Summer STEM Instructors
Ms. Kris Amatuli
(B.S., University of North Carolina Wilmington; M.S., University of North Florida) joined the faculty of the University of North Florida in 2012. She teaches anatomy & physiology, general biology, zoology, ecology and plant biology. She has been a CrossFit trainer for the past nine years and loves spending time with her dog. Her primary research interests are biomechanics, endocrine physiology and herpetology.
Mr. Mark Bailey
(B.S. & Certificate of Technical Translation (Russian), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) is a Sr. Engineer with Scientific Research Corporation. He has over 30 years experience working with intelligence and information systems as a developer and user. He is currently developing cloud database solutions for various Dept. of Defense customers focused on connecting commercial solutions with military requirements.
Dr. Daisy Bourassa-Dowd
(B.A.in Biochemistry from Simmons College; PhD in Chemistry from Georgia Tech) recently joined the chemistry department at Newberry College. Before Newberry College she taught organic chemistry, biochemistry, and gender equity in STEM courses at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. In graduate school, Dr. Bourassa-Dowd used novel zinc and copper fluorescent probes to investigate metal distribution during cell division and development of zebrafish embryos. In her spare time, Dr. Bourassa-Dowd enjoys practicing yoga and being outside with her partner Matt and their three dogs Maggie, Moxley and Bayley.
Dr. L. DeWayne Cecil
(PhD. in Earth Science from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) founded Destination SPACE, Inc. in March 2017 with a vision of providing students with space related interactive science education. As the Director of Destination SPACE, Dr. Cecil draws upon his extensive background in applied earth sciences and remote sensing. He went on to serve as Chief Scientist of the Applied Sciences Program at NASA Headquarters and as Senior Science Advisor at NASA Langley's Systems Engineering Office. He also served as the Western Region Climate Services Director at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
Dr. António de Ridder-Vignone
(B.A., University of South Carolina Honors College; M.A., Indiana University; Ph.D., Cornell University) is the French Instructor at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics, Chair of the Department of Social Sciences, Languages, Art, & Music, and co-director of the Bike to the Future project. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, hiking, old-school video games, and learning new languages through reading, writing, music, film, and conversation.
Ms. Allaire Doussan
(B.S. in biomedical engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham; currently in the Ph.D. Innovation Program at Dartmouth College) is studying biomedical/electrical engineering. Allaire has been teaching STEM programs since 2015 mainly focusing on hands-on engineering activities such as soldering, electronics, robotics, programming, computer aided design, and 3D printing. Her current research focuses on developing an electrical impedance tomography probe for use in robotic surgery. In her free time she enjoys getting outdoors, especially if it involves rock climbing!
Mr. Greg Fry
(B.A., Indiana University; M.F.A., University of South Dakota in the Visual Arts) is currently a Professor of Visual Art at Francis Marion University. He has taught graphic design and printmaking there since 2002. He has worked in the graphic design industry as a printer, production artist, designer and art director. His current research includes exploration in Typography and the relationship of type in both traditional and digital applications for design. His free time is spent with his family, reading and creating both artwork and graphic work for both clients and personal discovery.
Dr. Blaine Griffen
(B.S., Brigham Young University; M.S., Oregon State University; Ph.D., University of New Hampshire) is an associate professor in the biology department at Brigham Young University. Prior to that position, he was a professor at the University of South Carolina in the marine science program from 2008-2017. His research interests are in animal behavior, species invasion, population extinction and understanding the responses of marine animals to environmental change.
Ms. Sharon Gumina
(B.A., George Washington University; M.S., Information Systems Technology, George Washington University) is a Faculty member of the Department of Information Technology, College of Engineering and Computing, University of South Carolina. She has taught and worked in the field of Information Systems and Computing for over 30 years. Her teaching interests include database design, programming, networking, security, and systems analysis and design.
Dr. Liz Johnson
(B.S. & Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, University of Alabama) is the STEM Education Specialist at Southern Research. She is responsible for developing and implementing educational programming to engage and motivate Alabama’s youth to pursue professions in science, technology, engineering, and math. Additionally, she provides educational training in these fields for STEM educators. For her Ph.D., Dr. Johnson studied the effects of pharmaceuticals and other contaminants on fish reproduction, physiology, and behavior. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her daughter, husband, and two dogs exploring the great outdoors, cooking new recipes, and cheering on the Crimson Tide!
Dr. Nicole Kroeger
(B.S. North Carolina State University; MS, Ph.D., University of Norte Dame) is a mathematics instructor at the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. She has wanted to be a teacher since fourth grade and loves getting to teach mathematics everyday! In her free time, she enjoys walking, photography, spending time with family, and visiting lighthouses.
