Eric Knapp, Melody Richardson, Gigi Burke, Bill Christian, Shira Colsky, Debbie Mullis
AJ Chestnut Raines is a writer and educator with a background in chemistry, mathematics and middle grades science. For over 10 years, AJ has worked in the field of STEM education. Beginning as an extracurricular instructor, AJ’s in classroom experiences led her to find her niche in curriculum and instructional design. Her interdisciplinary writings have aided in program development for science education firms, education certifications for public schools, and grant procurement for non-profit organizations. As School & Youth Programs Manager at Science ATL, AJ leads the Georgia Chief Science Officers (CSO) and STEM Professional School Partnership (SPSP) programs.
I am most curious about sustainable farming. I love hydroponic and Aquaponic systems and believe they will change how fresh food gets to people living in food deserts. I am excited to see how these systems spread on a global level.
Sarah Strassler is a Biochemistry PhD student at Emory University, working in a structural biology lab to understand how enzymes and RNAs interact with one another in our bodies. Her passion for science communication began while serving as Peace Corps Volunteer where she enjoyed helping students make sense of the “magic” in the world around them through science. Sarah is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and an ARCS Scholar.
I am constantly amazed at how understanding the science behind the most mundane moments in our life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary!
Kristen Clayton is a nonprofit professional with experience focusing on the arts sector and is fascinated by the intersection of science, art, community organization, placemaking, and education. Kristen values creativity and curiosity and their ability to build a bridge between art and science. As Science ATL’s Public Events Coordinator, she is responsible for planning and executing a creative slate of recurring events and in assisting in planning the Atlanta Science Festival. With a MA in Nonprofit Management and Arts Administration focusing on art and nature from the University of Oregon, her experience includes program development, research, and evaluation for the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Contemporary, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
I love the city’s ability to intermingle science and culture. In form and function, Atlanta has a beautiful way of mixing the cityscape and local happenings with nature, especially in our understanding and fascination with plants, creating a kind of natural culture.
Susan Lozier is Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair in the College of Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. Dean Lozier leads more than 2,500 students and 500 faculty and researchers across six internationally ranked schools in the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech. She is a physical oceanographer who researches the ocean’s role in climate variability and climate change, and the role that ocean physics plays in those expected changes. She currently serves as President of the American Geophysical Union and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a past president of The Oceanography Society, as well as the international lead for the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) observing system.
What wows me about science is its ability to astound century after century. Scientific discovery never gets old!
Melanie Lawrence is Chief Business Officer for Research at Emory University, where she leads and executes cross cutting strategic initiatives and special projects across the research enterprise. She manages the strategic planning, budget and fiscal planning, human resources, operational improvements, and key special projects and initiatives for both the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and the Office of Research Administration. She is also the Acting Director of Science Gallery Atlanta.
Melanie is an Atlanta native and a proud alumnus of Emory University, having received her Executive MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School and has been an active Emory alum, most recently as Treasurer of the Executive Women of Goizueta Alumni Board. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History, Economics, and Geography from Georgia State University.
I love learning, I consider myself a perpetual student to soak up as much knowledge from all places as I can get. What wows me most about science is that it is so simply the search for knowledge. We are all scientists if we are willing to continually test our own hypotheses with the goal of always wanting to learn.
James E. Ward Jr. is the Managing Partner of Quest Wealth Advisors, LLC, a financial services firm that specializes in personal and corporate income tax preparation/planning, accounting, and bookkeeping. Quest Wealth Advisors also handles small business and non-profit registration/organization with a focus on making sure the proper corporate entity is selected for tax planning and compliance purposes. He has worked for several large consulting and accounting firms and has almost 25 years of experience delivering quality client service.
Mr. Ward has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Management degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
I have always been curious how “things” work and how we have evolved to make “things” better, whether it be a device, tool, or a way of doing things. I truly believe that necessity is the mother of invention and whether it be a scientist with a defined approach or an individual with a problem to solve, I am fascinated how we have used our wits and available resources to make all of the things that we have in common use today.
