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Team Leader

Gabriela Rose is a science coordinator for the Math and Science Collaborative at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in Pittsburgh. In this position, she has worked with science teachers and administrators for the past 10 years to implement inquiry-based science instruction. She has facilitated Teacher Leadership Academies, STEM Professional Learning Communities, Lesson Study, and Learning Labs, as well as content short courses for K-12 science teachers. Gabriela also facilitates science sessions for administrators for the National Institute for School Leadership. Before coming to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Gabriela taught middle school science. She holds certification for biology 7-12, middle level science, K-12 principal, and supervisor for curriculum and instruction. Gabriela earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology and physical education at the Free University of Berlin in Germany and an MS in ecology from the University of California at Davis.


Janet Dykstra is a senior curriculum specialist in science at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) based in Portland, Oregon. She currently is collaborating to create innovative computer-adaptive interim assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, both to increase awareness about universal design for learning (UDL) and to research innovative assessments. Janet graduated in May 2013 from the Technology, Innovation, and Education program at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she concentrated on educational design, cognitive science, and innovative technologies for teaching and learning. Prior to graduate school, Janet worked as an independent consultant; her work included creating interim science assessments for Louisiana school districts and serving as a content reviewer in science and mathematics for the newly developed GED. Prior to that, Janet worked for five years for Measured Progress in Dover, New Hampshire, as a curriculum and assessment specialist. Focusing primarily on technology-enhanced test items, she developed science assessment materials for statewide assessment contracts with Utah, Montana, Georgia, Massachusetts, NECAP (RI, VT, and NH), Maine, and Florida (alternative assessment). Before joining Measured Progress, she taught college biology for more than 12 years in a variety of academic settings. Her experience includes lecturing, conducting laboratory classes, and writing science lab manuals for courses in marine science, environmental science, ecology and evolution, human biology, anatomy and physiology, and introductory biology. Janet has presented at teaching conferences on effective teaching strategies in the laboratory setting. Her research experience has focused on neurobiology and behavior in marine organisms. She attended Cornell University (BS in biology/neurobiology and behavior), the University of Rhode Island (MS in zoology/biological oceanography), and Harvard Graduate School of Education (EdM in Technology, Innovation, and Education). Janet and her husband live in Stratham, New Hampshire, where she works remotely from her home office.

Carolyn Higgins has been a middle level teacher for 12 years, having taught Earth and space science, life science, and physical science topics. Carolyn is National Board Certified and a Presidential Award finalist. She is currently serving as the President of the Rhode Island Science Teachers Association.

Mary Koga has been a part of the teaching profession for 23 years. She has taught science in both seventh and eighth grades and currently teaches seventh-grade life science at Brea Junior High School in Brea, California. She is the Science Department Chair and School Site Technology representative. Mary is a coach for Pentathlon, Science Olympiad, and Science Fair. During her teaching career, she has served as mentor for new, preservice, and remediated teachers. Mary previously participated for four years as an NSTA online mentor through the New Teachers Center. She was named Teacher of the Year twice, Site Person of the Year twice, and CLMS Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2009. She has served on both district- and county-level committees for science textbook adoption, as well as curriculum planning and implementation. Mary graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a BS in biology, minor in chemistry, and obtained her MS degrees in education technology from National University, in California. Before becoming a teacher, she worked as a medical technologist and hematology specialist for 13 years and brings the experiences of medicine and research into her classroom. Mary and her husband, Dennis, live in Brea, California. Their two daughters and families also live in the Southern California area.

Ramona Lundberg is a National Board Certified Teacher in adolescent young adult science with 40 years of classroom experience. Currently, she teaches chemistry, biology, and two levels of dual-credit biology. Besides her classroom duties, Ramona just completed a three-year term as the NSTA District IX director and is currently the coordinator for South Dakota’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching and a mentor for the NSTA New Teacher Center.

Karen Mesmer started her science teaching career in Northwest Alaska and now teaches in Baraboo, Wisconsin. She has been teaching middle school life science for more than 30 years and is now a science coach for her district. Her education includes a BA from Capital University in Ohio, and an MS and PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Karen has received recognitions such as the Presidential Award, the Ohaus Award, and a Kohl Fellowship. She had been published in NSTA’s middle school journal, Science Scope, and written two book chapters.

Erica Rose Motamed has taught middle school life science for more than 14 years. She majored in biology and minored chemistry. Her favorite topic is California plant ecology, and she is very excited about Next Generation Science Standards and its impact on science education.

Jeremy Peacock is a Science Content School Improvement Specialist with the Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency. Jeremy previously worked as a high school biology teacher and science department chair. After an earlier career as an environmental scientist, he has now worked in science education for more than 10 years. Jeremy earned his doctorate in science education from the University of Georgia and is still involved in science education research, particularly with respect to instructional leadership and science education reforms. He is currently serving as the president-elect of the Georgia Science Teachers Association.

Sheila Smith is a science education consultant for K-12 schools in Mississippi and works as an independent contractor for the Mississippi Department of Education (student assessment). She taught high school biology for 24 years in Mississippi public schools and spent nine years as an instructional science specialist for the Jackson Public School District. She has served as the National Science Foundation project director for a multimillion dollar mathematics and science grant (Jackson Urban Systemic Program) and the co-principal investigator for a math and science partnership grant with Jackson State University. She is a past president of the Mississippi Science Teachers Association and past state director and regional coordinator for the National Association of Biology Teachers. In addition, she has served on several National Science Teachers Association committees (high school science teaching, coordination and supervision of science teaching, and multicultural/equity in science education) and has been an active participant in the National Congress on Science Education. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. She has been a part of the writing team for Mississippi Science Frameworks for the past three cycles. She has received numerous awards during her educational career: Mississippi Outstanding Biology Teacher, Hinds County Teacher of the Year, Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching State Finalist, Radio Shack National Teacher Award, AT&T Technology Teacher Award, and Governor’s Fellow Award. She has also earned two Woodrow Fellowships to study at Princeton University and the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica, a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan, and an Earthwatch Fellowship to study Kenya.