US Leadership Team

Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle

Now: Founder & Executive Director
Then: PhD in Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine studying small molecule biomarkers in Huntington Disease
Way Back When: To read Erika’s full biography, click here.

Amanda Schutt

Now: Chief Operations Officer; Instructor
Then: MS Environmental Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University studying aquatic ecology and stream health
Way Back When: Winner of the 5th grade science fair for a project on cough syrup viscosity.

Cortney Wieber

Now: Director of Education; Instructor
Then: MS Tropical Ecology and Conservation Biology, James Cook University (Australia) studying flying foxes and their role as a vector species
Way Back When: Became interested in working with bats on a research trip to Indonesia, capturing, identifying, tagging and releasing insectivorous bats in the jungle.


Beth Zylinski

Now: Director of Human Resources & Corporate Communications; Instructor
Then: M.S Engineering Management, National Technological University. BS Electrical Engineering,University of Massachusetts Amherst studying photoluminescence of III-IV nitrides
Way Back When: Inspired to become an engineer by my Physics teacher who made science fun by letting us throw things off the roof of the school to learn more about gravity.

California Team

Dr. Patrice Geraghty

Now: Director of California Operations
Then: PhD Chemistry, University of Michigan studying properties of organic molecules on metal surfaces using spectroscopic techniques
Way Back When: In elementary school, built a simple computer with my Dad who inspired me to pursue a career in science.

Pennie Lundberg

Now: Director of California Development
Then: Sales and Marketing Executive for six pro sports teams throughout the US before switching to nonprofit fund development. Pennie has led the charge regionally for national and local organizations, consistently shattering records for revenue and corporate/consumer participation
Way Back When: SF Bay Area native, developed an early appreciation of the environment through Scout trips and time spent at family cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Dr. Karen Allendoerfer

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Neuroscience, Stanford University studying the role of growth factors in the development of the mammalian brain
Way Back When: Won a magnifying glass in 6th grade science for explaining why “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Dr. Jean Alupay

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: PhD Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, studying Marine invertebrate behavioral ecology
Way Back When: I fell in love with marine science growing up near the beach, fishing with my dad and digging for sand crabs.

Headshot of Tony Gallo.

Dr. Tony Gallo

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: PhD Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, studied energy transfer of organic monolayers on catalytic metal surfaces in ultra-high vacuum using ellipsometry and laser fluorescence and Raman spectroscopies
Way Back When: My parents bought me a chemistry set for Christmas and I discovered I could chase my brothers out of the bedroom by making stinky gases. In 6th grade I won the Future Scientist of America award.

Madhu Kottalam

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: BS Biology, San Francisco State University with an emphasis in Ecology
Way Back When: Made mom take me to the local library as often as possible so I could read every astronomy book in the kids’ section.

Headshot for Lisa McRae.

Dr. Lisa McRae

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: PhD Pharmacology, University of Bath (UK) using stem cells to study cell signaling in blood and blood vessel development
Way Back When: Watched frog spawn hatch into tadpoles in the classroom. Released them in our school pond and watched them turn into frogs.

Dr. Marketa Melicharova

Now: Module Officer II; Instructor
Then: PhD Analytical Chemistry, University of Basel (Switzerland) working on miniaturization of electrophoresis on a chip
Way Back When: Decided to become a chemist because it is cool to wear a lab coat and protective glasses!

Dr. Esther Niemasik

Now:  Kit Officer I; Instructor
Then: PhD Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University studying the cooperative breeding behavior of Brown-headed nuthatches
Way Back When: Grew up catching fish by hand in the creek behind our house and learning the names of all the birds; I’ve been a biologist ever since! 

Headshot of Rachel Steger.

Rachel Steger

Now:  Assistant Instructor
Then: MA Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley studying the structures of fruit fly molecular complexes
Way Back When: Winner of 4th grade science fair on colorblindness in dogs.

Kristen Wells

Now: Instructor
Then: BA Biology, Colorado College studying the genetics of neuron development in worms (C. elegans)
Way Back When: Trips to my grandpa’s garage, which was filled with models of atoms and molecules, as a small child taught me to love science from a young age.

Florida Team

Brian Devlin

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist
Then: BS Biology, University of Central Florida studying Herpetology and malarial parasitemia
Way Back When: Spent countless hours of my childhood watching lizards from my bedroom window and caring for turtles rescued from pool filters.

Najja Gay

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist
Then: BA Biology, Lawrence University studying marine and aquatic organisms
Way Back When: Swam with manatees in 7th grade for a class trip.

Picture of Melissa Natividade

Melissa Natividade

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist
Then: BA Environmental Studies, BA Journalism and Communications, BA Graphic Design, The College of New Jersey, studying ecology and aquaponic and agricultural design systems
Way Back When: Spent a lot of time at the New York Science Hall and ended up hooked on vertical farming and aquaponics- creating my own vertical garden in Brooklyn at age 8.

