Ben Dubin-Thaler, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, created the BioBus in 2008 after completing his Ph.D. in Biology as well as his B.A. in Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University. “Dr. Ben,” as he is known to students aboard the BioBus, started BioBus as an experiment to test his hypothesis that, given the opportunity to use research-microscopes to perform hands-on experiments, anyone would be excited about science and want to do more. Ben and his team create a new kind of laboratory space that is empowering, accessible, un-intimidating, and that facilitates scientific engagement amongst populations historically underrepresented in science professions. Ben, now a recognized nonprofit and science education leader who is regularly invited to speak and consult for other organizations, hopes to create a future in which people from all cultures and backgrounds have equal opportunities to practice and understand science. Ben is a former Mobile Lab Coalition board member.
Contact Ben Dubin-Thaler at email@example.com
Sarah Weisberg, M.Sci., Internal Consultant, climbed on board the BioBus in 2010 after completing a Master’s of Science degree in Cell Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. There, she was trained as an independent research scientist. Sarah’s work has been presented at a number of scientific conferences and published in several journals. Prior to moving to Israel, Sarah graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College with a degree in Biology and Linguistics. Sarah has been a teacher and social justice advocate since her youth, working at food pantries and tutoring programs from elementary school and running an in-prison education program in college. Sarah believes wholly in the BioBus mission and works on all aspects of the program -- from teaching and writing curricula to strategic planning and fundraising to learning how to drive and maintain a 1974 diesel bus (with no power steering). Sarah is the current Chair of the Board of the Mobile Lab Coalition.
Contact Sarah Weisberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Latasha Wright, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, received her Ph.D. from NYU Langone Medical Center in cell and molecular biology. She continued her scientific training at Johns Hopkins University and Weill Cornell Medical Center. She has co-authored numerous publications, presented her work at international and national conferences, and has grantwriting experience. BioBus enables Latasha to share her love of science with a new generation of scientists. Latasha spearheaded the creation of the first BioBase community lab, the BioBus internship program, and our Harlem expansion. Everyday that Latasha spends teaching students about science in this transformative environment helps her remember that science is fun. She loves sharing the journey of discovery with students of all ages.
Contact Latasha Wright at email@example.com
Mollie Thurman, M.A., Chief Scientist, joined the BioBus team in 2014 after studying urban ecology for many years. She attended Mount Holyoke College, joined a research group at the Harvard School of Public Health, and then earned an M.A. from Columbia University. Along the way, Mollie found that she loved to teach about the ecosystems that she studied. She spent a year as a marine science educator in Massachusetts and then returned to NYC to work with a team of researchers studying New York Harbor. Since joining the BioBus, she has worked to involve students in furthering our understanding of the ecology of NYC’s shorelines and developed new programs and curriculum.
Contact Mollie Thurman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Francesca Anselmi, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, completed her undergraduate education in Molecular Biology at the University of Padua in Italy and pursued graduate training at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris. There she learned how to build microscopes to investigate the mysteries of the brain. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Optics at the University Paris Descartes, and then worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island. She hopes to help shape the next generation of scientists and citizens, aware and proud of the environment they live in, eager to observe reality first hand, challenge common knowledge and formulate their own original ideas to shape the world around them into a better place for everyone to share. Francesca is a co-created of the DIY (do-it-yourself) microscope which has been the basis of projects for BioBus interns and new curriculum.
Contact Francesca Anselmi at email@example.com
Christine Marizzi, Ph.D, Lead Community Scientist, graduated from the University of Vienna, Austria, with a Ph.D. degree in Genetics for investigating a unique stem-cell mutant of the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana. She joined the BioBus team in 2019. With 12+ years in national and international science education, she dedicates her time, energy and intellect to build frameworks that help students realize their greatest potential in STEM fields and provide traditionally under-represented minorities with multiple entry points to academic and professional careers in STEM disciplines. Her deep interest in biological systems and data visualization also led to several critically acclaimed projects at the intersection between technology, art, and science with a wide range of collaborators.
Contact Christine Marizzi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Frawley, Ph.D., Lead Scientist, received a BS in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College. He joined the BioBus team in 2016. As a graduate student he worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery as a research assistant studying chemical and cellular mechanisms governing mineralization in soft tissue. Rob is also an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, teaching microbiology and epidemics and can often be found swimming, coaching swimming, making puns, and drawing comics.
