Carnegie Mellon University

Gelfand Outreach Programs have the unique ability to partner with members of the Carnegie Mellon University community including faculty, students and staff who instruct our dynamic courses for k-12 students throughout the year. Please click on any name below to read more about each instructor.

Rosalyn Abbott

Dr. Rosalyn Abbott is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Prof. Abbott received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and her Ph.D. degree in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont. She was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Tufts University working under the supervision of Professor David Kaplan, were she developed adipose and skin tissue engineered models. Her lab at CMU focuses on using tissue engineering to study metabolic regulation during the complex transition of obesity to insulin resistant type II diabetes.

Paula Arambel is a GEM Fellow and Mechanical Engineering PhD student at CMU. She is the President of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Organization, and she serves on the Executive Board of the Women in Mechanical Engineering Society. Paula is from Boston, MA and received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University with a minor in BioMechanics. Her current research at the Microstructures and Mechanobiology Lab at CMU, focuses on a new microfabrication technique aimed at planar stretchable electronics.

Sankalp Arora

Sankalp Arora is a 3rd year PhD student at CMU RI. He completed his Masters in Robotics at RI in 2014 and worked as Research Engineer from 2010-2012 here. During his stay here he has developed planning and perception algorithms for flying vehicles. He worked on safety and sensor planning for AACUS, world’s first guaranteed safe full scale autonomous helicopter, world’s first climate invariant infrastructure free ship-deck tracker. And is currently a recipient of Qualcomm Innovation fellowship for the development of autonomous curious Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for data gathering.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Robotic Boats

Dr. Jack Beuth’s research interests are in the area of solid mechanics and manufacturing. Much of his research relates to his expertise in the areas of thermomechanical modeling of manufacturing processes, fracture mechanics, and the mechanics of coatings and layered materials. His currentresearch includes work in three areas. One area currently being investigated relates to Mechanics of Electron and Laser Beam-Based Additive Manufacturing Processes, which are automatedprocesses for directly building three-dimensional parts or features, layer-by-layer, via electron beam- or laser-based deposition. These processes are also referred to as direct digital manufacturing or solid freeform fabrication and offer an alternative means for fabricating metal parts for aerospaceand medical implant industries.

Carla Bevins Dr. Carla Bevins is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Business Communications in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Dr. Bevins taught in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Kentucky (UK) and as a Visiting Educational Scholar at Qingdao Technological University. She earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Public Relations from Butler University and her Ph.D. in Communications from UK. She holds Graduate Certificates from the UK in Health Communications, Medical Behavioral Sciences, Statistics, and Distance Education. At CMU, Dr. Bevins mentors undergraduate and MBA students and teaches Business Communications, Business Presentations, and Interpersonal Managerial Communication.

 Stephanie BlackwoodStephanie Blackwood is a sophomore undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University and has been a part of the Leonard Gelfand Center's Saturday Outreach programs since her freshmen fall semester. She is studying biology and psychology with a minor in biomedical engineering while involved in on-campus biology research. In addition to her research, Stephanie has a passion for teaching. Prior to her time at CMU, she was a math and Spanish tutor, and over the summer, she is a teacher for Destination Science summer camp, where she leads science lessons about robots, programming, chemistry, and physics to students K-6.

DJ BrasierDr. DJ Brasier is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Biological Sciences specializing in neurobiology. He was trained in brain physiology and genetics at University of California San Diego and UC San Francisco. He has been teaching neuroscience at CMU since 2012 and involved in community outreach for many years.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Use Your Noggin: Learn the Brain

Dr. Greg Cary is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Biology Department at CMU. Greg grew up in Maine and spent many summers exploring and enjoying the beautiful coastline. This sparked an interest in biology, which he pursued as an undergraduate at Colby College studying hormones and the nervous system in shore crabs. Greg studied at the University of Washington for his PhD, where he learned to utilize large datasets and computational tools to address complex biological questions. Greg’s research uses sea stars and sea urchins to understand how the genome of each organism encodes the information necessary to build, and in some cases re-build, a complete organism.

