Staff

Paul Dusenbery

Paul B. Dusenbery

Paul B. Dusenbery: NCIL Director

Paul received his B.A. in Physics from Whitman College in 1972 and his Ph.D. in Physics in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire specializing in space plasma physics. He was a Research Associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder from 1982-1990. In September of 1989, he became the Program Director of the Magnetospheric Physics Program at the National Science Foundation.

In October 1992, he was appointed Executive Director of the Space Science Institute (SSI), a nonprofit research and education organization, located in Boulder, Colorado. In 2010, SSI’s Board of Directors appointed him Director of the National Center for Interactive Learning. In June 2014, he stepped down as Executive Director to devote full time to directing NCIL. From 1995-2004, he led the development of a successful workshop series for scientists and engineers to learn how to implement effective formal and informal STEM education programs. He was the project director and led the development of major national traveling exhibitions: Electric Space, Space Weather Center, MarsQuest, Destination Mars, Alien Earths, Giant Worlds, and recently Great Balls of Fire: Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors. He has also led and participated in numerous professional development workshops for classroom teachers, science museum educators, and library staff. Currently, he directs the national library education program called the STAR Library Network (STAR Net), in partnership with the American Library Association and many library and STEM education organizations. The STAR Net program includes traveling STEM exhibitions, activities and training for librarians, an outreach program in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, a community of practice for librarians and STEM professionals, and evaluation and research. Several projects are part of STAR Net: Discover NASA, NASA@ My Library, and Project BUILD. STAR Net is supported by a number of sources: NSF, NASA, NIH, and IMLS. He was also the PI and project director for the first Public Libraries & STEM Conference in Denver, Colorado in August, 2015. This NSF-funded conference brought together 160 leaders from both the public library and STEM education communities to help define a new 21st century vision of STEM learning in public libraries.

Amy Briones

Amy Briones

Amy Briones: Graphic Designer/Illustrator

Amy Briones has a B.A. in Graphic Design with a minor in Museum Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She has over 5 years of experience in graphic design, exhibit design, and illustration. Her previous experience includes working as a Graphic Designer, Preparator, and Curatorial Assistant at UTEP's Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. She designed, organized, and developed exhibits along with her team. Amy served as a panelist for the Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) Conference and Sol Conference in 2021 where she spoke about the development of the Virtual Lhakhang Project. Her publication campaign design for Uncaged Art: Tornillo Children's Detention Camp was awarded the Mitchell A. Wilder Publication Design award by the Texas Association of Museums (TAM). During her free time she collaborated with the El Paso Museum of Art to sell her illustrations in their shop. Amy is also an avid dog lover.


James Harold

James Harold

James Harold: Senior Education Associate

James Harold has a research background in space physics (Ph.D. in physics, Univ. of Maryland), and is currently Director of Information Systems and Technology for the Space Science Institute. Jaime has a long interest in the role of computers, simulations, and games in education. He has been involved in a wide range of space science education programs, including the NASA Office of Space Science (now Science Mission Directorate) Education Support Network, which sought to enhance NASA’s education involvement through more effective scientist involvement and more cohesive education programs. He was the development lead for the software components of the Alien Earths and Giant Worlds traveling exhibits and accompanying web sites, as well as the Space Weather Center website. He was Co-I on the NASA/HST funded MyStar project (a small stellar evolution game), and the NSF funded Hydrobot project (a 3D Hydrobot simulator game). Jaime is currently Co-I and software development lead for the NSF funded Great Balls of Fire exhibit, PI of the NSF and NASA funded Finding NEO project (developing, among other things, a physics based asteroid deflection game), and PI of Making Space Social, which is creating a social game for Facebook dealing with stellar and planetary evolution.


Anne Holland

Anne Holland

Anne Holland: Public Engagement Manager

Anne’s professional training includes a B.S. and a B.A in Astrophysics and English Writing from the University of Hawaii in 2007 (along with minors in math and geology), and a Master’s in Science in Space Studies form the University of North Dakota in 2012. She has previously conducted astronomy based outreach for the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, Hawaii Forest and Trail, and various youth groups. Anne also worked at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science prior to joining NCIL in Fall 2010.

As Public Engagement Manager at NCIL, Anne manages all the library (STAR_Net) and museum (Great Balls of Fire) tours, and serves as Project Manager for many NCIL programs. Anne also leads SSI’s outreach efforts, visiting schools, libraries and science centers and conducting hands-on science programs (like stargazing). Anne is Co-I on Phase 2 of the STAR Library Education Network, NASA @ My Library and Discover NASA: From Our Town to Outer Space. Anne is also an active presenter at the American Library Association ,Colorado Association of Libraries and Association of Science and Technology Centers, as well as a core member of the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS).

Keliann LaConte

Keliann LaConte

Keliann LaConte: Professsional Development Manager

Keliann has provided STEM learning experiences to youth and adults on a range of topics in a variety of settings, from biology explorations on the beach in California to astronomy outreach in inner city Denver. Her training includes a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Denver; she also has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from Caltech, and she performed astrobiology research at JPL. She is a trained in the communication process of heritage interpretation, with certifications from the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Heritage Interpreter (CHI) and Certified Interpretive Trainer (CIT).

Keliann has provided professional development for librarians for the past seven years, including as a member of the NSF-funded STAR_Net project and co-convener of the 2015 Public Libraries & STEM conference. She joined the NCIL team in 2016 as Professional Development Manager, where she facilitates in-person and online training. She leads the development of active learning experiences for the library setting, working with professionals from the library, education, and STEM fields to develop a portfolio of activity guides for NASA and NSF content areas.

