Meet Our Fellows
Our Fellows represent a diverse range of scientific communities, from research collaborations on the scales of cities and states to global networks for open data. Each Fellow brings a unique set of skills and challenges to the cohort. At the same time, many of our Fellows share common goals when it comes to their organizations and communities and the technology they use, and we’re excited to foster their community of practice.
Melanie Binder – Community Engagement Manager, American Society of Plant Biologists
Melanie Binder is the Community Engagement Manager and Social Media Coordinator for the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). With over 20 years of experience in client services, Melanie has been closely involved in developing and launching Plantae, a new global community and knowledge hub for plant scientists, students and related professionals to connect and share relevant resources.
As a community manager, she set goals to expand Plantae’s presence during 2017 by launching a seminar & podcast series, facilitating a Plantae Fellows program, and continuing to collaborate on resources with the global plant science community.
Amber Budden - Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE)
Dr. Amber Budden is the Director for Community Engagement and Outreach at DataONE, an NSF funded cyberinfrastructure project supporting Earth and environmental scientists in their data management, preservation, search and discovery needs. An advocate for open and transparent science, Amber supports the DataONE community in the use of DataONE tools and services, and conducts training and outreach activities in best practices for data management.
During this fellowship Amber aimed to:
- extend the reach of the DataONE Users Group, broadening participation and empowering community members to serve as DataONE ambassadors and open data advocates, and
- build community participation around the DataONE education materials that are undergoing transition to a collaborative open workspace.
Stefanie Butland - Community Manager, rOpenSci
Stefanie Butland is the first ever Community Manager for the rOpenSci project, a non-profit initiative that develops a wide range of open software tools to enable open and reproducible research. As an experienced scientist and bioinformatician who has always been a people-connecter, she helps rOpenSci develop the social infrastructure to support their mission.
Stefanie’s primary goal for 2017 was to maximize the reach and impact of the community’s efforts by putting together monthly community calls, a weekly blog, and a coding unconference. She wanted to deepen her understanding of her community, which encompasses both the people and the currencies that bring them together: the software environment, online collaboration tools, and the adoption of an open approach to science.
Jen Davison - Program Manager, Urban@UW
Jen Davison is the program manager for Urban@UW, a cross-disciplinary and cross-sector initiative at University of Washington that seeks to engage scholars and practitioners around the challenges that cities face, from homelessness to transportation to climate adaptation and beyond. With a background in ecology, Jen has spent years working with scientists to amplify their impact: through communication, community engagement, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
In 2017 Jen wanted to focus on defining and improving the business model of Urban@UW to better support collaboration among the scholarly communities at University of Washington who are aiming to tackle urban-centered issues. She also focused on supporting the pilot year of Livable City Year, a program that pairs faculty and students with city policymakers for project-based learning. With respect to the Community Engagement Fellows program, Jen’s goal was to daylight and demonstrate the purpose of and best practices around community management so as to improve the effectiveness of Urban@UW and its projects.
Josh Knackert - IceCube/AAAS Community Engagement Fellow, Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center
Josh Knackert will be the Diversity, Inclusion, and Career Mentoring Fellow at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) in Madison, WI. He will assist the IceCube diversity and inclusion task force in offering workshops, training, and networking opportunities to staff at both WIPAC and throughout the IceCube Collaboration. These resources are intended to promote inclusive, effective collaboration, while ensuring that every IceCube staff and collaborator has the opportunity to contribute their full potential.
He is confident that by building a more diverse STEM workforce, IceCube will only bolster its already stellar track record of discovery.
Andreas Leidolf - Assistant Director and Project Administrator, iUTAH NSF EPSCoR (Innovative Urban Transitions and Arid region Hydro-sustainability)
Andreas (Andy) Leidolf is Assistant Director and Project Administrator for iUTAH, Utah’s EPSCoR Track 1 Research Infrastructure Improvement Award. This 5-year, $20M cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation is aimed at building statewide collaborative and multi-institutional capacity to conduct cutting-edge research on water sustainability and other critical environmental issues, while simultaneously training an inclusive and diverse next-generation STEM workforce for the state of Utah and the nation. Over the past two+ years of having served in this role, Andy has applied his more than 20 years of experience in the conduct, transmission, administration, and development of scientific research to building a strong, sustainable community of researchers and their stakeholders that now comprises over 500 former and current participants and over 80 partner organizations.
Andy’s goals for his participation in the 2017 inaugural Community Engagement Fellows cohort were to:
- develop, implement, and evaluate strategies to sustain the iUTAH network as it transitions from EPSCoR funding into a yet uncertain future;
- work with university administrations to help institutionalize the capacity for facilitating large-scale, interdisciplinary, cross-institutional research in the state of Utah;
- acquire new skills in leveraging social media platforms in the pursuit of these goals; and
- assist AAAS in the development of a curriculum for the training of future cohorts of Community Engagement professionals.
Marsha Lucas - Publications and Communications Coordinator, Society for Developmental Biology
Marsha Lucas is the Publications and Communications Coordinator at the Society for Developmental Biology. She writes and edits content for the Society’s website and newsletter, helps develop educational outreach activities promoting developmental biology, and manages SDB Collaborative Resources (CoRe), an online database of images and movies for learning and teaching developmental biology. As a AAAS Community Engagement Fellow, she will focus on engaging the developmental biology community on two major fronts—Education and Diversity & Inclusion.
Her goal was to use Trellis to generate dialogue within the larger developmental biology community on these issues in order to develop educational resources for teaching development and address barriers to diversity and inclusion within the developmental biology community. She also wanted to develop a platform for continued mentoring within SDB’s Choose Development! Program which matches undergraduates from underrepresented groups to labs of SDB members for multiple summers of research.
