College of Engineering News Room
Five Women in Engineering Win 2020 USF Golden Bull Awards
by Russell Nay
Presented by the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, the award is one of USF’s highest honors and is given to 20 undergraduate and graduate students who exemplify exceptional leadership and service to USF. Five of this year's awardees are women of all degree levels in the College of Engineering.
A Ph.D. candidate in environmental engineering at USF and a certified sustainability professional, Wainella Isaacs has experience working in the environmental services industry and managing nonprofits. She holds a master’s degree in engineering science with a concentration in environmental engineering from USF, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and environmental and natural resources management with a minor in economics from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine. She graduated at UWI as the first Dual Valedictorian for the Faculties of the Science and Technology and Food and Agriculture. Her research interests focus on the nexus of sustainability, resilience planning, and the gender mainstreaming of water and energy infrastructure development.
As part of her graduate training, she has co-written grant applications for the Green Climate Fund on behalf of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Barbados Water Authority. During her Ph.D. studies, she has also worked on projects related to green infrastructure for stormwater and nutrient management, water resources management for mosquito vector control, and taught classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Isaacs has received support from the USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP) program, USF Education Abroad, College of Engineering scholarships, and the NSF PIRE (Context Sensitive Implementation of Synergistic Water-Energy Systems) award. She has also worked for the last 4 years as a graduate student assistant for the College of Engineering’s diversity programs. In 2018, Wainella received the People’s Choice award in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition organized by the USF Office of Graduate Studies and was awarded a highly competitive Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship for Women in STEM in 2019. The fellowship covers a stipend, tuition and fees, medical insurance, and research and conference travel. She was one of 38 new awardees out of more than 500 applications received for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Isaacs has collaborated with WHYFARM (We Help You-th Farm), a NGO in Trinidad and Tobago, in the writing of a successful Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant that is promoting the importance of sustainable agriculture among youth and children. After completing her Ph.D. in August 2020, she will serve as an Operations Coordination Postdoc Intern in the Office of the Executive Director at the Green Climate Fund in South Korea. Wainella plans to leverage her graduate and postdoctoral experiences to continue working in sustainable infrastructure planning and policy development for the water, energy and agriculture sectors in Guyana and the Caribbean Region.
From Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, Tayler Mannarino is a graduating senior, Bachelor of Science candidate in the College of Engineering, majoring in chemical engineering. She is also a member of the Judy Genshaft Honors College.
Bulls for Kids (BFK) is a dance marathon program, one of the largest student run philanthropies on campus and one of USF’s top traditions. After serving on the team for one-and-half years, Mannarino was elected President in February 2017. At the event, the team engaged 900 USF students and logged over 5,000 hours of community service in one day. But their reach didn’t stop on campus. They also partnered with six local high schools to develop their own dance marathon programs and secured 87 different sponsorships. With these collaborations, Bulls for Kids had its most successful fundraising total to date at $175K for Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa, a 17% increase from the year before.
In 2018, Mannarino interned at Shriners Hospitals For Children where she learned about modern biomedical technologies related to cerebral palsy, spasticity, prosthetic and orthotic, radiology and rehab clinics. She later became an administrative assistant at the USF Morsani College of Medicine where she analyzed six years of data, coordinated and facilitated mock interviews for over 100 seniors, and created a career advising strategy.
The following year, Mannarino worked at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey where she helped implement a multimillion-dollar global savings project. Her last occupation was at Mitek Sports Medicine where she served as a new product development quality engineer.
During her tenure at USF, Mannarino also served as a tour guide for the Honors College,
is a member of the Global Citizens project, and won the Tampa Bay Lightening’s “Here’s
to You” award.
After graduation, Mannarino will be joining Johnson and Johnson’s Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) Program in which she will participate in three rotations around the country in the fields of engineering, quality and operations.
A junior in chemical engineering at USF and from New Dehli, India, Ridhi Mittal has been interested in chemistry and mathematics since she was in high school. In 2018, Ridhi published a poster on Spectroscopic Characterization of 2D Nanomaterials and presented at the USF Undergraduate Research Conference to 200+ attendees based on her research as a student assistant in the USF Department of Physics. Her work has future applications in biosensors and optoelectronics.
