2011-2012 Fellows

Jeremy Ecton

Jeremy is a third year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy (SEMTE). He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian at Arizona State University in 2009. His hobbies include running, cycling, philosophy, and Russian Literature.

He conducts research in the Advanced Applied Materials Lab at the Flexible Display Center located within Arizona State University’s Research Park. His research focuses on Organic Semiconducting Materials and Devices; namely Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs). Potential outcomes of his research are clean, light weight, and potentially inexpensive methods for solar energy harvesting and bright, flexible, and environmentally safe displays and solid state lighting technologies.

Jeremy will be teaching 7th grade science at Andersen Junior High School and is very excited about the GK12 program. He hopes he can convey his enthusiasm for science to his students and bridge the gap between scientific research and science education.


Byron Lahey

Byron is nearing completion of a Media, Arts and Science PhD in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at ASU. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree from University of Northern Iowa and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Arizona State University.

Byron's research in interactive physical-digital systems builds on his background as a professional sculptor. Byron designs, fabricates and programs robots and haptic interfaces for use in educational, artistic performance and gaming applications.

Byron is teaching 7th grade science and engineering with Eric Nedow at Payne Junior High School, providing a real world example of the exciting and creative opportunities that exist for engineers and researchers.


Kari Rich

Kari is a first year doctoral degree student in the Biomedical Engineering Department of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She works in the SensoriMotor Research Group and is particularly interested in upper limb neural prosthetics and brain-machine interfacing. This field strives to improve the options available to amputees by developing an understanding of the brain's interpretation of tactile, visual and proprioceptive sensations and incorporating them into prosthetics that can interact with the brain.

Kari received her B.S. in Biology and Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, in 2006. She then worked for four years as a Gas and Mechanical Engineer in Poughkeepsie, New York before deciding to return to school and pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Outside of the lab, Kari enjoys running, hiking, and traveling and loves that she is still discovering new areas and activities in Arizona.

As a GK-12 fellow, Kari will be teaching high school science at Perry High and is looking forward to interacting with students to help develop their scientific thinking and to show them how immense and exciting engineering and science is.


Kimia Seyedmadani

Kimia is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in the School of Biological Health Systems Engineering (SBHSE). She is currently working under the mentorship of Dr. Pizziconi; studying the mechanism of bone adaptation in microgravity. She is interested in understanding complex adaptive system as an engineer. Her hobbies include Fencing with Saber, swimming, watching TV (Tedtalks,NCIS), photography and fixing broken stuff, Due diligence.

Kimia received her B.S.E in Bioengineering with emphasis of systems and control in SBHSE (2010). Her senior project involved developing cost efficient upper limb prostheses.

As GK12 fellow, Kimia will be teaching 7th & 8th grade science as well as engineering classes at Willis Jr. High. She is hoping her engineering background brings a new flavor to the class room.



2010-2011 Fellows

Hanin Bearat

Hanin is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Bioengineering. She works on developing in situ polymer gels for treatment of cerebral aneurysms. These gels are temperature sensitive and undergo a phase transition from a liquid to a gel around body temperature. She is also interested in further investigating the phase transition behavior of these polymers. Hanin received her bachelors degrees in Bioengineering and French from Arizona State University.

She is looking forward to the GK 12 program for a great partnership opportunity between teachers, students and graduate students and is excited to make learning science more fun for students by developing more hands-on activities. Hanin enjoys learning and experiencing different cultures. She loves traveling to foreign lands, cooking/eating all kinds of dishes, dancing to different music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.


Chrissy Hobson

Chrissy is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Engineering Education program, which is a collaborative between the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She is looking forward to working in a multidisciplinary program whose goal is to bridge fundamental science and engineering research and best practices to improve learning in the K-12 environment. She is focused on researching how current, local science and engineering learning systems are designed and functioning, and how future science and engineering learning environments should be designed and intertwined with the grand engineering challenges.

Chrissy received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from ASU in May 2008. Her interest in bioengineering was sparked as a high school student when her sophomore Chemistry teacher integrated a mandatory science project into the curriculum. Chrissy turned her mandatory one year science project into a three year research study and became involved with ASU's bioengineering program. As a result of her research study, she received international and national recognition at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and the London International Youth Science Forum. She was also awarded 2001 Future Innovator of the Year Award presented by the High Technology Industry Cluster and Governor Jane D. Hull. As an undergraduate student, she was awarded two grants from ASU's Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative to explore innovative ideas for business products and services.

As a GK-12 fellow, Chrissy is passionate about communicating science and engineering concepts and research to K-12 teachers and students. She is also looking forward to learning effective methods that fuel and support communication between K-12 teachers, their students, and scientific researchers.
In addition to her research, Chrissy enjoys hiking, travelling, and spending time with her family and friends.


Derek Overstreet

Derek Overstreet

Derek is a third year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 2008. He is currently working on developing new materials which are injectable as a liquid and then form a solid gel inside the body. These materials are being investigated for a number of applications, including delivery of drugs for cancer treatment and accelerated healing of bone fractures.

This year, Derek will be teaching and doing physical science with 7th and 8th grade students at Superior Jr./Sr. High School. He is excited to bring real-world examples of physics and chemistry into the classroom in a fun and interactive way.


