About M-C Mentors

Mentor-Connect Mentors give back to the ATE Program by working with prospective grantees to transfer knowledge and teach successful grant-writing strategies as they mentor and develop the next generation Principal Investigators for the ATE Program.

Mentor Spotlight

Billie Copley has always liked helping people achieve their goals or get through a tough spot in life.

  • Current Job:

    Center Manager; MNT-EC, Project Manager; Nano-Link ; Nanoscience Lab Manager at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC)

  • Area of Expertise:

    Project Management, Nanoscience Technology

  • Years involved in ATE:



  • Years as a Mentor:

    Mentor-Connect – 1.5 years, J ATE – almost a year, in general – 6 years  (I was a student mentor at DCTC while I was there. I was assigned a student every year to mentor who was having trouble adjusting to college or struggling with their classes or their home life.)


  • Hobby/Hobbies:

    I love to work with my hands, so I do a lot of gardening, rock hunting, crystal mining and wood working. I love to create things for other people and be in nature.

  • Fun Fact:

    I own two Harley-Davidson motorcycles and have my motorcycle license and I am learning to ride again after 5 years of being off the bike.  

  • Three words your colleagues/friends would use to describe you:

    Supportive, creative, resourceful        

Why did you decide to be a mentor? Why do you continue?

I have always liked helping people achieve their goals or get through a tough spot in life. It’s why I decided to get my BS in Project Management. I love learning from my mentors and using that knowledge in my everyday life. So, I like to give that back to other people. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mentor, so I feel privileged to be able to help others achieve their goals, whether it’s with writing a grant proposal, writing a paper for J ATE or helping students navigate life. I mentor in my personal life as well. I am currently mentoring a young man who wants to earn his Project Management degree and take the PMP certification exam. It’s amazing to watch a person’s confidence grow under your direction. It is very fulfilling.  

People say that ATE is a community – would you agree with that statement? Can you give a few examples of how the community has benefited you?

Yes, ATE is an amazing community. I was brought into the community in 2010 as a student going through the Nanoscience Technology AAS program at Dakota County Technical College. AT the time, Deb Newberry was the program lead and was the PI of Nano-Link Center for Nanotechnology Education. She saw potential in me and brought me to my first HI-TEC meeting. It was amazing to witness all the support and friendships that are present in the community. Almost everyone welcomed me with open arms even though they knew nothing about me. When I had to take charge of things at my home institution, everyone was so nice and helped guide me and mentor me so I could be successful. No one looked down on me and that was amazing because at the time I was really scared and nervous that I was screwing everything up. All the time I see leaders in this community taking people under their wings and helping to guide them and support them to become successful. Without being forced to, the ATE community helps each other through collaborations, proposal and personal mentoring, bouncing ideas off of each other for future projects and current ones too. Very rarely do I see anyone in this community that is unwilling to help out others.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone writing a proposal for the first time?

Be realistic about what you can accomplish with the time and money you have. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want to do and who you want to help but spreading yourself too thin will cause issues. We all want to do it all but there isn’t enough time or money to be able to do that. So be real about what you can do to make the biggest impact in your community and build from there. We always want you to get more and bigger grants. Start where you can and be good at it.

Can you think of a time when a college had their proposal declined – if so can you think of something they could have done that would have strengthened their proposal?

I helped to mentor a proposal that was declined due to a technicality. It didn’t make it past the first stage, so it was never reviewed. We talked with them about why it was rejected and guided them on what to do next time.

2024 Mentors

Mentor-Connect Mentors give back to the ATE Program by transferring knowledge and helping to develop the next generation of STEM faculty leaders for the ATE Program.

2024 Mentor Fellows

Mentor Fellows shadow master Mentors to develop the knowledge, skills, and experience to transition into a Mentor role for the Mentor-Connect Project. 

Current Mentors

Jonathan BeckJonathan Beck

Jonathan Beck

Executive Director and PI, National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT). I’ve worked in the Aerospace and Autonomous technology industries for 18 years.  My career has involved creating unmanned aircraft system programs across state and federal organizations and higher education. In 2011, Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, MN launched the nation’s first UAS maintenance program.  Over the past 8 years I have served on the leadership team at Northland, which has raised over $37 million in advancing autonomous technology education. I have led four NSF ATE awards as a Principal Investigator, working with a dedicated team to create professional development workshops, STEM engagement opportunities, educational pathways, industry partnerships and expanded educational resources in autonomous technologies.

