Polar Literacy Team

NSF Grant# 1906897 – 2019-2021

Project Management

  • Jason Cervenec (PI) is the Director of Education and Outreach, Byrd Polar Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University. Jason directs an outreach team that reaches approximately 12,000 individuals annually.
  • Janice McDonnell (PI) is a 4-H STEM Agent, Department of Youth Development, Rutgers University. Janice is a co-author on the Polar Literacy Principles and has directed the Polar ICE team that has produced a broad range of educational programs and learning materials for informal and formal STEM teaching environments.
  • Dr. Oscar Schofield (Co-PI) is a Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, Marine & Coastal Sciences, and Lead PI for the Long-term Ecological Research program at Palmer Station (LTER-PAL). Oscar is a skilled science communicator and educator.
  • Christine Bean is a STEM Educator at Rutgers University where she leads efforts to translate cutting edge science into K-16 learning materials. She is the former VP of Education at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta GA, with extensive experience in project management and informal education program development and delivery.

Program Development & Data Visualization Team

  • Sage Lichtenwalner (Co-PI)is a Data Translator at the Department of Marine & Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University specializing in data visualizations.
  • Liesl Hotaling (Co-PI) is the Director of Eidos where she specializes in real-time data education projects and hands-on STEM educational projects supporting environmental observing networks. She is the co-author of the Polar Literacy Principles.
  • Karina Peggau is an educator and curriculum developer at the Byrd Polar Climate Research Center The Ohio State University.
  • Kasey Walsh is a recent graduate of the Department of Marine & Coastal Sciences, at Rutgers University. She is an educator and curriculum developer, focused on the Data Jam component of the project.
  • Dr. Stephanie Bestelmeyer is the Executive Director of the Asombro Institute for Science Education and the Education Coordinator with the Jornada Basin LTER. Stephanie is the creator of the Data Jam model and will help develop an informal Data Jam format.
  • Josh Kurz, Tilapia Films, is an award-winning film producer of films that tell unexpected, emotional, and often humorous stories. Tilapia media pieces are made for academic research institutions and nonprofit organizations, and air nationally.
  • Marilyn Sigman, is a retired Alaska Sea Grant educator, consulting on development of materials related to Polar Literacy Principle #6, focused on Arctic culture and people.

Project Implementation Team

  • Matthew Newman is the Monmouth County Agent in the Department of Youth Development 4-H Program in NJ. His expertise is in youth development, building leadership skills in young people grades K-13.
  • Marissa Staffenova is the Essex County Agent in the Department of Youth Development 4-H Program in NJ. Marissa is a co-leader of the NJ STEM Ambassador program and has extensive experience with leading and implementing STEM programs focused on climate change.
  • Chad Ripberger is the Mercer County Agent in the Department of 4-H Youth Development in NJ. Chad is the former liaison to national 4-H for urban programming and has extensive experience in youth development and informal learning in urban communities.
  • Sue Hogan is a 4-H Educator for Franklin County OSU Extension. Her primary focus is to develop and implement programs for urban youth.
  • Rick Perkins is the camp director at Big Brothers Big Sister of Central Ohio. Emily Kridel is an educator and coordinator at the camp. They both have extensive experience working with underserved youth.
  • Dr. Alexandra Rose is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Univ. of Colorado-Boulder. Alex works with the McMurdo and Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites. She also works for CU Science Discovery as a High School Programs manager and Broader Impacts Liaison. Her emphasis in both of these positions is science communication and engaging public audiences of all ages in scientific research. Jordan Kaseeska directs summer camps for the CU Science Discovery program and has extensive experience working with scientists to translate their research to informal learning environments.
  • Dr. Darryl Williams, Senior Vice President of Science and Education at The Franklin Institute, with expertise in middle and high school youth STEM education. He has worked extensively to enhance diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, especially during his time as Program Director at the NSF, and has researched the role that identity plays in engineering careers.
  • Dr. Rachel Valletta is the Environmental Scientist for The Franklin Institute and Program Director of the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership, an urban learning network focused on climate change education. Her expertise is in communicating complex environmental science topics to general audiences.

Project Advisors

Dr. Sue Allen

Allen and Associates

How youth learn across informal settings, the unique role of informal educational institutions in supporting the goals of STEM education, and how to engage research and practice communities.
Dr. Lynn Tran
Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
Working with educators in science museums and in their professional knowledge, work, and identity. Dr. Tran will support our evaluator and assist in developing strategies for evaluation/research.
Marilyn Sigman, Alaska Sea Grant Consideration and incorporation of the ways of Indigenous Peoples in science education and outreach programs.
Margie Turrin
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Education and outreach specialist with several polar focused programs. Margie will assist with kits/Data Jams using IYP experience.
Dr. Judy Diamond
University of Nebraska
Leader of IPY project Engaging Antarctica that supported numerous 4-H programs in four states.
Marilyn Sigman

Nature of Alaska, Inc.

A retired Alaska Sea Grant educator, Marilyn will consult on development of materials related to Polar Literacy Principle #6, focused on Arctic culture and people.
Gail Scowcroft
University of Rhode Island
Principal Investigator of several AISL projects including polar-focused research.
Dr. Rabiah Mayas
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
OST program development, science learning and evaluation, engaging diverse youth, connecting researchers and informal audiences.
Catherine Halversen
Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
Principal Investigator of several AISL projects and holds expertise in OST program development. Catherine will assist with pedagogy and sharing professional development models from her many NSF awards.

Collaborating Polar Scientists

This is a small sampling of scientists who have supported the Polar Literacy Initiative. Please see the Scientist Spotlight to learn more about them:

  • Josh Kohut, David Robinson, Asa Rennermalm (Rutgers)
  • Matthew Oliver (U Del)
  • Donglai Gong, Deborah Steinburg (VIMS)
  • Sharon Stamerjohn (UC Boulder)
  • Ari Friedlaender, Megan Cimino (UC Santa Cruz)
  • Scott Doney (UVA)
  • Ken Dunton (UT)
  • Hugh Ducklow (LDEO)
  • Bill Fraser (Polar Oceans Research Group)
  • Chris Gardner, Bryan Mark, Henry Brecher, Joel Barker, Michalea King, Forrest Schoessow, Emilie Beaudon, Barry Lyons (The Ohio State University)
  • Matthew Druckenmiller (NSIDC)
  • Ellen Enderlyn (U of Maine)