Todd Prichard

Todd Prichard

Todd is a third year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. He currently works at the Flexible Display Center located within Arizona State University’s Research Park. His research focus is the formation of nanocomposite materials by incorporating single wall carbon nanotubes. Potential outcomes of his research are thin nanocomposite films applied to surfaces for electromagnetic shielding purposes.

Todd received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Oregon State University. His hobbies include playing guitar, cooking, and taking care of his saltwater aquarium.

Todd will be teaching 7th grade Science at Andersen Junior High School. He is very excited to be working with younger students and demonstrating how science is fun.


Jacelyn Rice

Hi, my name is Jacelyn Rice and I am a PhD student in environmental engineering. My research area is water quality and treatment. I am currently working on two projects that involve disinfection by-products and public’s perception of water quality. I completed my civil engineering undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. During that time I was involved with the MESA Program where I tutored high school students from my alma mater. I am looking forward to continuing to work with students in the GK-12 program. I am very optimistic about the influence I can have in students’ interests in science as a future career.


Elizabeth Ridder

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I am a PhD candidate in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and in general, am interested in the spatial and temporal changes to flora and fauna, the causal factors of landscape modification, conservation biology, land management, management agencies, and environmental policy. I graduated from the School of Life Sciences in 2002 with a B.S. in Biology and returned to ASU in 2005 to pursue both my M.A. and PhD within Geographical Sciences. My current research focuses on landscape change, which draws on knowledge from biology and geography. This research interests have allowed me to develop both field and laboratory analytical skills, ranging from sampling design and species identification to remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems software analyses. My current research has direct linkages to real-world applications in the realms of land use, management, and policy. I love the outdoors and try to spend as much time as possible hiking, running, or just wandering. I’ve recently began pursuing mountain biking and sea kayaking to add to my list of excuses to be outdoors.


Nathan Toke

Nathan Toke

Nathan is in the final year of his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He is an earth scientist focused on the intersections between geology and society and he is interested in learning how to best teach interdisciplinary topics related to socio-environmental issues. Nathan's dissertation is itself interdisciplinary including two chapters on earthquake geology of the San Andreas Fault, a chapter discussing the relationships between urban form, earthquake hazards, and environmental justice in Los Angeles, and a chapter reviewing the human role in the geomorphology and hydrology of urban areas.

Nathan is excited to have the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for earth science with the 7th graders in Peoria and he hopes that it will inspire them to use their own initiative to learn more about what interests them related to their backyard, our planet, and the universe.

Nathan graduated with B.S. in Geology from the University of Vermont in 2003, a M.S. in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University in 2005, and spent 2006-2009 working on interdisciplinary issues within ASU's NSF IGERT in Urban Ecology program. Following graduation Nathan plans to pursue a career as a college professor.


David Welch

David Welch

David is a fourth year graduate student in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering. His research focuses on the development of new systems for cell culture experimentation that will include monitoring and closed-loop control of various biological factors. To carry out his research, David constructs sensors based on microelectronics fabrication technology and integrates them with computer controlled microfluidics to create systems suitable for biological testing. The improvements in cell culture experimentation methods possible with these systems will aid research in numerous fields including drug development and stem cell research.

He is excited about the GK-12 program, and he hopes to inspire the students he works with to be scientific thinkers throughout their lives.

In his free time David enjoys traveling, board games, trying new restaurants, ultimate Frisbee, and both playing and watching numerous sports.


2009-2010 Fellows

Nathan Bakken

Nathan is currently working on organic semiconducting technology for the Advanced Applied Materials Labs at the Flexible Display Center located within Arizona State University’s Research Park. His research focuses on application of novel materials for use in Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs) and Organic Light Emitting Devices (OLEDs). The technology being developed in this lab could find application in the next generation of ultra thin, flexible, and uniquely vivid displays or in efficient ultra thin solid-state “white” lighting. On the other hand, Organic PVs could challenge the stand- ing Silicon solar cell technology by reducing required production resources to a level that might unleash the sun as a competitive, clean, and re- newable alternative energy source.


Erin DiMaggio

Erin is a third year graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration pursuing a Ph.D. in Geology. She studies sedimentary rocks and volcanic ash layers from the Afar Depression in Ethiopia to learn about past environments (2-3 million years ago) and rift tectonics. She is also interested in geomorphology, and has a second project investigating landscape evolution related to land use change in southeast Spain.

As a GK-12 fellow, Erin is excited to bring new ideas into her classroom and hopes to make science more ‘student friendly’ by incorporating real- world applications of classroom lessons. Erin spends most weekends outdoors enjoying beautiful AZ.


Sharon Kessler

Sharon Kessler

Sharon is an anthropology graduate student pursuing a PhD in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. She researches the evolution of primate social systems. Her dissertation will test whether wild mouse lemurs in Madagascar recognize their kin through vocalizations.

In her free time, she enjoys hiking and horseback riding. She is excited to be a part of the GK-12 program because she enjoys working with stu- dents of all ages and loves to share her research.


Celena LeClair

Celena LeClair

Celena is a third year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Biology in the School of Life Sciences. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology in May 2004 from Arizona State University and a Master of Biomedical Science in May 2007 from Midwestern University. As a third year graduate student she is currently in the process of conducting research for her dissertation. She is interested in studying the prevalence and genetic causes of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in admixed populations. Ethnically diverse populations, such as Hispanics and Native Americans, have some of the highest prevalence rates of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Because the Hispanic population demonstrates high incidents of dia- betes, and diabetic individuals tend to have higher total cholesterol (TC) than do non-diabetic persons, studying these underrepresented and largely unstudied groups may enable us to determine population-specific genetic mechanisms of lipid metabolism and its association with T2DM.