Ann BehelerAnn Beheler

Ann Beheler

PI for the NSF National Convergence Technology Center and the NSF IT Skill Standards 2-2- and Beyond project; previously lead for a large DOL Round 1 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training consortium. I have been in IT since long before IT was cool, but my focus is much broader. I am totally dedicated to helping build innovative technical programs that improve students’ lives, either directly or by helping colleagues. I have corporate, entrepreneurial and academic management experience as a Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean and faculty member. My focus is on bringing together business and industry to identify knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by future "right-skilled" job candidates, then working with faculty to align curriculum so that students completing the credentials will be readily employable. I have a PhD in Community College Leadership, an MS in Computer Science, and a BS in Math. I am married to Carl and our four children and five grandchildren are our delights. I also am a frustrated artist, enjoying many different media.

Billie Copley

Center Manager of MNT-EC (I am not employed by a college but by contract for Pasadena City College). I have been involved in ATE since 2011 when I was a student at Dakota County Technical College’s Nanoscience Technician program in Rosemount, MN. Before I graduated, DCTC hired me to work on the Nano-Link Center for Nanotechnology Education Grant. I moved up from being a project coordinator/lab manager to the project manager. From there I moved to the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) where I am currently the Center Manager. My time with Nano-Link allowed me to go back to school and get my BS in Project Management in 2020. In my time off, I love being a rock hound. Arkansas has quite a few places where you can dig up your own crystals or diamonds. Another thing I enjoy is wood working. I love to build things for other people that they need or can benefit from.


Mel CossetteMel Cossette

Mel Cossette

Executive Director/PI for the National Science Foundation ATE-funded National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and PI for the ATE-funded Project Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing and Materials (TEAMM), both housed at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. I have over 20 years of experience in manufacturing education, have developed technician training programs for industry and educational institutions, serve on numerous committees and national boards and worked in various industries prior to holding administrative positions in the community and technical college system.

Christine DelahantyChristine Delahanty

Christine Delahanty

Area Coordinator of Science and Engineering, Professor of Engineering and Physics at Bucks County Community College. I am currently PI of an ATE grant: "Increasing the Number of Engineering Technicians in Southeastern PA," and have developed new programs of study to promote workforce readiness. I began my career as an electrical engineer at General Electric, where I worked in both military and commercial satellite operations. I was advisor to two teams that made the finals of the NSF AACC CCIC (2016 and 2017). I earned a BS in physics from Villanova University, MS in electrical engineering from University of Pennsylvania, and an EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University, with a concentration in Creativity and Innovation. My husband Fran and I have three wonderful daughters. We love to send each other pictures of our cats.

Diane DostieDiane Dostie

Diane Dostie

Currently external evaluator for several ATE projects and a regional center. I served as PI for two NSF ATE advanced manufacturing projects and as Co-PI for an ATE project in additive manufacturing. The projects involved research, curriculum development, collaboration with faculty across several institutions, and professional development. With over twenty-five years of experience developing partnerships and implementing professional development and training programs for companies in Central/Western Maine, I served on boards for several local and state economic and workforce development organizations and raised over $3 million to fund the renovation and expansion of the precision machining lab at Central Maine Community College. My career began as a technology education teacher in middle and high schools where female students excelled in nontraditional classes.

Sharon GuskySharon Gusky

Sharon Gusky

Principal Investigator for an NSF project entitled Engaging Students from Classrooms and Camps to College and Technical Careers. I am a professor of Biology at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, where I have been teaching since 1998. I am a member of Mentor Connect’s first cohort of mentees and was awarded a New to ATE NSF grant to start a manufacturing program in 2014. I have served as a community college liaison for the EvaluATE Center and am a member of the National ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference Steering Committee.  I am very active in Biology Education reform and currently serve as president of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Vicki JeppesenVicki Jeppesen

Vicki Jeppesen

Vice President of College Advancement and Executive Director of the NTC Foundation at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, WI. I have written, implemented, monitored, and closed grants at NTC for 13 years with awards of nearly $90M. I am a PI for a USDA SARE grant and been a reviewer for the US Department of Education. I was part of an NTC team in Mentor Connect’s Cohort 8—what a fabulous experience! I have worked in community/technical colleges for 30 years and appreciate that no matter what role one plays in higher education, it makes a positive impact on students, employers, and communities. I enjoy spending time with my four adult children, reading, writing, and beekeeping.

