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
Latasha Wright, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Latasha 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. 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 Community Scientist, works with a wide network of academic partners and educators to bring the experience of scientific research to young people in New York and New England. Since joining BioBus, Mollie has designed and managed a variety of programs inspired by her former research topics, marine science and urban ecology. She is especially interested in connecting academic researchers with students in both formal and informal educational settings. Leading a team of BioBus educators, interns and professional scientists, she has worked on many novel research questions. Her favorite project to date was studying the prevalence of microplastics in the guts of East River filter feeders — spearheaded by a group of NYC middle schoolers. Mollie received her M.A. from Columbia University in conservation biology, and has worked as a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Originally from Gloucester, Massachusetts, she is thrilled to be leading the expansion of BioBus programs to New England.
Contact Mollie Thurman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Francesca Anselmi, Ph.D., Chief Community 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-creator 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, Chief Community Scientist, graduated from the University of Vienna, Austria, with a Ph.D. in Genetics. With 13+ 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. She frequently consults on best practises for student-centered, place-based science education, and serves as scientific reviewer for international journals, funding agencies and science centers. 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. Her current position at BioBus allows her to combine her extensive training in science with her passion for science communication and outreach in a nonprofit environment. #ScienceIsForEveryone
Contact Christine Marizzi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Frawley, Ph.D., Lead Community Scientist, received a BS in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College. As a graduate student he worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery studying the physics and chemistry of how bones form and how the soft tissue in our spines can be manipulated to decrease pain. Rob is also an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, teaching microbiology and epidemics, and he is a credentialed swim coach with several NYC-based swim teams. Every day, Rob looks forward to getting to know the Harlem community better, bringing his unique blend of engineer, educator, and science nerd to 3D print microscopes, recruit scientists as BioBus volunteers, and get to talk with students of all ages about science.
Contact Rob Frawley 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
Sedef Tinaztepe, Ph.D., Lead 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
Ashley Pirovano, M.P.S., Lead 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler, M.A., M.Phil., Senior Community Scientist, graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Neurobiology & Behavior. She then entered the Ph.D. program in Cellular, Molecular, Biomedical Sciences at Columbia University where she earned an M.A. and M.Phil researching Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Tessa joined the lab of Mark Ansorge where her research focused on the role of the serotonin system in the development of anxiety and depression disorders. During graduate school, she discovered a deep passion for science education through her 6+ years of volunteer teaching in NYC public schools and as a volunteer at BioBus! As a Scientist at BioBus, she works with students, community partners, and research institutions to provide opportunities for students from all backgrounds to pursue hands-on science experiences and explore science research! Her goal is to support her students to become the next generation of scientists!
Contact Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler at email@example.com
Li Murphy, Community Scientist, is a science educator from Idaho with a passion for field exploration. She started her science pathway as a BioBus junior scientist and went to graduate high honors with a B.A. degree in Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Earth & Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. Her senior thesis explored how sociality evolved in halictid bees. Before BioBus, she scrambled on roofs to maintain urban apiaries, carried butterfly nets through fields and forests in France and Thailand to survey pollinators, and stomped up Kyrgyz mountains to gather data about earth history. Li loves building in-person and virtual tools and environments that empower students to engage with ecologies of importance to them. She currently sits on the Mobile Laboratory Coalition Board of Directors. When not exploring the sidewalks and parks in NYC with students, she likes to meander worldwide looking for roadside attractions or interesting insects and rocks.
Contact Li Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marina Delgado, Community 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 Patagónico 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 three merit-based fellowship positions, the last of which focused in culturally-competent science education with a strong foundation in social justice. She recently extended her education in Cornell Small Farm’s Community Mushroom Educator training program, in which she studied how to build access to mushroom growing for BIPOC in NYC’s Lower East Side. Marina’s community engagement work and service as a fellow has shaped her passion for the intersections between education and social justice. As a bicultural Latina, having the opportunity to give young BIPOC a positive experience with science is especially valuable to her.
Contact Marina Delgado at email@example.com
Maia Yoshida, Community Scientist, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Cellular & Molecular Biology. She then spent two years at the Lim Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, studying immune cell cytokine signaling networks and their applications for engineering cell therapies that target cancers. She also headed the lab’s outreach efforts, developing programs in collaboration with the Exploratorium and the California College of the Arts and became excited about science education that integrates the arts. This led her to pursue a M.A. in STEM Education at King’s College London as a Thouron Scholar. There, she conducted original research with the Institute of Imagination on children’s perceptions of the relationship between maker education and inquiry-based science learning and also interned with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to develop a program focused on inspiring and supporting youth plant science interests through design-based approaches. Maia believes in BioBus’s mission of supporting science education that is relevant, creative, and inspiring, emphasizing that science is everywhere and for everyone!
