NSTA Virtual Conference
STEM Today For a Better Tomorrow


Marsha Bednarski
Marsha Bednarski Dr. Marsha Bednarski is a Professor of Science Education at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain, CT. Marsha earned her BS degree in Elementary Education from the University of Connecticut (UCONN), graduate degrees in General Science and Educational Leadership at CCSU and her doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Science Education and Assessment from UCONN. Prior to coming to CCSU, Marsha taught elementary school, was an administrative curriculum specialist, and worked with many school districts in CT doing Professional Development in science education, performance assessment, and rubrics. At CCSU, she teaches science methods courses for pre-service teachers, and graduate STEM courses for in-service teachers. Marsha provides STEM professional development for in-service teachers supported by several federally-funded grants. She has presented at dozens of conferences including the National Science Teachers Association, the Connecticut Science Teachers Association, and the Association for Science Teacher Education. Marsha’s current research interests include STEM education and using NGSS to support curriculum, instruction, and assessment development.

Valerie C. Blackburn
Valerie C. Blackburn Blackburn holds undergraduate degrees in science, psychology, and child and family studies from Lander University and graduate degrees from Rice and University of Houston in Physics, Engineering, Mathematics and Curriculum and Instruction. Valerie began her career as a Counselor working in ER admissions and as a Child Play Therapist. She was a school teacher in Galveston ISD for more than 10 years. Blackburn worked closely with the SRT-STEM Center as a Mentor Teacher while working for Galveston ISD. She recently joined the UTMB Office of Education Outreach as the Assistant Director and STEM Coach. UTMB provides an avenue to continue to working schools and aiding teachers to integrate 21st Century Skills, Project Based Learning and STEM Practices that will benefit our future. In this role, she oversees schools, districts, and community colleges in a statewide effort in improve teaching and learning, career and college readiness, student support services, teacher and administrative coaching and projects focused on promoting equity in STEM education.

Eric Brunsell
Eric Brunsell Brunsell began his career as a physical science teacher in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 2000, he left the classroom to become the director of Space Education Initiatives, a non-profit organization focused on providing professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the nation. While at Space Education Initiatives, he administered a number of education programs for NASA, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Solar System Educators Program. Brunsell is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Excel Center at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. Eric completed his undergraduate degree in physics education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. He was a doctoral fellow in the NSF funded Center for Teaching and Learning in the West and completed a doctorate in science education at Montana State University.

Al Byers
Al Byers, Ph.D As Associate Executive Director of Services at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), Dr. Byers serves in a strategic capacity with mission-based government agencies, state and local departments of education, university, and education foundations as together we cooperatively develop high quality blended professional development solutions, resources, and opportunities (both on-site, on-line, synchronous, and asynchronous) for science educators across the United States. He steers the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of large-scale blended professional development and e-learning endeavors that are now being consumed by over 130,000 educators daily, primarily through the NSTA’s award-winning Learning Center. He serves on the primary technical working group for the US Department of Education’s online communities of practice efforts, and was previously a delegate for the US Department of Education at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (2008), and as an expert panelist for the National Assessment of Education Progress Science Framework Prioritization working group. Dr. Byers is a sponsored speaker at both the national and international level, and shares his research in online professional development through peer-reviewed research articles and numerous conference presentations.

Tracy Cindric
Tracy Cindric After earning a B.A. from Capital University and an M.A. in teaching biology from Miami University, Tracy taught middle and high school science classes for five years near Columbus. She then taught courses for pre-service science teachers at Ohio Wesleyan University and Capital University. She served as an instructional coach for rural, urban, and suburban schools to support teachers during the implementation of local and statewide grants. Before joining ORC, Tracy worked on Ohio's New Learning Standards and the Model Curriculum as a science consultant at the Ohio Department of Education. She has served as district director, president, and web designer for the Science Education Council of Ohio and as a board member of the Environmental Education Council of Ohio.

Her areas of expertise include implementing project-based learning, using environmental education as a basis for integrated lessons, and incorporating Citizen Science experiences into classroom instruction. She is currently creating and facilitating professional development workshops on science pedagogy, content, and technology integration.

Brian Crosby
Brian Crosby Brian Crosby, an upper elementary teacher for over 30 years, now facilitates STEM education for students, teachers, and administrators in six counties in northern Nevada. Coming from a background in outdoor education and educational technology, Crosby fused his students’ use of technology with field trips, art, hands-on activities, and a problem-based approach, to build their schema of the world. Mr. Crosby’s students are acclaimed for the “community service” projects they accomplish. Building a wiki web site to leverage the learning at a local animal park, developing an advertising campaign for a non-profit that recycles bicycles, and then producing an award winning video teaching others how to follow their lead, are just some examples. Crosby has been interviewed about innovative teaching and learning by NBC News, the New York Times, and many other national and local media outlets. He has mentored educators and presented about STEM learning around the globe.