Ann JohnsonAnn Johnson

Ann Johnson

Associate Director and Co-PI of the ATE Center of Excellence for Geospatial Technology (GeoTech Center), Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville, KY for the past ten years. The GeoTech Center focuses on supporting community college geospatial programs. Prior to joining the Center, I was Higher Education Manager at Esri, a major geospatial software company, where I helped educators start or expand their geospatial programs. I have served as Co-PI on several other grants focused on geospatial technology, including a California Community College Geographic information system Network grant from the state of California and NSF ATE grants that include Geographic Information System Access and two iGETT projects. My education includes BS and MS degrees in geology and additional graduate studies in geography.

Judy KasabianJudy Kasabian

Judy Kasabian

Mathematics instructor at El Camino College, Torrance, CA. I have served as the PI on several NSF projects. Science FEST aimed to increase the science content and pedagogical knowledge of future K-12 teachers. Meeting of the Minds brought 22 community college educators and representatives from professional organizations together to examine STEM teacher education at the community college level. This resulted in the report: The State of Affairs - Impact and Implications of STEM Teacher Education at the Two-Year Colleges. The Los Angeles Collaborative for Teacher Excellence (LACTE) enabled 10 two- and four-year colleges/universities to enhance the mathematics and science education of future K-12 teachers. I have reviewed NSF proposals in a variety of competitions, including many ATE proposals that focus on community colleges new to ATE.

Greg KepnerGreg Kepner

Greg Kepner

Co-PI for the NSF-ATE Micro Nano Technology Education Center. I was the Director/PI of the NSF-ATE Midwest Photonics Education Center and a PI for 2 NSF projects. I also served as Co-PI for the OP-TEC national center and served on an NSF National Visiting Committee. I retired from Indian Hills Community College where I served as the Department Chair of Advanced Manufacturing and previously as the Industrial Technology Coordinator and Robotics/Automation Instructor. I have a Master’s Degree in Higher Education & Community College Leadership from Iowa State University, a BA Degree in Psychology from Buena Vista University and an AA and AAS Degree in Electronics Technology from IHCC. I have experience as a Silicon Valley senior field service engineer in semiconductor manufacturing.

Elaine KohrmanElaine Kohrman

Elaine Kohrman

Director of Grants, Somerset Community College, KY. Previously, I taught Biology at SCC for 12 years and was the Associate Dean of Math and Sciences. I was a member of Mentor-Connect’s Cohort 3 as a Co-PI developing an ATE project in 3D printing. The project was funded as a New-to-ATE project and jump-started the 3D printing program at SCC. That project was followed by our current ATE project, bringing 3D printing programs to other educational institutions in Kentucky and Tennessee. I am also the SCC institutional PI for Kentucky’s NSF EPSCoR advanced manufacturing project, where we are the only community college in an eight-institution collaboration. My BS and MS degrees in Biology were earned at the University of Cincinnati.

Doug LavenDoug Laven

Doug Laven

Director of Mechatronics at South Central College (SCC), North Mankato, MN and PI for the Independent Mechatronics Education Curriculum (iMEC) NSF grant, focused on developing a distance learning model that utilizes online, simulation, and remote-access delivery methods for the Mechatronics Engineering Technology (MET) AAS degree program. The project will build a pipeline of workers and increase access to MET training. I also directed a Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training grant that helped launch the Mechatronics program at SCC. I am a panelist on the Mechatronics Community Exchange, sponsored by the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) Center. I also conduct workshops at the High Impact Technology Exchange (HI-TEC) conferences, and I worked 18 years in industry as Engineering Manager and President, specializing in surface mount packaging.

Ken MaysKen Mays

Ken Mays

Director, Automotive Technology Program, Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. I served as PI on Central Oregon’s first New-to-ATE grant, which developed curriculum to address needed training in vehicle electrification systems. We were also selected for an NSF-ATE project grant, on which I serve as PI to develop advanced vehicle training standards for technicians working with high-voltage and high-pressure vehicle systems. After completing an A.S. Degree from Southwest Junior College, I worked as an Automotive Technician and then business owner before moving to Central Oregon to teach at and direct an Automotive Technology Program - now for 28 years. Jacque and I have seven children and are crowned with seven grandchildren. My main credibility in the NSF community is that I call Elaine and Fred Craft my friends.