John likes to introduce himself by saying he is a robot programmed with a singular mission: To effectively engage and inspire the next generation of STEM talent. Having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Arts at Carnegie Mellon University in 2017, John has over 9 years of experience developing computer simulations using a variety of programming languages and 4 years of experience building robots at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2016, as an Innovation Scholar from the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CMU, John Choi founded an educational technology company called Choitek in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choitek’s flagship product is the Multipurpose Mobile Manipulator Mk II, (or Megamark for short), an advanced robotics platform designed to be capable of performing a variety of human-size tasks, such as watering plants, playing the piano, feeding pets, delivering coffee, and most importantly, teaching and inspiring students with its easy-to- use and accessible hardware. John Choi volunteered at the Carnegie Science Center, Assemble PGH, and Carnegie Mellon’s Leonard Gelfand Center, Project Ignite, Robotics Club, and several middle and high schools, and was awarded the Gelfand Student Service Award in 2017. John is truly an artist, engineer, and entrepreneur all in one.


Jacob ChurillaJacob Churilla is the Project Coordinator for the Leonard Gelfand Center. In addition to being a musician and poet, Jake previously worked with Bradford School where he traveled around the Tri-State area giving lectures to high school students. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (BFA Vocal Performance A’17), Jake has spent much time with the Leonard Gelfand Center and has fostered a passion for educating young STEM innovators!


Luca DamascoLuca Damasco likes making things that help people make things. He has a background in Computer Science and Art, and focuses on developing accessible creative tools for artists and students. Luca has worked for Riot Games as a Technical Artist, contributed to The Processing Foundation’s Python mode project, and co-created Currently, Luca is a Masters student in the Human- Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.


David Dierker is a Tepper School of Business alumni, graduating with a concentration in finance and business analytics. David currently works as a management consultant out of the Pittsburgh, and also teaches computer programming classes through the Carnegie libraries of Pittsburgh. Mr. Dierker earned his Bachelors and Masters of Civil Engineering degrees from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Following graduation, David spent 6 years as an infrastructure adviser helping develop large scale energy and transportation projects for government and commercial clients across the globe.

Carrie DoonanDr. Carrie Doonan is the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories and Teaching Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. She was educated at Chatham College (BS) and the University of Connecticut, (Ph.D) and began her teaching career at Carnegie Mellon University in 1993. Her primary area of focus involves the teaching and administration of a range of experimental laboratories in the department. She is responsible for writing and developing experimental units, training of junior faculty and teaching assistants and is actively involved in all aspects of the undergraduate program. Dr. Doonan has adapted many of her curricular innovations for use in K-12 outreach and has been invited to present this work at regional and national forums. She served as a Biotechnology Institute National Biotechnology Teacher-Leader in 2003 and 2005 and was awarded the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award in the Mellon College of Science in 2000. She was also awarded the Mark Gelfand Award for Service Learning and Outreach in 2011.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Disease Outbreaks

Emily DrillDr. Emily Drill is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.  She has been teaching laboratory courses at CMU since 2012, in a variety of topics including genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience.  She teaches high school students through summer programs including the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences; most recently, she worked with a group of students on a research project using CRISPR technology.


John EllisJohn is a classroom instructor and professional development/ trainer with 45 years of teaching experience.  His educational background includes a B.S. Degree in Education with a major in Chemistry, B.S. Degree in Industrial Management/Computer Science and a M.S. Degree in Management and Supervision. He is currently employed as an instructor/trainer by the Intermediate Unit 1 located in Coal Center, Pa.  His professional responsibilities include teaching Alice, Scratch and Autodesk 123d Design 3d software. In addition, he is an instructor/trainer for the Intermediate Unit 1 FAB LAB which incorporates the use of 3d printers, lasers, vinyl cutters, heat press, mold casting and CNC Shopbot.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Alice Programming

Michael FordMichael Ford is a researcher in the Soft Machine Labs at CMU. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018 before moving to Pittsburgh to work with Professor Carmel Majidi on developing new materials for soft robotics. His main research interests fall under the broad category of polymer science and engineering. 

Christopher George is a Undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineer at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He has an intense interest in education, which has led to the creation of a number of personal papers delving into topics about how and why kids learn, and what the most effective means of education are. He has been a teaching assistant for the Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science class at CMU. He also currently volunteers for a group called Teknowledge, which is focusing on creating a curriculum and outreach program through Carnegie Mellon to support local high schools and teach computer science and programming.