Contact Maia Yoshida at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Parziale, Support Community Scientist, was a Junior Scientist intern for multiple summers at BioBus before returning to the team in his current role. Joseph graduated from the Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College with a B.S. in Biology. He is excited to make science accessible to all and develop the next generation of young scientists!
Contact Joseph Parziale at email@example.com
Candida Barreto, Support Community Scientist, graduated from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts and majored in Interdisciplinary Science; the program focuses on addressing planetary health issues through a social justice lens and applying this knowledge to real-world scenarios. Candida received the Mohn Science and Social Justice Fellowship award from Summer 2019-Summer 2021, which funded her internship experiences at Public Health Solutions working on data analysis for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), and at BioBus studying soil composition and mycoremediation in NYC Community Gardens, as well as developing outreach models for the hispanic community city-wide. Most recently she worked with the Lower East Side Ecology Center as an education intern where she developed an urban ecology-based curriculum in partnership with Henry Street Settlement. As a native New Yorker, she is passionate about giving back to under-resourced communities throughout the city with a close focus on Hispanic and Immigrant communities.
Contact Candida Barreto at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elena Markovitz, Support Community Scientist, is a proud Support Community Scientist specializing in Marine and Urban Environmental Biology. She graduated in 2021 from Marymount Manhattan College, with a BS in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science and Urban Sustainability. Her passion for oceanic conservation is leading her to seek a PhD (at a yet to be determined program). While she prepares for her graduate studies, she enjoys helping her students understand the natural world around them and helping them learn how to take better care of it. She can be found teaching, prowling the beaches for shells, or training for her next dance competition as a competitive ballroom dancer.
Contact Elena Markovitz at email@example.com
Danny Valdes, IT Lead, graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Philosophy. 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 BioBus’ mission of making education a fun and interactive experience accessible to all students. He manages all BioBus technology systems and is a Salesforce Administrator, managing the highly customized database used for program operations and development.
Contact Danny Valdes at firstname.lastname@example.org
Roya Heydari, Ph.D., Lead Program Evaluator, completed her bachelors in Biology at Binghamton University. It was her love for teaching and science that drove her to earn a PhD in science education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she studied how informal science education experiences influence students’ science identities and understanding of science inquiry. Roya taught in NYC public schools for 4 years before she returned full time to complete her PhD. 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 and ensure that programs are engaging and meaningful for all learners.
Contact Roya Heydari at email@example.com
Danielle Molden, Community Facilities Lead, 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
Rory Verga, A.S. , Facilities Specialist and BioBus Driver,
earned an Associates degree in Environmental Science from Queensborough Community College. He joined BioBus in the spring of 2017 to help transport the BioBus mobile labs all over New York City, believing in the organization’s mission in making science more accessible to the future generation of scientists. Prior to his arrival at BioBus, Rory drove and operated various kinds of heavy equipment for the NYC Department of Parks urban forestry service for 33 years. Rory is the primary driver for BioBus’s flagship mobile laboratory, a retrofitted 1974 transit bus.
Contact Rory Verga at email@example.com
Raymond Wilkerson, Driver and Program Assistant, joined BioBus in 2015 to help drive the BioBus mobile labs all over New York City. Ray also assists in day to day BioBus vehicle and fleet management. Prior to his arrival at BioBus, Ray worked as a bus driver for the MTA for eight years, many of those years driving the M100 bus in Harlem. He has a Class B CDL and is the primary driver for BioBus’s newest mobile laboratory, a 2017 custom Airstream trailer.
Contact Raymond Wilkerson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sasha Chait, Director of Development, Sasha leads fundraising and development efforts, connecting generous donors with BioBus to bring the excitement of science to students all over New York City. Sasha previously worked at NYU Langone Medical Center, focusing on biomedical research, healthcare for underserved and unique populations, and medical education. Her nonprofit experience also includes Wills 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 B.A. from Clark University in International Development and Social Change with a concentration in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management.
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
Sarah Weisberg, M.Sci., Co-Founder, joined BioBus as a co-founder in 2010 after completing a Master’s of Science degree in Cell Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Prior, Sarah graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College with a degree in Biology and Linguistics. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Stony Brook University, where her work explores climate change impacts on fish and on the resilience of marine food webs. There, Sarah is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded fellow as part of the Scientific Training and Research to Inform DEcisions (STRIDE) program. Over her years at BioBus, Sarah has become a leader in science outreach – mobile and stationary; she has served as Chair of the Mobile Laboratory Coalition, as co-founder of SOWING: a network for science outreach, and she regularly develops and implements outreach plans for NSF-funded projects. Sarah is happiest when she is building inclusive science communities and using scientific research to advance equity.
Contact Sarah Weisberg at email@example.com