at Utah Valley University simultaneous with her high school diploma. She is currently attending Brigham Young University pursuing a degree in PD Bio with a minor in music. Her end goal is to achieve a Doctorate of Neontology. Ansley equally loves piano and dance. For eight years she has received superior in piano with the Federation of Music and performed a memorized 11 page concerto piece. Being trained in jazz, hiphop, classical, and ballet by one of Michael Jackson’s back up dancers, she won the 2017 Dance Sterling Scholar and was a national semi-finalist. At Utah’s Health Occupation Students of America Competition she placed 4th in Prepared Speaking. She’s serves our community as BYU ‘BEYou’ Ambassador, and volunteers at Boys and Girls Club of America as a STEM Educator.
Ansley is also an entrepreneur and has started a business. Her platform, F.I.T. in Eduction, stands for focused, intelligent and thriving. She travels to schools across Utah to host seminars and help students take a pledge to become educated learners through achieving higher education goals. Ansley’s drive is to promote education so we can all become ambassadors of our own lives and make an impact on others. This is close to her heart because as an adolescent she moved to a new state and had to rebuild herself from the inside out starting with her education first. She practices what she preaches through earning ten academic letters, two Keys to Success Awards, Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from President Obama, and the National Academy of Future Scientist & Technologists Award of Excellence. Currently, she is finishing her license to become a cosmetologist. Her motto is “ Everyone has unlimited potential; it is whether or not we choose to rise up to it that matters most.”

Taylor Fang

Taylor Fang is a student at Logan High School. She’s highly involved in STEM pursuits, especially those in technological fields. This past summer she had the opportunity to attend the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Outreach Summer program, and from this experience, started her own outreach event called GET: Girls Explore Tech. GET consists of a series of workshops over five weeks, and was the recipient of an inaugural Community Impact Grant from AI4ALL. She’s excited to help spread STEM to more people in Utah communities as a STEM Ambassador.

McKell Stauffer

McKell grew up in Sandy, Utah and is passionate about all things involving math, computer science, sports, chocolate and peanut butter. She is finishing up her B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Brigham Young University and will return in the fall for her PhD in Computer Science. She currently researches deep learning and hopes to become an AI Research Scientist for a major tech company one day.
During her undergraduate degree, McKell researched and wrote publications in a variety of subjects, including: machine learning, operations research, mechanical engineering, and instructional psychology and technology. She additionally wrote computer science labs for her program, interned at the Department of Defense, and presented her research in Princeton. She loves everything about what she studies and is excited to share how cool careers in mathematics, data science, computer science, artificial intelligence, statistics, and cryptography can be!!

Narine Ishhanov

Narine Ishhanov was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. She comes from an Armenian heritage. At the age of ten, Narine immigrated with her family to the United States of America in 2004. Narine’s dream is to become a dentist just like her great grandfather. She was always so inspired by her great grandfather’s selfless generosity to his community. He was not allowed to help and serve the people of the Soviet Union. He still found the courage and strength to help. He was the ultimate humanitarian. As a young student, Narine struggled  with Chemistry. In fact, she never took the course until college for the first time. It wasn’t until Narine took Organic Chemistry 1 when she absolute fell in love with the subject. Narine now aims to make those around her realize the idea that no matter how hard a subject field may be. It is important to never give up! She prides herself on the idea that if you dedicate yourself and remain consistent you will end up falling in love and gaining passion for the subject matter. Narine was recently crowned Miss Utah USA 2018. She will be representing the state of Utah at the Miss USA competition, which will be nationally televised on Fox. As an Ambassador for the STEM Action Center, her goal is to inspire kids, especially immigrant girls, to pursue an education and career in the STEM field. Narine is determined to complete her goal by becoming a  Dentist in the future. She is grateful for the opportunities she’s had with pursuing an education in the science field. She encourages everyone, especially young girls to understand the importance of a career in STEM. She finds the STEM field to be  stimulating, fulfilling, and provides its students with a great amount of stability.  She seeks to emphasize how important STEM careers are for our future! Narine will be graduating this upcoming Spring of 2018 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry. Narine is currently a CEO of a national transportation services trucking company, KTI Transportation INC. Ever since she was a young girl she was highly intrigued and fascinated by art. In her free time she loves to create new forms of art through painting.