Celena is a second year GK-12 Fellow. During her first year with the program she realized that the classroom and teacher-partner experience had made a significant impact on her life and she wanted to continue to develop skills based upon her participation in the project.


Katie Muto

Katie Muto is a graduate student in Environmental Engineering. She currently does research in the biodesign institute's environmental biotechnol- ogy group. Her research has been focused on the use of bacteria to clean/eat chlorinated solvents and antimicrobials that exist in the environment because of human, or anthropogenic sources. For the next year, as a fellow, she will be teaching 9th grade biology at Deer Valley High school. So far she loves the challenge and the interaction she is having with the students. When Katie isn't teaching or in the lab, she loves to rock climb, play tennis, and spend time with friends!


Jonathon Oiler

Jon Oiler

Jon Oiler is currently a 3rd year graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration pursuing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. His research in- volves designing, fabricating, and testing very small instruments called Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Jon is researching a number of different MEMS devices for use in earth and space exploration by scientists or on planetary missions. Currently, he is developing a radiation sensor for biomedical application and micro-thruster for space application. He is also working on a liquid flow sensor for studying hot springs in Yel- lowstone National Park. Jon is very excited to participate in the GK-12 program because he wants to share his passion and interest in science with others and help students understand how to think critically about problems while having fun in the learning process. He also loves hiking, camping, playing sports, and hanging out with his wife and 2 dogs!


Matt Rossi

Matthew Rossi

Matthew is a second year student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration where he specializes in geomorphology. His academic interests encompass questions of bedrock incision, landscape evolution, and interactions between climate and tectonics. Specifically, his doctoral research represents an effort to quantify the effects of climate on erosion rates in mountainous landscapes using cosmogenic radionuclide dating. Prior to coming to ASU, he worked as a geoscience curriculum developer in Northwestern University’s Learning Science program. While there Matthew specialized in integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into classroom settings. He looks forward to merging his scientific interests with those in education via the GK-12 program. Matthew received his B.S. in Geology from the College of William and Mary in 2003.


Wandaliz Torres-Garcia

Wandaliz Torres-Garcia

Wandaliz is currently pursuing a Ph D in Industrial Engineering with collaboration from the Center for Ecogenomics at the Biodesign Institute at Ari- zona State University. Despite advances in molecular and technological knowledge that allow gathering of data from biological processes, there re- mains room for innovation in data analysis to achieve suitable biological interpretation and this is the area where she has focused her research. Wandaliz aims to develop effective statistical and data mining methodologies to unravel relevant relationships between oxygen consumption rate, gene expression, protein expression, and cell state. Before coming to ASU, she received undergraduate and master’s degrees in Industrial Engi- neering from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) and University of South Florida (USF). As a fellow in the Down to Earth GK-12 Program at ASU, she hopes to stimulate younger kid’s interest in math, science and higher education. Wandaliz grew up in Puerto Rico, where all her family lives, with the exception of her sister who is doing her Ph D in Mathematics at ASU as well.


2008-2009 Fellows

Elisabeth V. Culley


Elisabeth is a doctoral student at ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change where she specializes in prehistoric art and the cognitive processes that support it. Her dissertation focuses on the earliest image-making as an adaptation to changing Pleistocene environments to better define when, where, and why modern human thought and behavior evolved. Elisabeth has conducted archaeological research in the Great Basin, the Puebloan Southwest, and in Middle Paleolithic Spain. Other academic interests include anthropological and archaeological theory, archaeology as epistemology, and semiotics.


Melissa Kruse


I am an archaeology student pursuing my PhD in Anthropology and my dissertation takes an interdisciplinary approach towards understanding the sustainability of prehistoric farming. My field research is located north of Phoenix in the Agua Fria National Monument, which is an area occupied by farmers from about A.D. 1275 to 1450. I am interested not only in applying my historical perspective to fundamental questions of science, but also to contemporary issues facing humanity as a result of global climate change. I am excited to be involved in the GK-12 program because I enjoy interacting with students of all ages and sharing my love of science through archaeology. I have participated in archaeological fieldwork from Arizona to Arkansas and Tennessee to Turkey.

Celena LeClair


Celena is currently a second year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Biology in the School of Life Sciences. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology in May 2004 from Arizona State University and a Master of Biomedical Science in May 2007 from Midwestern University. As a second year graduate student she is currently in the process of developing a research proposal. She would like her current research to stem from her previous work. It is known that ethnically diverse populations such as Hispanics and Native Americans have some of the highest prevalence rates of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Because the Hispanic population has a high prevalence of diabetes, and diabetic individuals tend to have higher total cholesterol (TC) than do non-diabetic persons, studying these underrepresented and largely unstudied groups may enable us to determine population-specific genetic mechanisms of lipid metabolism and its association with T2DM. In addition to her passion for teaching and her scientific research, Celena also enjoys reading, camping, and spending time with her husband Adam and newborn son Brody.

