Jenelle joined the LPS team because she saw an incredible opportunity to connect students to STEM mentors that they may not have connected with otherwise. After graduating with her bachelor’s in Environmental Biology and Spanish, Jenelle worked at an environmental research center studying the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems. While there she developed a passion for connecting the community with her research work through citizen science experiences. When she learned about LPS, she was immediately intrigued by the opportunity to serve students by introducing them to all of the possibilities within STEM careers. Jenelle looks forward to working behind the scenes to facilitate the connections between students and their pen pals.
Leadership and Board of Directors
Founding Chief Executive Officer; Board of Directors
Lucy discovered LPS in 2012 while teaching seventh grade science in Durham, North Carolina, and had the fortunate opportunity to be the first teacher after founder Macon to host the pen pal program in her class. She began working with Macon and Anna to grow the program, and hosted the program in her Los Angeles classrooms for three more years. She found that students’ authentic interaction with a professional role model was an entry point to engage students in science class, and loved the wonderful suspense her students experienced waiting for snail mail! During the 2018-19 school year, Lucy completed her master’s in Education Policy and Management at Harvard University while working to transition Letters to a Pre-Scientist from a volunteer program to a nonprofit organization. Energized by the passion that surrounds the LPS community, she is looking forward to supporting LPS’ growth and development!
Board of Directors
Uche is a faculty member at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a Leadership and Group Work Consultant and Facilitator. For the past 17 years, he has also served as the ELT coordinator at the Fletcher Maynard Academy in Cambridge. Uche earned his Bachelor’s from Harvard University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and his Ed.M and Ed.D from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Founder; Board of Directors
Anna helped create Letters to a Pre-Scientist while getting her Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Being from rural North Carolina herself, she understood the importance of a good science education, and she wanted to help inspire students to keep working hard in school. She wants the pre-scientists to realize that science is more than just a list of facts in a textbook; it can be a tool for bringing positive change to people’s lives. She also wants to give scientists the opportunity to reach out and see what a difference they can make in the lives of young people. Anna currently lives in Massachusetts and is a postdoc researching policy and management of energy innovation.
Board of Directors
Anna fell in love with the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program when she started as a pen pal in 2016. Having participated in many science outreach programs through the years, she loves that LPS provides sustained engagement between one student and one scientist throughout the school year. She served on the Advisory Board for 2 years before joining the Board of Directors in January 2020. She is thrilled to continue supporting Pre-Scientist Inc as it grows, so that even more pre-scientists from all backgrounds see themselves pursuing STEM careers.
Katie studies learning that people choose for themselves, usually how they learn in their everyday lives, and helps scientists engage with others to share their research findings. She has a keen interest in innovative programs such as LPS to help everyone connect with science. She has been a penpal since 2017, an Advisory Board member from 2018 – 2019, and joined the Board of Directors in early 2020. Katie really wants everyone to participate in science, whether as a profession or as a part of our society, making decisions for our future. One of the things that is most important to having people get into science is knowing actual scientists. Since scientists don’t live everywhere, she wants to support as many ways as she can to get people meeting real scientists, near and far. A main interest of hers in joining the board of LPS is to ensure the organization’s continuing success and share its lessons with other programs with related goals.
Macon Lowman is a passionate advocate for accessible health education, family-centered care, and community-based interventions. She holds a Masters in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Masters of Science in Nursing from Columbia University. Previously, she taught 6th grade science in a rural, low-income community in eastern North Carolina through Teach For America. Wanting to expand her student’s global understanding and connection to science disciplines, she co-founded Letters to a Pre-Scientist in 2010. While teaching, Macon witnessed how lack of healthcare access, education and infrastructure negatively impacted her student’s ability to learn so she left the classroom with the aim to bridge the gap between health and education sectors. Her goal for LPS is to continue providing students with personal connections to scientist mentors, breaking down stereotypes of what a scientist should look like, and expanding their curiosity for learning.
Sandia National Lab
Scotty is a postdoctoral associate at Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque, NM. He conducts research in materials science using computational modeling. He has been with LPS as a pen pal since 2013 and joined the Advisory Board in 2018. He joined the Advisory Board for LPS in part to help strengthen relationships between LPS and the academic science community. Everyone he tells about LPS always loves the idea but many people have not heard of it. He wants to help LPS gain more visibility among scientists across the country. LPS is a special program to Scotty because he remembers being in middle school and not very interested in science. Fortunately he had some fantastic science teachers in high school who inspired him to become more interested in science, and that experience shaped his whole career. Scotty wanted to be involved in LPS to help get students interested in science at a younger age. He also believes it is important to show students that scientists are normal people with regular lives, so he often talks to his pen pals about interests outside of science like comic books, music, and football.
