Staff and Board Transitions

Research assistant, Caitlin McKinstry shares the meticulous techniques behind her plankton photography methods with visiting photography students.

This summer has been a time of transition at the Science Center.

In May, we bid farewell to Megan and Darren Roberts. Megan arrived in June of 2012 as a field biologist and lab technician. Darren worked on various special projects for the Science Center. They are now across the Pacific, involved with NOAA’s Monk Seal Program at French Frigate Shoals.

In June, Megan McKinzie left the Science Center after two years as a fisheries research assistant for Dr. Mary Anne Bishop. She has moved to Alabama to pursue her Ph.D. in marine fisheries ecology using telemetry and other methods in Dr. Stephen Szedlmayer’s lab at Auburn University.

We also said goodbye to Kelly Sarnowski, our bookkeeper of nearly two years. Her husband, formerly the Commander of the US Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore, accepted his next USCG role in San Diego. Their two children are excited to live near a beach where the water is warm enough for swimming!

The end of July marks the departure of three staff members:

James Thorne has been with the Science Center since September of 2001 as our hydroacoustics technician and IT system administrator. James is moving on to focus on his job with the City of Cordova as an emergency dispatcher and volunteer fire fighter.

Jessica Stocking has been with the Science Center for nearly two years as an avian research assistant for Dr. Mary Anne Bishop. After a busy field season recapturing tagged Black Turnstones in the Y-K Delta, she is leaving Cordova to pursue her Ph.D. in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology at North Carolina State University.

AmeriCorps member Wil Tushaus came to Cordova last fall to help coordinate our community lecture series and teach in the Discovery Room. He and his wife are moving to Wisconsin, where he will be pursuing work in alternative energy. Wil applied his engineering background in exploring technical upgrades to the motor controls of the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) we help students build and operate in oil spill response simulations. Our AmeriCorps volunteers fulfill an 11-month appointment—stay tuned for an update on who will be joining us this fall!

Two of our educators are currently transitioning away from the Science Center to work in the Cordova School District.

Marita Kleissler has been an education specialist at the Science Center since August of 2011. In addition to working at the elementary school, she will continue teaching dance and yoga classes locally. We credit Marita for helping kids grasp complex scientific concepts by turning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) into STEAM (including the Arts) through the incorporation of dance into Discovery Room programs. All kids benefit by learning through movement!

Maggie Hafertepe has been a volunteer and part-time science educator for the past year. She will be substitute teaching at both the elementary and high school. We were pleased that Maggie was able to work with Wil Tushaus to extend our ROV program to public school youth in Nome earlier this year!

We thank all of the staff members who are moving on for their hard work and dedication and wish them luck in their new endeavors!

We are excited to introduce you to three new staff members:

Kristen Gorman is the Science Center’s new Principal Investigator in a fisheries ecologist role. Most of her previous work has taken place in Antarctica studying penguins. She has extensive experience with stable isotope analysis and working in remote locations. Kristen is completing her Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. and we are thrilled to have her on board.

Ginger Drake is bookkeeper at the Science Center. She has been living in Cordova for the past four years, most recently working as the manager of Nichols’ Backdoor Store. She also works as bookkeeper for the Cordova Moose Lodge.

Andi Platt is our executive assistant at the Science Center. She grew up in Cordova and has spent the past 26 years raising her two children in Georgia and Washington. She and her high school-aged daughter have returned to Cordova to be near family.

The Science Center is abuzz with 18 seasonal staff for the Hatchery Wild Salmon project. Click here to read more about our lab and field technicians and the work they are doing!

We also warmly welcome new board member Laura Meadors of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Laura is an engineer and has been a long-standing supporter of the Science Center.