Contact Rob Frawley at email@example.com
Sascha Russel, Ph.D., Community Scientist, has great adventures exploring the microsopic world and New York City schools at BioBus. She loves how students discover how fun biology is when they get a chance to use real equipment and do authentic experiments on the Biobus, and how easy the BioBus is for teachers. After earning a B.A. in Biology from Brown University, she earned an M.A. in science education from NYU-Steinhart while developing hands on curriculum and teaching high school biology in NYC public schools in the Bronx and Manhattan. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Genetics at Harvard University where she studied and published papers on molting in the roundworm C. elegans.
Contact Sascha Russel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler, M.A., Ph.D. (ABD), Community Scientist, graduated from Wesleyan University in 2007 with a B.A. in Neurobiology and Behavior. She was a research assistant in Eric Kandel’s Neuroscience lab at Columbia University before she entered the Ph.D. program in Cellular, Molecular, Biomedical Sciences at Columbia. Tessa earned an M.A. and M.Phil. researching neurodegenerative disorders and subsequently joined the lab of Mark Ansorge where she spent three years researching the role of the serotonin system in the development of anxiety and depression disorders in mouse models. She discovered a deep passion for science education through her volunteer teaching with Citizen Schools, Columbia Neuroscience Outreach and Science Discovery at Columbia University. Tessa strongly believes that science exploration should be exciting, inspiring, and accessible to students of all ages. At BioBus, she is excited to help bring hands-on learning to the next level and hopes to inspire a new generation of kids to become creative, curious, young scientists.
Contact Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler at email@example.com
Sedef Tinaztepe, Ph.D., Community Scientist, first climbed aboard BioBus in 2014 as a New York Academy of Sciences STEM mentor, and continued as a volunteer scientist long after the mentoring program was over. She officially joined the BioBus staff in January 2018, upon completing her Ph.D. studies in Genetics and Development at Columbia University. An experienced molecular biologist, Sedef has worked at a number of research and clinical laboratories, studying molecular genetics of diverse organisms such as humans, viruses, mosquitoes, and grasses. She believes that hands-on experiences play a critical role in developing an appreciation of science, and she is excited to inspire and support young scientists of NYC at BioBus.
Contact Sedef Tinaztepe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marina Delgado, Support Scientist, graduated from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Science––a field that addresses planetary health challenges through the gathering, management and interpretation of data. Marina received a Eugene Lang Opportunity Award and a Mohn Family Foundation Scholarship Award in Summer 2017, funding her research experience at the Centro de Investigación y Extensión Forestal Andino Patagonico in her home country of Argentina, where she studied the endangerment of prehistoric tree Pehuen, and increased awareness of the tree's cultural and sacrilegious importance to Patagonia's indigenous people, los Mapuche. Throughout her college career, she held the position of Lab Technician Assistant in The New School University's undergraduate laboratory and held three merit-based fellowship positions, the last of which focused in culturally-competent science education with a strong foundation in social justice. Marina’s service as a fellow and community engagement work in Argentina shaped her passion for the intersections between education and social justice. As a bicultural Latina herself, having the opportunity to give young women of color a positive experience with science is especially valuable to her. Marina believes in BioBus's mission of bringing explorative science education to low-resourced communities, and is especially excited about the opportunity to give back to her own community, using her first language to expand BioBus's reach among communities of color.
Contact Marina Delgado at email@example.com
Rosemary Puckett, MSc, Community Scientist, was a volunteer with BioBus for two years before joining the team in Summer 2018. She earned her graduate degree in neuroscience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before moving to the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Her research focus on the neuroplasticity of learning and memory is entwined with a long history of educational outreach and science communication. In addition to her work with BioBus, she is the Brain Educator in the Sackler Lab at the American Museum of Natural History. Rosemary loves the unique experience BioBus creates for students to question and investigate their world.
Contact Rosemary Puckett at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Pirovano, M.P.S., Community Scientist, graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. Ashley earned a Master’s degree in Plant Biotechnology at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry while studying communication between endophytic bacteria and biofuel feedstocks. After earning her graduate degree, she worked as the Laboratory Supervisor and Adjunct Professor at Marymount for two years. Ashley is thrilled to be working for BioBus because she is very passionate about science outreach and loves showing students of all ages how fun and exciting science can be!