This is Alexandra’s 4th year with LPS as a pen-pal and 3rd year on the Advisory Board. Alexandra’s goal is for pre-scientists to have both the encouragement and resources they need to pursue whichever career they desire, no matter where they come from or what they look like. In particular, she works towards ensuring that students do not shy away from careers based on misconceptions regarding what they are capable of. She is also actively involved in outreach and diversity efforts in her graduate program to help students (at all stages of learning) gain access to the resources they need to be successful.
Los Angeles, CA
Kevin is an Executive Results Coach based in downtown Los Angeles. He works with C-suites and founder teams to design systems oriented to individual/organizational alignment that maximize effectiveness. He has worked in many fundraising capacities throughout his career, including Development Director and volunteer giving campaign chair.
Anthony has been involved with LPS for 2 years as an advisory board member & a pen pal and with STEM education for young students area for 10+ years, and found that many students were unaware that a career in STEM was a possibility. He is excited that LPS is working to make a personal connection with students from underprivileged backgrounds to demystify what it means to be a scientist. In graduate school, he focused his education efforts with Community Resources for Science as both a volunteer, a member of the Steering Committee, and a member of the Advisory Council.
Master’s Student (Fisheries Biology) at Humboldt State University and Project Assistant at Salmonid Restoration Federation
Humboldt State University
This will be Maddie’s 6th year as an LPS pen pal. Maddie’s favorite part of being a pen pal is how excited the students are to learn about her work. That excitement is contagious! She has also been lucky to have a few artists as pen pals, and even received a small, hand drawn comic book once. Maddie is interested in pursuing a career in policy and would like more experience working with nonprofit organizations. She also has really loved participating in this program, and would like to give back by contributing feedback about her experience as a pen pal.
Ms. Heneghan is a 6th grade math and science teacher at Hibbard Elementary in Chicago, Illinois. She loves teaching science mainly because she loves learning about science, especially anything to do with astronomy and space exploration. This is her third year with LPS and loves the opportunity it gives her students to connect with scientists in professions and places that they never would have considered before. The best part watching the students’ expand their understanding of what it means to be a scientist as well as what it means to be a good person. Ms. Heneghan loves teaching at Hibbard because of the way it embraces and celebrates its cultural diversity. With students from all over the world, many of whom speak languages other than English at home (from Spanish to Romanian to Arabic to specific dialects of Swahili), students come to Hibbard with a wide variety of background knowledge and experiences that makes it such a wonderful community. Follow her class on Twitter @msheneghansroom.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Emily Hooker, Ph.D, is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on culture, socioeconomic status, relationships, and health. Emily has been working with LPS since 2012 as a pen pal and, eventually, an advisory board member. Emily is looking forward to drawing on her background in the psychology of socioeconomic status and social relationships to contribute to both the advisory board.
Energy Policy Reseracher and Analyst
California Air Resources Board
Jeff has been working with penpals in the LPS program since 2016, and hopes to help make LPS available to more students in different classrooms. Jeff has enjoyed sharing scientific information with his penpals alongside silliness, and he strives to share helpful information and resources to make science fun and exciting, and to make scientists more approachable. Jeff recognizes how important a good mentor can be — his primary PhD advisor was extremely supportive and helped Jeff grow as a scientist. Without a supportive mentor, Jeff would have never been able to pursue the NSF GK-12 teaching fellowship, which greatly sparked Jeff’s interest in continuing to bring science education to young students. As a member of an LPS Advisory Committee, Jeff will help LPS improve program outcomes, and help inform the data collection and analysis process. Jeff currently works at the California Air Resources Board on climate policy research and analysis.
Geological Oceanograher and Outreach Specialist
NOAA’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
San Francisco, CA
Wendy has been a pen pal since 2016 and an advisor since 2017. She is a Geological Oceanographer with experience in outreach and education who is passionate about making science exciting and accessible to broader audiences. One of her career “mentors” was and remains an online community of women in Earth Science whom she never met yet had an out sized impact on her sense of belonging in the field. Wendy is committed to doing what she can to instill a similar experience amongst young pre-scientists. She holds a Ph.D. in Paleoclimate and an M.S. and B.S. in Earth and Ocean Sciences.
Glenn County Office of Education
Darren is the STEM Coordinator for Glenn County Office of Education in Northern California. He is a Google Certified Innovator, past @RealScientists curator, and was an expert panelist for Science Friday’s education focus, #TeachTheE. Darren recently left the classroom after 18 years as a middle school science teacher, but he is excited about his new leadership role focusing on science education at the county and state levels. Darren’s mission is to help build capacity for effective STEM instruction to increase access and equity for students, and he is proud to be involved with the important work of the LPS team.
