Tara is the CEO and founder of the global non-profit Iridescent. Her mission in life has been to transform the opportunities available to young people, especially girls, to reach their full-potential and impact their communities. Tara founded Iridescent in 2006 to create and deliver powerful science, engineering, and technology education to empower underrepresented young people. Iridescent has since grown to a community of over 3,500 mentors and more than 63,000 participants throughout the world through its flagship programs Technovation and Curiosity Machine. Forbes highlighted Tara in 2016 as “the pioneer empowering the incredible tech girls of the future” and she was prominently featured in the award-winning documentary Codegirl. Tara earned her BS in Physics from St. Stephen’s College and a MS in aerospace engineering from Boston University. Tara left her PhD program in aerospace engineering at USC to pursue her social entrepreneurship to found Iridescent and directly empower girls and children everywhere.
MacCalvin is a Boston native currently earning his Masters in Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. After earning a Bachelors of Science in Management and Information Systems from Boston College, MacCalvin worked as a IT Consultant at EMC and as a Managing Business Technologist at DigistasLBI. In 2012 while at DigitasLBI, MacCalvin formed a partnership with Citizens School, a non-profit organization whose mission is to close the opportunity gap for middle schoolers in low-income communities by creating after-school programs that extend the learning day. Looking to blend his passion for technology and innovation with his passion for giving back to his community, MacCalvin recruited members of the Digitas team and launched an after-school curriculum that has brought technology and marketing-based courses to over 250 students in the Boston public school system. Outside of his studies, MacCalvin serves on the Citizen Schools Leadership Council, Massachusetts STEM council, TEDxBoston leadership team, and is the Director of the Wolverine Venture Fund at the University of Michigan.
Dawn Thompson met her husband, Punkin Chunkin cofounder Bill Thompson, in 1988, and she’s been a diehard Chunker ever since. Dawn has been there for every major Punkin Chunkin moment, from the first centrifugal machine to the first (and only) spectator to be hit by a punkin; she even co-wrote a ballad about the Chunk’s origins (performed at every championship since 1989). In her spare time, Dawn inspires future engineers by doing mini trebuchet demonstrations at local schools. When asked about her amateur engineering accomplishments, Dawn merely says, “I’m pretty good at the mechanical stuff.” ‘Pretty good’ is an understatement coming from the first woman to ever earn a Championship Punkin Chunkin title, a feat achieved with her winning air cannon Hormone Blaster on the event’s 25th Anniversary. Dawn’s desire to share her passions for mechanics, innovation, and creativity makes her a Science Super Hero to backyard engineers everywhere.
Samuel O’Dell is a Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Roane State Community College, where he is in the midst of faculty who are truly dedicated to teaching and making a difference in their students’ lives. He tries to model his teaching after my father and the great faculty in Science Education at the University of Georgia, where he earned his PhD. He doesn’t have to look any further than my students to find science superheroes; many of them have families, full time jobs, struggle with financial resources, or all of the above. Yet they persevere in order to get into professions that help others, and he is proud to be amongst them. To anyone reading this, he thanks you for your interest in science and science education. You make the world a better place.
Michael Weiss is an American engineer who is known for his contributions to on-orbit satellite servicing missions, particular of the Hubble Space Telescope. Weiss most recently served as deputy program director on the Hubble Space Telescope program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,MD. Weiss received his B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park in 1978 and 1983. He has led the systems engineering for missions including the systems engineering for missions including the Solar Maximum Mission, Upper Atmosphere Research Satelite, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer as well as the first shuttle based satellite repair, the Solar Maximum Repair Mission in 1984. Weiss was involved in all 5 Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions. He directed systems development during servicing mission 1 and servicing mission 2. He served as deputy program director through servicing mission 4. He also led the Mishap Investigation Board investigating the failure of a balloon launch from Australia carrying a gamma-ray telescope for to the University of California at Berkeley.
Jordan Kruger is the STEM Director and Assistant Principal of ITW David Speer Academy, a new STEM high school in Chicago, IL. He was born and raised in Chicago and is passionate about improving science education and has been for the past 11 years as a teacher and as a high school administrator. After graduating from the University of Illinois (where he also was a a part of the Fighting Illini football team), he entered Teach For America and taught science at an inner-city high school in Chicago. Since that time he has taught Physics, Biology, AP Biology, Chemistry and now as a high school administrator he works to create a curriculum focused on empowering inner-city students to succeed in STEM in college and beyond. His goal is to create over 1000 minority STEM professionals by 2026 by developing strong science curricula and STEM outreach programming.
“Every day is Earth Day!” Mark Ferraro’s students are greeted by this phrase as they enter the classroom. He studied Horticulture, Earth and Space Science, Environmental Science and learned how to be an administrator at Temple University. As a science educator for the past 19 years, Mark loves “getting his hands dirty” by incorporating real world experiences into his classes. He has helped introduce hydroponics and aquaponics to the LEED certified Lower Merion School District that has always been very supportive of sustainability initiatives. Mark has guided the district wide Green Council which searches for ways to decrease our ecological footprint. When he’s not in the classroom, you can find Mark standing in a creek or hiking in a forest. He is passionate about our planet!