The BioInteractive Team
HHMI’s BioInteractive website provides a wide array of free science education resources for the classroom. They are produced by a core team of scientist educators, graphic artists, video producers, and outreach professionals working in close collaboration with science teachers and undergraduate educators, scientists, film producers, animators, and programmers
Head of Educational Media and Outreach
A nationally recognized expert in science education, Dennis Liu has directed the production of educational media at HHMI since 1997. His team of scientists, education specialists, and graphic designers work with research scientists, animators, educators, and filmmakers to produce a wide array of educational products. Their work includes lectures, short films, animations, virtual labs, and supplementary materials for use in science classrooms, all of which are distributed free to educators in multiple formats and are available on the BioInteractive website.
Before joining HHMI, Liu conducted research in neuroscience and genetics, earning a PhD in biology from the University of Oregon and completing postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington, where he later assumed a faculty position in the Department of Genetics. Liu has taught courses in neurobiology, genetics, and comparative physiology, and has a passion for explaining science to all audiences. He has also been an advisor on numerous museum exhibits, and he writes a regular feature for the journal Life Sciences Education.
Director, Educational Media
Laura Bonetta brings over 20 years of experience as a science writer and editor to the educational media team. She works closely with teachers, scientists, graphic designers, and writers to produce a wide range of classroom resources, including two new virtual labs. She also manages the production of HHMI’s award-winning short films for the classroom and serves as the editorial manager for the team.
Bonetta earned a PhD from the University of Toronto, Canada, conducting research on the genetics of Wilms tumor, and then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK). She left the bench to join the editorial team of Nature magazine in London and has since worked as an editor and writer for several scientific publications, both in print and online. Before joining HHMI, she was a regular contributor to Nature, Science, Cell, and various National Institutes of Health publications.
Senior Manager, Outreach, Evaluation & Operations
Jennifer Bricken has over a decade of experience working with science educators. She manages the educational media team’s outreach and teacher professional development efforts, endeavoring to broaden, facilitate, and support the use of HHMI’s educational resources primarily for high school and college-level biology classrooms across the country. She also directs the planning and conduct of numerous workshops, field tests, and evaluation projects that inform the group’s content production.
Bricken studied biology and paleoprimatology at the University of New Mexico. Before joining HHMI, she worked as a consultant matching not-for-profit organizations with corporate partners to scale up public awareness campaigns about issues in healthcare and education. Bricken keeps her finger on the pulse of the life science education community and actively seeks strategic partnerships designed to support and improve science teaching.
Senior Program Officer, Multimedia
Since 1997, Satoshi Amagai has been involved in producing the Holiday Lectures on Science and the BioInteractive website. Using his background as both a scientist and an educator, he works closely with a group of scientists, animators, and graphic designers to bring the complex world of biology to life, producing a variety of award-winning multimedia resources including animations, applications, virtual labs, click-and-learn interactive programs, and educational posters.
Before joining HHMI, Amagai studied zoology at the University of Oxford as an undergraduate, received his PhD from Cornell University, studying the brain mechanisms of perception in electric fish, and did postdoctoral research in the auditory physiology of birds at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has extensive teaching experience as both a teaching assistant and a lecturer, and has taught neurobiology, comparative physiology, and general biology.
Program Officer, Science Education
Mark Nielsen is an interdisciplinary earth scientist with experience in geology, oceanography, hydrology, microbial ecology, and engineering. He works with the Educational Media team to produce a wide range of classroom resources, including the Holiday Lectures on Science, the critically acclaimed EarthViewer app, and a variety of short films.
Nielsen earned a PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University. He was a National Science Foundation fellow and conducted research on using microbial fuel cells to harvest energy from marine sediments. Following his graduate program he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, working on microbial ecosystems at hydrothermal vents. Prior to focusing on scientific research and education, he was a consulting groundwater geologist for a water-resource consulting firm for five years.
Program Officer, Operations Manager
Chuck Schultz guides the daily operational activities that allow the BioInteractive team to create and disseminate their transformative educational media resources. He oversees all business affairs, including financial, legal, staffing, scheduling, process, control, and support matters.
Schultz utilizes a broad skillset acquired over decades as a scientist and science administrator. He received his PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Illinois Chicago and conducted research on neutral lipid metabolism at the National Institutes of Health for ten years prior to moving to HHMI in 1999. Schultz has an ongoing interest in science education and has served on instructional advisory committees for his local school board. After 14 years with the HHMI International and Investigator Programs, he welcomed the opportunity to join the BioInteractive team.
Program Officer, Video Production
Christopher Vargas combines his background in science with his experience in video and graphic arts production in his roles as videographer, video editor, DVD author, and streaming video producer for the educational media team. He also oversees technical and logistical aspects of the BioInteractive website, and has recently taken on the duties of postproduction editor for the team’s short films.