Innovation Development Manager
Student Achievement Partners
New York, NY
Elizabeth is the Innovation Development Manager at Student Achievement Partners. Before this position, she contributed to the implementation of K-12 state mathematics standards across the country. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor’s in Public Action from Bennington College and a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was introduced to LPS in 2018 at Harvard where she worked with the CEO on a comprehensive business plan for the organization. Elizabeth is excited to merge her passion for preparing all students for success in college with inspiring and supporting students to pursue careers in science.
Various places within the US
Hannah is a wildlife biologist and her work takes her across the US to study and improve wildlife habitat. She has also worked as an environmental educator in underserved communities, teaching both in-classroom and outdoor lessons and field trips. She loves the LPS program because she knows the difference a science role model can make. Hannah is excited for her second year on the advisory board and her fifth year with LPS overall (having previously volunteered as a Classroom Coordinator and more recently our Social Media Coordinator, and continuing to serve as a pen pal).
Sustainable Technology Director
Milton, Ph.D., is a scientist who loves to make an impact on wildlife and human communities with work across the Eastern United States. His research and outreach interests explore sustainability and the human dimensions of natural resources. As an environmental sociologist, Dr. Newberry loves connecting youth to nature, especially BIPOC individuals, to become community scientists. Despite his limited experience with LPS beyond knowing of its impact, Milton is looking forward to his involvement as an LPS Advisory Board member where he will use his expertise in development and assessment to foster the program and evaluation subcommittee.
Principal Technical Specialist
Silver Spring, MD
Jaleal has been involved in LPS since 2012. He has been a pen-pal, a pen-pal in reserve, an IT assistant and more. Jaleal received his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Irvine. As a fellow with Insight Data Science, Jaleal received further training in data science, focused on the health and life sciences. He now serves as a data scientist at a small life-science focused research and consulting firm, Gryphon Scientific. He is excited to contribute his perspective as a scientist and an early pen-pal, and as a technical advisor.
Sector Director, Land Tenure and Property Rights
Dr. Jolyne Sanjak provides strategic leadership, oversight and technical support to Tetra Tech’s land governance programs. Dr. Sanjak is an agricultural economist with specialization in development economics with more than 30 years of experience supporting inclusive global economic development. Dr. Sanjak has a scientist father who embraced both his girl and boy children exploring science with him and showed her that math was doable and likeable. She has been an advisor to LPS for 2 years and strongly believes in its mission and approach.
Science Education Manager
San Francisco, CA
Ilana supports media literacy education with a science lens at KQED, the Northern California affiliate of PBS/NPR. Ilana taught science at a public high school in San Francisco, where she was department chair. She has worked in youth media and park-based education at the Crissy Field Center. Ilana holds a BA in Environmental Science from Columbia University and an M.Ed. from High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Ilana is passionate about engaging youth who have traditionally been underrepresented in science, and she’s excited to see LPS grow to serve more students!
Associate Director of TBMH Graduate Program Research Assistant Professor
Virginia Tech Carilion
Veronica is the Associate Director for Virginia Tech’s Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health graduate program, as well as a research assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. Prior to receiving her Ph.D., Veronica was a high school science teacher in Florida for seven years, teaching biology, environmental science, physical science, and marine science classes. Her passion for science communication and science outreach has always been there. Veronica strongly believes in the mission of LPS and is excited to be on board for the third year!
Marketing and Communications Manager
Aliyah has a PhD in immunology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and currently works in science marketing and communications. She is thrilled to be a Letters to a Pre-Scientist pen pal for the fifth year and on the Advisory Board for the second year! Previously, Aliyah was the social media coordinator (2016) and the Chief Brand Officer (2017-2019). Aliyah is also involved in several other organizations that use outreach and mentorship to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM careers.
South Florida Water Management District
As an Eagle Scout that works as a licensed environmental engineer, Kevin uses his background at work to protect his community from flooding and also supply them with clean water. His passion, however, is in the environmental field, where he was trained to restore water and soils on contaminated sites. Kevin has been working with LPS as a pen pal since 2016 and continues with LPS so that he may plant the seeds of scientific and engineering thinking into budding scientists. He is excited to contribute new ways of expanding the program into more schools and to reach more students.
Stanford University and TU Munich
Judith is a CS PhD student at TU Munich, Germany, and a visiting scholar at Stanford. Her research focus is on developing medical image post processing tools, particularly for studying blood flow dynamics in the cardiovascular system utilizing novel magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Judith was introduced to LPS through her former UCLA roommate and long-time scientist pen pal Chris in 2013. Since then, she has volunteered as a scientist pen pal, classroom coordinator and data science advisor, and is one of the main developers our very own student-to-scientist matching algorithm. Inspiring kids of all backgrounds is one of her main driving forces and the reason why she loves volunteering for LPS.