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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Devon Collins, Ph.D, Lead Community Scientist, is a neuroscientist and educator from the Midwest. He completed his PhD in behavioral neuroscience at the Rockefeller University, where he studied how common genetic variation affects the brain’s responses to drugs and stress. Devon has taught science to learners of all ages and backgrounds in the New York area for several years in the lab, in informal science education events and programs, and in the NYC school system. He believes that science is a vital human endeavor, that basic scientific literacy is an essential part of any person’s skill set, and that anyone can learn and appreciate science. When he’s not doing science or teaching science, you can find him baking, running, container gardening, or napping on his sofa with his cat and dog.
Contact Devon Collins 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 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, was as a Junior Scientist for the BioBus in the summer of 2012, and that’s when she decided to become a biologist, because clearly they were the coolest possible scientists — people who dreamt of recycling an old bus into a solar powered laboratory to redistribute the tools and power of the academic ivory tower to the local community! She has since realized that not all biologists do stuff like this. Li focused her academic and professional careers on creating opportunities for people across the world to have hands-on science experiences. She has conducted research studies on pollinators in Kyrgyzstan, France, and Thailand, and worked on a long-term project learning about how sociality evolved in halictid bees. She graduated high honors with a B.A. degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and a 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 teaching apiary. At BioBus, she loves the chance to build tools and learning environments that empower students to engage with ecologies of importance to them. She currently serves as the Secretary of the Mobile Laboratory Coalition. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator, a Dimensions of Success observer, holds a Solar Professional certification from the NABCEP, and has a Class B CDL.
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.
Contact Sasha Chait at email@example.com
Sean Kelly, MA, Development Manager, is a nonprofit development professional from New Hampshire with backgrounds in education and opera. He holds degrees from Hofstra University (BA Classics, BS Music – Vocal Performance) and the University of Notre Dame (MA, Classics), and worked on a doctorate in Classical Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. He was co-founder and director of The People’s Opera, an Oxford-based student-run opera company. As a theater practitioner, Sean is interested particularly in choruses and the way that meaning is produced by, among, and between groups of people. Similarly, as a fundraiser, Sean is interested in community-centric models of nonprofit administration.
Contact Sean Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com