Contact Ashley Pirovano at email@example.com
Maria Mazin, Ph.D, Community Scientist, is an entomologist with a background in Agricultural Sciences. She obtained her PhD in Entomology and International Agriculture and Development from The Pennsylvania State University while studying the ecology of mushroom flies within mushroom farms as well as their mutualistic association with parasitic fungi. She also conducted social studies within farmworker communities aimed at improving pest management educational and outreach efforts towards Hispanic farmworkers. Maria strives towards working within the intersection between biological sciences and social development and believes that science should be accessible to everyone at any level.
Contact Maria Mazin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Fried, Facilities Director and Community Scientist, joined BioBus in the fall of 2018. He is an experienced educator, having taught biology, environmental science, and sustainability for the last five years both in New York and internationally in Northern India. Ian Graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science from Emory University and in 2015 with a Master’s in Arts of Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. In college, Ian’s honor thesis focused on the transmission of zoonotic diseases between humans, lemurs, and livestock. As part of his thesis, he collected fecal samples from lemurs in Madagascar and brought them back to a lab at Emory for analysis. More recently, on a personal front, Ian has become really interested in waste and trash in NYC and has been collecting and photographing all his non-recyclable, non-compostable waste at the end of every month in an effort to send zero waste to landfills. You can find Ian riding his bike around Brooklyn or on the Hudson River Greenway on the way to work every day.
Contact Ian Fried at email@example.com
Li Murphy, Community Scientist, first worked aboard the BioBus in the summer of 2012 and took the concept of being a mobile scientist very deeply to heart. Since her first experience with science advocacy through the BioBus in New York City, she has boarded countless planes, trains, boats, and bicycles pursuing a love for science communication. She traveled to Kyrgyzstan to work as a beekeeping instructor, to France to research chemical communication in native bees, and to Thailand to learn about beehive fences that deter farm-raiding wild elephants. Most recently, she spent a year of independent travel in Southeast Asia as a Michael C. Rockefeller Fellow. She returned to the US to work for the BioBus and is firmly convinced that she has finally re-boarded the best vessel of science education she has yet to find in the world. She graduated high honors with a B.A. degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. There, she sat on the Council of Student Sustainability Leaders, the Life Sciences Undergraduate Advising Board, and established the College's first apiary. She loves bees and breakfast.
Contact Li Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Valdes, Director of Information Technology, has been on the BioBus team since late 2012. He is an experienced educator and is certified as a public school teacher in the states of Florida and New York. He has also taught in the private sector. Danny graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Philosophy in 2008. Like Dr. Ben, Danny was wary of getting ‘trapped’ in the world of academia and so moved to New York City in 2009 hoping to make a difference in the field of education. Danny is dedicated to spreading the BioBus’ mission of making education a fun and interactive experience accessible to all students.
Contact Danny Valdes at email@example.com
Roya Heydari, MA, Director of Program Evaluation, graduated in 2011 from Binghamton University with a B.A. in Biology. It was her time teaching as an undergraduate that inspired her to pursue a masters degree in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Roya began teaching as a NYC public school science teacher until she found herself back at Teachers College, now pursuing her doctorate in science education. Roya has since been working on using research and data to evaluate science education programs. With the BioBus community she is thrilled to help take all the meaningful education programs at BioBus to the next level of science inquiry-based learning."
Contact Roya Heydari at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sasha Chait, Director of Development, is excited to help BioBus expand and bring the thrill of discovery and scientific opportunity to students in NYC. Prior to joining the BioBus team in summer 2015, she worked in the Office of Development at NYU Langone Medical Center, focusing on biomedical research and healthcare. Sasha’s nonprofit experience also includes the Willis Center, a minority-based social and human service agency in Massachusetts, and WomensTrust, a microfinance, healthcare, and education organization in Ghana, West Africa. Sasha earned a BA from Clark University in International Development and Social Change with a concentration in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. She is involved in volunteering and politics surrounding social, economic, and health justice. Sasha can be reached at email@example.com, 347-766-4974.
Contact Sasha Chait at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Geller, Ph.D., Development Manager, joined the BioBus team in 2019 as a Grant Writer. Prior to BioBus, Peter worked as a curriculum coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital and taught university classes on race and politics. He has a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University.
