University of Chicago Arete

The Best People, The Best Ideas, The Best Research

We attract smart, interesting, and principled people who come from a variety of backgrounds including academia, social enterprise, business, law, development, and non-profits. This diversity allows us to bring an innovative, and sometimes unorthodox, approach to research strategy. As a team, we collaborate and learn from each other, our faculty partners, and their work. We value giving our team members an equal seat at the table.

Our team is composed of members from three campus units: The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation, and National Laboratories, the Office of Alumni Relations and Development, and the Office of Civic Engagement (Federal Relations). This unique composition allows us to work on projects across campus as well as federal and foundation funding opportunities. Our goal is to accelerate complex research projects while navigating barriers among faculty, funders, and University leadership in the most effective, efficient, and experienced way possible.

Samar Kaukab
Samar Kaukab
Executive Director of Arete
Samar Kaukab
Executive Director of Arete

A strong proponent of the idea that research matters, I am fascinated by the way in which research informs strategic pathways that are taken by decision makers in diverse contexts. Working with Arete has provided a window to the ever-widening potential for rigorous research and societal impact to comfortably coexist and enhance the other.

I am also inspired by the magic that can be found in mash-ups. My previous professional experiences in coalition leadership as the Executive Director of Ohio’s statewide sexual violence coalition, nonprofit management, and public/private partnership development have given me insights in how to form and sustain unexpected, yet highly-effective multidisciplinary teams. Through supporting complex research projects, my work with Arete has allowed me to enhance my capacity to understand and effectively reduce barriers to entry for complex teams to work together.  My portfolio of projects spans a diverse range of areas and includes supporting a group of leading faculty in the development of a University-wide computation strategy for the next decade, developing large-scale research opportunities through the University’s recent affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory, and launching the Computation Institute’s Knowledge Lab. In addition, my responsibilities include overseeing how the Arete team can work more effectively, which may well be the most interesting project I’ve had the opportunity to explore.

When I’m not telling yet another Never Ending Story “just one more time!” to my three little ones, I enjoy eating spicy food, binge television watching, and continuing my efforts in anti-sexual violence and American-Muslim social justice work.

J.D., Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Ohio State University, Oxford University, law, economics, and philosophy.

samarahmad@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Heather Caruso
Heather Caruso
Associate Professor of Behavioral Science, Strategic Advisor for Arete
Heather Caruso
Associate Professor of Behavioral Science, Strategic Advisor for Arete

I enjoy conversations that are thoughtful and lively, and I am energized by conversations that are inspiring and useful. In Arete, I get to make those conversations one and the same.

My work, like everything I do, is deeply informed by a lifetime of experience with my wonderfully (and increasingly) diverse family. From it I draw my instinct to show respect through critical thinking – an instinct subsequently honed in the process of getting my B.A. in Psychology from Stanford, as well as my A.M. in Social Psychology and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior-Social Psychology from Harvard. It also gave me a natural sensitivity to the opportunities inherent in collaboration, culture, and context, and has led me to reinforce that sensitivity through executive leadership experience, executive consulting, and administrative leadership of the Center for Decision Research, and teaching in the Behavioral Science group at Chicago Booth.

You will never find me far from good food (bring on the grandmas and gourmets!), a dance floor (even if it’s just in my living room), or a large body of water (oceans preferred, but Lake Michigan will do). I think I just really like things that help people feel connected to one another.

Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior-Social Psychology, Harvard University, A.M. in Social Psychology, Harvard University,  B.A. in Psychology, Stanford University. 

heather.caruso@chicagobooth.edu
Kate Von Holle
Kate Von Holle
Director of Federal Research Development
Kate Von Holle
Director of Federal Research Development

I enjoy acting as a resource for faculty. My job allows me to learn about many different topics, and encourages me to be able to communicate that information to a broad variety of audiences.

Spending the past eight years of my career in Washington DC, working with the sole aim to understand the workings of the executive and legislative branches has prepared me for the unique challenge of navigating the federal agencies on behalf of the University of Chicago. I spent my first year in Washington as a science fellow at the State Department, learning the intricacies of international science policy with regard to marine conservation issues. Moving on to work at a scientific non-profit like the American Geophysical Union prepared me to work with scientists, and helping them communicate with their Congressional delegations and informing of them of new developments in science policy and funding. Lastly, my previous position working for the UK government at the British Embassy in Washington DC allowed me to work with a broad swath of the science agencies, engaging them on many different levels, leading me to develop an in-depth understanding of how they operate. All of these experiences gave me unique insights which have informed my work at Arete.

