Our instructors are scientists. Each has an undergraduate degree in a technical field, and has either obtained or is pursuing an advanced degree in science, engineering or education.

Karen Allendoerfer


Karen Allendoerfer earned her AB in Biology from Princeton University and her PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. She has a long-standing interest in brain development, and wrote her thesis on the role of growth factors in the developing visual system. She worked in the biotech industry and academia on models of brain diseases and potential new therapeutic strategies. Karen is also an avid amateur violinist with the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra. Her passion for teaching grows out of her interest in how different people’s brains learn and her desire to share the excitement of scientific discovery with her students. She has taught in the UMass Boston Urban Scholars program, the Girl Scouts, and Unitarian-Universalist Religious Education. She spends her spare time with her German husband and 2 school-age children traveling, geocaching, and reading science fiction.

Phillip Dugger


Phillip has a BS and MS in Biology from Western Washington University, and is currently earning a PhD in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. His research interests are in tropical rainforest ecology and animal-plant interactions. He will be doing his doctoral dissertation research on tropical seed dispersal ecology in the montane rainforests of Rwanda. Phillip currently teaches environmental technology as an adjunct professor at Babson College, and has previously taught ecology, earth science, and scientific inquiry at Merrimack College and Wheelock College.

David Eden


David's lifelong interest in biology and ecology was sparked by Miss Laylor, his fourth grade science teacher. He received his BA in biology from Boston University with a concentration in microbiology. He worked for many years as a software engineer. Since retiring, he has earned a MSci:Ed degree from the University of New England. Besides his educational work, which included teaching courses at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, David is an avid kayaker and is the editor of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker magazine.

Jody Foster


Dr. Maureen Griffin — Chief Financial Officer, Instructor


Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

Benjamin Hart


Ben received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2013. Although he has an interest in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, much of his research has dealt specifically with Alzheimer's disease and its pathogenesis. Ben has volunteered at Perkins School for the Blind and Boston Children’s Hospital where he helped in physical therapy and patient entertainment. In his spare time, Ben likes to cook, attend comedy functions, and host game nights with his friends.

Dr. Audra Kennedy — Program Manager Parent Engagement, Instructor


Audra graduated from Boston College in 1994 with a B.S. in Biology and went on to earn her Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Her graduate research focused on the enteric nervous system and the neurons that control bile flow into the small intestine. Her favorite graduate school courses were Human Anatomy and Histology.

In addition to teaching science and volunteering in her children’s school, Audra is the vice-president of a local educational foundation that provides grant money to teachers for enriching educational programs. In her spare time, she can be found watching soccer and baseball games, training for an upcoming half marathon, and crafting with her children.

Dr. Holly Kohler


Holly graduated from Williams College in 2002 with a B.A. in biology and went on to earn her DVM from Cornell University. She supplemented traditional veterinary training with courses in aquatic animal medicine, time on a South African game reserve, and work at a number of zoos and hopes to incorporate a strong interest in wildlife and conservation into her professional path. Holly's love of science and nature was sparked as a young child in Colorado and she is eager to share her enthusiasm for them with a new generation. In her spare time, she is an avid reader and aspiring writer, a dabbler in the arts, and the devoted servant to one cat.

Joseph Mistretta


I grew up in Salem, MA and I have always been interested in studying animals and plants. I graduated from Salem State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology with a minor in chemistry in 2010. At Salem State, I studied abroad in a national park in Honduras and decided to pursue a Master of Science in rainforest ecology and wildlife conservation at James Cook University in Australia. Since I've graduated I have become interested in teaching and I am excited to join Science from Scientists this year.

Sean O'Keefe


Sean received a B.S. in Bioengineering with a concentration in Biopharmaceutical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2012. He plans on apply to medical school in the Summer of 2015. His passion for STEM topics 'stems' from his love of learning. Always eager to learn how things work, he believes the best way to learn is to teach. He was done research in a variety of fields, including metal catalysts, bioinformatics, microbiology, addictions, and cystic fibrosis. In his spare time, he mostly studies for the MCAT, cooks, and travels.