Salvador A. Fernandez
Salvador A. Fernandez Dr. Salvador A. Fernandez is the Executive Director for School Achievement at the New York City Department of Education. Fernandez has earned national recognition for his vision and commitment to education reform. He previously held the positions of principal of I.S. 52 in District 6 Manhattan, Director of School Quality in the Office of Accountability for the New York City Department of Education and Director of School Assessment and Improvement for District 5.

Fernandez has spent over 34 years in the field of education. In his time as principal of I.S. 52, Dr. Fernandez established partnerships with the GE Foundation, the NSTA, and NASA to promote teacher leadership in S.T.E.M. education.

Fernandez received his Master of Science degree from Hunter College. Soon after he acquired his educational administration certificate from the City College of New York, he was selected to participate in the Chancellor’s Incentive Doctoral Program where he graduated from St. John’s University in 2002 with the highest honors.

Adaliz Gonzalez
Adaliz Gonzalez Adaliz is the Citywide Instructional Lead for Middle School Science in the Department of STEM at the New York City Department of Education. She served as a science and math teacher for eighth grade bilingual students in Inwood Intermediate School in New York City for over ten years, and as a Peer Instructional Coach, mentoring colleagues in the understanding using the new teacher reflection rubric. She also served as one of the teacher leaders and Science Coordinator at this school for eight years, leading colleagues in the understanding and implementation of Common Core units of study and the integration of math and science lessons and activities. Prior to this position, Adaliz spent five years as a high school Chemistry teacher and two years as an Earth Science teacher in Puerto Rico.

She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She also obtained her Masters in Science Education from Cambridge College, and a second Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from St John’s University in New York.

John Graves
John Graves John Graves is a 35 year veteran of education, with 30 years experience as a middle school science and language arts educator. During that time he also taught at the university level, teaching undergraduate and graduate level science methods courses. Since 2007 he has been teaching full time in the Master of Science in Science Education Program at Montana State University (MSU), the largest graduate program at the university. John’s research passions include online teaching, science education, teacher efficacy and most recently, professional development related to the Framework and NGSS. He has been involved with numerous grant projects, volunteers as a teacher in a homeschool cooperative and serves as the Executive Director of the Montana Science Teachers Association. He served as Region XV Director of NSTA from 2010-2013. A Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science Teaching, he has earned other teaching awards, including the MSU Excellence in On-line Teaching Award.

Barrington Irving
Barrington Irving In 2007, Captain Barrington Irving became the youngest person to fly solo around the globe. On his 97-day journey, he flew 30,000 miles in a single-engine plane called Inspiration.

Born in Jamaica and brought up in inner-city Miami, Barrington saw a football scholarship as his only route to college until, inspired by a Jamaican airline pilot who became his mentor, he decided to pursue a career in aviation. In 2003, Barrington founded the nonprofit Experience Aviation to offer STEM-based programs and career guidance to middle level and high school students.

A magna cum laude graduate of Florida Memorial University, Barrington has received many awards, including a 2007 Congressional Resolution honoring his flight and pioneering work in education, and the Medallion of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Florida State Senate. In 2012, he was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

Captain Irving launched his educational initiative, the Flying Classroom, on September 23, 2014, from Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. He will embark on two more rounds of Flying Classroom expeditions in the U.S. and abroad in September 2015 and 2016.

Louisa Koch
Louisa Koch Louisa Koch is NOAA’s Director of Education responsible for enhancing public understanding about the role of the ocean, coasts, Great Lakes and atmosphere in the global environment and developing the next generation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals capable of understanding and managing those resources. Ms. Koch served as NOAA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research in Silver Spring, Maryland from 1998 through 2005.

Before joining NOAA, Ms. Koch served as the Commerce Branch Chief at the Office of Management and Budget. She served as a Presidential Management Intern at the Department of Defense and as an economist with the Joint Economic Committee in the U.S. Congress.

Ms. Koch earned a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1987), and a Bachelors Degree in Physics from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont (1982). She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Laura Mackay
Laura Mackay Dr. Laura Mackay is currently a science coach and magnet liaison at an elementary STEM magnet program at Ed White Elementary in El Lago, Texas. As a former coordinator of programming for gifted and talented students, she discovered a passion for helping students develop critical thinking skills. This led to work in implementing various types of magnet programs. She enjoys teaching science and engineering labs and helping students discover a love of scientific discovery.