Joanna Malukiewicz


I am a second year doctoral student in the School of Life Sciences, where I study the evolutionary biology of primate malarias. Some of the questions that I plan to explore in my research are: Is there evidence for co-speciation between malarial parasites and their primate hosts? Can we predict where host switches from non-human primates to humans may occur for malarial parasites? What level of phylogeographic congruence can we see between primates and malarial parasites? Finally, what is the observed pattern of evolutionary divergence in this host-parasite system?. My aspirations are to become a researcher and professor at the university level. The GK12 experience will serve as my model for my teaching methods as a science educator and for the educational delivery of inquiry into the college classroom. Outside of my academic and professional interests, I am an aspiring tri-athlete and am very passionate about road cycling and touring. The Coastal Pacific Highway will be my first venture into a long distance bicycle tour. I hope to plan and complete the trip within the next two years. Currently, I am training for my first triathlon and perhaps an Ironman competition within the next couple years!

Trudy Sherman


I am a PhD candidate pursuing a degree in Computer Science at the Fulton School of Engineering. I received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1977 and a MS in electrical engineering from ASU in 1988. I was employed as a digital design engineer at Motorola for 12 years working in a variety of roles including microcomputer design, assembly language programming, system test, and quality assurance. I left Motorola in order to complete my MS. While completing the degree I opened my own consulting company. I travelled nationally and internationally providing software engineering training and consulting to major corporations such as Motorola and Intel. For the last 8 years I have also been teaching assembly language and microprocessor architecture courses as a faculty associate at Polytechnic campus for the Division of Computing Studies in the College of Technology and Innovation

In my spare time, when our children were young, I volunteered at the Montessori school they attended. One of my favorite activities was teaching 6-week elective classes on Wednesday afternoon for grades 1-8. I created my own curriculum on topics that included magnetism, static electricity, electricity, computer guts, electronics, and BASIC programming. All of my classes had an inquiry component even though I did not know that was what it was called. When our children got older, I started another company called TechniTopics and was hired to work in charter schools to do the same thing I had done at the Montessori School. I put TechniTopics on hold a few years ago in order to complete my PhD. So, I was very excited to hear about the GK-12 program and find out that I was eligible to apply. It is not clear what I will be doing when I complete my degree, but it is a sure bet that my experience with the GK-12 program will be put to good use.

Asthe prevalence of embedded systems in everyday life continues to expandat a phenomenal rate, our dependence on their performance becomesincreasingly important. Areas of particular interest are in the medicalfield, transportation, and security. As such, making sure that everysystem is built with the correct characteristics, is a primary focus.Techniques and tools for correctly identifying and specifying thesecharacteristics in embedded systems are minimal at best. This researchexpands the concept of quality attributes, which has been used toidentify the required characteristics of software for many years, toembedded computer systems as a whole. In addition to identifying anddefining standard categories of quality attributes for embeddedsystems, templates and investigative questions were established foreach category.

Laura Taylor-Taft


I am a Biology PhD student in the School of Life Sciences. I completed my undergraduate work at Arizona State University where I participated in the Hughes Program for Undergraduates, which sparked my love of Ecology. I continued my education at California State University, Fullerton where I completed my MS in Biology focusing on a project investigating the pollinators of an endangered plant, the San Fernando Valley Spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina). I returned to ASU a while later where I worked as a Research Assistant in a lab that studies the evolution of mating systems in butterflies. Two years later I returned to the Biology program as a PhD student, where I am now investigating the influence of urbanization on arthropod communities. I am currently investigating how landscape choice shapes the ground arthopod communities and those communities associated with Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). In my spare time, I spend my weekends with my husband Gary and our sweet doggy Sonoma relaxing in our backyard with friends and neighbors.

Eric Turner Bio



I am currently working on my PhD in materials science and engineering. I hold a B.S. degree in chemistry and a B.A. degree in physics. I decided to attend graduate school in hopes of exploring technology related to alternative energy. I am currently working on the synthesis and characterization of compounds to be used in organic solar cells and organic light emitting diodes. I hope to use my time in the GK-12 program to spark some genuine interest in science that students can carry with them wherever life takes them.

Eulalia Siu


Eulalia Siu is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in chemical engineering. Her research focuses on the development of a sensor for detection of air pollutants and volatile organic compounds in the gas phase with potential application in the agricultural and defense industries. Her project involves cross disciplinary knowledge on atmospheric chemistry, adsorption processes, as well as material sciences. Eulalia hopes to share her enthusiasm on her work with middle school students through the GK-12 program.

Eulalia grew up in Hong Kong S.A.R. and moved to the United States with her immediate family at the age of 9. Eulalia attended school here in the valley since her arrival in the U.S. In 2006, Eulalia received her bachelor of science in chemical engineering at Arizona State University. Her exposure to research as an undergraduate served as a motivation for her to attend graduate school. In her free time, Eulalia enjoys hiking, golfing, and attending sporting events.

Samuel Tobler


Samuel Tobler is currently working on his PhD in Physics at ASU. He currently has a BS and a MS in Physics. His research involves studying properties of Platinum-Silicide nanowires. These nanowires are roughly 10nm wide by hundreds on nanometers long. In addition to studying their physical properties, he is also discovering their potential usefulness in making transistors. To accomplish these goals he uses a Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) machine. He got involved in the GK-12 program because of his love for teaching others about science, specifically physical sciences. He also enjoys the opportunities this fellowship gives him to learn about the educational system that his 2 sons will partake in as they get older. He wants to be involved in their education as much as he can as he sees this fellowship as a great chance to start that involvement. Samuel also enjoys hiking, camping, and playing sports, even if he is not that good at any one sport.

