Dr. Kamal Khan is the Director of the Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences (ODASIS)—an academic support unit within the Division of Life Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus—as well as an Associate Professor for the Department of Africana Studies and the Division of Life Sciences at Rutgers University. For over 30 years, Dr. Khan has dedicated his professional career to undergraduate instruction and academic development in efforts to increase and retain the number of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students at Rutgers who pursue majors and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Since Dr. Khan’s arrival at Rutgers, he has worked tirelessly to expand the university’s graduate pool of professionals and strengthen the country’s workforce by increasing the number of physicians, nurses, dentists, engineers, and mathematicians serving and diversifying the field.
Dr. Kamal Khan brings to his position a professional degree in medicine. His excellence as an administrator is based in his dedication to student advancement in the sciences and his commitment to demonstrate the effectiveness of support programs for underrepresented and educationally disadvantaged students. Dr. Khan believes that, “in order to motivate a student you need to build a rapport with the student that consists of trust, relationship and confidence.” A Rutgers alumnus himself, he is known for his “tough love” for the students, which is exactly the kind of attitude that encourages students to go on to professional health education.
Office Phone Number: 848-445-7532
Jonathan has received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rutgers University—New Brunswick and he is currently in his dissertation phase of his Ed. D. program where he is studying the effects of Supplemental Instruction on First Year General Chemistry students. Jonathan is a diligent, proactive, and versatile higher education professional with over a decade of experience in management and student counseling. He is an effective, results oriented leader with a proven track record of effectuating grade productivity and graduation efficiency. Jonathan is a strategic planner with an acute acumen for analyzing complex academic scenarios and increasing operational and organizational efficiency to promote academic achievement. His areas of expertise are in leadership, student rapport, pedagogical theory, and administrative oversight. Jonathan is interested in learning to understand and use theories and research methods to meet the challenges of practice, particularly those related to equity and social justice in education.
Jonathan and his wife Sarah, reside in Morristown, New Jersey with their beagle, Bailey. Jonathan is a faithful contributor to the Beagle Freedom Project (http://bfp.org/), as well as Animal Rescue, Media & Education foundation (http://armeteam.org/)
Office Phone Number: 848-445-1548
Senior Program Manager
Sara M. Yllescas received her Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in Public Health and during her undergraduate studies was also an ODASIS scholar. She attributes her discipline to the work ethics nurtured from the program. Upon completing her bachelors, she went on to attain a Master degree in International Relations, and further studies at Columbia University. As a master scholar Ms. Yllescas was chosen to be the Student Delegate for the Columbia Interschool Governing Board, and the Co-President of the First generation and Diverse Background scholar Organization. Her commitment for academic inclusion; amplifying university partnerships; and enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration for faculty and students have been her areas of focus. This devotion for inclusion and partnership building led her to work for the Permanent Mission of the Bahamas to the United Nations, where she published a political draft titled, ‘Well-being of peoples in fisheries industry in the Bahamas to achieve UN agenda 2030. Her work was based on the goals outlined in the UN SDGs and addressed the inter-linkage of several goals, namely Goal 3 about health and well-being, Goal 8 about Decent Work, and Goal 5 about Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The proposed plan is intended to integrate into the proposal for a National Policy of the Oceans in the Bahamas.
In ODASIS, Ms. Yllescas has a purpose to continue the legacy of enhancing career development and mentoring opportunities for all scholars whiles also maximizing support for all students. Her goal will be to continuously design and implement programs to support student development, including improvements in tutoring programs, STP summer school and improving retention rates for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
Office Phone Number: 848-445-3491
Developmental Specialist for Biology
Yayoi Kumata received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Rutgers School of Nursing in New Brunswick, NJ where she double majored in Nursing and Psychology and minored in Chemistry. Yayoi has 10 years of teaching/tutoring experience in various math and science subjects such as Calculus, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Neurobiology, Anatomy and Physiology as well as various standardized tests such as MCAT, DAT, and OAT. She has been awarded the Top MCAT Instructor award and Top Graduate Instructor award from her previous employers and her strengths in teaching stem from her ability to break down difficult concepts into simple explanations that build on fundamental concepts.
Yayoi has clinical experience in various medical settings which she shares with her students who are also interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. Since most of the students at ODASIS are pursuing a career in healthcare, Yayoi’s experience in the medical field as well as her expertise in all the sciences benefit the students. Since her students are mostly first-year students, as a Developmental Specialist, Yayoi focuses on developing the students’ study skills, time management skills, and organization skills to ensure success for her students in both current and future courses.
Office Phone Number: 848-445-3494
Developmental Specialist for Mathematics
David Lo received his Master of Business & Science in Personal Care Science at Rutgers Graduate School and Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Healthcare Administration at Seton Hall. David has over 10 years of teaching and tutoring experience in a variety of courses from the maths to sciences, winning several teaching awards. He has significant experience in many aspects of the health care system from administration to clinical experience and has advised many students on applying and preparing for health professional schools.
David is also the co-founder and CFO of a health screening nonprofit called North American Disease Intervention (www.NADIaid.org) which trains volunteers to provide free health screenings (BP, BMI, EKG, etc.) to members in the community. Since 2014, the nonprofit has trained over 450 volunteers to conduct over 2000 health workshops across New Jersey. His teaching and research interests lie in developing more effective and efficient study methods for students and distilling difficult concepts into simple explanations.
Office Phone Number: 848-445-9514
Shama Huq is a graduate of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Economics with minors in English and Physics. She originally joined the ODASIS team as an Administrative Assistant, and has enjoyed providing programmatic support and taking on a more comprehensive role as Administrative Coordinator for the office. During her time at ODASIS, she has honed her expertise in the efficient planning and execution of logistical and administrative functions.
Prior to working at ODASIS, Shama worked for the Monmouth County Park System as an Assistant Naturalist, where she had the opportunity to lead nature walks, boat tours, and conduct animal presentations with turtles, frogs, snakes, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches, among other animals native to the local ecosystem. She is passionate about the environment, equality, and social justice.
Shama strives tirelessly to ensure the success of all programs and initiatives for the office. Her greatest joy on the job is being able to support the goals of the ODASIS students.
Office Phone Number: 848-445-9515
Karolline Costa received her Master’s of Education at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and her Bachelor’s from Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, where she double majored in Political Science and History.
Throughout her academic and professional career, Karolline has held a variety of teaching roles. As a Barbara Voorhees Douglass College Mentor and Teaching Assistant, she was tasked with co-teaching Douglass Residential College’s key first year course, “Issues in Women’s Leadership.” Later as a Rutgers University Student Services in Transition Seminar Instructor, Karolline oversaw the process of helping transfer students connect to RU and encouraged their self-assessment skills to facilitate successful academic performance and address their developmental needs during the first term.
For years, Karolline worked in an international medical company, that focused on bariatric and minimally invasive surgery, to coordinate in-services for doctors and hospital staff all over the world.
Now joining the ODASIS team as Administrative Assistant, Karolline is eager and ready to assist students and staff achieve their goals!