The following summer, Mittal joined Elanco Animal Health as a manufacturing engineering intern after interviewing with the company at a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Convention. During her internship, she saved the company $3,000 on electrical equipment and characterized raw materials for its products through research and statistical analysis. She is one of the company’s four interns out of 82 to obtain another internship with the company this summer.
Mittal is a student ambassador for Bulls LEAD, the first USF Engineering student leadership program created through the office of the dean. She’s also been involved in leadership roles with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at USF as a marketing chair, fundraising chair and for three years demonstrating chemistry experiments for visiting K-12 students at the organization’s USF Engineering Expo appearances. Mittal’s other efforts to give back to the Tampa Bay community include restoring residential gardens through the USF CHARGE program in 2017, teaching math to 20 K-12 refugee students through the USF Phoenix Tutoring Program, serving meals for Tampa Bay’s homeless residents at Trinity Café, and working with Ronald McDonald House Charities to prepare dinners for families of children being treated at Bay Area hospitals.
After graduating, she plans to work in industry as a manufacturing engineer to both help people around the world attain better access to proper food and nutrition and improve the well-being of companion animals. After working in industry for a few years, she plans to enroll in graduate school to learn engineering management and entrepreneurship and support her dream of having her own manufacturing company focused on making people’s lives happier and healthier.
Blanche Pinto is a master’s graduate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. She completing her bachelor's degree in three years and graduated summa cum laude. Over the course of her academic career, Blanche has interned at Deutsche Bank as a software developer and twice at Twitter as a software engineering intern. Her projects ranged from developing a desktop application to automating testing, as well as developing a chatbot.
As an undergraduate student, she conducted research on the Pepper robot at the Advancing Machine and Human Reasoning (AMHR) Lab at USF where she developed code to aid in Pepper’s computer vision algorithm. More recently, Blanche worked on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) at the Neuro-Machine Interaction Lab (NMIL), developing artistic BCI applications such as brain painting — a new technology where one can paint in a 3D, virtual world using only their minds. With her passion for BCIs, she co-founded the USF Brain-Computer Interface Club to encourage more interest in the technology and helped organize one of the first brain drone races in the U.S. — a competition where participants race small drones with nothing but their brain activity.
Apart from this, Pinto has volunteered her time as an executive board member organizing USF’s annual Engineering Expo as well as mentoring students through the Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE) organization at USF.
She first learned about the Golden Bull Award as an undergrad when she volunteered with the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE), helping organize events and leading students during weekly volunteering trips. In 2018, she was awarded the Golden Bull Award as she graduated with her bachelor’s degree.
Blanche will be joining Apple’s Bluetooth Quality Team as a Tools & Automation Engineer at their headquarters in Cupertino, California. She is incredibly passionate about giving back to the community, especially helping other women succeed in STEM. She hopes to one day serve as a role model for other girls looking to pursue careers in tech.
Molly Skinner is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from USF. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in May 2017 and her master's degree in biomedical engineering in December 2019 from USF. She is currently working in the Drug and Gene Delivery Lab at USF where she transfers materials into cells and tumors using electrogenetransfer. Her master’s thesis focused on expediting the genetic modification of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells (CAR-T cells) using electrogenetransfer. After graduation, Skinner plans to continue to conduct research to perfect drug and treatment plans for blood and immune diseases like leukemia.
Skinner has been highly involved in USF’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), holding a multitude of leadership positions. She is currently a GradSWE chair, a position she co-founded to create programming for the graduate community at USF. She is also involved in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at USF and USF Engineering Alumni Society (EAS). In 2020, Skinner was named the Student of the Year for EAS.
Skinner conducted undergraduate research using natural polysaccharides to combat neurodegenerative diseases. She presented this research at USF’s Undergraduate Research Colloquium and was one of thirty to receive the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award. During the summer of 2018, Skinner took part in a National Science Foundation fellowship at the International Research Experience for Students at the National University of Singapore. While there, she used hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry to study how osmolytes affect the structure of viruses. She received first place at the collegiate competition of SWE’s WE Local Tampa with this research.
In 2016, Skinner and her family founded the SkinnerStrong Foundation in honor of her brother Joe who passed away from Hypodiploid Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 17. Skinner is secretary and social media coordinator for the foundation. The foundation has contributed close to $80,000 for research and care of those impacted by childhood leukemia.