2007-2008 Fellows

Casey D. Allen


Case loves being in the field, has interests cross many different fields, and works hard to be a top-notch educator. After a long search and many different undergrad majors, he found that under the auspices of Geography, all of his interests could be combined: from plants, medieval maps, and pop culture to landforms, epistemology, and theatre. And with Geography, even area studies are within reach. Case has first-hand experience in the Aegean, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America—plus, as a keen traveler, he also has a solid grasp of most other regions. Case’s mantra for both himself and his students is what Aristotle told Alexander: “Go and see…”

Becki Bert Campanaro


I am pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in May of 2003. I began working on my current research while I was still an undergraduate at Susquehanna University, a small liberal arts college located in central Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2002 I received an NSF-REU Fellowship award to work with Dr. Ronald Nieman on his research involving a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and upon returning to ASU in the summer of 2004, I chose to continue that work. SMA is an inherited disorder that is characterized by the death of motor neurons which leads to the loss of voluntary muscle function and is currently the leading genetic cause of death in children under the age of two with an incidence of approximately 1 in every 6,000 live births. The goal of my research is to characterize the post-translational modifications of several isoforms of the Survival of Motor Neuron (SMN) protein and understand how they are associated with the disease state. In addition to my research activities, I have also participated in the Preparing Future Faculty Program offered at ASU. In my free time I coach a high school girls’ volleyball team, play in a co-recreational softball league, and avidly support the ASU football and baseball teams.

Charles Brown


I am a doctoral student in the Science & Engineering of Materials program, an interdisciplinary program of the School of Materials in the Division of Graduate Studies. I hold the BS degree in chemistry and the MS degree in macromolecular science. I have returned to graduate study after many years working as a engineer in the aerospace and semiconductor industries. I have also obtained a teaching credential and worked with high school students in California. I currently study MEM’s applications of electro deposited meso and nano scale particles. I applaud GK-12 programs and I am proud to help students learn scientific methods through inquiry based curriculums (I always liked labs more than lectures!).

Amy Farnbach, M.A

Amy studies the biology and history of tuberculosis (TB); her dissertation focuses on nineteenth-century Scotland, where deaths from the disease were more than four times as common than in any region of the world today. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in molecular biology, where she researched the immune response to influenza in mice. Her Master’s thesis in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder explored research methods combining genetic and skeletal data to study TB in past human groups. She has also investigated the genetics of egg cell formation in fruit flies and worked on archaeological digs in Ireland and New Mexico.

Lisa Bobich


I am a doctoral student in the Harrington Department of Bioengineering. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2004. My research at ASU focuses on eliciting touch sensations using electrical stimulation for applications in sensory substitution as well as investigating the pathways involved in cutaneous reflexes of the hand. In my spare time I like to bake, learn foreign languages, and collaborate on research projects with anthropologists.



Stephanie Meredith




Stephanie Meredith is a graduate student in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. She studies the development of social behavior in non-human primates, and her dissertation research will be conducted on ring-tail and brown lemurs in Madagascar. Fortunately, she likes tent-living and rice and beans, because her research in Madagascar will necessitate two years of both. Her previous time in Madagascar has taught her the importance of being able to contextualize and communicate scientific research in ways that are relevant to non-scientists. Most lemur species are endangered, and the forest where Stephanie researched brown lemurs (which only live in trees) right after she graduated from college is already gone—it has all been cut down for firewood. She plans to dedicate her time in the GK-12 program to discovering and improving her skills at converting non-scientists into science-lovers in the hopes that these skills will transfer to conservation situations she will face in her future research as a primatologist.



Oliver Hyman




After spending two years in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica, I became keenly interested in amphibians and their recent dramatic declines. According to the 2004 Global Amphibian Assessment, 43 percent of all amphibian species are experiencing some form of population decrease, 32.5 percent are threatened, and 122 species have possibly gone extinct since 1980. Recent research has centered on a chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) as one of the major contributors to these declines. This fungus has been found worldwide, and it has been hypothesized that climate change, host behavior, and life histories may play important roles in its virulence. However, we currently lack sufficient knowledge of the prevalence of this fungus and its dynamics in natural populations. This information is key to predicting the spread of Bd and the role that it may have played, if any, in past declines. This host-pathogen system may represent a significant opportunity to study how environment, host behavior, and pathogen virulence interact to create population declines and extinctions. It will also be important for understanding the dynamics of Bd within local populations and devising strategies to prevent declines. My goal is not only to contribute important information on the dynamics of chytrids, but more importantly, to disseminate this information to students, policy makers, and locals through teaching and publication. Arizona State University’s GK12 Down to Earth Science program provides me with and excellent opportunity to meet these goals by presenting my research to a broader audience. I look forward to using my knowledge to educate and excite students about science, conservation, and, of course, amphibians. In 2004, I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in environmental, organismal, and population biology. During my time in Colorado I gained a foundation in basic biology and field techniques. I also got pretty good at snowboarding and hiking. During my junior year, I was fortunate enough to spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica. While there I gained a keen interest in tropical ecology and herpetology. After graduation I immediately returned to Costa Rica to work as a teaching assistant on an undergraduate study abroad program specializing in tropical field biology. This program developed my skills as a teacher and herpetologist. After two years living in the lush tropical forests of Costa Rica, it was time for a change, so I decided to attend ASU in pursuit of a degree in ecology.



