Have you heard the phrase, “The future is female”? That just might come true with the help of student organizations like Scientista. Komal Pordal, a rising second-year College of Medicine student and Scientista’s treasurer, shares an inside look at NEOMED’s chapter of the largest network of female college, graduate school and professional school students.


Tell us about Scientista.

KP: The goal of our organization is to empower women pursuing education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical (STEM+M) fields by providing a strong campus community and visible role models. As an organization, we hope to work in conjunction with students of all ages in providing awareness and opportunities for women pursuing careers in STEM+M fields. 

Our chapter hopes to eventually create a mentorship program where Scientista members will have the opportunity to work with local high school students and encourage them to become interested in STEM+M fields.


Besides mentoring and bringing awareness to the STEM+M fields, what else does Scientista do?

KP: This past academic year, Scientista created the Josie Pophal Memorial Dodgeball Tournament, in honor of second-year College of Medicine student Charles Pophal’s mother, who passed away in 2017 after a long and difficult battle with stomach cancer. In honor of her devotion to women pursuing STEM degrees, the Pophal family set up a scholarship with Notre Dame College that will provide funds for dedicated female students pursuing degrees in mathematics and engineering. Our dodgeball tournament was created to help raise funds for the scholarship.

Scientista is also heavily involved in V-week—a whole week in February dedicated to raising awareness for women’s health. Scientista helps plan major events during V-Week, which often includes a play/performance put on by students and faculty.

Our group works very closely with Townhall II, a women’s shelter in Kent, Ohio. Many of our events have helped raise funds or collect needed items for the shelter.


What are Scientista meetings like?

KP: Our meetings take place monthly and we often call them “coffee break” meetings, since they typically take place at the Erie Island Coffee shop in the NEW Center. We plan future events, catch up with each other and take a break from our busy schedules.


What is special about Scientista?

KP: I have found Scientista to not only be an organization that creates impact in the community, but to be a family. Through monthly meetings and planning events, I have been able to interact with a variety of students and create strong friendships. Scientista prides itself in being an organization open to students from any NEOMED college (Medicine, Pharmacy or Graduate Studies). This allows members to spread awareness and create events that apply to masses of students, not just an individual niche. I have also found that every member in Scientista has the potential and capability to be heavily involved. With numerous events throughout the year, each student has the opportunity to make an impact and spread their ideas within NEOMED. This potential to create a difference in NEOMED is what Scientista is all about.


Is Scientista a NEOMED-only organization?

KP: Scientista is actually a national organization! NEOMED is unique in that it is one of the few medical schools that has a chapter. Be sure to check out the Scientista Foundation Facebook page with updates about what chapters across the country are doing.

For more information on Scientista, please contact advisor Michelle Cudnik, Pharm.D., an associate professor of pharmacy practice, at mcudnik@neomed.edu.

Share this post