Contact Peter Geller at email@example.com
Rory Verga, A.S. , Facilities Specialist and BioBus Driver, joined the BioBus team in the spring of 2017 after working with NYC Parks urban forestry for 33 years. During his time at Parks he drove and operated many kinds of heavy equipment while maintaining NYC’s urban forest, so transitioning to driving the BioBus was easy. Rory attended Queensborough Community College where he earned an Associates degree in Environmental Science. Rory loves to learn about our living environment, learning new things and the BioBus mission of making science open and accessible to all our future scientists.
Contact Rory Verga at firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Wilkerson, Driver and Program Assistant, joined the BioBus team in 2015 to drive the BioBus all over New York City. Ray also assists day to day in the BioBus office and labs. Previously, Ray was a bus driver for the MTA.
Contact Raymond Wilkerson at email@example.com
Danielle Molden, Driving Logistics Specialist, joined the BioBus team in 2018 to drive the BioBus all over New York City, as well as help us coordinate parking details with the schools we work with. She studied English and Fine Arts at Bowling Green State University.
Contact Danielle Molden at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadia Halim, Ph.D., is a managing director at BNP Paribas in the Financial Institutions Coverage group based in New York. Upon completion of her doctorate in Virology in 2000 from SUNY Albany's School of Public Health, a collaboration between the NY Department of Health, SUNY Albany and Albany Medical College, she began a career on Wall Street. Sadia offers experience in research, banking, and asset management. She is a CFA Charterholder and a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA). She is also an avid supporter of the Harlem Academy, an independent school serving grades one through eight which the BioBus visits each year, as well as being on the board of AVRI (AIDS Vaccine Research Institute), a 501(c)(3) non-profit research institute committed to the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.
Jared Fox, Ph.D., is the science department chair at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in Manhattan and has been recognized as a Math for America (MƒA) Master Teacher. Prior to teaching at WHEELS, Jared worked as a teacher in Edinburgh, Scotland and served as a Teach for America corps member in the Bronx. Jared holds a Ph.D. in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University where he researched how mobile science labs influence student attitudes towards science.
Stephen Jan, M.S., is a software engineer. His background includes communication applications at Google, e-commerce at Nook.com, digital advertising at Doubleclick.com, and several startups. Stephen has also founded a nonprofit that donates funding, medical equipment, and ambulances to hospitals in Africa, South America, and Asia. Stephen earned both his Masters and Bachelors degree in computer science and a Masters in bioengineering from Columbia University.
Nicolas Biais, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Biology at Brooklyn College. After earning his Ph.D. in France, he completed his postdoc in microbiology at Columbia University. Alongside his acclaimed research, his main interest is teaching science, having taught chemistry, physics, and biology to French medical students and people in his home-country, Haiti. He has been a supporter and visiting scientist to BioBus since 2008, and on the board since 2011.
John Butler, J.D., is an attorney and a Fellow at the Center for Court Innovation, a criminal justice think tank based in midtown. He has extensive experience in nonprofit management and operations as well as public sector consulting, including: director of fundraising and operations for Big Brothers Big Sisters, co-founding a nonprofit consulting firm offering communications and public relations services to small nonprofits, and co-founding the Iraq Legal Education Initiative at the American University of Iraq. He was also a design fellow at the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, has represented clients through the Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic, and serves as a Trustee at Frost Valley, YMCA. He is a graduate of Brown University, has a masters in comparative politics from the London School of Economics and a JD from Stanford Law School.
Preston C. Demouchet, Esq., is an attorney in the Trusts and Estates group at Carter Ledyard and Milburn LLP, where he provides tax and estate planning to individuals, families and corporate fiduciaries. Prior to law school, Preston taught middle school math in New York City as a Teach for America Corps member. Preston has been selected to the New York Metro Rising Stars list for Estate Planning and Probate in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Preston holds a B.B.A. in finance from Marymount University and a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law. Preston is currently pursuing an Executive LL.M in Taxation at Georgetown University Law Center.
Josh Dormont, M.Ed., is the Director of Product of Development for the NYC Department of Education and a photographer who specializes in portrait and social documentary projects. Josh has more than a decade of experience in education leading teams, managing operations and development, building products, and launching new entrepreneurial initiatives. Josh has a Masters in Education from PACE University and BA from Cornell. Josh has been on the board since 2011, and led the Development Committee from 2013-2016.
