About Us

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Questions? Email: GrantWritingAcademy@stanford.edu

Director & Founder

Crystal Botham, PhD
Crystal Botham, PhD

Dr. Crystal Botham’s passion for writing proposals was ignited as a graduate student while writing an AHA fellowship. The Grant Writing Academy (started in 2014) is based on her successful Tackling Your K course (70% success rate for career development awards). In addition to being the founder and director of the Grant Writing Academy, she provides strategic advice to faculty and others in the Department of Pediatrics to enable competitive funding applications and productive research programs.


Associate Director of Equity Research & Training

Courtney Peña, PhD

Dr. Courtney Peña is a social scientist whose work centers equity and accessibility in higher education, specifically for trainees in the biosciences. In her role, she supports grant coaches in pedagogical training and leads equity-focused research initiatives. Check out her recent publications on navigating the reference letter seeking processsupporting first-gen/low-income (FLI) students in STEM, and creating a sense of belonging in research groups.



Associate Director of Research Development & Belonging

Amber Moore, PhD

Dr. Amber Moore is a trained immunologist whose goal is to connect individuals with the resources they need to excel holistically. Dr. Moore is leading the Grant Writing Academy’s new faculty-focused strategies for belonging and activities including new bootcamps, workshops, and resources development.



Special Projects Coordinator

Adela Tapia, MS

Adela graduated from Santa Clara University where she completed her M.S. in Marketing. She has worked for Kaiser Permanente and Wells Fargo and served in the United States Marine Corps as an Administrative and Legal Specialist. At the Grant Writing Academy, Adela provides administrative support and serves as the Special Projects Coordinator.

Graduate Research Assistant

Miroslav Suzara, MS

Miroslav Suzara is a 6th year PhD candidate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design program. He is also pursuing a Master of Science in Computer Science (MS CS) at Stanford’s School of Engineering. At the Grant Writing Academy he works with Dr. Courtney Peña on various mixed-methods research projects related to biosciences education and training in scientific communication.





Graduate Research Assistant

Leslie Luqueño, MA

Leslie Patricia Luqueño is a 3rd year PhD student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, specializing in the Sociology of Education. At the Grant Writing Academy, she works with Dr. Courtney Peña on qualitative research related to understanding graduate students’ motivational factors in the decision-making process of whether to apply to grants or not.

SBSA Graduate Student Fellowship Chairs

Emma Esterman

Emma is a second year in the Microbiology and Immunology program in the lab of Jan Carette. Emma is studying how certain host proteins influence enterovirus infection. Emma applied for and received the NSF GRFP in her first year. Outside of the lab, Emma enjoys making pottery, hiking and playing the violin. She is excited to support students as they apply for grants.



Nicole Tanenbaum

Nicole is a rising second year in the Microbiology and Immunology program in the lab of Jan Carette. Nicole is researching how a group of viruses called enteroviruses hijack their hosts. With the help of Stanford’s grant writing resources, Nicole applied for and received the NSF GRFP in her first year. In her free time, Nicole enjoys cooking, reading, doing science outreach, and hiking. She looks forward to helping other students navigate the grant writing process.


Current Grant Coaches

  • Stephanie Balters, PhD

    Dr. Stephanie Balters is an early career computational scientist (engineer) moving into the field of precision medicine as it applies to women’s mental health. She has dedicated her career to understanding neural mechanisms that contribute to suboptimal outcomes in women (e.g., PTSD). Another essential component of her research is identifying social factors that contribute to these outcomes and developing interventions to improve well-being and productivity (e.g., enhancing belonging). She foremost utilizes portable near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging to elucidate single-brain and inter-brain functions in naturalistic environments. She is also an expert in design innovation research and human-machine applications (e.g., NATO Human Factors Specialist).

    Stephanie Balters, PhD
  • Samuel Thompson, PhD

    Dr. Samuel Thompson (postdoctoral researcher, Department of Bioengineering, under Polly Fordyce) believes that biotechnology can tackle challenges in pollution, climate change, and pathogenic resistance. They engineer proteins as advanced materials that fold and function in non-aqueous solvents. Raised in West Texas, educated in Boston and San Francisco (with significant stints in Japan and Singapore) – they believe that new contexts challenge us and our preconceptions. Samuel was fortunate to have early career mentors who openly co-wrote grants with trainees, a goal that Samuel shares. Samuel also dabbles in abstract drawing, creative writing, and cooking/baking. Ask them about sage banana bread.

    Samuel Thompson, PhD
  • Rebekah Gullberg, PhD

    Dr. Rebekah Gullberg is a postdoctoral fellow in the Biology department, where a Dean’s Fellowship funded her research on how infectious viruses are built inside human cells. This past year, she participated in the Women Empowerment K-series boot camp, where she learned grant-writing skills and reflected on her scientific journey, career goals and vision for her future. Since this experience was so powerful for her, she is eager to provide similar experiences for others by being a grant coach. She also volunteers as chair of the sports groups with SURPAS where she leads hikes and encourage postdocs in active communities.

