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STEM21 Featured Speakers & Panelists

This year’s STEM21 includes an all-star lineup of featured speakers from across the country. No matter what day you are registered, all keynote presentations are available to all STEM21 attendees.

Keynote Speakers

Monday, July 26 • 10:30–11:30 AM EDT

A Morning with Kate Biberdorf


Dr. Kate Biberdorf

Professor of Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin

As seen on the Today Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Dr. Kate Biberdorf is breaking stereotypes and blowing stuff up—all in a good pair of heels. Through her theatrical and hands-on approach to teaching, Dr. Biberdorf is breaking down the image of the stereotypical scientist, while reaching students that might otherwise be intimidated by science. Drawing forth emotional responses, rather than rote recitation of facts is key to Biberdorf ’s dynamic approach to her program, as well as to science in general. Her exciting and engaging program leaves audiences with a positive, memorable impression of science—all while diminishing the stigma around women in science. Dr. Biberdorf is the author of Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments, a collection of 25 kid-friendly science experiments that come prepared with a messiness factor rating and a note from Kate about how each experiment works. Her newest book, Dragons vs. Unicorns, is a children's novel and was released in March 2020.

Learn More About Kate
Dr. Kate Biberdorf

Dr. Kate Biberdorf is a scientist, a science entertainer, and a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. Through her theatrical and hands-on approach to teaching, Dr. Biberdorf is breaking down the image of the stereotypical scientist, while reaching students who might otherwise be intimidated by science. Students' emotional responses, rather than rote memorization of facts, are key to Biberdorf's dynamic approach to her program, as well as science in general. Her exciting and engaging program leaves audiences with a positive, memorable impression of science—all while diminishing the stigma around women in science. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, NBC Nightly News, The Wendy Williams Show, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

She is also the author of Kate The Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments, a full-color nonfiction book featuring 25 fun, kid-friendly experiments kids can do in their own kitchens. Readers will learn how to make slime, fake tattoos, edible snot, glitter volcanoes, and more—all with the help of step-by-step instructions, ingredient lists, stunning photographs, a messiness factor rating, safety reminders, and a note from Kate about how each fun-tastic experiment works!

She is also the author of the Kate the Chemist fiction series, which features a 10-year-old Kate, along with her friends and little brother Liam, solving problems in her community with the help of science! This series shows kids that science truly is everywhere.

In addition to the fiction series, the soon-to-be-released Dr. Kate Biberdorf's It’s Elemental: The Hidden Chemistry In Everything is about the ways we experience chemistry in everyday life.

Dr. Biberdorf lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two dogs (and one very grumpy cat.)

Kate Biberdorf

Monday, July 26 • 2:45–3:30 PM EDT

Tools @ Tea Time with Tim & Rob


Tim Blesse

Teacher Programs Consultant, Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Robert Payo

Director of K–12 Education, Denver Urban Gardens

Tim and Rob are back for tea and lively conversation as we look toward next year, once again reflecting on our use of technology in the classroom. We'll look at one of the big questions on all our minds: Now that we know what we know, how can we use that to support students in both their learning and their emotional well-being as we move back into the "new normal" classroom?

Learn More About Tim and Rob
Tim Blesse

Tim Blesse is the Teacher Programs Consultant at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. A classroom science teacher for over 31 years, he now facilitates professional development workshops and courses, both in-person and online. He is privileged to work with amazing teachers and education leaders in Colorado and throughout the country.

Robert Payo

Robert Payo is director of K–12 Education for Denver Urban Gardens and a regular facilitator for teacher professional learning for NSTA and other national organizations through his current work and former work with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the National Science Digital Library.

Tim and Rob

Wednesday, July 27 • 10:30–11:30 AM EDT

Building Resilience in Science Students


Jami Valentine Miller, PhD

Founder, African American Women in Physics, Inc.; and Primary Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

In this talk Jami will discuss strategies that can be used to build resilience, with a particular emphasis on increasing the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities that choose to pursue STEM studies. She will use examples from her experiences as one of the few African American women with a PhD in physics and discuss strategies to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in STEM.