Headshot of Alex Navalpotro.

Alexandra Navalpotro

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist
Then: BS Biomedical Sciences, Adventist University studying health sciences
Way Back When: Was a part of SECME throughout middle school building mouse-trap cars, balsa wood bridges and egg drop containers.

Headshot of Samantha Paitsel

Samantha Paitsel

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist
Then: BS Marine Biology, Florida Institute of Technology, studying the effects of probiotics on fish growth
Way Back When: Went to the aquarium regularly as a child, and fell more in love with marine life each time.

Kira Silverman

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist; Florida Outreach Coordinator
Then: BS Psychology and Zoology, University of Florida studying animal behavior, human dimensions of natural resources, and environmental education
Way Back When: Favorite middle school class was computer science, where I learned typing, powerpoint, photoshop, and how to use the internet.

Montana Steell

Now: SpectacuLAB Scientist; Development Coordinator
Then:  MS Interdisciplinary Science, Florida Institute of Technology studying fisheries science and market-driven approaches to catalyzing sustainable seafood consumption
Way Back When: Inspired to study marine science by a childhood spent free-diving, spearfishing, surfing, and sailing.

Massachusetts Team


Dr. Alicia Bielik

Now: Director of Massachusetts Operations
Then: PhD Chemistry, Boston University studying glycosaminoglycans using the technique of mass spectrometry
Way Back When: Winner of “Write it Do it” in 7th grade Science Olympiad.

Miranda Bethune

Now: Development  and Digital Marketing Officer
Then: BA Sociology and Communications & Culture, Clark University
Way Back When: Designed, built, and programmed giant robots in high school for competitions across the U.S.

Dr. Nazan Y. Artun

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Biotechnology, Ankara University Biotechnology Institute studying Personalized Medicine and Pharmacogenetics
Way Back When: Dreamed of being an artist and scientist at the same time and I have eventually achieved my dream.

Dr. Elizabeth Bless

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Neuroscience, Boston College studying the effects of hormones on the reward system in female rats
Way Back When: I knew I wanted to be a scientist after we dissected a rat in eighth grade. The anatomy was beautiful and amazing!

Jenna Conversano

Now: Module Team Program Manager; Instructor
Then: MA Museum Education, Tufts University. AB Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University studying nestmate recognition in Australian meat ants
Way Back When: Would watch hours of Kratts’ Creatures (the same brothers from today’s Wild Kratts) and make lists of all the animals referenced.

Jessica Costa

Now: Module Officer II & MA Operations Manager; Instructor
Then: CAGS Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics, Lesley University; BA Biology, Hartwick College, studying microbial ecology
Way Back When: Inspired by a teacher who recognized my passion for dissection and provided me with endless organisms to study.


Phillip Dugger

Now: Instructor; PhD Candidate, Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England
Then: MS Biology, Western Washington University. BS Biology, Western Washington University
Way Back When:  Inspired by nature TV shows, zoos, and hiking in the woods as a kid to become a biologist.

Susan Glueck

Now: Instructor; “Flight Director,” Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center, Framingham State University
Then: Ph.D., Entomology, Cornell University studying molecular evolution of a pesticide resistance gene in insects
Way Back When: Learned to identify exploding Jewelweed seed pods on hikes.

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Now: Module Officer II; Instructor
Then: PhD Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania studying skeletal muscle cell adhesion
Way Back When: Fell in love with the periodic table in high school chemistry class and carried a wallet-sized copy all through college. Favorite movie: Apollo 13 because engineers are the heroes.

Liz Gustafson

Now: Instructor
Then: MS Education, Worcester State University studying science education. BS Natural Science, Worcester State University
Way Back When: Fell in love with science thanks to my physics teacher in eighth grade who let me sit on a rolling chair and propel myself down the hall with a fire extinguisher!


Benjamin Hart

Now: Mentor Coach Manager; Instructor
Then: BS in Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts Boston studying Alzheimer’s disease and its pathogenesis
Way Back When: Went to science camp where I launched rockets and made spaghetti bridges. It was during that week, I knew, science was for me.

Headshot of Nancy Jackson.

Dr. Nancy Jackson

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: PhD Geochemistry (emphasis in microbiology), Colorado School of Mines, studying how soil microorganisms can indicate the location of underground deposits of gold
Way Back When: A good day in the field was jumping out of helicopters on top of mountains.

Lauren Koppel

Now: Outreach Programs Manager; Instructor
Then: EdM Harvard Graduate School of Education. BA Biology & Psychology, Clark University studying neurodevelopment in aquatic worms
Way Back When: I took the long, scenic route towards science – in college I was first an art major, then a psychology major, and finally a biology major! My life-long curiosity and love of learning always drew me to the sciences, but it took me a while to decide they were my favorite topic of all.