Girls of Steel is an award-winning all-girl sixth-year FIRST® robotics(FRC) team based at Carnegie Mellon University’s Field Robotics Center. Team members are students in grades 8 (junior members) through 12 from 30+ different schools around Pittsburgh and four different educational options including traditional public, private, cyber charter and home school. Girls of Steel competed in their first FIRST robotics competitions in the spring of 2011. The Girls of Steel – more than just a robotics team – has a mission “To find success in the empowerment of girls through well-developed skills in STEM.” The team has offered “Introduction to Mobile Robotics” multiple times – at outreach events such as Carnegie Science Center’s “Girls Rock Science” and at other workshops at Carnegie Mellon and at CalU’s Center for Innovation. presentation at schools and K-12 STEM related events in the area.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Introduction to Mobile Robotics

Dr. Yisong GuoDr. Yisong Guo is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Dr. Guo received his B.S. in Material Science and Engineering from Fudan University in China, and Ph.D. in Applied Sciences from University of California-Davis. His research group at CMU is working on an interdisciplinary field where efforts from biochemists, synthetic chemists, physicists, and spectroscopists are joined together to understand the mechanisms of chemical transformations catalyzed by enzymes. The chemical principles discovered through his research will help improve the technologies needed to make the transition to a sustainable energy future and enrich scientific knowledge in fighting disease.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • How Enzymes Work

Dr. Judith HallinenIn her role as Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Outreach, Dr. Judith Hallinen works with faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon to design and implement programs that share information about university research with external populations, including K-12 educators and students.  She has taught in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, teaching kindergarten at the CMU Children's School, science education methods to graduate students at Chatham University, and computer applications to senior citizens.  Judith advises Carnegie Mellon students who are interested in pursuing a career in education and teaches a course on education policy.  She holds an EdD from the University of Pennsylvania, MAT from the University of Pittsburgh and BS from Carnegie Mellon.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Science and Engineering Sampler

Dr. Veronica Hinman is a Professor in the Biology Department at CMU. Growing up in Australia, she spent time exploring the sea near her home, camping and fishing with her family. This has given her a lifelong fascination with nature, and in particular life in the oceans. Dr. Hinman earned her bachelors and PhD degrees at the University of Queensland in Australia, specializing in Molecular Marine Biology. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. Her research uses several marine organisms (e.g sea stars and sea urchins) to understand how diversity evolves and also understand some of the fascinating properties that these animals have, including the ability to completely regenerate their arms. She teaches a class on the Evolution and History of Life for freshmen at CMU.

Lydia Jahl is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Her interest in atmospheric chemistry began while earning her Bachelors of Science in Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College. She is currently a member of the CMU Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, where she studies how the emissions of wildfires affect different chemical and physical processes that happen in our atmosphere. Lydia hopes that this class will teach young students how their individual actions impact our planet and what we can all do to improve our environment.

Reeja JayanB. Reeja Jayan is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). She also holds a courtesy appointment in the Materials Science and Engineering department at CMU. Prof. Jayan received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), working with Professor Arumugam Manthiram. She was subsequently a Postdoctoral Associate in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working under the supervision of Professor Karen Gleason. Her multidisciplinary research group at CMU explores novel design strategies for organic (polymers, small molecules), inorganic (metals, semiconductors, insulators), and organic-norganic hybrid materials for applications in energy and sustainability. Her work has resulted in 18 peer-reviewed journal publications and filing of 4 patent applications. She is a recipient of the Cockrell School of Engineering Student Leadership Award from UT-Austin, a doctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and the H.H. The Maharaja of Cochin Endowment Prize from the University of Kerala, India.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Energy from Everyday Things

Coty JenDr. Coty Jen is an assistant professor of Chemical Engineering at CMU. She joined the department in fall 2018 and is member of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies. Her research focuses on how nanoparticles form and grow in the atmosphere and ultimately impact the environment. In addition, her group designs and builds instruments capable of measuring the composition of 1 nm particles formed from manmade pollution and biogenic emissions. Her previous research examined the millions of organic compounds emitted during wildfires and how these compounds impact human health and air quality. Dr. Jen completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University, M.S. in Chemical Engineering at University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, and postdoc in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Oliver Kroemer is an assistant professor at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute. His research interests are in machine learning and robotics, with a focus on learning for grasping and manipulation. Before joining CMU, Oliver was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern California. He received his Masters and Bachelors degrees in engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2008, and he defended his Ph.D. thesis at the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt in 2014.