    Rebekah Gullberg, PhD
  • Colwyn Headley, PhD

    Dr. Colwyn “CoCo” Headley is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Philip Tsao, at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Headley’s research examines the interplay among aging-associated immune dysregulation, cellular senescence, and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases. In the simplest sense, Dr. Headley is investigating whether putting new engines (mitochondria) in old cars (aged cells), can help the old cars run better and longer. CoCo became interested in Grant Coaching after participating as a trainee, and hopes to pay it forward by providing meaningful critiques and suggestions, to his trainees.

    Colwyn Headley, PhD
  • Elizabeth Mayne, MD PhD

    Dr. Elizabeth Mayne is a physician scientist studying neurologic recovery in animal models of pediatric stroke. Clinically, she works in the hospital treating children with severe brain injuries. She has taught a wide range of topics, from kindergarten art classes to graduate level neuroscience seminars. Her grant writing experience includes writing, editing, and reviewing a range of proposals for both the NIH and private funding sources. As a previous participant in the K Empowerment Bootcamp, she is excited to return to the Grant Writing Academy as a Grant Coach co-leading the Pathways to Neuroscience Bootcamp.

    Elizabeth Mayne, MD PhD
  • MK Quinn, PhD

    Dr. MK Quinn is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medical School. She has her PhD in Population Health Sciences. Her research focuses on how policy impacts preterm infant health. She worked with the Grant Writing Academy to successfully submit an F32, and she had such a good experience that she applied to join the grant coaching team. She’s excited to work with students and postdocs on their applications. In her free time, you can find her out on the trails with her dog.

    MK Quinn, PhD
  • Amy Nippert, PhD

    Dr. Amy Nippert is a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford where she researches chronic pain. In both her graduate and postgraduate work, Amy has written multiple grants as well as served on informal grant study sections. In parallel to her academic writing, Amy has also focused on science communication, writing and editing articles for the general public. Amy is passionate about helping others achieve their writing goals. Starting from an undergraduate position as a writing tutor, she has continued to teach, mentor, and edit. As a grant coach, Amy is excited to help guide graduate students along the grant writing journey. In her spare time, Amy enjoys curling, ceramics, and reading science fiction.

    Amy Nippert, PhD
  • Albina Ibrayeva, PhD

    Dr. Albina Ibrayeva received her MS and PhD from University of Southern California, Los Angeles USA. Her graduate work was focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the decline of hippocampal activity with age. In her postdoctoral studies she focuses on understanding how different immune challenges accelerate neurodegeneration and cognitive decline during physiological aging. Dr. Ibrayeva values the importance of building collaborative relationships, empowering researchers to effectively present their ideas, and making a positive impact through diverse projects. She is committed to assisting others and focusing on ethical and responsible coaching, which contributes to the creation of a supportive community that fosters academic growth and research innovation.

    Albina Ibrayeva, PhD
  • Cellas Ari’ka Hayes, PhD

    Dr. Cellas Ari’ka Hayes obtained his bachelor's degree in 2019 and his Ph.D. in 2022 from the University of Mississippi. Throughout graduate school, he garnered recognition through the reception of numerous awards and accolades, with the pinnacle being the distinguished NIH NRSA F31 award. This accomplishment stood as a rare achievement that hadn't been achieved at the University of Mississippi for 37 years. Cellas attributes his grant writing success to the diversity of his mentors which he intends to disseminate to other trainees as a grant coach.

    Cellas Ari’ka Hayes, PhD
  • Iris van ‘t Erve, PhD

    Dr. Iris van ‘t Erve is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Diehn lab at Stanford University School of Medicine. She studies cell-free nucleic acids in the blood of cancer patients to personalize cancer treatments. Dr. van ‘t Erve’s research is funded by the Rubicon fellowship from the Dutch Research Council. The Falling Walls Foundation honored her as one of the top 20 female science talents of 2023. Beyond her primary research grant, Dr. van ‘t Erve has secured numerous grants and awards. Iris is passionate about teaching. Leveraging her expertise, she serves as a grant writing coach, guiding international graduate students and postdocs to success in their grant writing endeavors.

    Iris van ‘t Erve, PhD
  • Renato Navarro, PhD

    Dr. Renato Navarro is a K99 Postdoctoral Researcher in the lab of Sarah Heilshorn in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Navarro’s research aims to create sustainable, scalable, and clinically relevant biomaterials to address pressing cardiovascular challenges. Beyond his research, Dr. Navarro has a passion for mentorship and service. As a postdoc, he has mentored students from the Stanford BIO-X program, Stanford Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Foothill Community College. Dr. Navarro is excited to be a part of Grant Writing Academy, where he will work with post-baccalaureate and community college students to achieve their writing and career goals.

    Renato Navarro, PhD


  • Sheri Krams, PhD

    Senior Associate Dean, Graduate Education & Postdoctoral Affairs

    Sheri Krams, PhD
  • Ruth O'Hara, PhD

    Senior Associate Dean, Research

    Ruth O'Hara, PhD
  • Sofie Kleppner, PhD

    Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs

    Sofie Kleppner, PhD
  • Latishya Steele, PhD

    Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Diversity

    Latishya Steele, PhD