IIT Association Organizes “Women Advancing STEM” Panel on Saturday

Mandy Pant
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CAMBRIDGE, MA–IIT Association of Greater New England, known as IIT AGNE, is organizing a panel discussion on “Women Advancing STEM” on Saturday, April 16, featuring five accomplished women. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education.

“Women have been leaders and have been at the heart of advances in all fields including STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They have done pioneering research and created new fields of study that have brought new products and other technology solutions,” organizers of the conference say. “Their work has opened new markets, educated and inspired the next generation. Women, above all, bring their unique perspective, knowledge base, skills, and talents including the arts and culture to all of their engagements in these fields.”

Attendees will hear the stories and perspectives of some amazing and inspiring women panelists engaged in the fields of STEM research, technology development, entrepreneurship, and education.

Who should attend: Women and men who lead organizations and teams, women and men engaged in STEM careers, women and girls interested in pursuing STEM careers including those interested in gaining new skills for second careers in STEM fields, students in middle and high school, college and beyond.

What: Panel Discussion on the unique contributions that women have made in advancing STEM fields, including problem solving, ideation and entrepreneurship and the challenges they face.

Moderator: Rita Advani, Director Regional Programming High Touch High Tech of New England and President, Bush Pond Ventures, LLC (Advancing Science Literacy for PreK – Grade 12)


  • Chitra Javdekar, Dean of STEM, Mass Bay Community College
  • Gitika Srivastava, Founder/CEO at Navya Network; and Partner at KAHM Capital
  • Kathy Vandiver, Director of the Community Outreach Education and Engagement Core at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Edgerton Center, MIT
  • Mondira Pant, Lead Technologist, Intel Corp.

When: April 16, 2016

Where: Havana Conference Room, 5th Floor, Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142

Panelist Bios

Chitra Javdekar

Chitra N. Javdekar is Dean of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at Massachusetts Bay (MassBay) Community College since July 2013. As Dean, she oversees various STEM departments at the College as

Chitra Javdekar
Chitra Javdekar

well as grants, projects, and initiatives. Her office is responsible for managing budgets and activities such as industry collaboration that advance the College’s mission. In addition to developing new academic programs at the college for the college’s traditional and non-traditional student population, she has led the development of several new enrichment and STEM mentoring and outreach programs for K-12 and college students at MassBay in collaboration with community and higher education partners.

Prior to becoming the Dean, Dr. Javdekar served as Department Chair and Professor of Engineering at MassBay.  She holds a M.S. in Civil (Structural) Engineering from Mumbai University, India, and a Ph.D. in Civil (Structural) Engineering from Tufts University, Massachusetts.

Kathleen Mead Vandiver

Kathleen M. Vandiver is presently the director of the Community Outreach Education and Engagement Core (COE2C) for the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS). She enjoys the position at MIT very much,

Kathleen M. Vandiver
Kathleen M. Vandiver

because it uses both her training in biomedical research and in science education.   Kathy received her PhD from the Tufts Medical School (now the Sackler Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences) and became a principal investigator on NIH and NIEHS grants through the Small Business Innovative Research program (SBIR) in the mid-1980s.  The company earned an R& D 100 Award in MA. Then after several years, in preparation for a new career, she entered Harvard Graduate School of Education to earn a Master’s in Education.

Kathy taught middle school science for 15 years in the Lexington Public Schools before working at MIT.  Her career as an innovative science teacher began with a bold collaboration with her 6th grade Teacher Team at Diamond Middle School.  With Lexington Foundation funding, they produced a project-based curriculum called Horace’s Fridays.  Also while at Diamond Middle School, Kathy designed and developed cell biology manipulatives and lesson plans that were later sold to the LEGO Education Company.  These original models were created from standard LEGO bricks and components.   The key part of the innovation however, was that the models were designed simulate how molecules actually work and interact, unlike most molecular models that are designed as statues.  The Vandiver models can be used to simulate cell processes like DNA transcription and translation that are difficult to learn.  When Kathy joined MIT in 2005, she improved the models further and set up a unique gallery at the MIT Museum for teaching the molecular biology with the LEGO DNA and Proteins to people of all ages.  Kathy now holds an US patent with her husband, J. Kim Vandiver, for the development of the latest DNA and Protein versions that can now be mass produced and distributed.  The DNA sets were released in February this year and the Protein Sets will soon follow this summer.

Gitika Srivastava

Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Navya Network (startup for medical decision making) and Partner/Founder KAHM Capital

Gitika Srivastava
Gitika Srivastava

Gitika graduated in computer science from Harvard University and has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. She has over fourteen years of experience as an entrepreneur and investor in early stage high tech and health care companies. Gitika was the CEO of Skyris Networks, which was acquired by Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s Timberline Venture Partners. She holds patents in distributed networking, databases, and search technologies, and decision making. Gitika is a pre-career tutor for undergraduates at Harvard and an advisor to many start-up companies and young entrepreneurs. She is also a Partner at KAHM Capital – an early stage venture capital firm, investing globally in high tech and health care and Founder/CEO at Navya Network – a startup for medical decision making.

Mondira (Mandy) Deb Pant

Mandy Pant
Mandy Pant

Academic Research Director at Intel, Dr. Mondira (Mandy) Deb Pant, works with leading academic researchers worldwide and technical experts at Intel to seed and drive research efforts in strategic areas of importance to the computing industry. Her core area of expertise includes VLSI devices and circuits, architecture, systems, on-chip power delivery, power management and power reduction. She has published 20+ technical papers in prestigious VLSI conferences and journals, has 2 issued patents and 5 pending patents.

Mandy received her Bachelors (B.Tech) in Computer Science and Engineering from I.I.T Kharagpur, India, a Masters (MS) in Electrical Engineering and a Doctorate (PhD) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

Mandy is an active proponent of STE(A) M for Women and young girls and has participated in various efforts in promoting it across the nation. In 2009, Mandy was recognized by Mass High Tech (A Massachusetts High Tech Journal) as one of the top 10 upcoming Women to Watch in the New England area. In 2013, she was recognized by the India New England journal as one of the top 20 South Asian Women of 2013 in the New England area. She has recently risen to the role of Technical Chair for Intel’s biggest internal technical design conference.

She is a proud Mom to two young girls ages 14 and 11 and is an avid reader, traveler, dancer and yoga enthusiast.

Rita Advani (Moderator)

Rita Advani
Rita Advani

Rita Advani is currently the Director for Regional Programming for High Touch High Tech of New England (www.ScienceMadefunNE.net ), an organization bringing science enrichment programs to students in PreK – Grade 8 throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  She is also the President of Bush Pond Ventures, LLC an organization focused on increasing science literacy for PreK-Grade 12.

She has developed an extensive science curriculum for preschool age students and a course to teach preschool educators on how to teach science to preschool age children. The course is accredited by MassAEYC (the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children).

Rita also has over 30 years of experience in marketing strategy, global product management and emerging markets development, in the supply chain, healthcare and loss prevention.





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