Linda Lambrecht

Now: Instructor
Then: MS Pathology, University of Wisconsin studying the toxic effects of Polybrominated Biphenyls on reproduction
Way Back When: Became interested in science watching “Mr. Wizard” show on television,and was a member of the Mr. Wizard Science club.

Headshot of Morgan Lindemayer-Finck

Morgan Lindemayer-Finck

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: MS Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts IMS studying conservation genetics of sea-run brook trout
Way Back When: Created a red cabbage pH indicator in fifth grade staining the kitchen counters in the process.

Edward Lipchus

Now: Assistant Instructor, MA Candidate for Applied Physics
Then: BA in Astronomy and Physics, Hampshire College, studying experimental physics and light detectors
Way Back When: In 3rd grade did a science fair project on airplane wing shapes and how they affect flight using stiff paper wings that flew in a fan!

Headshot of Evelyn MacGrath.

Evelyn MacGrath

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: MS Medical Microbiology, University of the West of England, studying food microorganisms; BS Applied Sciences, Trinity College Dublin
Way Back When: Our eighth grade class took a field trip to a beach where we collected seaweed and studied it. I was hooked on science from then on.

Edmarie Martinez

Now: Kit Team Program Manager; Instructor
Then: MPH Environmental Health, Boston University studying the risk of contaminants on human health
Way Back When: I watched Bill Nye the Science Guy as a kid and loved it. I was always curious and broke things to figure out how they worked.

Dr. Jennifer Melcher

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: PhD Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying how the brain processes sounds using electrophysiologic measurements and brain imaging
Way Back When: When I was 10, studied electric circuits to pass the exam for a ham radio license. The license allowed me to use an antenna and radio transmitter to communicate with people around the world — in Morse code.


Jayne Mirabassi

Now: Data Analysis Coordinator; Instructor
Then: MEd Middle School Math/Science Fitchburg University, BS Physics Dickinson College
Way Back When: Loved writing my own programs for my first Physics lab to get really exact time and calculated measurements.

Dr. Payal Patel

Now: Lead Worcester Instructor
Then: PhD Biomedical Science, University of Toledo College of Medicine studying regulation of metabolic rate and insulin sensitivity
Way Back When: Performed a chlorophyll chromatography lab in 2nd grade. I was blown away by the discovery that green stuff in leaves gives them their color. I wondered what other secrets nature hid, and so pursued science.

Dr. Sandra Pearl

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Pharmacology & Neuroscience, Albany Medical College studying novel medications to treat drug addiction
Way Back When: Remembers going outside to the playground with her schoolmates to watch the 1979 solar eclipse!

Sarah Saleh

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: MS Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a focus on Micro Aerial Vehicles
Way Back When: Loved playing with Technic Lego and made all sorts of cars, and moving things!

Christine San Antonio

Now: Instructor
Then: BS Biological Sciences, University of Vermont studying nutrient enhancement on plant defense
Way Back When: Built a life-sized Stegosaurus out of snow in the 2nd grade when our school lost power.

Bethany Slack

Now: Instructor; Public Health and Wellness Research Associate
Then: MPH Community Health Education, Concordia University. BA Biology, Eastern Mennonite University working in hospitals and doctors’ offices as a medical laboratory scientist
Way Back When: I’ll never forget my first grade teacher orbiting the classroom to explain why summer isn’t when the earth is closest to the sun. She showed me the power of an illustration!

Dr. Catherine Sukow

Now: Module Officer II; Instructor
Then: PhD Biophysics, Brandeis University studying the structure of actin bundles by cryo-EM and image reconstruction. MS Physics, North Carolina State University doing high-resolution TEM of metal silicides on silicon
Way Back When: Visited San Francisco’s Exploratorium as a kid and was enthralled — color-mixing shadows! half-silvered mirrors! holograms! touch-sensitive trees!

Dr. Leighann Sullivan

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University studying molecular and genomic analyses in Clostridium acetobutylicum. BS Biology with a concentration in Genetics, Cornell University
Way Back When: Spent the summer between 10th and 11th grade at a college doing research on fruit fly genes.

Elizabeth Tracy

Now: Instructor
Then: MS Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, with a focus on quality, favorite class subject Math
Way Back When: Was born in England and traveled on the Queen Elizabeth 2 ship when my family moved to America.

Dr. Mai Tran

Now: Instructor
Then: PhD Molecular Biology, University of Rhode Island studying cellulose synthases in the moss Physcomitrella patens
Way Back When: Learned that science can be fun from my dad by building paper airplanes and ball roller coaster from wire hangers.