Louis McIntyreLouis McIntyre

Louis McIntyre

Director for Grants Evaluation and Compliance with McIntyre Leadership Development Group, Fayetteville NC. After 24 years of corporate textile product development and operations management, in 2004 I began my career in higher education as a biology faculty member with Robeson Community College, in Lumberton NC. During my 17-year career in higher education, along with administrative positions, I have served as PI for NSF S-STEM, USDE Title III and TRiO Student Support Services grants, Instructional Director for an NSF-ATE project and mentor for the NIH Bridges to Baccalaureate program. I thoroughly enjoy performing utility work with my 53 Ford Jubilee tractor and playing games with our 12 grandchildren.

Frank Reed

Involved in the lasers and optics (photonics) arena for 33+ years.  During that time, I was in the industry for 7 years, academia for 19 years (photonics), and I worked on NSF Grants for 10 years (3 years overlapped with teaching).  I have served as Principal Investigator for an ATE Project (Developing Photonics Education in Iowa’s Rural Secondary Schools DUE#1800935), as Senior Personnel for the Midwest Photonics Education Center (DUE#1400561), and as Subject Matter Expert for the former OP- TEC center. I also had the opportunity to serve on several NSF ATE proposal review panels.  I recently retired from Indian Hills Community College and have since founded CREST Photonics LLC in order to provide consulting.

Richard PolaninRichard Polanin

Richard Polanin

Retired Professor and Program Chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Welding Technology programs at Illinois Central College, and Co-PI for Weld-Ed, the National Center for Welding Education and Training.  I am also the PI for a Weld-Ed project in collaboration with the ASNT to identify NDT student learning outcomes. I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Illinois State University and a Doctorate from the University of Illinois. I am a consultant in manufacturing engineering and welding engineering and inspection.  I publish and provide presentations in the areas of manufacturing, robotics, and welding. I am a graduate of the Illinois Scholars program and a Certified Manufacturing Engineer and Certified Welding Inspector.

Anca SalaAnca Sala

Anca Sala

Involved with NSF ATE for 10 years, as PI leading two engineering technology projects, Co-PI for the MPEC regional center, and participating in proposal review panels. I held administrative positions as academic Dean and Department Chair for engineering and information technology with Baker College for 15 years, focusing on curriculum development and program assessment and evaluation. As a faculty member I taught a variety of science, engineering, and technology courses. Previously I was a research and development engineer in the telecommunications industry. I hold BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and a PhD in physics from the University of Toledo. I am a member of ASEE, a senior member of IEEE and Optica, an author of a textbook targeting technician education, and an inventor with several patents.

Pamela SilversPamela Silvers

Pamela Silvers

Principal Investigator for a third NSF ATE project entitled Skilled Workers Get Jobs 2.1: High School Engagement. Since 1992 I have taught all aspects of computer technologies at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, first as an adjunct instructor, now as a full-time instructor and former department chairperson. I am a first-generation, non-traditional college graduate. After a divorce I completed both a bachelor’s (UNC-Asheville) and master’s (Western Carolina University) degree. Engaging students – particularly women – is not only a living, it is my passion. I am a huge Disney fan. My husband, Vernon, and I also like to take advantage of the outdoor hiking opportunities in Western North Carolina.

Matthew SwensonMatthew Swenson

Matthew Swenson

Director of Grants, Green River College, Auburn, Washington since 2013. I have contributed to multiple ATE grant proposals, as well as advised ATE PIs and Co-PIs on grant-related matters. From 2000 to 2013, I conducted fundraising, planned events, and managed volunteers for Green River College and community-based nonprofit organizations in Washington State. I volunteer for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Federal Funding Task Force and currently serve on its Federal Agency Liaison Committee. I hold a Master’s degree in Not-for-Profit Leadership from Seattle University and a certificate in Advanced Fundraising Management from the University of Washington. I met my wife Joni while we served as U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Mongolia. Our favorite activities are backpacking, mountain climbing, and skiing with our teenage daughter.

Tom TubonTom Tubon

Tom Tubon

Faculty member at Madison College and honorary research fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I teach Biotechnology courses in the Applied Associates Degree Biotechnology Program and the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program as well as Human Stem Cell Technologies courses. I have been involved with NSF ATE since 2009 and currently serve as PI for the ATE initiative for developing workforce-centered programming in Emerging Technologies to steer the development of a National Coordination Network for Cell and Tissue Manufacturing. I also have leadership roles in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing (CMaT), the NSF OIA National Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), and the NSF ATE National InnovATEBIO Center for Biotechnology.

