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.
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., Director of Community Science,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
Christine Marizzi, Ph.D, Director of Community Science, Harlem, 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 practices 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.
Contact Christine Marizzi at email@example.com
Ashley Pirovano, M.P.S., Director of Community Science, Lower East Side, graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.S. in Biology and earned a Master’s degree in Plant Biotechnology at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry while studying communication between endophytic bacteria and biofuel feedstocks. Ashley has worked in formal and informal science education since 2017. She has developed several community-driven programs, including the Neighborhood Soil Science Curriculum, Afterschool Science Hour events, and the Student Town Hall YouTube series. Ashley was awarded the PASEsetter Award for her achievements in out of school education in 2022. Ashley is proud to work at BioBus where she has the platform to empower young people of color to reach their scientific potential!
Contact Ashley Pirovano at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Frawley, Ph.D., Lead Community Scientist, received a B.S. 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 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. He is a credentialed swim coach with several NYC-based swim teams and can often be found making puns and drawing comics. 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Dell, Ph.D, Lead Community Scientist, is a molecular biologist and artist. Alison likes creating drawings and designs based on living materials and systems, and likes thinking about how neurons make connections and communicate through cell signaling. Alison believes that science is everywhere and everyone should be welcome in lab, which is one reason she’s so excited to join the Biobus team. Dell is co-founder of Art in the Lab – an ongoing series of free public events that mix drawing and laboratory work and is the incoming co-chair of the American Society of Cell Biology’s Education Committee. Dell received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she now teaches Biodesign in the department of Fine Art and Design.
Contact Alison Dell at email@example.com
Grace Avecilla, Lead Community Scientist, received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Central Florida and a Ph.D. in Biology from New York University. During undergrad, Grace worked in several labs, studying the evolution of grasshoppers, discovering single-celled eukaryotes from ocean water samples, and investigating an insect that transmits bacteria which cause disease in orange trees. As a Ph.D. student, Grace used experimental evolution of baker’s yeast and computer simulations to study how genomes evolve in response to stressful environments. Grace loves talking to students about their questions about the world, and is excited to teach them how they can answer those questions with science!
Contact Grace Avecilla 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
Marina Delgado, Senior 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Maia Yoshida, Senior 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 email@example.com
Luz Velasco, M. S, Community Scientist, first had contact with BioBus as a volunteer in 2021. She is originally from Guatemala and lived for over ten years in Brazil, where she went to undergrad and grad school and researched rainforests, science education, and science communication. During her bachelor’s degree, she studied carbon stock in forests of Rio de Janeiro and interned in Climate Change laboratories where she studied biodiversity in tropical rainforests. During her master’s degree in Science Communication, she studied using technology as a means of communication to raise awareness for biodiversity conservation. She is pursuing her Ph.D. at Fordham University in Education, specializing in STEM and Innovative Instruction. She is passionate about science and wants to study ways to provide access to science education to society, especially underserved populations. Contact Luz Velasco at firstname.lastname@example.org
Luz Velasco, M. S, Community Scientist, first had contact with BioBus as a volunteer in 2021. She is originally from Guatemala and lived for over ten years in Brazil, where she went to undergrad and grad school and researched rainforests, science education, and science communication. During her bachelor’s degree, she studied carbon stock in forests of Rio de Janeiro and interned in Climate Change laboratories where she studied biodiversity in tropical rainforests. During her master’s degree in Science Communication, she studied using technology as a means of communication to raise awareness for biodiversity conservation. She is pursuing her Ph.D. at Fordham University in Education, specializing in STEM and Innovative Instruction. She is passionate about science and wants to study ways to provide access to science education to society, especially underserved populations.