I appreciate trying out the variety of restaurants that DC has to offer, as well as working off those calories by getting outdoors whenever possible in a variety of pursuits which include running, co-ed softball, and surfing.  

B.S. Biology, College of William & Mary, full athletic scholarship for basketball, M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, University of Illinois, full academic fellowship.

kvonholle@uchicago.edu
Julia Lane
Julia Lane
Associate Director of Research Strategy and Operations
Julia Lane
Associate Director of Research Strategy and Operations

To me, good research serves to create an environment where curiosity and unorthodox thinking are valued. At Arete, I love that I am surrounded by people with very different intellectual histories, who are not afraid to question assumptions or champion socially impactful research.

I have experience working in innovative, fast-paced, and often risky environments -- from a startup and venture capitalist firm in Chicago to an NGO in rural China. I learned not only how to be comfortable with uncertainty, but also how to get things up and running quickly and effectively in chaotic environments. My experience with high-level research in graduate school has reinforced the notion that innovative ideas should not be hindered by bureaucratic obstacles or imperfect execution.

In my role at Arete, I strive to make navigating these hurdles as easy and painless as possible. I give messy things structure in an artful and principled way. No task is too insignificant to be done with elegance.

M.A. in International Relations, Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago, B.A. in International Comparative Politics and History (with honors), The American University of Paris.

jlane2@uchicago.edu LinkedIn Twitter
Thea McLean
Thea McLean
Senior Associate Director, Foundation and Corporate Relations
Thea McLean
Senior Associate Director, Foundation and Corporate Relations

I am inspired by large-scale, inter-disciplinary research that tackles complex questions in visionary ways.  I was drawn to the Arete team because of its strong track record of solving intractable problems, its ambitious goals, and its members’ diverse, complementary backgrounds.  A graduate of the University of Chicago who pursued cultural anthropology while a student, I welcome the opportunity to utilize my academic, research, and development background to promote ambitious research at the University.

I bring the abilities to navigate complex research projects and translate information between disciplines and stakeholders, by way of my background that spans social science research, editing, non-profit development, and technical and usability design.  I also have experience convening working groups and coalitions around strategy development and policy analysis, and assessing organizational efficiency.

I have brought an anthropological gaze to all my past endeavors, whether they involved studying the Texas wine market, creating and pursuing a development strategy for San Francisco non-profits, guiding academic authors through the editorial process, or assessing the usability of a system.  My varied work experiences, combined with my anthropological training, have enabled me to quickly learn new organizational and disciplinary languages, and carefully navigate unfamiliar fields to develop and support elaborate projects.

M.A. in the Social Sciences through the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences, University of Chicago, B.A. in Anthropology, University of Chicago.

thea1@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Kate Waimey Timmerman
Kate Timmerman
Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives
Kate Waimey Timmerman
Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives

I have a passion for science that has endured since my childhood days attending Space Camp. I believe that rapidly advancing research should be disseminated to both academics and an informed public in order to ensure integration with broader society.

As part of Arete, I draw on my advanced training in the sciences and experience in biomedical research to facilitate interdisciplinary research in fields such as neuroscience, population health, and environmental law. I also integrate traditional and next-generation methodologies to ensure communication of such research to diverse audiences. Prior to joining Arete, I served as the director of science communication and program director for the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University, where I developed strategic media plans, implemented print and social media campaigns, and co-edited a textbook on Oncofertility Communication. This background provides me with the experiences and skills to support the launch and dissemination of ambitious research programs here at the University of Chicago.

I am currently on the boards of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Illinois, which provides financial awards to academically outstanding graduate students in the STEM fields, and Timmerman Ventures, which oversees all aspects of the launch and development of a well-rounded toddler.

B.A. Neuroscience, Oberlin College; Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of California at Davis; Postdoctoral fellowship, University of Chicago in the Department of Human Genetics.

ktimmerman@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Sarah O'Brien
Sarah O'Brien
Associate Director of Research Program Development
Sarah O'Brien
Associate Director of Research Program Development

I am driven by a desire to understand the world around me and I believe that science and tools like the scientific method are the best way to explore some of its most pressing mysteries. At Arete, I take part in the scientific enterprise by facilitating research across a broad spectrum of topics.

Throughout my career, I have worked as part of interdisciplinary teams who strive to understand how natural systems will function in a rapidly changing climate. Before joining Arete, I worked as a research scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. My research focused on ecosystem ecology and microbiology, with an emphasis on soil processes that control ecosystem carbon balance. My experience with every stage of the research process gives me a unique perspective for working with University faculty to develop their innovative interdisciplinary research.