Learn More About Jami
Jami Valentine Miller, PhD

Dr. Jami Valentine Miller was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in physics from the Johns Hopkins University where she studied the physics behind spintronic materials and devices. She earned a bachelor’s in physics from Florida A&M University and a master’s in physics from Brown University. She joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office where she examines semiconductor patent applications for phase-change memory, nanoscale memory, and spintronic devices. Dr. Miller is the founder of African American Women in Physics, Inc. (AAWIP), an organization dedicated to honoring the women who paved the way, inspiring future physicists, and connecting with people interested in promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM. She enjoys spending her free time as a motivational STEM speaker and is the current Diversity Chair for American Mensa.

Jami Valentine

Wednesday, July 28 • 10:30–11:30 AM EDT

From Students to STEM Teachers!


John Arthur

2021 Utah Teacher of the Year and a Top 4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year

If a student in your class is amazing at math or a wiz in the science lab, what job do you tell them they'd be good at? I think the answer we need to tell them is, “You would be a great teacher!” Students should leave our classes loving STEM and wanting to TEACH STEM! In this conversation, we will explore ways teachers can pass on both our love for STEM and our passion for our profession to our students.

Learn More About John
John Arthur

John Arthur is the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year and a Top 4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He teaches sixth grade at Meadowlark Elementary, a Title I school in Salt Lake City. John is also an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education at Westminster College, and he represents the Asian community on the Utah State Board of Education’s Advisory Committee on Equity of Educational Services for Students (ACEESS).

John Arthur

Thursday, July 29 • 10:30–11:30 AM EDT

Blankets Cover, Teachers Transform: Centering Justice in Science Curriculum


Daniel Morales-Doyle, PhD

Assistant Professor of Science Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois Chicago

As science educators, what contributions can the disciplines we teach make to ongoing struggles for social and environmental justice? This presentation explains how keeping this question at the center of our work provides opportunities for our students to engage with our disciplines in deeper, more critical, and potentially transformative ways.

Learn More About Daniel
Daniel Morales-Doyle, PhD

Daniel Morales-Doyle is an assistant professor of science education in the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research examines the potential for science education to act as a catalyst for social transformation by engaging youth in learning to do science and to critique science with and for just, sustainable communities. This work includes studying high school science curricula, teaching, and teacher education as situated within broader contexts of inequity. Daniel was a high school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for more than a decade before joining the faculty at UIC.

Daniel Morales-Doyle

Wednesday, July 28 • 2:45–3:30 PM EDT

Simulations in the Science Classroom


Moderator: Scott Buhr

Science Teacher, Hillcrest High School, Greenville, SC

Simulations have long been in the instructional tool box of the science educator. With the rise of online and hybrid offerings, simulations of the real world play an increasingly important role for science students all around the globe. You will not want to miss this keynote panel hosted by highly accomplished teachers with a wide variety of experiences. The guided discussion will focus on how simulations are implemented in the classroom to maximize their instructional impact and drive inquiry.

Learn More About the Panelists
Scott Buhr

Dr. Scott Buhr has taught science at Hillcrest High School in Greenville, SC, for nearly a decade. He has demonstrated educational leadership in his school and community by chairing a local chapter of the School Improvement Council; offering local, district, statewide, regional, national, and international professional development; serving as an AP Physics Reader; and innovating unique science engagement opportunities such as leading his class to break a world record for the highest launch from a Galilean Cannon. Scott was recently named a South Carolina finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. He is currently in a transition to higher education as an assistant professor at Bob Jones University where he will chair the division of teacher education and continue his STEM work by offering courses that help students integrate technology into the classroom. Recreationally, Scott enjoys time on South Carolina’s oceans and lakes with his wife Kate, a Spanish teacher, and five-year-old son, Elliot. Dr. Buhr is proud to support NSTA and its efforts to enhance and improve science education across the country.

LaShundra Young

LaShundra Young has taught science at Germantown High School in Madison, MS, for eight years. LaShundra received a BS in Biological Science from Mississippi College in 2004. She also acquired additional science master's level studies from Jackson State University (Microbiology 2004–2006) and she’s a 2011 graduate of the University of Phoenix (M.A.T./Secondary Education). LaShundra became a National Board Certified Teacher in Science/ Adolescence & Young Adulthood in December 2019. She received the Germantown Key of Excellence in Math & Science award for 2014–2015, STAR Teacher award for 2016–2017, GHS Teacher of the Year 2017–2018, the Presidential Award of Excellence In Math & Science in 2020. LaShundra is certified through College Board in AP Biology and AP Chemistry and in laboratory safety through Flinn Scientific.