Karen Wosczyna-BirchKaren Wosczyna-Birch

Karen Wosczyna-Birch

State Director, Connecticut College of Technology, since 1995 and instrumental in creating a nationally recognized seamless pathway in engineering and technology programs between all twelve public community colleges in CT and eight universities and high schools. I am also the Executive Director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an NSF Center of Excellence, which has received over $9 million in ATE funding since 2004. I have been a champion of engineering and technology education for the past 30 years, and I serve on numerous boards, including the International Honor Society EPT, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, and Hartford High's Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. I have been involved in the Obama manufacturing regional workshops, and in 2014, my commitment to STEM education led to an invitation to the White House College Opportunity Summit.

Esperanza Zenon

Professor of Physical Science at River Parishes Community College (RPCC). I serve as the Principal Investigator on an NSF ATE Project aimed at improving RPCC’s Instrumentation program. I also serve on RPCC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. I am the current President of the Louisiana Academy of Sciences. I am very passionate about STEM equity and am a member of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). I also serve on the Advisory Leadership Team for the Regional Leaders for Open Education (RLOE). I have a Master of Arts degree in Physics from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D. in Science/Mathematics Education from Southern University.

Current Mentor Fellows

Terry BarteltTerry Bartelt

Philip Gibson

Principal of Philip G. Gibson Consulting, which puts qualified applicants together with opportunities. I work at the nexus of education, government, workforce, and economic development industries. With over 34 years of experience in technical education, I bring industry together with an emerging workforce through designed preparatory systems. I am the former Director of the Georgia BioScience Training Center, which is designed to train employees in biopharma manufacturing industries. As Director, I orchestrated equipping, developing curriculum, delivering training, and industry interactions from inception until my retirement in March 2021. Currently, I am the PI for a $1.2M NSF grant for implementation of an industry-recognized bioscience credential

Josh LabrieJosh Labrie

Josh Labrie

Director of NOVA SySTEMic, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, Virginia. As Director of NOVA’s STEM program, I lead a team that implements STEM outreach activities, such as teacher professional development, community expositions, robotics competitions, and summer camps, and I develop grants for STEM and CTE pathways. I am the college’s Perkins administrator and manage a portfolio of public and private grant awards. I am particularly interested in bridge programs, work- based learning, and emerging technologies in the information and engineering technology fields. I am the PI on three ATE awards for Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations and a makerspace and design thinking project. My wife Claire and I live in Culpeper Virginia, and we have four children.

Frank Reed Frank Reed

Brandon Keller

Agribusiness Instructor at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska. I am also a PhD student in Leadership Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was the replacement PI for Northeast’s first ATE project, which created a precision agriculture workforce ladder via curriculum and training, and I now serve as Co-PI on an ATE project focused on Precision Agriculture in the Urban Environment. I have served as a mentor and advisor to the Northeast grant’s office through NSF grant proposal applications, including two National Center proposals. I am particularly interested in building and improving effective grant management teams, increasing data-driven decision making, and building dynamic cross-collaborative curriculums. When not in the classroom I can be found working as a Director at Camp Geiger scout camp in Saint Joseph, Missouri or traveling and exploring the world.

Sheela Vemu, Co-Mentor Fellow

Associate Professor of Biology at Waubonsee Community College. I have served as a Co- PI on an NSF ATE grant developing classroom-based undergraduate experiences, while contributing to the Journal of Advanced Technological Education (J-ATE) Connect Pilot Program 2022 as a writing coach and mentor for J-ATE Undergraduate Research Experiences in 2023. I recently received two awards: the 2023 Waubonsee Faculty Member of the Year for teaching excellence and the 2023 Two-Year College Biology Teaching Award, sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers. My students have published in J-ATE and won top honors at the 2023 InFLOW Program at the Illinois Water Professionals Conference. My ancestral roots extend throughout Southeast Asia and my work in Borneo deepened my interest in antibiotics and ethnopharmacology.

