Meet the team

Veronica Varela


Veronica is the first person in her family to pursue higher education and received her Bachelor's degree from California State University, San Bernardino As a PHD student at the University of Michigan, Veronica felt vulnerable  and isolated being the only woman of color in her lab. This isolation is what drove her to start Science in Color with her husband and a group of friends. She sits on several committees focused on diversity and is a NSF GRFP Scholar. However, she claims her biggest accomplishment so far is raising her two daughters.

Alex Varela


Alex Varela is a native of California's Inland Empire, where he was born and raised. Currently residing in Michigan, he is pursuing a doctoral degree in Pharmacology at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he studies proteases in cancer. Of Central American descent, Alex is a first generation student, obtaining his Bachelor's degree in Psychology at California State University, San Bernardino. A big believer in science communication and education, Alex strives to make the scientific world accessible to people of all walks of life, especially those traditionally left out.

Jonte Jones

Public Relations Manager/Contributor/co-founder

  Jonte Jones is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in psychology in Ohio State and a master’s in biopsychology from the University of Michigan.  He currently resides in Michigan where he works as a research lab technician and is a co-founder of the outreach organization Mentoring Youth and Early Learners in Neuroscience (MYELIN).  Jonte hopes to pursue work where he can uplift, celebrate, and support those in the scientific community who have traditionally not been represented.     

Janel Ochoa

Chief Operating Officer

Janel is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with a subplan in Zoology at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. She is a member and mentor of the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program that prepares students for college and professional careers. While working as a laboratory technician at the University of Michigan, she realized her passion didn’t lie within research as originally thought, but in advising others through their academic journey. Janel is also a mother to a child that aspires to achieve a career in science. Her greatest accomplishment has been the positive example she has been to her daughter by working past obstacles to pursue and finish her degree.  

Tony Larkin


Nadia Perez

Social Media Officer/Contributor

Nadia received her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Zoology at UNC Pembroke. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan. She wouldn’t be where she is without outreach programs, like Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence and Success (SPINES), to help guide her journey. 

Our Story

Science in Color originated from the struggles, frustrations, and challenges Veronica experienced on her journey through graduate school. Meeting with Alex and Jonte weekly to discuss and vent about their individual experiences in STEM settings, Veronica realized that sharing their different paths made them better able to cope with any obstacles life threw at them. Veronica, Alex, and Jonte decided to extend this sharing with the greater community with the goal of helping others through our own histories and experiences.