Acacia McKenna
Acacia McKenna As Director of Science Education Competitions at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), Mrs. McKenna serves to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through creativity and exploration in competitions. She oversees NSTA sponsored science education competitions and interfaces with key sponsors that promote STEM education across the organization. Mrs. McKenna earned her B.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Microbiology and an M.S. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Purdue University. As a translational researcher, Mrs. McKenna has authored publications in top tier scientific journals, presented at conferences and served as a public speaker at events. With over ten years of combined experience in evaluation of educational outcomes, needs assessment, program oversight, and project management of STEM educational programs, Mrs. McKenna demonstrates a passion for STEM education, research and professional development. Mrs. McKenna serves on various committees within the genetic/genomic community both sponsored through academic and government sectors.

Jim O'Leary
Jim O'Leary Serving the Maryland Science Center (MSC) in numerous functions for more than 30 years, O'Leary serves as MSC’s lead space science and astronomy specialist. He has produced dozens of programs for MSC’s Davis Planetarium, which have also played in planetariums worldwide. He has been recipient of NSF, NASA and NOAA grants for production of space and Earth science programs, and was awarded the NASA Excellence in Outreach Award. A current NASA grant, partnering with Heliophysics researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is producing education professional development and creation of library exhibits on the topic of the Sun and space weather. He has worked with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore on a number of education initiatives, including planetarium program production and exhibit development.

Jim is a popular lecturer on space science topics and regularly appears on radio and TV to explain topical science stories. He hosted a radio program for 12 years on the local NPR affiliate, examining the latest developments in space science and astronomy.

Celestine Pea
Celestine Pea Dr. Celestine (Celeste) H. Pea is a Program Director in the Division of Research on Learning (DRL), Education and Human Resource Directorate, National Science Foundation (NSF). In DRL, Celeste manages a portfolio of awards that conduct education research in STEM areas regarding learning and learning environments and broadening participation in STEM. Before coming to NSF, Dr. Pea was the Science Coordinator for a statewide reform initiative in Louisiana for four years and a middle school science teacher for East Baton Rouge Parish Schools for 24 years. Dr. Pea holds a PhD in Science Education leadership. Her current interests in STEM education are professional development for teachers; intersectional research on diversity-related issues; stereotype threats and evidenced-based interventions; and studies that look at student interest and identity related to STEM.

Jennifer Regelski
Jennifer Regelski Jennifer earned her Bachelors degree in Zoology from The Ohio State University, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Miami University and a doctorate degree at Wilmington University. She taught high school science for 13 years including courses in biology, environmental science, physical science, and microbiology. While working on her doctorate at Wilmington University, Jennifer served as a facilitator for professional development workshops to teachers throughout the state of Delaware through the Department of Education’s Science Coalition.

As a professor, Jennifer has worked with promoting scientific literacy and best practices for science instruction to her pre-service teachers. She has taught various courses including: science methods, educational technology, classroom management and assessment. She has also worked with collaborative teachers and her students through professional development schools to promote innovation and creativity in the science classroom. Her research interests include best practices for inquiry and problem-based STEM instruction, integrating technology into the science classroom, and increasing motivation and efficacy in science for both teachers and students.

Jeff Thomas
Jeff Thomas Dr. Jeff Thomas is an Associate Professor of Science Education at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain CT. Jeff earned his BS degree in meteorology from California University of Pennsylvania and his doctorate degree in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University. For four years, Jeff was a weather forecaster and consultant for a private weather company. He then taught middle school earth science for three years and high school earth science for eight years. At CCSU, Jeff currently teaches earth science and meteorology courses, science methods courses for pre-service teachers, and graduate STEM courses for in-service teachers. Jeff has been awarded several federally-funded grants—mostly facilitating professional development opportunities for STEM teachers. Thomas has presented at dozens of conferences including the National Science Teachers Association, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and the Association for Science Teacher Education. Currently, Jeff is the vice president of the Teacher Education Division of NAGT. Jeff’s academic interests include the nature of science, geoscience education, and science literacy.

Brenda Shumate Wojnowski
Brenda Shumate Wojnowski Brenda Shumate Wojnowski is CEO and president of WAI Education Solutions, an education-focused consulting firm geared toward non-profit, school system and university clients. Dr. Wojnowski has been engaged in university- and foundation-based programs for over 20 years, with prior experience in public schools. She is a past president of the National Science Education Leadership Association and has served as senior program officer for a non-profit foundation and as president of a museum-based non-profit. She has held a variety of university positions, including teaching graduate-level courses in educational leadership and researching and supporting STEM areas. An award-winning K-12 teacher, Dr. Wojnowski has taught at the middle and secondary levels and has served as a high school curriculum administrator. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and teaching with post-doctoral work in educational administration, a Master of Arts in middle grades education, an undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in secondary education, and teaching and supervision licensures in eight areas. Her research interests are in STEM education, school reform and mentoring.

For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org