Contact Luz Velasco at email@example.com
Alice Chou, Ph.D, Community Scientist, New England, is a marine neuroethologist with a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. As a doctoral student in the Cronin lab, she discovered a new region in mantis shrimp brains. Driven by questions about the interactions between neural dynamics and climate change, she continued as a postdoctoral research fellow in Eve Marder’s laboratory at Brandeis University while also working as a Fellow with the Brandeis Science Communications Lab. Although she specializes in crustaceans and neuroscience, chapters of her scientific story include bribing monkeys, wrangling skates, and poking honeybee brains. Alice is particularly enthusiastic about catalyzing curiosity about the science embedded in our daily lives through community collaboration and social justice. She has over 10 years of experience teaching informally and formally across age groups, and directed a community-oriented, not-for-profit youth leadership summer camp during college. When life was (mostly) remote, she even leveraged the digitization of our lives to connect with an even broader audience through science podcasts and livestreams. She believes that accessibility is key to making science inclusive and equitable, and is excited to contribute to expanding BioBus into New England
Contact Alice Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bella Duati, Support Community Scientist, New England, received a B.S. in Earth and Environmental sciences from Syracuse University. Bella is the Recipient of the Community Engaged Internship for the 2021 New York Sea Grant. During her internship she helped create a survey and collected data with the goal of standardizing seining methods to improve monitoring efforts. Bella’s undergraduate research project focused on sampling annual growth bands from fossil mollusks as old as 3.5 Million Years! The geochemical signals achieved in the shell help reconstruct how warm Earth’s climate was the last time atmospheric CO2 concentrations were as high as today. Bella’s passion for the ocean led her on a sailing expedition nonstop from San Francisco to Hawaii. Bella’s fervor for exploration is something she is excited to instill in young minds and help to inspire a new generation of scientists.
Contact Bella Duati at email@example.com
Andrea Canova, MA, Program Coordinator is a nonprofit youth development professional originally from Boulder, Colorado. She holds degrees from Colorado State University (BA in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America) and from CUNY School of Professional Studies (MA in Youth Studies). During her undergraduate years, Andrea studied for a year in Argentina and Costa Rica and during her graduate years, she researched youth programs in NYC and Bogotá, Colombia. Over the course of her career, Andrea has worked with youth programs at Global Kids, The New York Hall of Science, the YMCA, and The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and is excited to continue her career with BioBus! When Andrea is not in the office, you can find her adventuring out of the city, hiking, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Contact Andrea Canova at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Horrace, Director of Community Facilities, brings over 30 years of touring and event experience to the BioBus mission. His background includes Event and Logistics Planning, as well as Tour and Production Management in the Entertainment Industry. Robert’s extensive Transportation Management experience provides support to our Community Facilities maintenance program, while developing team wellness and ongoing compliance with F.M.C.S.A. and O.S.H.A. safety standards.
Contact Robert Horrace at email@example.com
Rory Verga, A.S. , Senior Driver of Community Facilities,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Wilkerson, Associate Driver of Community Facilities, 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 email@example.com
Sasha Chait, Executive Development Officer, built and leads the fundraising, government relations, and communications efforts at BioBus. Since she joined the organization in 2015, annual operating revenue has quadrupled, thanks to many dedicated and new supporters. Sasha’s nonprofit career began at Clark University in Worcester, MA, where she earned a BA in International Development and Social Change with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship. Prior to BioBus, she worked at NYU Langone Medical Center, fundraising for biomedical research, healthcare for underserved people, and medical education. Sasha brings an equity and justice lens to her work through Community-Centric Fundraising and regular DEIB training.
Contact Sasha Chait at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Kelly, MA, Development Lead, 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 email@example.com
Jocelyn Curran, Government and Communications Associate, is the primary person executing organization-wide and external communications, with responsibilities including the website, social media, and annual report; supporting program communications with flyers and more; and enhancing fundraising communications. She spends about half of her time supporting our NYS and NYC government fundraising, including working with Ben and Latasha to deliver regular communications to the 60 city and state elected officials who support BioBus and arranging for electeds and staff to visit programs.
Contact Jocelyn Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Li Murphy has been involved with BioBus for over a decade, starting as a Junior Scientist in 2012. She holds a degree from Harvard University in Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Earth & Planetary Sciences. She is an entomologist whose research in Dr. Naomi Pierce’s lab explored how sensory systems and chemical signals coevolved with group-living in halictid bees. Currently, she oversees BioBus’s expansion to the New England area. Li loves building in-person and virtual tools that empower students to engage with ecologies of importance to them. She has experience working with partners from all walks of life to support and enrich BioBus’s mission-driven programs— from multinational corporations and state funding agencies to community gardens and her next-door neighbors. She currently serves on the Mobile Laboratory Coalition Board of Directors and as an American Geophysical Union Local Science Partner. She is a National Geographic recognized educator and a certified Dimensions of Success observer. When not exploring sidewalks and parks in Greater New England with students, she likes to meander worldwide looking for roadside attractions or interesting insects and rocks.
Contact Li Murphy 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