2006-2007 Fellows

Tracy Perkins

I am working toward a master's degree in Geological Science in the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. I have been working with my advisor, Steven Semken, on assessing how geology students relate to places, such as Arizona or where ever they consider to be home, and potentially leveraging their "place attachment" to improve geological science teaching. I have also been researching a Quaternary landslide complex in the Chuska Mountains in northwest New Mexico. My GK-12 fellowship is at Lowell Elementary School working with Heather Bush's 7th and 8th grade classrooms. I am thrilled to be a part of the GK-12 program and highly value the relationships I've built with Heather and our students


Aaron Fairchild


Hi, I'm Aaron Fairchild, a PhD student at the Harrington department of Bioengineering at ASU. My focus is on chemical sensors- specifically electroimpedance spectroscopy. I'm also interested in tissue engineering and SENS (strategies for engineered negligible senescence). I hail from Anchorage, Alaska. I received my B.S. in biology from Purdue, then did M.E. at University of Alaska Fairbanks before joining the program here.

Cyd Hamilton

I’m a doctoral student in the Biology Department’s School of Life Sciences. Understanding interspecific interactions and how they alter both the organisms intimately involved in the interaction and the surrounding community is of particular interest to me. To date, I have explored this interest via a fungal-plant interaction (symbiosis) that remains an indefinable mystery. The system defies conventional wisdom and appears to dynamically respond to a variety of biotic and abiotic factors. Teasing out the pieces of this puzzle to obtain a clear picture is the objective of my doctoral research. It is my ultimate goal to help develop research that will aid in the conservation and management of delicate and threatened habitats.


When I started college at sixteen, I knew I wanted to study engineering, but was not sure which field of engineering. I got interested in electrical engineering after taking a Physics class and talking to other electrical engineers. So, I decided to get my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and that was what I did. Although I have always been intrigued by my undergraduate field of study and was involved in a number of research projects, bioengineering has always seemed like a final destination, or close, for my career goal. Thus, I started working towards my master’s degree in bioengineering. Since making the transition to a graduate student in bioengineering, I was introduced to the emerging field of biocomplexity and complex adaptive systems by my graduate advisor and became intrigued with the development of in silico computational methods that are currently being used to understand complex biological systems. I became particularly fascinated with the use of in silico methods to understand the behavior of the immune system, both for its obvious impact on health care and its delivery, as well as, for its even broader, bioinspired societal impact. The best way to know about my research is to look at the following website. I am using the same computer model provided in this website to study the behavior of immunological tolerance and other mysteries of our immune system. You can also do a web search on the immune system, Cellular Automaton models, and immunological tolerance if you would like to know more. http://www.iac.rm.cnr.it/~filippo/


Jeremy Brower


Jeremy Brower

This is my first year as a graduate fellow with the Down to Earth Science GK-12 program from the National Science Foundation. I am working with Cathy Culver, a science teacher at Chandler High School. I am involved with a new class to the Chandler Unified School District, called Investigative Science. This year-long class covers a mix of topics from earth and space science to chemistry, physics, and biology. Eventually the course is intended to be required for all freshman in the district, but for now the demographics of the class include all grades from 9-12. I am currently working on my doctoral degree in the Harrington Department of Bioengineering at Arizona State University. My research involves the structural changes that occur at the level of endothelial cells in disease conditions such as diabetes. Endothelial cells are those that line all of the blood vessels in our bodies, and they are highly influenced by the mechanical environment in which they grow. The primary force that these cells experience is due to the flow of blood through our cardiovascular system. My research focuses on the hypothesis that diabetic conditions change the way in which these cells respond to the mechanical forces to which they are exposed. A thorough understanding of the changes that take place in the cell may lead to a new class of therapeutics to treat diabetic heart disease.

2004-2005 Fellows

Kip Conwell

Kip Conwell is a graduate student from Chicago, IL. He studies how viruses infect people, in an effort to make better vaccines. Kip enjoys working with kids and takes pride in participating in the GK-12 Science Down To Earth program. As the oldest of six children and a former teacher he understands the importance of being able to present complex subjects in simple, thorough, and appreciable terms. In addition to his interests in communicating with people he is also an avid adventurer, athlete, and artist. Related to adventure, he works high in the mountains as a member of the National Ski Patrol. As an athlete Kip trains with a team of competitive road and mountain bikers for endurance competitions such as the 109 mile bike race El tour de Tucson, and the mountain challenge 24 Hours of Adrenalin. He also serves as co-director of AMEBA Acrobatic and Aerial Dance, a Chicago based not for profit dance company dedicated to inspiring audiences to move more in life.

Paula Stice

Harrington Department of Bioengineering at Arizona State University (ASU). I graduated with my BSE (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) in bioengineering in May of 2002 from ASU. I have a unique bond to the state of Arizona in that I am a 6th generation Arizonan from my mother’s side. My research experience began in 1997 when I was hired as an undergraduate employee working in an ASU Neural Engineering Lab. It was this early experience and exposure to Neuroscience and Engineering which began my passion for research. I have research experience in fabricating, designing, and implanting micro-neural-electrodes. These electrodes are used to record from neurons within the central nervous system. Although my research focus has always centered on the brain, my current research project centers on using these micro-electrodes to study stroke. The goal of my research project is to understand and define the micro-electrical environment of the tissue affected by stroke both in the short and long term. This understanding of how the tissue is healing and/or degrading will lead to better treatment options for stroke victims in the future.