When I’m not working to develop new research ideas, I enjoy dancing at every opportunity and pub trivia with friends.

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Biological Sciences, B.S. Bradley University, Environmental Science and English

slobrien@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Elena Zinchenko
Elena Zinchenko
Director of Research Innovation
Elena Zinchenko
Director of Research Innovation

I love research for its systematic capacity for surprise and beauty. It is also a framework for how to change the status quo - something that I have been engaged in my whole life.

Growing up in Northern Siberia, I tried to challenge the way things were done – I did it by co-founding some of the first non-profit organizations in the area. After coming to the US on a scholarship, I worked with hi-tech startups to push forward the adoption of new technologies. I went to graduate school because cognitive science is reframing some age-old philosophical views about the relation between the mind and the brain. For my doctorate, I studied abstract thinking development in young children, and in my post-doctoral studies I worked on determining the brain activation signatures that support metaphoric thinking across lifespan. I now run the Big Ideas Generator at Arete - supporting early-stage, risky and very ambitious research projects. It speaks to my intellectual passions and my impatience about making things better and more fun.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science, Booth School of Business; Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago; Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

elenaz@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Meera Raja
Meera Raja
Associate Director of Research Innovation
Meera Raja
Associate Director of Research Innovation

Growing up in a family of scientists and mathematicians, I have always been excited by scientific inquiry. Research gives the opportunity to dream about grand ideas and possibilities, while still allowing for systematic problem solving.  At BIG, I am excited to be a part of a team that places such high value on novel ideas, while helping navigate the challenges that come with these great ambitions. 

 

Prior to joining the team, I was involved in both the scientific and the business consulting world.  My doctorate work in chemistry involved studying the roles and effects of metals in disease areas.  Being a scientist in the business world, I was able to bring a unique view when helping clients optimize their current vision and assess new opportunities.  These experiences have given me the skills to work through broad problems in diverse settings.

 

When I am not busy thinking about science, research, and problem solving, you can usually find me running or biking along the lakefront.  I also enjoy cold weather, bad jokes, and good pie.

 

B.S. Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry, Northwestern University; Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Northwestern University

mraja@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Lindsey Rogers
Lindsey Rogers
Assistant Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives
Lindsey Rogers
Assistant Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives

After spending a few years in the private sector, I switched to higher education with the goal of using my analytical skills, curiosity, and understanding of human behavior to help advance the pursuit of knowledge and push humanity forward. As a member of the Arete team, I’m thrilled to help faculty on their path to solving problems and better understanding the world at large.

Before taking on my current role, I worked at the University as a prospect research analyst in the Office of Foundation and Corporate Relations. In this position, I gained a deep understanding of the private funding landscape and the trends driving it. Prior to that, I worked as a consumer analyst at Mintel, a market intelligence agency, where I was involved at all stages of the research process, from developing research objectives, to designing questionnaires, to analyzing data. I also consulted with clients, helping them to understand findings and develop research-based strategies.

I’ve always been enthralled by people and their stories, as evidenced by my love for narrative non-fiction and my early experience writing features for my hometown newspaper. This interest in people has translated into a fascination with assembling and developing effective teams, something I hope to do across the University as part of my Arete role.      

B.S. Mass Communication (public relations emphasis) and double minor in rhetoric/writing and marketing, St. Cloud State University.

lsrogers@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Katie Bailey
Katie Bailey
Associate Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives
Katie Bailey
Associate Director, Strategic Foundation Initiatives

The pursuit to understand ourselves and our world is both gratifying and awe-inspiring. In seeking answers, we often raise more questions, highlighting not only the value of research but also how much we have yet to learn.

 My scientific training and experience in genetic research have taught me how to think critically about a problem, ask the right questions, and strategically pursue solutions. In studying complex diseases affecting multiple biological systems, I integrated ideas and evidence supporting each varied piece of the puzzle to assemble a unified picture. As part of the Arete team, I leverage this experience to bring people and ideas together, facilitating interdisciplinary research initiatives that would not be possible in isolation.

Beyond my work developing innovative research ideas, I am a board member and co-founder of CHIentist, a collaborative organization dedicated to building connections among the stakeholders in Chicago’s life science ecosystem to facilitate the exchange of ideas and opportunities. I am also an avid Irish dancer, teacher, and choreographer.

Ph.D. Human Genetics, University of Chicago; B.A. Biological Sciences, Specialization in Neuroscience, University of Chicago