The ELISS Team

Leadership and Oversight

Melanie RobertsFounder and Director of ELISS
Melanie’s passion is to tap university research and education for the benefit of society. As a graduate student, she co-founded two organizations – one to introduce graduate students to multiple career options and another to promote dialogue among scholars, the public, and policy makers about issues at the intersection of science and society. Since finishing her Ph.D. in neurobiology in 2005, Melanie has studied and shaped policy and programs related to innovation, research, and education. As an AAAS S&T Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate and the National Science Foundation, she informed legislation and policies for research funding, health policy, ethics education, and peer review of interdisciplinary research. At the University of Colorado Boulder, studied cross-sector collaboration at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and facilitated collaborative research and research commercialization as Assistant Director of the Colorado Biofrontiers Institute. She founded ELISS in 2012. Melanie also consults on graduate education and professional development, interdisciplinary research, and university-industry-government collaborations. She lives in Seattle.

Juliana Houghton  – ELISS Program Manager
Juliana is a graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences. She completed her Master’s thesis in 2014 on the relationship between vessel traffic and the noise levels received by endangered killer whales. She is also passionate about science communication and outreach and serves as a board member of the Engage Program, which prepares graduate students to effectively communicate science to the public. She was drawn to ELISS by an understanding that there’s no point in doing science if it can’t reach society and the people that could use it. 

Mark S. FrankelELISS program lead at AAAS and Director, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights & Law Program

Edward G. DerrickChair of ELISS oversight committee and Chief Program Director, AAAS Center of Science, Policy, and Society Programs



ELISS senior advisors are well-known individuals within their fields and believe in the mission of ELISS. They have helped to open doors for the program and spread the word about what ELISS is doing.

  • Gail Cassell – VP at Eli Lily (retired), VP at Infectious Disease Research Institute, and Visiting Professor in Global Health, Harvard University
  • James M. Gentile – President Emeritus, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and Dean of the College of Natural Resources, Hope College
  • David Goldston – Director of Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Jeff Hamaoui - Superconnector & Partner, Further by Design
  • Neal F. Lane – Former Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the National Science Foundation and Distinguished Professor of Science and Technology Policy, Rice University
  • Gail McClure – VP at W.K. Kellogg Foundation (retired) and Senior Advisor, National Science Foundation
  • Gilbert Omenn – Director, Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan
  • Judith Ramaley – Distinguished Professor of Public Service, Portland State University  


ELISS strategic advisors have experience in various aspects of program development. They have donated substantial time and expertise helping ELISS leaders shape the program and/or ELISS fellows shape their projects.

  • Samantha White (Former Program Director & Program Development) – NINDS AAAS Science/Technology Policy Fellow, National Institutes of Health
  • Kelly Edwards (Program Development) – Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Professor of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington
  • Elizabeth McNie (Program Development) – Research Scientist, Western Water Assessment and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado
  • Bree Mitchell (ELISS Co-Founder) – Deputy Director, Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection, Stanford University
  • Andrew Robertson (Application & Selection) – Director of U.S. Regulatory Policy, Merck and Trustee of Gates/Cambridge Scholarship Program
  • Kate Stoll (ELISS Co-Founder) – AAAS/ACS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellow
  • Cynthia Robinson (Organizational Development) – Director, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships
  • Juli Staiano (Development) – Director of Development, AAAS
  • Amanda Murphy (Collaborative Problem Solving) – Project and Research Specialist, William D. Ruckelshaus Center
  • Alyssa Piccini Schaffer (Communication) – Scientific Director, TEDMED and Science Communication Consultant
  • Gary Olson (Evaluation & Collaboration) – Professor, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California at Irvine
  • Aaron Goldner (Campus Partnerships) – AAAS Science/Technology Policy Fellow, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Margaret Krebs (Program Development) – Program Manager, Leopold Leadership Program
  • Sara Bender (Marketing) – Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Chris Ernst (Cross Boundary Collaboration) – Vice President, Leadership & Organization Effectiveness, Juniper Networks; and Senior Enterprise Faculty, Center for Creative Leadership

Project Managers and Volunteers

ELISS would not be possible without volunteers with many different skills who asked “how can I help” to advance the ELISS mission. Project managers take responsibility for a specific need or project. Other volunteers have donated time and wisdom as needed to help the organization thrive.


  • Bethany Spencer (Events and Administration) – Center Administrator, AAAS Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs
  • Josh Ettinger (Web) – Program Assistant, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
  • Patrick Clemins (IT) – Cyber Specialist, Vermont EPSCoR, and Assistant Research Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Vermont
  • Melissa Lee Phillips (Editing) – Freelance writer and editor, Seattle, WA


Terrell Brotherton (Orientation); Jay Hardy, Carter Gibson, and David Peterson (Team Work / Program Evaluation) – PhD Candidates in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, University of Oklahoma; Nate Engle (Recruiting); (Marketing and Recruitment); Ryan Ritterson (Data Analysis); Skye Schuhman (Design); Amanda Shea (Applications); Jason Yang (Video)


Thanks to many other volunteers for so generously donating time, especially:  Colleen Gabauer; Karen Lawrence; Chris Golde; Mirvat Abdelhaq; TJ Augustine; Katy Beggs; Peter Blair; John Caldwell; Jenny DeRaspe-Bolles; Bryan Fioret; Brandon Hatcher; Ian King; Anita Mastroieni; Lisa McCloud; Henry Miller; Khara Ramos; Toby Smith; Meredith Stow; Nate Wade; Abby Watrous; Application Readers; and Interview Panelists.