Gargi LagvankarGargi Lagvankar is a fifth year student at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture with interests in art, ecology and education. Her previous experience includes working with Assemble and working as a tutor for English and Math for children from ages 10-17. She aims to make STEAM ideas accessible to more children and instill the importance of creativity and the natural environment from a young age.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Responsive Architecture

Jennifer LangJennifer Lang has taught several courses over the past few years at Carnegie Mellon University.  She taught Science and Special Education at Kiski Area School District for the last two years.  Prior to that she taught Chemistry at Vincentian Academy and Mount Alvernia High School for 10 years.   She attended Saint Vincent College and has a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Environmental Education. She also has a MS in Special Education from Slippery Rock University. 


Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Kitchen Chemistry

Joe LangJoe Lang taught the Robotics Programming Design course for the past several years at Carnegie Mellon University.  Joe has worked as a middle school math teacher for the New Kensington Arnold School District for 11 years.  He attended Waynesburg University for his BS and his MS in Instructional Technology.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Robotics Programming and Design

Deborah LangeDr. Deborah Lange is an environmental engineer that has worked in academia as well as in small and large businesses. Currently, she is the Director of Special Environmental Project for the Steinbrenner Institute at Carnegie Mellon, where she has been for the last 17 years. She is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University (BS, Civil Engineering) and Carnegie Mellon (MS and PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering.) Deb is active in the Pittsburgh community as a Director of the Allegheny County Conservation District and is a past president of the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania. She also enjoys ‘STEM’ outreach and is working with Propel Charter high schools as well as the Sarah Heinz House Boys and Girls club. Deb has 3 adult children: a medical doctor, an architect, and an environmental engineer. She enjoys tinkering at TechShop and international travel with her husband, including motorcycling adventures in Europe & in Cuba.

Gelfand Outreach Classes  Taught Include:

  • Live Smart Think Small

Kristin LaveryKristin Lavery has been the Assistant Director of the Leonard Gelfand Center (LGC) for Service Learning and Outreach since January of 2013. She joined the LGC after completing her Master of Arts in Teaching (grades K-6) at Chatham University in December of 2012. Kristin coordinates tutoring programs in the local Pittsburgh area where CMU students act as after school tutors, or teaching assistants and mentors in classrooms. Kristin also develops activities and workshops for presentation at schools and K-12 STEM related events in the area.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Solar Energy

Elizabeth LevyElizabeth Levy is currently a fifth year student in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture. She has taught children K through 7th at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Anvil Art Studio, Camp Invention Program, Phipps Conservatory Discovery Center, and presented Sustainable Living Research to several class rooms of students in Pennsylvania. She has a background in art, design, and horticulture with interests in Biology, Sustainability, and Education. As a member of CMU’s Architectural Outreach Program, Elizabeth’s focus is to instill in children the importance of S.T.E.A.M. ideals and introduce architecture at a young age.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Insect Dwellings

Kelly LiKelly Li is currently an architecture student at Carnegie Mellon University with interests in design and education. She has previous experience teaching students aged five through thirteen at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture Saturday Sequence, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Pittsburgh Public School's Summer Dreamers Academy. Through teaching, she hopes to inspire others to not only learn from their surroundings, but also discover methods to positively influence those environments.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Architecture of Sound
  • Why Things Fall Down

Jiahe LiaoJiahe Liao is a Ph.D. student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from National Taipei University, Taiwan (2015), and M.S. in Robotics from CMU (2018). He is working in the CMU Soft Machines Lab advised by Prof. Carmel Majidi. His research interests are in soft-matter artificial muscles for robots.