Current CO-Mentors

Chris Hatfield

Executive Director, Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence. I have 12 years experience as an Automotive Technology instructor and technical college dean, am ASE certified and have multiple industry certifications. Before teaching I worked as an automotive technician, OEM contractor, and owned a business specializing in hybrid electric vehicles. I have written 7 automotive textbooks and consulted on e-learning products. My BS is in Automotive Engineering Technology with a minor in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and my EdM is in Community College Teaching & Learning. In my current role, I lead the state’s effort to engage employers, enhance education, and inspire students in transportation programs. I serve on education and industry advisory boards and the MTTIA board, as Co-Chair for the MN-DOT CAV-X Committee and Co-PI for the National Center for Autonomous Technologies.

Elizabeth (Beth) Hawthorne ImageElizabeth (Beth) Hawthorne Image

Elizabeth (Beth) Hawthorne

Senior Professor Emerita of Union County College, Cranford, NJ, where I taught computer science and cybersecurity classes for over two decades. Before retiring, I was part of the 2015 Mentor-Connect cohort and submitted a successful proposal – Cyber Service! Interdisciplinary & Experiential Education for Cyber Forensics Technicians – in the new-to-ATE category. I served as the Cyber Service! PI for three years and as Co-PI for five years on the NSF C5 Project, Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity in Community Colleges. I currently serve as a MentorLinks mentor and co-chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Education Board. I am also an adjunct online lecturer for my undergraduate Alma Mater, Rider University, NJ. My hobbies include sailing in the Gulf of Mexico and raising Goldendoodles to become therapy dogs.

Ying Tsu Loh

Associate Director of a science education non-profit, Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC). I provide leadership on BABEC’s collaborative projects with educational, industry and non-profit partners, including the NSF-ATE National Center for Biotechnology Education, InnovATEBIO, where I lead the supply chain guidelines project with the California Statewide Director for Life Science/Biotechnology. I am also adjunct faculty at City College, San Francisco (CCSF), where I co-founded a mentoring program for post-docs at UCSF and mentor internship students. My recent ATE experience is writing a proposal for a plant/ag biotech project with a colleague at Allan Hancock College.

Bruce Nash

Assistant Director for Science, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center. I hold a BS in genetics from the University of Alberta and a PhD in medical and molecular genetics from the University of Toronto, where I studied the genes that guide axonal growth cones and migrating cells during development. I have expertise in developmental biology, cell biology, genetics and microscopy. After a postdoc at the University of Oregon, I joined the DNALC in 2005, where I develop, disseminate, support and teach high school and college level curricula. I have developed approaches that support authentic student research using RNA interference, DNA barcoding, and metabarcoding. In each case, this curriculum is designed to integrate bioinformatics and molecular biology, and has the flexibility to support many research projects with unified methods. I am an avid sailor and gardener.

Poornima Rao

Manager of InnovATEBIO, a NSF-ATE funded National Biotechnology Education Center at Austin Community College, Austin, TX. I also teach cell culture techniques and principles of biomanufacturing, and I coordinate student internships. I first came to ACC as a curriculum specialist to develop and design the biomanufacturing course; I subsequently hosted workshops for students and faculty to enable them to understand and implement the workforce component in the course. I have coordinated and managed the state Wagner-Peyser Workforce grant and several NSF grants. I have worked in the biotechnology industry as a quality control chemist at Glaxo SmithKline, a product scientist at a few local start-up companies and at a monoclonal antibody company as a manufacturing supervisor.

Previous Mentor Fellows

  • 2017 Fellows

    From left to right, James (Jim) Hyder and Pamela Silvers

  • 2018 Fellows

    From left to right, Danine Tomlin, Edgar Troudt, and Diane Dostie

  • 2019 Fellows

    From left to right, Matthew Swenson, Ann Johnson, Doug Laven, and Ken Mays

  • 2020 Fellows

    From left to right, Deidre Sullivan, Tom Tubon, Richard Polanin, Jonathan Beck, and Sharon Gusky

  • 2021 Fellows

    From left to right; Beth Hawthorne, Vicki Jeppesen, Greg Kepner, Elaine Kohrman

  • 2022 Fellows

    From left to right, Christine Delahanty, Louis McIntyre. Not pictured: Anca Sala 

  • 2023 Fellows

    From left to right, Billie Copley, Matthew Swenson, Frank Reed, Terry Bartelt, Esperanza Zenon

  • 2024 Fellows

    From left to right; Brandon Keller, Sheela Vemu, Philip Gibson, Josh Labrie

Mentor News