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NSBP Visions: LaNell Williams and Duane Valz.

NSBP Visions squareThe NSBP Visions Seminar Series is designed to be a welcoming series of informal fireside chats highlighting a broad range of research ideas and topics. An NSBP member is paired with a seasoned scientist or thought leader from a different field (typically in science or technology) so that they may have a dialogue and find commonality in their differing opinions and interests. The purpose of these talks is to provide a platform for members to explore their research ideas, broaden their physics knowledge and network with professionals. Through this series, we aim to bring physics to the people: that is make physics accessible and understandable to the public. Moreover, as always, our mission is to continue to promote the image of the Black scientist and share our members’ excellence with the rest of the world.

The first speakers for this series are LaNell Williams and Duane Valz. 


  • LaNellWilliamsLaNell A. Williams is a current Ph.D. student at Harvard University studying soft condensed matter physics. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, LaNell graduated with her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Physics at Wesleyan University. LaNell went on to finish her Masters of Arts Degree from Fisk University and continued on to Harvard University to pursue her Ph.D. Her current research interest includes an in-depth analysis of the physics of self-assembled systems by studying the assembly pathway of viruses. She is a current member of the Equity and Inclusion committee in Harvard’s Physics Department. She is also the co- founder of the Women of Color Project (WOCP), an initiative geared towards providing women of color resources on graduate school applications. As of January 2020, she was elected as Councilor of the Forum on Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA) and the Forum on Early Careers (FECS). As of August 2020, she has also joined the APS IDEA – Steering committee.
  • DuaneValzDuane Valz has counseled a wide variety of privately held and public companies on law, technology and business matters. He is VP & General Counsel of Insitro, a venture-backed company applying machine learning and automation to disease target identification and new drug development. Prior to Insitro, Duane was VP & General Counsel of Zymergen Inc., a molecular technology growth company operating at the intersection of biology, chemistry, automation and machine learning. Duane was previously a senior member of the Patent Team at Google, where he led strategic IP initiatives bearing on mobile, cloud, web, and open source technologies. He was also previously Associate General Counsel in charge of patent development at Yahoo! Duane began his career at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin (now combined with Arnold & Porter LLP). Duane also serves on the Board of Directors for SMASH.org and is an advisory board member for UCOP's MESA program, both focused on supporting underrepresented students in the pursuit of educations and careers in STEM fields.