Jeffrey LoobyDuring his Tenure at Carnegie Mellon University, Jeffrey Looby earned his MBA and served as the Head of Tepper School of Business Graduate Finance Association. Prior to entering business school, Mr. Looby earned a Bachelors of Art degree in Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles. After earning his degree, Mr. Looby successfully passed the CPA exam and frequently volunteered with Junior Achievement in both Los Angeles and Dallas. In all, Mr. Looby has more than four years of finance experience helping companies and their advisors with their complex accounting and finance problems and objectives. Assistants for this workshop include, David Dieker MBA recipient and Head of Tepper School of Business Data Analytics Club, Kelly Pasekoff and Alberto Chan students in the Tepper School.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Stock Market

Hannah LoyHannah Loy is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, studying Mechanical Engineering with an Additional Major in Robotics. She works as a Physics tutor for Academic Development, and travelled to the Dominican Republic last year as a volunteer to teach students English. Her goal is to excite young students about the endless possibilities of science, and to promote STEM at a young age.


Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Mechanical Robot Grippers

Eric Markvicka is a PhD candidate in the robotics institute where he is working with Prof. Carmel Majidi to explore a new class of multifunctional wearable electronics for biomonitoring. Eric received his M.S. degree in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2017. Prior to arriving at CMU, Eric received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he worked with Prof. Shane Farritor to develop fully insertable surgical robots for minimally invasive abdominal surgery. While at UNL, he was an intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, and Honeybee Robotics. He is a recipient of graduate research fellowship awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Center for Machine Learning and Health (CMLH) at CMU.

Dr. Deanna Matthews Dr. Deanna Matthews is an Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs and Assistant Teaching Professor in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP), and Education Director and researcher in the Green Design Institute (GDI) at Carnegie Mellon University. In her role in EPP, Dr. Matthews oversees the undergraduate programs. In the GDI, an interdisciplinary research center that focuses on the intersection of environmental and economic issues, her research centers on the development and deployment of the Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment tool, examining energy life cycles of new products, corporate environmental management, and educating general populations about energy-environment issues. As Education Director, she oversees education and outreach initiatives for the GDI. She is the coordinator and instructor of outreach programs to K-12 students and teachers in school settings and informal educational events. She received her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Duke University (1994) and her M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from CMU.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Green Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Engineering 101

Maggie McGrannMaggie McGrann is a new MFA candidate for Costume Design in the School of Drama. Originally from Richmond, VA, Maggie has always found joy in collaborating with others and being in a classroom. She’s worked for five years with the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) in various capacities as a teaching artist and costume designer. Though her specialty is in the fine art of designing for the stage, Maggie has a lifelong goal of working with others to find the joy in the world around us.

Yoosuf PicardYoosuf Picard is an associate research professor of materials science and engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.  He has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Prof. Picard researches nanoscale materials using advanced electron microscopy methods.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on materials characterization methods, as well as a course on energy resources and energy conversion technologies.  He also serves as a judge for regional and national science fairs.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Inlcude:

  • PICSELS: Pictures to Show Extremely Little Stuff

Michael Polen earned his PhD  in the Mellon College of Sciences Department of Chemistry and worked as a member of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He is a former president of the Future Leaders of Science at CMU, which performs science outreach at local schools in the Pittsburgh region. Michael’s current research focuses on the impact of wildfires and prescribed fires on cloud formation and precipitation. He got his Bachelors of Science in Chemistry at Widener University in 2013.


Vinitha Ranganeni is an undergraduate alumni at Carnegie Mellon University earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Information Systems and Robotics. She is also worked as an undergraduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Search-Based Planning Lab and advised by Professor Maxim Likhachev. Her general research interests lie in Robotic Manipulation and Motion Planning. Previously, she was an undergraduate researcher in The Personal Robotics Lab where I was advised by Professor Siddhartha Srinivasa and worked on projects with HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler. Vinitha participated in several outreach events with children and underprivileged students where she talks about Robotics in general and the specific work both she and her lab are doing.

