Transforming science education through research-driven innovation

Erin Marie Furtak

Erin Marie Furtak, PhD, is Professor of STEM Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A former high school science teacher, Erin transitioned into a career studying how science teachers learn and improve their daily classroom practices through formative assessment. In a series of multiple studies, Dr. Furtak has been partnering with teachers, schools, and districts to learn how teachers can design, enact, and take instructional action on the basis of classroom assessments that they design. Her recent publications have examined the ways in which the design and enactment of classroom assessments can promote more equitable participation in science learning.

Erin joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2021.

Dr. Ellen Ebert is the Director of Secondary Education Content and Science in the Secondary Education and Pathway Preparation Division at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, Washington. She is past president of the Council of State Science Supervisors. Ellen is a Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science Education and a recipient of the Valerie Logan Leadership in Science Education Award. She is currently focused on managing the statewide initiative called ClimeTime and two ESSER projects which provide professional learning for secondary science educators as they work to address student learning acceleration and recovery in post-pandemic classrooms.  

Ellen joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2021.

Associate Vice President for Institutional Partnerships University Advancement, The Catholic University of America

Bill Warren serves as the Associate Vice President for Institutional Partnerships within the Division of University Advancement at The Catholic University of America. In this role, Bill oversees the University’s efforts to secure funding from all types of institutional donors and organizations, including corporate, foundation, and government sources. Bill oversees federal advocacy efforts and the build-out of a government relations strategy for the institution. He also leads the revenue generation efforts for one of the priority areas within Catholic’s comprehensive campaign, around Faculty Excellence and Research. He and his team are responsible for raising $10 million annually from sponsorships and institutional grants.

Prior to February 2020, Bill’s tenure at Catholic included co-management of establishing the University’s school-based fundraising efforts, including direct work with the following schools: Arts and Sciences, Engineering, the National Catholic School of Social Service, the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, and Theology and Religious Studies. His areas of oversight also included Advancement Communications and Corporate and Foundation Relations.

From March 2018 to February 2020, Bill’s role also included formal leadership of the University’s comprehensive campaign, Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University, as Campaign Director.

Prior to his return to higher education fundraising, Bill worked to build a substantial development office and program at the nonprofit National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., most recently serving as Vice President of Development developing revenue opportunities and sharing the Society’s nonprofit mission with foundation donors and high-net worth individuals.

Over the course of his 13-year career at the Society, Bill helped cultivate some of the Society’s most important and substantial donor relationships, building a team of professionals who interface with institutional funders and secure major grant funding for the Society’s programs and initiatives. He was an integral part of a philanthropic effort at the National Geographic Society that grew tenfold in the last decade-plus, predictably raising in excess of $30 million annually.

Bill spent the first part of his career working for his alma mater, The Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md., and Maret School in Washington, D.C. He transitioned into institutional giving with The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the YWCA of the National Capital Area before joining the National Geographic Society in December 2002. He holds a B.A. in psychology from The Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife and two boys make their home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Bill joined the BSCS board of directors in 2020.

Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs

Pacific Science Center 

Dennis Schatz is the Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs at Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington, where he has played a leadership role for 36 years. During his tenure, he served as co-director of the Washington State LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) program, and as a principal investigator for Portal to the Public, an initiative that engages scientists in working with public audiences to enhance the public’s understanding of the current science research and its application. He also served as a program director in the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program for the National Science Foundation.

He is the author of 23 science books for children that have sold almost 2 million copies worldwide and is also the co-author/editor of several curriculum resources for teachers.

Mr. Schatz joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2014.

Nate Root started his career as a property & casualty actuary in Chicago and achieved his designation of Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. After spending over 20 years in the commercial insurance industry with a leading commercial carrier leading actuarial, information, and large-scale technology transformation efforts, he moved to strategic partner consulting. Currently, he is the Insurance Data Lead for Capgemini and works with insurers on solving data, information, and analytics related challenges to improve the industry. Nate is a graduate of Grinnell College (B.A. in Mathematics) and University of Michigan (M.S. in Mathematics).