Vargas holds a dual BS in biochemistry and integrated science from Northwestern University, and an MS in biology from the University of Michigan. His tenure at an ad agency in Wilmington, Delaware, gave him a background in graphic arts, design, and print and video production. Before joining HHMI, he worked in the IT department of the National Institutes of Health, teaching classes in print and media production and website creation.
Fabian de Kok-Mercado
Art Director, Educational Media and Outreach
Fabian de Kok-Mercado is an internationally recognized medical and scientific illustrator. He works closely with science education specialists to develop rich media for the classroom. He is responsible for managing the production of visual communication and interactive media products created by the Educational Media and Outreach group in HHMI’s Science Education Department.
de Kok-Mercado received his master’s degree in medical and biological illustration at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he researched and visualized the craniocervical anatomy of strigiform birds in relation to neck kinematics. He earned his certification from the Board of Certification of Medical Illustrators. His work has appeared in a myriad of publications and has received numerous awards and accolades from entities such as the Association of Medical Illustrators and the National Science Foundation.
Program Officer, Outreach and Evaluation
Megan Stine has experience producing science education materials for audiences of all ages. Her work for the educational media team centers on outreach projects to promote BioInteractive resources to science educators and students. She coordinates workshops and exhibits at conferences, manages the group’s social media, and fosters collaborative relationships with science educators.
Stine earned a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her thesis research investigated the interactions between melanoma and endothelial cells as a model for cancer metastasis, and resulted in a patent application. Following postdoctoral work, she took a position as the manager of the CTYOnline science program at Johns Hopkins, where she supervised instructors and authored an online biology course. Before joining HHMI, she worked at the National Cancer Institute managing documentation and workflow for several large-scale cancer genomics projects.
Program Officer, Outreach and Evaluation
Eriko Clements has over 13 years of science research experience as well as experience working in several informal science education programs. Clements leads the outreach group’s evaluation efforts to understand our core audience’s needs and to assess the effectiveness of the educational resources in the classroom. Clements plays an important role in outreach projects while also contributing to the marketing and production of the educational resources.
Clements received a PhD from Johns Hopkins University specializing in cancer epigenetics research. While a graduate student, she embraced any opportunities to be involved in science education, including developing educational programing for local high schools. After graduation, she left the bench to pursue her passion in education, teaching a forensic science course at Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth and educating elementary school students with the Mad Science team.
Science Education Fellow
With her considerable experience in science education at the college level, Sandra Blumenrath collaborates with educators, scientists, and graphic designers to produce engaging educational media and ensure their scientific accuracy. She is responsible for the scientific content of a variety of BioInteractive classroom resources that support the Holiday Lectures on Science and short films.
Blumenrath earned a PhD in biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and has been a researcher and lecturer in the US and abroad. Prior to joining the educational media team, she conducted research on animal behavior and sensory biology, specializing in the perception of auditory signals in natural environments. She has taught a variety of college biology courses that covered topics such as neuroscience, sensory biology, animal behavior, evolution, genetics, and human physiology.
Science Education Fellow
Bridget Conneely is a wildlife ecologist with over 12 years of experience working with conservation organizations on ecological research and communications. She works with the Educational Media team to produce a variety of classroom resources with a particular focus on environmental science and conservation topics.
Conneely earned her master’s degree in zoology from the University of British Columbia, where she researched the ecology of reintroduced buffalo and wildebeest in Mozambique. Prior to joining HHMI, she spent 9 years working with the Gorongosa Restoration Project, a non-profit organization working to restore Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. In this role, she gained considerable experience communicating science and conservation messages to the public through print, digital, and interactive media.
Science Education Fellow
Aleeza Oshry has a wide breadth of experience in science education, teaching and developing curriculum for secondary through college level courses as well as for supplementary service providers. Her focus at HHMI is with the Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership, developing the curricular resources to support the first national environmental literacy graduation requirement.
Oshry earned her master’s in Education from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she was part of a cohort of professional scientists trained in classroom pedagogy. Prior to joining HHMI, she was a field geologist specializing in environmental remediation in the northeast and mid-Atlantic. She also developed and managed an innovative multi-faceted sustainability program for a large non-profit in Baltimore.
Science Education Fellow
With over 30 years’ experience in biomedical imaging, Steve Paddock is editor of the Image of the Week feature on the BioInteractive website. He has authored numerous publications on advanced applications in microscopy, digital video production, cell and developmental biology, and specialized techniques in laser scanning confocal microscopy. His work has appeared in many books and scientific journals, and many of his images have been featured on the covers.
Paddock earned his PhD in cell biology and physiology from the University of Bristol Medical School in the UK. After postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, King’s College London, and Northwestern University Medical School, he moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he has worked in Sean Carroll’s lab for more than 20 years.