Ally RexrodeAllison Rexrode is an MFA student for Costume Production in the School of Drama. She first learned hand sewing as a child and found great satisfaction in making things with her own hands. As she grew up, she became interested in art professionally and found that her true love was making. In addition to gaining a BFA in Theatre at University of Central Florida, Allison has experience working in bridal and special events. She hopes to collaborate with other disciplines, bridging the gaps between art and the sciences.

Terry RichardsSince 2010 Terry has been a mentor for the Girls of Steel robotics team (FRC(r) 3504) and since 2012 she has been the FIRST® Robotics Program Coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Leading the team’s FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) program, she offers summer camp and team experiences for the high school girls to mentor middle school boys and girls in all aspects of FLL skills – research, robot, and core values. In 2015 Terry received a National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Educator Award. Terry has a B.S. in Chemistry (Simmons College) and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences/Biochemistry (CMU).

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Anatomy and Robotics

Zach RispoliZach Rispoli is a toolmaker, game developer and digital illustrator interested in the creation of digital artifacts and culture as a way of learning. He works to make creative processes such as animation and game creation more accessible through free and easy-to-learn tools. Zach is the co-creator of along with Luca Damasco.


Christa Romanosky is a current Tulsa Artist Fellow. She has had previous fellowships with the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and James Merrill House, with much of her writing integrating science and health-related topics. Romanosky holds an MFA from the University of Virginia, and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and creative writing from
Carnegie Mellon University. She has been teaching STEM classes through Gelfand Outreach since 2014, and has been an educator in the arts for over ten years.

Aswin SankaranarayananDr. Aswin Sankaranarayanan is an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He earned his Ph.D. from University of Maryland, College Park where he was awarded the distinguished dissertation fellowship for his thesis work by the ECE department in 2009. Aswin is currently the PI of the Image Science Lab at CMU, whose research consists of a diverse portfolio, ranging in topics from optics, computer vision, and image processing. He has received best paper awards at the CVPR Workshop on Computational Cameras and Displays (2015) and Analysis and Modeling of Faces and Gestures (2010). He has given a keynote talk at the IEEE Computational Cameras and Displays Workshop (2015), as well as invited talks at a number of conferences.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Camera Engineering

Jasio SantillianJasio Santillan is currently completing his M.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering here at Carnegie Mellon University. He spent the previous four years getting his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with an additional major in Biomedical Engineering at CMU. His experiences include developing snake robots, testing artificial lung devices, synthesizing nanoparticles for drug delivery, and even fabricating synthetic marimba keys from fiber composites. He is currently studying self-healing materials and composites with tunable properties.

Gizelle SherwoodDr. Gizelle A. Sherwood is currently an Assistant teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. She earned her Ph.D in 2008 where her research focused on the effects of aggregation on the photophysics of oligomers related to MEH-PPV and CN-PPV. She primarily lectures Quantitative Chemical Analysis laboratories to the sophomore chemical engineers, biology and pre-med student. She is also involved in several outreach programs working with both the Boy Scouts of America and the Leonard Gelfand Center.


Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Marvelous Molecules

Dr. Gloria Silva is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Chemistry Department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Gloria received her B.S. in Organic Chemistry and Pharmacist degrees from the National University of Cordoba (UNC), Argentina. At UNC she was an Assistant Professor with tenure and a Researcher of the Argentinean Research Council. She performed research in Bioacive Natural Products from plants. Gloria and her family moved to Pittsburgh in 2002 and she has been at CMU since. She was involved in research in the field of Bioorganic Chemistry and has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses since 2008. Her courses have a main focus on Organic Chemistry and courses that teach concepts at the interface between Biology and Chemistry including a course on Food Science.


Brittany SinesBrittany Sines has been studying in the field of early childhood education and development over the past 5 years. Earning her degrees at Point Park University, she is a dual certified PA educator and has taught students from ages 3 to 14. She currentlyworks at the Environmental Charter School, at which she incorporates arts and science into every learning opportunity. She was the physical education teacher and associate preschool teacher at the Carnegie Mellon University Children’s School. Brittany
is dedicated to building genuine connections with students in order to role model compassion and empathy, enabling her students to enjoy life and become productive members of their communities.