Stephanie O'Donnell - Community Manager, WILDLABS.net, Fauna & Flora International
Stephanie O’Donnell is the Community Manager of WILDLABS.NET, the conservation technology network catalysed by United for Wildlife with the support of Google.org and ARM. She guides the WILDLABS.NET community of conservationists, technologists, engineers and entrepreneurs, supporting them to find, create and deploy effective technology-based solutions to protect threatened wildlife and habitats.
In 2017, she wanted to:
- continue to grow the WILDLABS.NET community through year two,
- create new opportunities for WILDLABS.NET members to connect and collaborate around specific challenges, both in person and remotely,
- expand the membership base of WILDLABS.NET and empower members with diverse backgrounds and experience to add their voices to collaborative efforts.
Heidi Olds - Technical and Professional Activities Coordinator, Society of Petroleum Engineers
Heidi Olds is the Technical and Professional Activities Coordinator for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). SPE is the largest individual-member organization serving managers, engineers, scientists and other professionals worldwide in the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry. Heidi is enthusiastic about representing her organization in the 2017 AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program. She holds a BA in German, Minor International Studies with a regional focus of Western Europe. Heidi is an enthusiast of languages and travel. Her global perspective and interest in cultural diversity makes her open minded and innovative.
For 2017 her top goals were:
- to develop champions within SPE’s online communities,
- to enhance the member experience when engaging online,
- to motivate SPE‘s members to connect socially, and
- to move the SPE community structure away from small, exclusive groups to one open forum for all membership.
Allen Pope - Executive Secretary, International Arctic Science Committee
Dr. Allen Pope is the Executive Secretary of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). He is excited to get to help Arctic scientists come together to make their work even more impactful and is coming to this new role after 3 years as a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (University of Colorado Boulder) and the Polar Science Center (University of Washington).
In 2017 his top three goals were to:
- help Arctic scientists share their collaborations through a new IASC blog;
- help IASC representatives better reach and communicate with their national constituencies; and
- establish new action groups to broaden IASC’s reach and representation.
Katie Pratt - Director of Communications, Deep Carbon Observatory
Dr. Katie Pratt is the communications director for the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), an international program investigating carbon inside Earth, and works within an Engagement Team based at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Having spent more than three years working with a diverse Earth and life science community, she was looking at the fellowship year as an opportunity to share her experiences while learning from community managers working in different scientific disciplines.
She was particularly interested in improving the international scope of DCO, working with early career scientists to enhance their career and professional development, and investigating the quantifiable effects of community building on scientists’ professional and personal growth.
Malin Sandström - Community Engagement Officer, International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility
Dr. Malin Sandström is Community Engagement Officer at INCF, an international non-profit organization devoted to advancing global collaborative brain research. She has twelve years of experience in science communication, and a PhD in computational neuroscience.
In 2017, her top goals were to:
- develop better ways to connect a community spread out over four continents and a multitude of scientific subfields
- interact more closely with other scientific communities grappling with similar problems, such as data sharing, interoperability and life science standards
- help make science more open, robust and reproducible.
Melissa Varga - Community Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists
Melissa Varga is the Community Manager of the Science Network at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she manages the growing community of over 17,000 scientists and technical experts. From training candidates to run for local office to supporting a community of scientists who want to use their expertise to inform policy, she has experience working with a wide variety of stakeholders.
In 2017 she set goals to further develop online and offline opportunities for scientists to connect with each other around public engagement, and work within her organization to demonstrate the benefits of the online community management.
Stephanie Vasko - Research Associate and Program Manager, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, Michigan State University
Dr. Stephanie E. Vasko is a Research Associate and the Program Manager for the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI) at Michigan State University. With a Ph.D. in Chemistry & Nanotechnology, post-doctorate training in STEM education, and research interests in design history and responsible innovation, Dr. Vasko brings nearly a decade of experience in interdisciplinary research and collaboration to the creation of tailored dialogue-based interventions for clients in fields ranging from sustainability to campus planning. She’s excited to foster community among her own community of team science researchers and to enhance communication and collaboration for new and existing research/collaborative teams.
In 2017, her top three goals were to:
- strengthen communication and collaboration within the TDI community
- develop new additions for tailored TDI workshops
- expand the audience for TDI-style dialogue-based interventions through social media and in-person channels.
Rosanna Volchok - Network Engagement Manager, New York Academy of Sciences
Rosanna Volchok is the Network Engagement Manager for the New York Academy of Sciences (“the Academy”). Rosanna has a background in science, international public policy and nonprofits and believes strongly in the power of addressing global challenges through interdisciplinary approaches to science policy, outreach and education.
In 2017 her top three goals at the Academy were to:
- launch a successful, scalable digital ambassador program for the early career segment of Academy Membership,
- continue to grow and refine the Academy’s “Member-to-Member” digital mentoring program, and
- design and implement improvements to community engagement tracking and communications.
Elisha Wood-Charlson - Research/Communications Project Manager, University of Hawaii Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology
Dr. Elisha Wood-Charlson is the Data/Research Communications Program Manager for the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa. Dr. Wood-Charlson has a PhD in Marine Science and has spent many years looking at the little things (microbes and viruses) that make marine ecosystems tick. Alongside the research and teaching, there has always been a passion for making science communication more efficient and effective, ranging from increasing science literacy in local communities, to managing multidisciplinary collaborations, to dealing with the “big, open data” problem.
Her goals for the 2017 AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program were to:
- network and brainstorm with great minds on how to make communication more efficient for complex science communities,
- challenge the role of email in community engagement, and
- formalize the role of efficient communication when cross-disciplinary knowledge is needed to answer the “big questions” in science.