Sandra Pearl


Dr. Pearl received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Siena College before completing neuroscience doctoral work at Albany Medical College studying new medications to treat drug addiction. Her postdoctoral work at the University of Pittsburgh involved examining the role of neurotransmitters in pathways of the brain associated with Parkinson's disease. Dr. Pearl has taught college level science courses for over 15 years and enjoys engaging her five children in simple science experiments around the house each week. In her spare time Dr. Pearl enjoys biking, golf, kayaking, hiking, traveling, and reading. She is active in writing grants for her local schools and plays an active role in her town library and sports leagues.

Margaret Ptak


Margaret received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biology from Stony Brook University in New York. She is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Medical Science and Public Health at Boston University. She's currently doing research at MGH, focusing on biomarkers in pregnancy and early development as indicators for autism.

Having a mother who is a nurse, Margaret grew up immersed and fascinated by the human body. Much to her mother's dismay, Margaret's favorite question was, "Why?" and rarely was satisfied with the answer, "...because I told you so." She was a born scientist. Her curiosity never ceased and she was relieved to discover that there is a whole field of study focusing on asking questions and arriving at concrete answers!

Margaret has always had a passion for teaching and enjoys inspiring young minds to appreciate science the way she does.

When it comes to enjoying her time outside of science (yes, there are those moments!), Margaret willingly invests her energies into three things (all which help her appreciate other cultures!): dance, travel and food. During her free time, Margaret almost always finds herself moving and dancing. Her recent dancing endeavors have even allowed her to travel a bit. She is also known to bake a pretty mean cake.

Amanda Schutt — Director of Development, Instructor


Amanda earned her M.S. in Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012. Her research focused on benthic aquatic insect taxonomy, stream health bioassessments, and sedimentation issues in aquatic ecosystems. Amanda works as both an Instructor for Science from Scientists and as their Director of Development. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys gardening, baking, crafting, and camping with her Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout Troop.

Dr. Catherine Sukow — Lead Curriculum Developer, Instructor


Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

Dr. Leighann Sullivan


Leighann Sullivan earned her BS in Biology from Cornell University. For a number of years she taught math, science, and language skills at a secondary school for learning disabled students. She subsequently earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University. Her dissertation was entitled, “Molecular and Genomic Analyses in Clostridium acetobutylicum.” When not pursuing academic interests she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and experimenting in the culinary arts.

Siobhan Sullivan


Earned a B.S in Exercise Physiology, with a medical concentration, from Ithaca College in 2012. Siobhan's interests in science and more specifically, human biology, came about as a young athlete with many reoccurring injuries. Therefore, her research interests include the Biomechanics of Human Movement in order to develop protocols for sports injury prevention. She is currently gaining more clinical experience in the sports medicine field before pursuing a future career as a Physician's Assistant. In her spare time, Siobhan enjoys participating in triathlons, coaching girl's lacrosse and "attempting" many other outdoor activities.

Cortney Wieber — Director of Education, Program Manager Curriculum and Vacation Programs, Instructor


Cortney loves science, recycling, traveling and animals, especially bats! She recently returned to the Salem, MA area after spending a few months in India and completing her M.S. in Australia at James Cook University, researching the role of flying foxes as host reservoirs for zoonotic viruses. Before that, she spent many summers abroad gaining hands-on experience in wildlife rehabilitation in various countries around the world while getting her B.S. in Environmental Biology at Salem State University.

Aside from advocating for all animals, Cortney enjoys hiking and reading.

Beth Zylinski — Program Manager Web Solutions, Instructor


Beth has always been interested in math and science and was inspired to pursue an engineering degree by her high school physics teacher. She earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts and also a Masters in Engineering Management. While working in the engineering field, she was a quality and reliability engineer focused on testing integrated circuits and electronic chips. Beth enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, traveling and reading.

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