Subanky Sivagnanalingam is a Carnegie Mellon University Alumni whose major is in Chemistry with a Biological Chemistry Track. She has previous experience working with children as a tutor at Colfax Elementary School and at the Science & Technology Academy in Pittsburgh. She is currently a DNAZone Technician at Mellon Institute and helps prepare science experiment kits for middle school and high school students in the Pittsburgh area. During her free time, she also enjoys volunteering at events such as Moving 4th in Science and Take Your Kids to Work Day where she can have a positive influence in the community through education.

Dr. Rebecca Taylor is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). She also holds a courtesy appointment in the Biomedical Engineering department at CMU. Prof. Taylor received her B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. During her doctoral research she worked with Professor Beth Pruitt developing microscale force sensors for studying the mechanics of stem-cell derived heart muscle cells. She was subsequently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, working under the supervision of Professor James Spudich. She is the director of the Microsystems and Mechanobiology Lab and her research team uses micro- and nanoscale structures as sensors and actuators for investigating the mechanics of cellular and molecular biosystems.

Yaniv TivonYaniv Tivon is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Chemistry pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical biology. He received his bachelors from Rutgers University where he studied chemistry with a focus on organic synthesis. His current research involves the synthesis and utilization of modified DNA to study and inhibit cancer pathways. Yaniv’s goals include teaching how to provide logical explanations to chemical phenomena and manipulate them based on that knowledge.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Cool Chemistry

Marieke Van Der MaelenMarieke Van Der Maelen is a 3D modeler and product of the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College Art program. Through CMU, she was exposed to local art conservators, and later pursued a career as an art conservator in Chicago, where she preserved period clothing for the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, conserved ethnographic textiles from Japan and West Africa, and restored a rare Finn Juhl “floating couch.” Her desire to share her knowledge with the next generation as well as connect traditional conservation practices with modern technology led her to bring her work to the classroom where she taught the science behind art conservation to students at the University of Chicago’s Charter School System. Her background in art, science and education continue to inform her current research: combining augmented reality with blockchain to redefine how people experience and interact with visual art, culture, and entertainment.

Alexander VolkovAlexander Volkov is a first year master’s student at the CMU Robotics Institute. His research focuses on enabling legged robots to naturally interact with their environment. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering. Above all, he is fascinated by robotic technology and its potential for positive impact on society, and hopes to share his passion with the next generation of STEM students.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Finch Programming

Matthew WalkerDr. Matthew Walker is an assistant professor of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University.  In his work as an observational astronomer, he uses large telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, to study dark matter and the formation of galactic structure.  

Samantha WeaverSamantha Weaver is the director of CMU’s Architecture Explorations outreach program and has expanded program offerings and tied lesson plans directly to current architecture trends and the expertise of local Pittsburgh architects. Samantha’s goal is to provide an architectural foundation for children and youth; fostering appreciation of the built environment, encouraging creative expression and critical thought, and inspiring civic responsibility. In class, Samantha will guide students through the architecture design process as they research native Pittsburgh plants and use organic geometry to create towering structures. Samantha graduated from CMU’s School of Architecture in 2011, with a Bachelor of Architecture and a focus on sustainable design, participatory design, and K-12 education. During her education, Samantha completed a thesis designing adaptable learning corridors in schools and taught summer camps at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Gelfand Outreach Classes Taught Include:

  • Buildings, Towers, and Bridges: Oh My!
  • Build Your Ideal Home
  • Building Up
  • Reimagining Houses

Dr. Meredyth Wegener is a Special Lecturer in Biological Sciences, with a focus on neuroscience. She earned her B.A. in neuroscience from University of Virginia and her doctorate in neuroscience from University of Pittsburgh. She completed her dissertation after conducting research in adolescence and reward learning using awake behaving electrophysiology in the laboratory of Dr. Bita Moghaddam. Meredyth joined the Carnegie Mellon community this fall, and immediately became involved with Gelfand Outreach and Creative Technology Nights or “TechNights”, which specializes in introducing middle-school girls to STEM topics.

Victoria Yong is a 5th year architecture student at Carnegie Mellon University with a double-minor in Intelligent Environments and architectural history. She designed and tested the Outer Space Architecture curriculum for the CMU EQUIP Backpacks program. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys crocheting, cartooning, writing, and running.