Dr. Tjuan Dogan is passionate about education and curious about the intersection of art, science, and technology. As Global Director of Social Impact at Coursera, she develops strategies to impact global societies and transform lives through learning. Prior to Coursera, she held leadership positions in corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, and social impact with Emory University, IBM, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, and the Southern Education Foundation. Tjuan is a native of Greenville, SC, earned her Ph.D. in education, with a concentration in business management, at the University of South Carolina, and completed a year-long fellowship at Harvard Business School after earning her Ph.D. She enjoys live theater, golf, patio gardening, and making stained glass art.
I’m curious about the intersection of art and science. I love architecture, music, theater, visual arts and nature. Artistic expression + scientific exploration = an afternoon of wonder for me.
Misael Romero-Reyes is a chemistry PhD student at Emory University, working at the interface of chemical biology and materials chemistry. He is working to enhance the functionality of ultrafiltration membranes, by developing a method to remove hazardous small molecules from water. Misael is committed to promote the importance of scientific research in the classroom. He teaches “Chemistry and the Environment” with the hope of motivating more students to identify and solve environmental problems in their future careers. He is passionate about science communication and his efforts focus on closing the gap between researchers and the general public by teaching researchers how to make their science more relevant, so it is no longer only understood by a niche community.
How science can help save the world! From creating vaccines to the decontamination of water, science is everywhere, and it is used in multiple applications!
Jason Raines is a STEM educator and professional development designer with degrees in chemical engineering and educational studies. Jason began teaching over 20 years ago in the middle school setting and used the experience to launch himself into a career of providing professional development services across public and private sectors. Jason’s role at Science ATL is to provide educators and STEM professionals with the necessary relational support to aid in the maintenance and growth of their partnerships, programs and stakeholders.
I am wowed about the speed and intensity that science and technology is improving and iterating. It’s amazing to witness firsthand the rapid progress of human capabilities enhanced by science!
Audra’s current passion for science did not come naturally. At a young age, Audra was intimidated by science and math, thinking these fields were reserved for naturally gifted geniuses. Through the encouragement of her family and friends, however, her fervent curiosity about people – how we walk, talk, and think — overcame her intimidation and carried her through to a career in science. She followed her fascination to the University of Michigan to study human movement science. After graduating, Audra came to Atlanta to further study the inner-workings of people, pursuing a PhD in Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech. After receiving a master’s degree in biology, Audra took a leave of absence from her PhD program to pursue her passion for science communication. By working with organizations like Science ATL, Audra hopes to prevent others from being intimidated by STEM and increase engagement in science.
I think it’s so interesting that such different animals can be so similar — I love discovering what connects us all! For instance, the bones in the front legs of four-legged animals — from mice to elephants — look virtually the same as the bones in our own arms!
Donna grew up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and has since lived in temperate forests, high-altitude deserts, and the Piedmont plateau. She is currently a PhD candidate at Emory University, studying how bees learn about flowers and how college students learn about bees. Donna is a former Science ATL Science Communication Fellow. She is passionate about sharing science through writing and teaching. She believes that science is as essential as art, or magic, or storytelling, in that we need all of these to understand ourselves, appreciate the world, and plan for better futures.
I will never get over octopus’ ability to solve puzzles, escape cages, and walk around with coconut armor.
Samantha is an Atlanta native whose interests in science and education began at her parent’s medical practice, where she learned the value of effective science communication and STEM literacy. Samantha received her degree in biology from Georgia State University, and currently works in the College of Arts and Sciences. When she is not browsing the library or finding new trails to run, Samantha volunteers as a Master Gardener. Samantha enjoys her work at Atlanta Science Festival because she shares the core belief that science should be accessible to everyone, and most importantly, fun!
I really enjoy exploring food science, gardening, and agricultural history. I love learning
about how much what we eat has shaped us as a species and how agriculture helps to
define us culturally..
As the Workforce Development Manager for Georgia Power, Jamal and his team develop strategies that support Georgia’s talent pipeline for the energy industry and other target industries. By guiding partnerships with education and workforce development organizations, associations, and government agencies, Jamal works to maximize available funding and educational opportunities associated with talent development.
Before his time with Georgia Power, Jamal served 20 years in the United States Navy, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer in 2014. He was stationed onboard several U.S. Navy warships, serving as project manager. A native of New Orleans, Jamal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Management from Southwestern College and a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University. Jamal also volunteers with several veterans’ organizations. He and his wife, Marcheria, have two daughters and a Yorkie. Jamal enjoys playing golf and attending Atlanta sporting events.
