Speakers 2024

Radenka Maric, Ph.D.

Radenka Maric, Ph.D.

President, University of Connecticut

Radenka Maric was named the 17th president of the University of Connecticut by the Board of Trustees on September 28, 2022. She had served as UConn's vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship since 2017. As president, she is responsible for Connecticut’s $1.5 billion public flagship university with five campuses, more than 30,000 students, and an extensive network of research and service endeavors.

Dr. Maric also holds the rank of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Chair Professor in Sustainable Energy in UConn’s Departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. She formerly served as Executive Director of the UConn Technology Park and Innovation Partnership Building from 2015 to 2017.

As VPRIE, Dr. Maric led UConn’s diverse research enterprise, with more than 300 staff members reporting to her at UConn and UConn Health. Under her leadership, new research awards to UConn and UConn Health doubled, growing from $184 million in FY 2017 to $376 million in FY 2020.

Dr. Maric has spearheaded innovative seed-funding initiatives to support faculty early-stage research and creative work across the university. She also has developed new programs to promote interdisciplinary, multi-campus, multi-stakeholder collaborations, including: Innovation Grant in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), Scholarship and Collaboration in Humanities and Arts Research Program Awards (SCHARP).

Dr. Maric’s work has included overseeing UConn’s technology commercialization initiatives, including licensing, patenting, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Dr. Maric holds the rank of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2019), the National Academy of Inventors (2019), and the International Association of Advanced Materials (2020) and is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

Her many recognitions include receiving a Fulbright Chair Professor appointment at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy (2016-2017), a fellowship from the Japan Organization for the Promotion of Science (2012), the Leadership Award from the National Research Council of Canada (2009), and the Hartford Business Journal’s Women in Business Award (2020). Governor Lamont appointed her to serve on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Innovations in 2020, and she is a member Oracle Research Strategy Council.

Dr. Maric is a world leader in technologies for clean energy and sustainability. She has significantly advanced understanding of materials and catalysts and has developed innovative manufacturing processes involved in fuel cell technologies, storage materials, and electrochemical sensors for health applications, leading to higher-performance, commercially viable clean energy systems.

Her scholarly work has resulted in more than 300 articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings, 21 book chapters and invited review articles in major journals, one book published, and two books under preparation. She also has six issued patents and 11 published patent disclosures. She serves on numerous review panels for the Department of Energy, the European Commission, and Horizon 2020 and serves as a board member of the International Academy of Electrochemical Energy Science.

Student Speakers

Perpetual Essence Adachukwu Chiamaka Taylor

School of Medicine: Perpetual Essence Adachukwu Chiamaka Taylor

Perpetual Essence Adachukwu Chiamaka Taylor was born in Framingham, MA and raised in Cromwell, CT but is very proud of her Nigerian (Igbo) heritage. As a Christian, she has always believed in taking care of those who cannot care for themselves- this value has guided her throughout her life. Perpetual has been interested in becoming a physician since she was a little girl and her experiences witnessing her youngest brother, Jayden, suffer from congenital heart disease as an infant inspired her to pursue pediatrics. She attended Southern Connecticut State University and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Chemistry minor. Shortly thereafter, she became a behavior technician and cared for a young boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder using Applied Behavioral Analysis to teach him new skills; this experience was the first of many to entice her toward pursuing child psychiatry. Matriculating into UConn School of Medicine in August 2020, Perpetual made it a point to become involved in extracurricular activities, including but not limited to becoming the Mentorship Chair of the Student National Medical Association, President of the Christian Medical Dental Association, student representative for the Admissions Committee and Clinical Skills Program, and volunteering at Hands on Hartford and South Park Inn homeless shelters. Perpetual’s ultimate dream is to work in a pediatric emergency room, stabilizing children with medical and/or psychiatric crises and treating every patient and their family member with compassion, dignity, and humility. She attributes her success to God, her family members, close friends, and mentors, without whom she would not be in the position that she is in today.

Anthony Perez-Pino

School of Dental Medicine: Anthony Pérez-Pino

Anthony Pérez-Pino was born in Miami, Florida, to a proud Cuban family. He will be the first in his family to pursue a doctoral degree in the United States. He graduated from Florida State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. During his high school years at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, he grew to adopt the school’s motto “men for others” and knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving others. During his time in dental school, he served as a leader in several organizations such as the Hispanic Student Dental Association/Student National Dental Association (HSDA/SNDA), Hartford Health Education Program, American Student Dental Association (ASDA), Orthodontics Interest Group, and served as a student representative for the Office of Admissions. Throughout this time, he developed a profound passion for mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals, including underclassmen who are interested in pursuing dental specialties. He has co-authored multiple manuscripts with his underclassmen mentees for submission to prestigious journals in Orthodontics and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He also published multiple research studies in the realm of orthodontics, artificial intelligence, and dental public health. Furthermore, he has extensively worked in the field of Orofacial Pain and TMD, an emerging specialty, with a manuscript pending publication. After graduating, Pino will continue his education in an Orthodontics residency at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There, he aims to acquire the skills necessary to make a lifelong impact on his patients and serve his community. He gives special thanks to the wonderful faculty at UConn, his family, loving partner Alexandria, friends, classmates, and mentors for guiding him. They have all played a significant role in helping him achieve the degree of his dreams from UConn.

Nuratu Quarshie

The Graduate School: Nuratu Quarshie

Master of Public Health student Nuratu Quarshie was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was raised in Accra, Ghana. In May 2021, she graduated from Westminster College, MO, with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Public Health, where she occupied various leadership positions, such as senator of the student government association, peer health educator, student ambassador, and president of two organizations. Her academic excellence led to her induction into Tri-Beta, a biology honor society, recognizing her scholarly achievements.

Driven by her passion for global health, Quarshie founded the Health Haven Foundation for marginalized communities in Ghana, which aims to provide accessible and comprehensive primary care services. Under her leadership, the foundation launched the Access Health Initiative, securing a $10,000 grant to further its impactful work. She is also actively engaged in efforts to provide nutritious meals for primary school students in Tanzania, acknowledging the interdependence of health and education.

Quarshie's dedication extends beyond borders, as she mentors young girls in Cape Coast, Ghana, empowering and guiding them to pursue careers in public health and STEM fields. Her capstone project, "Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health Through Mobile Clinic Services for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa," reflects her innovative approach to addressing critical health disparities. Quarshie 's impact continues to resonate in her advocacy and education efforts at the Women's Center at UConn Storrs, where she worked under the Violence Against Women’s Prevention Program (VAWPP). She also worked with the New Britain Health Department for her practicum project, contributing to the development of a Community Health Needs Assessment and Health Improvement Plan.

After graduation, she plans to work in the global health sector in her pursuit of a more equitable world.