Thierra Nalley

Hello, my name is Thierra Nalley and I am a paleoanthropology doctoral student at Arizona State University. My research mainly concerns how function relates to form and vise versa. I apply these concepts to the study of fossils and human evolution. I received my bachelors degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia in anthropology. I am also active in field research. I spent the last summer in northern Spain digging in a cave dating back 25,000 years. My interests also include science education (obviously!) and in the past I have had opportunities with the educational programs at the Phoenix Zoo. My free time is either spent reading a good book or outdoors with my dog, Griffon.


Angela Picco

I am currently in the Biology PhD program in the School of Life Sciences. My interests include conservation, amphibian ecology, emerging infectious diseases, and genetics. Currently, I study the interaction between an iridovirus and tiger salamanders. One aspect of my study centers on understanding the effect of this virus on different species/subspecies of tiger salamander, including threatened and endangered species in Arizona and California. I am also interested in different life history strategies that tiger salamanders possess, and how these strategies, such as neoteny, influence disease transmission and resistance. My studies incorporate questions about the effects of global climate change on amphibians and the increasingly important issue of amphibian declines. I received my B.S. from UC Davis and majored in Evolution and Ecology.

Kasey Yturralde

I have been interested in the natural world since I was a child. My interest in Biology can probably be traced back to David Attenborough, PBS and all of the butterflies I was able to catch in my backyard along the Santa Ana River. I began my formal education in 1991 at University of California at Santa Cruz where I received a BA in Biology 4 ½ years later. After two years working for CA State Parks, I started the Masters program in Biology at Sonoma State University. I graduated in 2000 and worked with the National Park Service and US Forest Service for a year. I began the Ph.D. program in Biology (now SoLS) at Arizona State University. Here at ASU, I study the evolution of mating systems in the orange sulphur butterfly, Colias eurytheme.

Erik Misner

I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in the Harrington Department of Bioengineering at ASU. My research focuses on examining the effects of environmental stress on the photosynthetic bacterium Chloroflexus aurantiacus. I have a B.S. and M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For four years, I taught biology courses and oversaw the introductory biology laboratories at the U of A. During that time, I collaborated with secondary school teachers to increase learner-centered curriculum in lab exercises. My future goals include pursuing a career in science writing.

Tonya Van Luevan-Smith

I am working on my masters in the Department of Anthropology at ASU and am a graduate fellow at the Institute of Human Origins. I did my undergraduate at University of California at Berkeley and there found that the study of human evolution combined my interests in anthropology and earth sciences – I have been hooked ever since! While working on my masters I have also continued to pursue my other interests, such as art (stained glass window and jewelry making), sports (surfing, backpacking, diving and volleyball), travel, and environmental outreach. Currently most of my non-masters time is spent as a member of the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. I am also very much enjoying gaining teaching experience and working with children in the GK-12 program!

Kasha Neil

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant Biology (now known as the School of Life Sciences). My interest is in ecology, particularly urban ecology at this time. I grew up in southern California and here in Arizona. I have a B.S. in Biology from Arizona State University.

2001 - 2002 Fellows

Elena Ortiz-Barney

I’m currently a doctoral candidate in the department of Plant Biology. My research interests include science and environmental education, plant population biology, plant community ecology and ecosystem restoration. For my dissertation, I’m studying an endangered ecosystem called the desert grassland. These grasslands are found in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. I’ve been studying the grassland’s potential for recovery after overgrazing, by quantifying the soil seed bank. I’m also interested in the effects of fire management on this seed bank. I have a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Lydia Pane

My name is Lydia Pyne and I am an undergraduate at Arizona State University. My major is anthropology, and my specific areas of interest are paleoanthropology and archaeology. Paleoanthropologists are interested in studying human evolution through a study of fossil hominids. (A hominid is a bipedal primate mammal æ hominids include recent humans as well as extinct ancestral and related forms.) I am particularly interested in the amount of variation between hominid fossils. The research I am conducting for my honors thesis addresses questions of hominid species variability at Sterkfontein and Makapansgat which are two fossil sites in South Africa. The picture was taken this past summer (2001) at Limeworks Cave in the Makapansgat valley; I am looking for fossils in the beccia rock.

Esther Ellsworth

I am a senior at ASU, completing a Bachelor's degree in Biology & Society and beginning a Master's degree in Biology. I came to ASU interested in medicine and science education. Now, I also study ecology and science policy. How do all these subjects together? A good question! Most of my work is in two areas: science education and environmental health. I ask questions about what kind of science people want and need to know, and how they can best learn it. I also ask questions about how environmental regulations affect community health.

Senay Yasar

I am a master’s student in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Science Education at Arizona State University. I believe that GK-12 Outreach is a very valuable program that will amplify students’ sympathy towards science and understanding of scientific method along with science concepts. Moreover, it is really fun working with young scientists.

Katheine Foland

I graduated in from Western Washington University in 2000 with a B.S. in chemistry and moved to Arizona to continue my education in the field of chemistry education. I am now 2nd year graduate student at Arizona State University and will be finishing a M.S. in chemistry this summer before pursuing a masters degree in education. My research as part of Dr. James P. Birk’s group is to create dynamic visualizations that help students understand chemistry on a molecular level. We hope that the animations will help students make a connection between the concrete macroscopic world, visible phenomena, and the abstract would of atoms and molecules. As a teaching assistant in a 7th and 8th grade science classroom I am able to share my excitement for science with the kids and get them curious about the world around them.

