2022 W.E. Cornell cohort celebrates STEM innovation

2022 W.E. Cornell cohort celebrates STEM innovation

Women Entrepreneurs (W.E.) Cornell is excited to introduce the newest cohort of STEM scholars working to commercialize their research and innovations.  

Created in 2019 to support women-identifying STEM students as they bring their inventions to market, the W.E. Cornell program helps cohort members overcome the challenges of starting and scaling a technology-based business. Combining entrepreneurship curriculum with leadership development, participants leave W.E. Cornell prepared to take the next steps in their startup journey. 

The program operates annually on a 2-semester cycle, with Phase 1 open to any entrepreneurially-minded and female-identifying student. During the fall semester, Phase 1 participants attend workshops to learn more about entrepreneurship, leadership, and commercialization and network with potential mentors from the W.E. Cornell Advisory Board.  

Then, a select group of participants is chosen to move to Phase 2 in the spring. Throughout this phase, the W.E. Cornell cohort takes part in an NSF I-Corps Regional Course, where they conduct customer discovery and hone their market fit and customer base. They continue to engage with mentors, participate in workshops, and practice business pitches. The program culminates in a Demo Day and celebration where they present their work to the Advisory Board and community members.  

“We are the future of entrepreneurship,” said Allison Chhay ’24. “I hope to learn how to navigate the tough space of women-led entrepreneurship, grow my idea, and gain support from my peers and mentors.”  

This year’s cohort also comes with the launch of the ClimateTech Track, a call-to-action for female entrepreneurs to use their innovative work to tackle local, national, and global climate challenges. Rebecca McCabe, Ph.D. ’26 and Monica Theibault, M.S. ’23 are the inaugural participants and will be receiving additional mentorship, coaching, and resources in the climate arena.  

“W.E. Cornell is so important because it’s open to women in STEM with no business or entrepreneurship background,” said McCabe. “I’m excited to gain exposure to the entrepreneurial way of thinking.”  

Meet the 14 entrepreneurs participating in the Spring 2022 cohort, and get a glimpse into their business plans: 

  • Allison Chhay, BS ’24 is modernizing mochi, a traditional Japanese sweet, by adding a healthy twist; 
  • Tiffany Chui, BS ’22 is developing a convenient, easy-to-eat food product that keeps consumers full for 2-3 hours; 
  • Jordan Cohen, MPS ’22 is creating an activewear brand made from recycled plastic;  
  • Armita Jamshidi, BS ’25 is providing women with snacks intended to trigger hormones as a sustainable option to alleviate PMS symptoms; 
  • Amanda Kaufmann, MBA ’23 is developing an app that incentives consumers to get educated on the environmental impacts of fast fashion; 
  • Keying Lao, BS ’22 is opening a sustainable cafe that serves customers healthy food and offers them arts and crafts activites; 
  • Josefina Martinez, BS ’23 is working to build sustainable tiny house neighborhoods run entirely on reusable energy, making tiny-home living a long-term and sustainable option; 
  • Rebecca McCabe, Ph.D. ’26 is creating a cost-effective ocean wave energy converter (WEC) wherein the geometry of the device is determined by an optimization algorithm to reduce material cost; 
  • Mia Muschek, MBA ’23 is bringing education to the dessert industry with a spherical ice cream treat that resembles the internal structure of a planet; 
  • Ruth Ogbemudia, BS ’25 is creating a skincare line for women with pigmented skin composed of natural ingredients from West African countries and their local economies, and will develop a computer algorithm that can diagnose skin conditions on-the-spot; 
  • Giorgia Scelzo, MS ’22 is launching a peer-to-peer furniture rental marketplace to reduce consumerism and boost sustainability;  
  • Mana Setayesh, BS ’25 is starting a sustainable line of clothing that adapts sizing to customers’ body types; 
  • Julia Sun, BS ’25 is developing an app that helps users stay in touch with old friends by sending automated messages on a regular schedule; 
  • Monica Theibault, MS ‘23 is creating lithium-sulfur batteries with the potential to overcome some of the environmental and functional drawbacks of current lithium-ion batteries. 

“We are so honored to work with this unbelievably brilliant cohort of students who are tackling hard, complex, important issues and making a difference in the world,” said program director Andrea Ippolito, B.S. ‘06, M.Eng ‘07.   

Follow along with the work of W.E. Cornell participants and alumni by staying tuned to the W.E. Cornell news feed.