The endless possibilities. What discoveries will impact and change lives? How will new technology affect our world as we know it? Science delivers research and information to many of our current problems and future challenges.
Jason is President of Imperative Entertainment’s new Podcast division. Jason has over 20 years of experience with both major media companies and tech start-ups. Most recently, Jason served as Head of New Initiatives and Executive Producer at HowStuffWorks, one of the largest commercial podcast producers in the world. In this role, Jason launched three #1 podcast hits in 2018: ATLANTA MONSTER (with over 40 million downloads); its follow-up, MONSTER: THE ZODIAC KILLER; and BROKEN HARTS, a podcast collaboration with Glamour Magazine.
I’m curious about how humans continue to wrestle with science and technology that is more exciting, yet harder to understand than ever before. What is our capacity to embrace this over the next 100-500 years?
What does it take to ensure that wine makes it safely to the bottle? Join us as we learn about the lab techniques used in analyzing wine chemistry, and how the results dictate our decisions in the cellar. See how the wine is bottled, corked and labeled.
This 2-hr workshop (3-5pm at City Winery) is included with the Series Subscription or $65 a la carte, and includes:
Meisa Salaita has made it her mission to help others see and appreciate the beauty of science by making it a part of everyday cultural experiences. Through her work founding and directing the Atlanta Science Festival, she spends her days convincing everyone else to fall in love with science as well. To that end, Meisa also writes, has produced radio stories, and hosted TV shows — all in the name of science. In addition to her work with the Festival, Meisa is a producer for The Story Collider, a science storytelling podcast. Meisa has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern, and was recently named by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of 20 Women Who Mean Business in Atlanta.
I’m totally blown away by the periodic table of elements. It’s amazing how, even when early scientists had not yet discovered an element, they could predict its properties based on where it would be on the table.
David G. Lynn has contributed in the general areas of molecular recognition, synthetic biology and chemical evolution. After a fellowship at Columbia University and teaching briefly at the University of Virginia and Cornell University, he served as Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago until 2000. He moved to accept the Asa Griggs Candler Professorship in Chemistry and Biology at Emory University, and in 2002, was awarded one of 20 inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorships. In 2011, Lynn was awarded the Emory Scholar-Teacher Award for pioneering several science/arts collaborations for communicating science and as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. He received the ACS Herty Metal in 2013 and served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry from 2006-15.
The trees — that Atlanta is a city in a forest.
Sarah Peterson believes that wonder and curiosity have the power to bridge divides and bring diverse communities together. As a Co-Founder and Director of New Initiatives of ASF, she brings together experience as a scholar and teacher of arts and humanities topics with an insatiable curiosity about the science underlying everything we do, see and use daily. In addition to her work developing and producing innovative programming and resources that present the wonders of science in surprising and engaging ways, she works to advance the professional and career development of PhDs in all disciplines. She has a PhD in English Literature from Emory University.
I am endlessly fascinated and curious about the human brain and the nuances that make people experience the world in such dramatically different ways.
As chief economic development officer for Metro Atlanta Chamber’s, David is responsible for leading a team focused on the recruitment, retention and expansion of companies and skilled talent within focused clusters e.g. corporate headquarters, bioscience, healthcare, IoT, smart city, cybersecurity, fintech, supply chain, eSports, and digital media/entertainment.
Before joining the Chamber, Hartnett served as the president and CEO of Maco Pharma (formerly United Pharma™) a privately held medical device/pharmaceutical company based in Duluth, Georgia, headquartered in Lille France. Prior to Maco Pharma, Hartnett was president and CEO of SteriFx Corporation, a specialty chemical company, contracted by U.S. Department of Defense (DARPA). Before SteriFx, he was the executive vice president of the North American headquarters of Given Imaging, Inc. (GIVN-NASDAQ). Under his leadership, the company commercialized the “PillCam” video capsule.
Hartnett is married with four sons, was raised on Coronado Island, California and is an active member of the Atlanta business community.