She has held leadership positions on SMD Planetary Division projects, including the NASA Science Mission Directorate Education and Public Outreach Planetary Forum, the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) / Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET), and a Mars research supplement for education.

Brooks Mitchell

Brooks Mitchell

Brooks Mitchell: Education Coordinator

Brooks graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.A. in geology and a minor in anthropology in 2012. Since then, he has been involved with informal science education in a wide array of settings. Brooks played a large role in the design and development of Georgia Aquarium’s “Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone” gallery and served as the geological and paleontological specialist for Fernbank Museum’s “WildWoods” exhibit. He also served as the Geology Expert for About.com, where he wrote and edited geoscience articles for the public.

Brooks joined the NCIL team as Education Coordinator in May of 2017, where he works on professional development efforts for librarians through NASA- and NSF-funded projects. He helps manage STAR_Net’s STEM Activity Clearinghouse; facilitates STAR Net, NASA@ My Library, and Project BUILD webinars; and creates how-to videos for hands-on activities. Brooks also represents NCIL as an active presenter at American Library Association (ALA), Mountain Plain Library Association (MPLA), and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) conferences and symposiums. He was the featured speaker for the City of Toccoa (Georgia) and Toccoa-Stephens County Public Library during the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Claire Ratcliffe

Claire Ratcliffe

Claire Ratcliffe: Education Coordinator

Claire Ratcliffe received her B.A. in Environmental Studies with minors in Anthropology and Business from the University of Utah in 2010. After graduating, Claire fell in love with education and taught in various informal education settings, including teaching a science camp in Kodiak, Alaska, working as a Marine Naturalist in Maui, and directing a teen program for the Boys & Girls Club in Utah. These experiences inspired Claire to pursue her Master’s degree in Natural Science Education at Teton Science Schools and the University of Wyoming, where she graduated in 2017. Most recently Claire has been teaching STEM to elementary and middle school students in Laramie, Wyoming.

Claire joined the NCIL team in February 2019 as Education Coordinator I. She is working on professional development for libraries across the country, including facilitating workshops, webinars, and adding to the development of the STAR Net's STEM Activity Clearinghouse.

Jessica Santascoy

Jessica Santascoy

Jessica Santascoy: Project Manager

Jessica received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso and an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School in New York City. She has over 10 years of project management and outreach experience.

She previously worked at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, where she designed and implemented the NASA Night Sky Network communication and outreach strategy. She and her team earned a NASA Group Achievement Award for exceptional performance in the creation of an innovative national public engagement program that dramatically increased NASA's visibility in exoplanet exploration. At Astronomers Without Borders she managed their flagship program, Global Astronomy Month, and served as community manager. She was the outreach consultant for the Exploratorium's initiative to reach Latinx audiences for the Total Solar Eclipse: Live From Chile 2019.\Jessica completed the Sky Ranger astronomy communication training given by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She was an active member of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. She looks forward to joining an astronomy club in Boulder.

Evaldas Vidugiris

Evaldas Vidugiris

Evaldas Vidugiris: Senior Developer

Evaldas is a graduate in studio arts from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a certificate in Technology, Arts and Media (2003). He joined the Space Science Institute in 2002 and has been the primary programmer for a wide variety of interactive activities and games for NASA and NSF funded projects, including MarsQuest Online, Alien Earths, Giant Worlds, the Space Weather Center, Hydrobot, Great Balls of Fire, and Finding NEO. In addition to development tools such as Flash and Director, his expertise in PHP has allowed us to develop online activities which track user interactions for later evaluation. He also has experience developing multi-touch applications for both Flash and the Microsoft Surface.

Evaldas Vidugiris

Stephanie Vierow-Fields

Stephanie Vierow-Fields: Education Coordinator (Relationship Liason)

Stephanie was awarded a BA in Anthropology Magna cum Laude from the University of Northern Colorado in 2011 along with a minor in Theatre Arts. She received her Master of Arts with Merit in 2013 from the University of Bristol’s Archaeology for Screen Media Program in the United Kingdom with extensive experience in a wide range of media and science platforms including museum visuals, film, and archaeological field work. She was the First Assistant Director on the web series “9realms”, as well as became the Creative Director for Slant of Light productions, a theatre-based nonprofit based in Milford, CT. Since then she worked in Special Events for Disney Event Group at Walt Disney World as well as a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America.

Stephanie joined the NCIL team as Education Coordinator in November of 2018, where she will be working as a liaison with project partners to build relationships and proactively determine needs.

Advisors

Robert L. Russell

Robert L. Russell

Robert L. Russell: Senior Advisor

Robert L. Russell (Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, Cornell) brings over 30 years of experience in STEM education to NCIL spanning children's museums, science centers, community organizations, and media. His experience includes project design, development, and management; evaluation of exhibit, community/youth, and media projects; private foundation and government grant development; and conduct of professional development workshops in project planning, evaluation, and grant development. Bob's unique strengths include his experience in designing and evaluating projects targeting underserved minorities, including Hispanics and African-Americans; designing health education projects; using social marketing approaches in science and health education; and designing media-focused projects, including print media, radio, television, and large format films. Russell has taught psychology at Cornell and Georgetown Universities and has published widely on informal science education and has published peer-reviewed research on social networks, cross-cultural psychology, and cognitive development.

Currently, Bob directs a national Spanish-language science news service; is building a national Latino STEM education network, based on the NSF-funded Expanding Informal Science for Latinos conference; and is serving as an evaluator or consultant on a number of informal STEM education projects. He is leading the development of several NCIL initiatives to expand the involvement of Latinos in environmental education; to develop the Discover Health project; and to develop a conference designed to expand the involvement of research scientists in STEM.

Bob is currently on leave at the National Science Foundation.