Dr. Kathryn Lanier
(Ph.D., George Tech), joined Southern Research in 2017 as the first STEM Education Outreach Director. In this role, she is responsible for directing a statewide program that aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, in addition to training teachers involved in these fields. In addition to her role at Southern Research, Dr. Lanier was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to represent Alabama's 6th congressional district on the Mathematics Course of Study Committee and Alabama's 7th congressional district on the Career Technical Education Course of Study Committee. Dr. Lanier also serves on the Governor's Advisory Council for Excellence in STEM. Prior to Southern Research, Dr. Lanier received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Georgia Tech, where she worked the laboratory of Dr. Loren Williams as part of the NASA Center for the Origin of Life. Dr. Lanier received the Georgia Tech Presidential Fellowship, an award allocated to the top 5% of each doctoral class for all four years of her doctoral studies. She was also a Molecular Biophysics and Biotechnology fellow for three years. In 2018, Kathryn was selected as one of Georgia Southern University's Top 40 under 40. In 2020, Kathryn was named as part of Georgia Tech's inaugural 40 Under 40 class.
Dr. Dimitra Michalaka
(B.S., National Technical University of Athens; M.S., Citadel; M.S. and Ph.D., University of Florida) is an Associate Professor at the department of civil and environmental engineering at The Citadel. Her research is primarily focused on traffic operations, congestion pricing, traffic simulation, and engineering education. Dr. Michalaka is a registered Professional Engineering in the state of South Carolina and just added a M.S. in Project Management from The Citadel to her credentials.
Mrs. Julie Mixon
(B.F.A., Barton College; M.F.A., East Carolina University) has taught as an Associate Professor of Photography at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, since 2012. Prior to teaching at FMU, Julie taught as an Art Instructor at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, North Carolina, for eight years. Julie specializes in alternative photographic processes and explores the combination of analog and digital photographic processes. She has exhibited her work regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Dr. Kiley Molinari
(B.A. Franklin Pierce University; M.A. University of Idaho; Ph.D. University of Oklahoma) Dr. Kiley Molinari is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Francis Marion University. Her research focuses on topics such as material culture studies, Indigenous new media, language and cultural revitalization and retention, digital cultural heritage, and collaborative research in Native North America. In her free time she enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, and trying new restaurants with her husband and dog.
Dr. Theodore R Nicholson III
(PhD, The Ohio State University) is the Managing Principal Consultant at TRN3 Consulting LLC, a company dedicated to helping companies and communities innovate in sustainable ways across healthcare, energy, agriculture, shelter, and water. Theo’s educational background is in chemistry and biomedical engineering and he has industry experience in program management, medical device development (software development), energy storage, and research informatics. Theo is also a volunteer with the National Society of Black Engineers’ Healthcare Innovation Special Interest Group. He has a teaching background of over 7 years of experience in delivering content and developing courses for K-12 STEM education.
Dr. Gary Salazar
(B.S., Baylor University; Ph.D., Louisiana State University) joined the GSSM faculty in January of 2008. Prior to that, he served as a visiting assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio for six years. At GSSM, Dr. Salazar serves as the sponsor for many of the academic teams including the Mock Trial and Quiz Bowl. His research interests include coding theory and polynomials over finite fields.
Mr. Robert Smythe
(B.A. University of Central Lancashire; M.A. University of Manchester) moved to Shanghai, China in 2006 to begin a career in TESOL. Since then, he has lived and worked in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and now lives here in the U.S. with his wife. Originally from the UK, he is currently back at school to become an ESL teacher in the state of Connecticut, and when he’s not in class, he enjoys running trails, bird-watching and playing board games.
Prof. Bob Twiggs
(M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University) is the Chief STEM Mentor for Destination SPACE. Professor Twiggs provides guidance for the entire Destination SPACE team and leads various lessons for our camp participants. He has served as a mentor in each of our summer programs and never fails to get students laughing and excited for their upcoming challenges. During his time at Stanford University Professor Twiggs became well-known for co-inventing CubeSats, a disruptive technology that has changed the satellite industry around the world. In 2010 he was selected by the Space News publication as one of 10 American space professionals “That Made a Difference in Space”. The other two selected from the United States were Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, and former US President, Barack Obama.
Dr. Shayna A. Wrighten
(B.S., Furman University; Ph.D., University of South Carolina School of Medicine) joined the faculty of Francis Marion University in January 2012 as an Associate Professor of Biology. Her research interest is in understanding the behavioral and nervous system processes that underlie social interactions. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis, running, travelling, visiting beaches and spending time with family and friends.