Mike Kraft

I was born in the small town of Warren, Pennsylvania. There I was raised, graduating from Warren Area High School in 1990. That fall I attended the State University of New York at Buffalo with the intention of majoring in architecture. During my sophomore year, I began to loose interest in architecture and began developing an interest in environmental issues and science. For the remainder of my undergraduate days, I studied a diverse selection of science-related topics, concentrating on geology. I graduated in 1995 with a B. A. in Geological Sciences and a B. S. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences—Environmental Studies. Under the fine advice of my geology mentor, Dr. John King, I applied for graduate study at Arizona State University. After a year's hiatus in my education, I arrived at ASU in the fall of 1996. I began my studies under the instruction of Dr. Ronald Greeley, working first on exciting new image data of Jupiter's moon, Europa. In 1997, Dr. Greeley invited me to assist him with his work on the Mars Pathfinder mission, which was a great opportunity and a fascinating experience. Derived from my work with Pathfinder, I concentrated on wind abrasion and rock coatings for my thesis work. I earned my M. S. in 1999 and continued on as a staff researcher with Dr. Greeley into 2000. I stayed at ASU to pursue a Ph.D. and I am currently working with Dr. Thomas Sharp in the Department of Gesciences. I am investigating low-temperature weathering on Mars and the alteration of Martian dust. During my time at ASU, I have engaged in several science education activities: I have mentored high school students in research activities, participated in the Service Learning program, performed outreach activities within my department, and now I am a fellow in the NSF GK-12 program. In addition to my love of work in geology and science, I am avid baseball enthusiast (Go Diamondbacks!), football fanatic (poor Steelers), and 3-time-a-year hacker on the golf course. I am recently married to my wonderful wife, Kaatje. To pass my non-academic hours by, I play electric bass and guitar, attempting to write songs when the mood strikes me, I brew and consume frothy, malt-based beverages, and I hike. Also, I engage in sometimes-heated debates about politics and social wellbeing, I cook rather low-quality gourmet meals, and I'm in the process of building skills in carpentry and woodworking.

Arlisa Labrie

I am a Louisiana native! I hold a BS degree in Physics from Grambling State University in Louisiana, and a MS in Physics from the University of Texas at Dallas. I have worked in the semiconductor industry at Texas Instruments, National Semiconductor and KLA-Tencor as a process, product engineer and applications engineer before returning to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering, with the goal of teaching at a University.I am currently doing research in advanced metallization for microelectronic devices. This includes characterization of the reliability of silver metallization, electromigration and low power applications.

Annalisa Alvrus

I completed my bachelor's degree in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee in 1991. I graduated summa cum laude, and was the top graduating senior in the College of Liberal Arts, Division of Social Sciences. I began graduate work at ASU and completed a Master's degree in Bioarchaeology in 1996. My Master's thesis examined healed skeletal trauma in a collection of Nubian human remains and the social implications of those fractures. I am presently a doctoral candidate in Physical Anthropology. My dissertation will examine skeletal evidence of anemia and its correlation with parasitic disease in the same Nubian skeletal collection. My main area interests are paleopathology and the influence of environment and culture on disease.

April Henry

I was born in Prescott, Arizona but for the last 10 years I have made Phoenix and the surrounding Sonoran Desert my home. I have BA in Anthropology from ASU, where I am currently pursuing a MS in Plant Biology. I have always been fascinated by the human species' interaction with the natural world. My interests broadly include Science and Natural History and I have a special affinity for ecology, ethnobotany and science education. For my MS thesis I am researching a fossil plant relative of Witch hazel (Hamamelis). Witch hazels have ballistic seed dispersal (their fruit explode to spread their seeds!) and they bloom in the fall after most deciduous trees have lost their leaves. These unusual characters make Witch hazel an interesting plant to study. When I am not busy and I have time to myself I enjoy gardening and developing my talents in the fiber arts.

Matthew Lungren

I am an undergrad fellow and I work in the Roosevelt school district at Southwest Elementary. I am pursuing dual degrees in English literature and Biology at ASU. My area of research is chemistry. Currently, I work in the photochemistry laboratory of Dr. Ian Gould where my research involves the photochemical nicking of plasmid DNA. I have managed to integrate as many chemistry related topics as possible during my work with the fifth and sixth graders who participate in the Gk-12 science club. I enjoy teaching very much: I like relating so-called "hard" material to young kids (who, often times, grasp the concepts better than I managed to at a college level...), I enjoy preparing lessons, and most of all, as a bit of a kid myself, I just like to have some fun while teaching.

Amber Townsend

I am an undergraduate at ASU. I am completing a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. I plan on working in the field of polymers when I get out of school. Right now, I am helping a program called Science is Fun, where we go into the Phoenix valley schools and try to get the students, kindergarten through eighth grade, more excited about science and learning. We have a forty-five minute demonstration that involves many different aspects of physical science. Our three main areas are light, pressure and heat. I work on recruiting the ASU interns into the program and then I help Dr. Mike McKelvy and David Wright in training the interns to be able to perform the demonstration on their own. After the 4-week long training is complete, I get to handle the administrative part of the program, such as scheduling of the schools, following through on the feedback I receive from the schools, and helping make sure the equipment is in working order for the interns. I really

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