Professor, Stanford Department of Biology

H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., is a Lorry Lokey/Business Wire Professor of Biological Sciences and Human Biology at Stanford University.

Dr. Heller’s research focus for over 40 years has been in the areas of physiology and neurobiology of temperature regulation, hibernation, sleep, circadian rhythms, and most recently learning and memory. Currently he is studying neural mechanisms controlling arousal states and arousal state transitions, the function of sleep, and the neural mechanisms of circadian rhythms. Research on human exercise physiology focuses on the effects of body temperature on physical conditioning and performance. The focus on Down syndrome is exploring the mechanism whereby reduction of GABA activity restores learning and memory in DS mice and also in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.

He has also contributed to science through science education. He co-authored a leading biology majors book that is going into its 11th edition, as well as a similar book that was intended for AP Biology courses. He led a project that produced a two-year curriculum in Human Biology for the middle grades. And for over 40 years at Stanford University, he has taught physiology and neurobiology.

Dr. Heller originally served on the BSCS Board of Directors from 1988-1992. He rejoined the Board in 2019.

Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

Louis M. Gomez, Ph.D., Professor of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. His primary involvements at UCLA are Learning Sciences, The Principal Leadership Institute, and the Urban Schooling Division.

He also serves as senior fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is dedicated to collaborative research and development with urban communities to bring advanced instruction and support for community formation to traditionally underserved schools. His focus is on research and development organized around high-leverage problems of practice that are embedded in the day-to-day work of teaching and learning.

Dr. Gomez joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2011.

STEAM Integration Program Manager,
Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Alexandra Fuentes is the STEAM Integration Program Manager in Fairfax County Public Schools, VA. She began her career teaching in Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. She taught high school Biology for seven years, as well as Earth Science and ELL Biology for recently arrived immigrant students.

In the classroom, Alexandra focused not only on science instruction, but also on student development of literacy through science. She also collaborated with scientists to increase minority students’ access to advanced STEM. She served on a Virginia Department of Education assessment item review committee and was a member of the DC Science Educator Leader Cadre where she helped develop standards-aligned, project-based curriculum.

Alexandra is a Senior Fellow with the Knowles Teacher Initiative. She received the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Award and served as a congressional fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. She also served as a teacher partner in Learning Forward’s Redesign PD Partnership. As Teacher-in-Residence and an alum of Teach Plus, she launched and managed a national alumni committee to connect educators with policy opportunities. She has written op-eds and spoken on a number of panels, such as NBC’s Education Nation. She earned degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Professor, Stanford University

Rodolfo Dirzo, Ph.D., is a Bing Professor in Environmental Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Dr. Dirzo’s scientific work examines the study of species interactions in tropical ecosystems from Latin America and Africa. Recent research highlights the decline of animal life (“defaunation”), and how this affects ecosystem processes/services. He teaches ecology, natural history, and conservation science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Stanford, and conducts science education programs with underserved children in the Bay Area and in Mexico. His lab includes undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars from US, Latin America, and Spain.

He also coauthored the new Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Dr. Dirzo joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2019.


Learning Sciences & Human Development 

Philip Bell is a professor of the Learning Sciences & Human Development and holds the Shauna C. Larson Chair in Learning Sciences. He is executive director of the UW Institute for Science & Math Education focused on equity-focused innovation in K-12 STEM education, and he is co-director of the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Science of Learning Center. Bell pursues a cognitive and cultural program of research across diverse environments focused on how people learn in ways that are personally consequential to them. He has studied everyday expertise and cognition in science and health, the design and use of novel learning technologies in science classrooms, youth argumentation, culturally expansive science instruction, and scaled implementation of educational improvement. Bell served as a member of the Board on Science Education with the National Academy of Sciences for eight years, co-chaired the National Research Council consensus report effort on Learning Science in Informal Environments and served on the committee of the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education that was used to guide development of Next Generation Science Standards. He has a background in human cognition and development, science education, computer science, and electrical engineering.

Bell is also currently editing a series of research- and practice-based tools for science education called STEM Teaching Tools. The effort is providing resources for equity-focused improvements in science education.

Dr. Bell joined the BSCS Board of Directors in 2019.