With Atlanta’s unique combination of Fortune 500 headquarters, health organizations, and research institutions, we are positioned as the Center for Global Health, leading the country in scientific advancements in the Healthcare Ecosystem.
Jordan Rose is a creative, lifelong learner with a passion for promoting science literacy and building community partnerships. As co-founder and co-director of Atlanta Science Festival, Jordan is helping to bring together schools, universities, companies, and museums to celebrate Atlanta’s STEAM ecosystem and highlight opportunities for the public to learn and love science. Previously, Jordan led science education initiatives at the Georgia BioEd Institute and the Emory College Center for Science Education, supporting K-12 teachers and students and facilitating university-community partnerships. Jordan has a B.S. in neuroscience and a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University. He serves on advisory boards for the Connect Atlanta STEAM Ecosystem, Technology Association of Georgia – Education Collaborative, Georgia Tech’s GIFT program, and the Georgia BioEd Institute.
Parasitic flatworms that infect ant brains, make the ants climb to the tips of grass where they are eaten by cows, lay eggs in the cow’s gall-bladder, get pooped out, eaten by snails, excreted in slime balls, which are (surprise!) eaten by ants, who are once again compelled to the grass-tops by the brain-dwelling worms. And the life cycle begins again. That’s science y’all.
Danielle is a continuous improvement engineer at The Clorox Company. She travels to North American and Latin America to assist the various sites in the Clorox family to involve everyone every day in improvement. She enjoys focusing on furthering education/skills which led her to achieve undergraduate and multiple masters degrees. She is one of less than 35 Certified Master Facilitators in the world.
Danielle and her family are animal rescuers and often share their home with foster pets. She enjoys travel, Zumba & Orange Theory Fitness, swimming and spending time with her family. And she is an endless volunteer-aholic!
The STEM community is the best! I have been lucky enough to meet so many wonderful people that are focused on inspiring Metro Atlanta youth in STEM. I look forward to the Festival every year to catch up with volunteers, event leads, attendees and ASF Core team members. LOVE it!!
Eric Knapp is a curious and compassionate individual with a passion for youth leadership and empowerment. He serves organizations and individuals by revealing win-win partnerships and reminding people that there is a leader in every child. Eric is an education consultant and STEM advocate living in the metro Atlanta area. He is a Northrop Grumman Teacher Fellow and an established conference presenter. Eric works with the Atlanta Science Festival as the Program Director for the Georgia Chief Science Officer Program where he establishes an environment in which STEM minded students are developed into effective leaders in their schools and communities. He hopes to see emerging leaders find the place where their gifts, talents, and passions come together to meet the needs of their community. His career has taught him to never underestimate the impact a young person can make on the next generation.
I love material science! Have you ever noticed that when you break dry spaghetti noodles they tend to break into three pieces instead of the expected two? I am curious about the wide variety of material properties that shape our world.
Cheryl Kortemeier is Executive Director of Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta for the past 8 years. The CVC brings together business professionals who are passionate about volunteerism to share best practices, strengthen community investment strategies, and make a difference through service. Previously (1998 – 2011), she was Director of Development and Communications at Trees Atlanta. She was Board Chair of EarthShare of Georgia for three years. She is a Steering Committee member of the Greater Atlanta Regional Centre of Expertise on Sustainable Development.
I am curious about plants and animals that live in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean that we have not yet discovered.
Jason is a Regional Operations Manager at Google, where he leads data center operations across the eastern United States and South America, including sites in Moncks Corner, SC; Lenoir, NC; Douglas County, GA; Widows Creek, AL; Clarksville, TN and Santiago, Chile.
Since joining Google in 2005, Jason has held various positions related to Google’s Data Center Infrastructure and Operations. During his time at Google, Jason has successfully led cross-functional teams supporting Google’s critical business operations.
He is a member of the Lithia Springs High School STEM Board of Directors, which helped the school receive its certification and distinction as Georgia’s seventh STEM school in May 2016. Jason is a former member of the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Club and also served on the board of directors for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).
A Texas native, he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. In 2005, Jason moved to Georgia with his wife and three children. The family currently resides in Milton, GA.
I proposed to my wife at the Georgia Aquarium and it is now one of my family’s favorite places to visit.