Minnesota Team

Karlene Recommended Crop-003

Karlene French

Now: Director of Minnesota Development
Then: MS Geology/Paleontology, University of Muenster (Germany), studying formation and age of breccia pipes near Trendelburg, Hessen, Germany. MA Counseling Psychology, University of St. Thomas
Way Back When: Touched 3.8-billion-year-old ocean floor in northern Minnesota and wondered how it got there!

Renee Piersa

Now: Director of Minnesota Operations
Then: Data Analytics Consultant. BBA Management & Human Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison. TEFL Certified in Thailand (Teach English as a Foreign Language)
Way Back When:  I remember the day I first officially beat my dad in Tetris. In that moment I recognized that I excelled at and enjoyed  bringing organization to chaos.

Deborah Brophy

Now: Kit Officer I; Instructor; Certified Veterinary Technician
Then: AAS in Veterinary Technology
Way Back When: Loved biology, especially when we dissected frogs and sheep eyes. Animal science has inspired me ever since!

Headshot of Lori Clark.

Lori Clark

Now: Assistant Instructor; Watershed Specialist
Then: MS Natural Resource Management, North Dakota State University Fargo studying interactions between grazing and burning on short-grass native prairie
Way Back When: My seventh grade science teacher gave extra credit for cleaning the terrariums and aquariums. I spent hours earning those extra credits.

Alexander Gilman

Now: Instructor; Physics PhD Candidate, University of Minnesota
Then: BS Mathematics and Physics, Loyola University Chicago
Way Back When: Got interested in ideas about the complexities space and time from Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Malia Haida

Now: Instructor; Certified Veterinary Technician
Then: BS Animal Science with an emphasis on Production and Poultry Science, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Way Back When: Won the Kindergarten science fair with a project on heat transfer.

Susanna Huggenberger

Now: Module Officer II; Instructor; PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota Twin-Cities studying DNA repair and telomere biology in humans
Then: BS Biochemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Way Back When: Inspired to become a scientist after making glow in the dark slime in elementary school! Definitely a mad scientist!

Headshot of Gina Kemper.

Gina Kemper

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: BS Biology, Bemidji State University studying wildlife
Way Back When: I have always dreamed of working with wildlife and connecting people to wildlife after visiting The Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge at the age of 10 years old.

Headshot of Susan Kocher.

Susan Kocher

Now: Outreach Coordinator; Assistant Instructor
Then: MS Science Curriculum, Cal State – East Bay focus on hands-on science & environmental education
Way Back When: Observing birds in backyard bird feeder with large National Geographic book on birds to compare to.

Headshot of Zachary Paige.

Zachary Paige

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: MS Plant Breeding, Iowa State University studying nutrition content in organically produced maize
Way Back When: In elementary school I loved doing science experiments with my dad.

Headshot of Erin Richards.

Erin Richards

Now: Instructor
Then: BA Chemistry and Secondary Education, Concordia University St. Paul studying how students learn science
Way Back When: My dad taught me how to make slime at home when I was in Kindergarten, and let me help him in his lab.

Headshot of Tracy Runchey.

Tracy Runchey

Now: Assistant Instructor
Then: BS Biotechnology, University of Northern Iowa studying molecular and microbiology
Way Back When: At 5 I was sure I’d be a doctor when I grew up because I loved looking at and fixing my family’s cuts and scrapes.


Dr. Daniel Stroik

Now: Instructor; Post-doctoral researcher in the Thomas Lab at University of Minnesota
Then: PhD Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota. BA in Biochemistry from the Univ of San Diego.BA Biochemistry, University of San Diego studying metalloprotein chemistry
Way Back When: Inspired by great mentors (Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. DeHaan) who always challenged me to think scientifically and gave me lots of hands on experience.

Headshot of Alina Zdechlik

Alina Zdechlik

Now: Assistant Instructor; PhD candidate in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics at University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Then: BS Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison studying obesity in mice
Way Back When: Making an electromagnet in second grade for the science fair!

Instructional Advisors


Mary Hatton

Now: Instructional Advisor
Then: EdD Science Education, Boston University working as a Research Associate with a high school program that supported teachers to use physics research in their teaching
Way Back When: Coming Soon!

Volunteers and Interns

We would like to thank the following people for volunteering or interning for Science from Scientists:

Katica Boric

Isabelle Guélin

Olivia Kane

June Klemer

Jay Leichtman

Jake Nonweiler

Dr. Bob Reynolds

Julia Sayre

Nicole Witham

Leslie Yan


We would like to thank the following experts for reviewing lesson content to make our modules even better:

David Birsa, Ph.D.
Robert F. Butler, Ph.D., Professor of Geophysics, University of Portland
Rebecca Paulsen Edwards, Ph.D.,  Department of Physics, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX
Thank you to meteorologist Mike Wankum for consulting with us on ES17 Meteorology and Weather Mapping.
Dr Kennedy with meteorologist Mike Wankum getting some help with the weather mapping lesson.