Kathleen Scalise

Kathleen Scalise is a professor at the University of Oregon in the Department of Methodology, Policy, and Leadership. Dr. Scalise has extensive research in the areas of learning, e-learning, large-scale assessment, and instructional technology in the context of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and also in emergent language, second language acquisition, digital literacy, social collaboration, leadership, and 21st-century skills. She currently serves as director of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science for ETS. She is co-lead for the University of Oregon Social Systems Data Science Network. Dr. Scalise has extensive journal publications and served on the NRC committee report on assessment of the Next Generation Science Standards. She holds K–12 teaching credentials (California) for physical sciences and life sciences, a BA in biochemistry, and a PhD focusing on Quantitative Measurement from UC Berkeley.

Vaughn Vick

Vaughn Vick has been teaching science for 18 years and currently teaches AP and IB Physics at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC. She is an AP Reader (grader) and serves as a Question Leader at the AP reading. Vaughn also writes questions for the AP exams and has co-authored two review guides, Fast Track to a 5, for the AP Physics exams. Vaughn received her EdD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina. Her proudest accomplishment is being mom to 10-year-old Duncan.

Janelle Johnson panel

Friday, July 30 • 10:30–11:30 AM EDT

Student-led Panel on the Invisibility of Students with Disabilities in STEM Fields


Moderator: Janelle M. Johnson

Associate Professor of STEM Education and Noyce Principal Investigator, Metropolitan State University of Denver

The general absence of disability from the educational equity lens makes it hard to determine and address the degree of underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the STEM fields. How do we close a gap that’s largely invisible? Three Noyce Scholars from Metropolitan State University of Denver offer their perspectives on this issue, and invite feedback from session participants.

Learn More About the Panelists
Janelle M. Johnson

Janelle Johnson is an associate professor of STEM Education and a Noyce Principal Investigator at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is co-editor of STEM21: Equity in Teaching and Learning to Meet Global Challenges of Standards, Engagement, and Transformation (2018), and the Principal Investigator on two National Science Foundation grants—A Community-Based Approach to Engaging Students and Teachers in Effective STEM Education ITEST grant based on GLOBE protocols (#1615193), and Inclusive STEM Teaching Preparation at an Urban Commuter University (U-STEM) Robert Noyce grant (#1660506). Her work focuses on professional development with teachers toward interdisciplinary and inclusive STEM teaching and learning. She helps teachers develop strengths-based lenses while centering the needs of their students who have been less engaged with science.

Kimberlee Bourelle

Kimberlee attained a Biology degree with an emphasis in Cell Biology/Pre-medicine with minors in Chemistry and Psychology at Western State Colorado University. She works at an inclusion high school (that she attended) as an Educational Assistant IV - Severe Needs while pursuing her teaching licensure in Secondary Science. In high school she was a “peer helper” in the Special Needs classroom and describes the privilege of working with students in the program throughout her time in high school.

Adrian Clifton

Adrian always loved science and science-related materials, but describes having some social and academic challenges growing up due to being on the autism spectrum. He appreciates the firsthand knowledge he has about what children with similar disabilities face growing up in the school system. Adrian acquired a BS in Geology from the University of Reno Nevada, and later a master’s degree in Philosophy. He is now studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver to become a secondary science teacher. He hopes that as a teacher he can assist students with disabilities better than what he experienced as a student.

Joseph Schneiderwind

Joseph graduated with a BS in Engineering Physics in 2009 and an MS in Applied Mathematics in 2011. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005 and by 2014 he was heavily dependent on a wheelchair. After leaving a PhD program due to further progression of his disability, he is now attending Metropolitan State University of Denver seeking licensure to teach secondary mathematics. Joe’s reflection on his own educational experiences led him to research the underrepresentation of students with disabilities in STEM fields. He now has multiple publications and conference presentations on this issue.

Janelle Johnson panel

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