Reva Gaur, M.B.A., works in News Partnerships at Facebook, where she leads the partner services team for the News vertical in the US, based out of Facebook's New York City offices. Prior to Facebook, she spent a decade in the fields of media, communications, marketing and digital strategy, including as Director of Communications for Educational Alliance, a 125-year old nonprofit organization serving over 50,000 New Yorkers per year through a range of education and social services programs. Reva holds a Masters in Business Administration from NYU's Stern School of Business and a Bachelors in Sociology from Brown University. Reva has been a BioBus volunteer since its inception, helping build the organization from a tiny startup to an internationally recognized model for science education. She has served on the board since 2010 and served as President from 2012 to 2014.
Mandë Holford, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medical College. Her joint appointments reflect her Mollusks to Medicine interdisciplinary research, which combines chemistry and biology to discover, characterize, and deliver novel peptides from venomous marine snails as tools for manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. She is a World Economic Forum New Champion Young Scientist, recipient of the prestigious Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and an National Science Foundation CAREER awardee. Dr. Holford is actively involved in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. In this regard she co-founded several initiatives, including KillerSnails.com, an award-winning learning games company that uses extreme creatures as a conduit to advance scientific teaching and learning, and RAISEW.org, an NSF project to increase women in science. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum Expert Network, and a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. Dr. Holford joined BioBus’s board in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @Scimaven and visit her academic biography and lab website.
Susan Meisel, Esq., is Corporate Deputy General Counsel for Sony Music Entertainment where she has provided transactional oversight and global support at the corporate, label and subsidiary levels for over 10 years. Susan began her legal career as a corporate associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and then held a number of in-house positions, including general counsel positions at Viacom New Media; the non-profit, Institute of International Education; and Village Voice Media. She received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University. She also serves on the board of Lirica, a start-up mobile app business for learning languages with the power of music, and Women’s Link Worldwide, a non-profit that uses the power of the law to promote social change that advances the human rights of women and girls, especially those facing multiple inequalities.
Joel Oppenheim, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus and Diversity Advisor to the Office of Science Research and serves on the admissions committees for the M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. programs at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Oppenheim’s leadership has increased the participation of women and minorities in Ph.D. biomedical sciences. He ran an National Institutes of Health-funded research lab, was co-PI on an NIH training grant, served as the microbiology departmental graduate advisor, and served as Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences and Director of the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. In these positions, Dr. Oppenheim oversaw approximately 350 students and over 700 postdoctoral trainees annually, as well as all twelve graduate research training programs. Dr. Oppenheim created the largest university-based career development programs for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows in the country. He has served on many national advisory committees, on numerous grant study sections, and as a reviewer of National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and National Academy of Sciences reports involved with graduate education, pipeline issues, and the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students to graduate programs. He has spoken widely on topics ranging from how to prepare for and apply to graduate and professional schools to strategies for the recruitment and retention of students and career options. Dr. Oppenheim received the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Lifetime Mentor Award. He is a founding member of the Leadership Alliance, which received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics. Dr. Oppenheim joined BioBus’s board of directors in Dec. 2018. See his academic biography.
- Columbia's Zuckerman Institute
- Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens
- Lower Eastside Girls Club (LESGC)
- Lower East Side Ecology Center
- NYU Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC)
- Billion Oyster Project
- BraiNY, Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
- Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week
- Columbia SEBS (Science and Engineers for a Better Society)
- Earth Day NYC
- Girls Prep
- Harlem Week
- Imagine Science Films
- Lowline Lab
- Maker Faire
- Math For America
- New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)
- New York City School District 1
- NYC Department of Education Citizen Science Program
- NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
- RockEdu (Rockefeller University Science Outreach)
- World Science Festival
- Simons Foundation Science Sandbox
- Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- New York State Assembly
- Thompson Family Foundation
- Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute
- Bregal Investments
- Con Edison
- Lumenera Corporation
- Morell Instrument Company
- INDEC Medical Systems
- Pinkerton Foundation
- Heckscher Foundation for Children
- Richard Lounsbery Foundation
- NYU Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
- Society for Science & the Public
Learn more at donate.biobus.org.