STEM Ambassadors

The STEM Ambassador Program began in 2016 as a training program for a small cohort of University of Utah scientists. Since then, we have grown to work with over 50 faculty, graduate students, and post-docs. Scroll down to learn about the scientists who have participated. Contact us if you would like to reach out to a STEM Ambassador.

Note that many Ambassador bios were uploaded when the Ambassador joined the program and may not be current.

Photo of Kendall FitzGerald

Kendall FitzGerald

Kendall FitzGerald works with Dr. Kip Solomon at the University of Utah. Her research involves using environmental tracers to age-date groundwater from seeps and springs in order to better understand the shallow aquifer in the Salt Lake Valley. This work has brought Kendall into the backyards of numerous Salt Lake residents who have springs on their property, leading to her interest in engaging with the public about groundwater resources.​ ​ Kendall graduated with a B.A.…Read More
Kendall FitzGerald works with Dr. Kip Solomon at the University of Utah. Her research involves using environmental tracers to age-date groundwater from seeps and springs in order to better understand the shallow aquifer in the Salt Lake Valley. This work has brought Kendall into the backyards of numerous Salt Lake residents who have springs on their property, leading to her interest in engaging with the public about groundwater resources.​

Kendall graduated with a B.A. in Geological Sciences from the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she also studied English literature.
Her capstone project involved creating an on-campus exhibit that explored connections between art and geology. Kendall remains interested in exploring these interdisciplinary connections between science and the humanities, in the hope of facilitating communication between these disciplines and the public.
Photo of Bart Fornal

Bart Fornal

Bartosz Fornal is a theoretical elementary particle physicist working as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Utah. He is interested in understanding how the world around us works at the fundamental level. Bart's current research is focused on dark matter, the mysterious invisible 85% of the matter in the universe inferred to exist only from indirect observations.…Read More

Bartosz Fornal is a theoretical elementary particle physicist working as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Utah. He is interested in understanding how the world around us works at the fundamental level.

Bart’s current research is focused on dark matter, the mysterious invisible 85% of the matter in the universe inferred to exist only from indirect observations. His other research areas include new physics at the Large Hadron Collider, the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe, neutrino physics and gravitational waves as probes of the early universe.

In his free time, Bart enjoys swimming, hiking and playing tennis.

Photo of Dale Forrister

Dale Forrister

Dale Forrister works with Dr. Phyllis (Lissy) Coley, in the School of Biological Sciences and studies the ecology of tropical rainforest. Specifically, he works in Yasuni, Ecuador the most diverse forest in the world studying the ecology and evolution of interactions between plants and the insect herbivores that feed on them.Read More

Dale Forrister works with Dr. Phyllis (Lissy) Coley, in the School of Biological Sciences and studies the ecology of tropical rainforest. Specifically, he works in Yasuni, Ecuador the most diverse forest in the world studying the ecology and evolution of interactions between plants and the insect herbivores that feed on them.

Photo of Alexandra Leigh Giese

Alexandra Leigh Giese

Ali is a postdoc in the University of Utah's Geography Department, where she works with Dr. Summer Rupper and Dr. Rick Forster. She studies how glaciers in (and, thus, water supply from) the high mountains of Asia including the Himalaya have been changing in the 21st century through energy modeling and satellite data analysis.  Ali likes to run, hike, practice yoga, and make creative use of her sourdough discards.…Read More

Ali is a postdoc in the University of Utah’s Geography Department, where she works with Dr. Summer Rupper and Dr. Rick Forster. She studies how glaciers in (and, thus, water supply from) the high mountains of Asia including the Himalaya have been changing in the 21st century through energy modeling and satellite data analysis.  Ali likes to run, hike, practice yoga, and make creative use of her sourdough discards.
She has a Bachelors in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard and a PhD in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth.

Photo of Noortje Grijseels

Noortje Grijseels

Noortje Grijseels works in Diane Pataki's lab at the University of Utah. She received her MS in Aquatic Biology at the University of Amsterdam and moved to the arid West to study urban landscapes. She studies water use of parks and residential yards, with on-site measurements and remote sensing data. Her work focuses on turf grass lawns and water-wise alternatives.…Read More

Noortje Grijseels works in Diane Pataki’s lab at the University of Utah. She received her MS in Aquatic Biology at the University of Amsterdam and moved to the arid West to study urban landscapes. She studies water use of parks and residential yards, with on-site measurements and remote sensing data. Her work focuses on turf grass lawns and water-wise alternatives. While she misses the abundance of water in the Netherlands, Noortje can’t get enough of the Wasatch Range and the south desert. She loves the mountains for rock climbing and skiing, and she loves riding bikes around town or on trails. At home she can usually be found cooking or baking bread.

Photo of Salvador Gutierrez-Portocarrero

Salvador Gutierrez-Portocarrero

Salvador Gutierrez-Portocarrero works in the White Research Group at the University of Utah where he studies organic synthetic electrochemistry at a three-phase interface. His major interests are understanding electron transfer, phase-transfer, the reaction mechanisms, and the efficiency of product extraction-catalyst separation at this interface. He is a strong supporter of public engagement and discussion around sciences since for him knowledge only is better transmitted in these two exercises, and it is really important to communicate cutting-knowledge technology and theories to avoid myths around them.…Read More

Salvador Gutierrez-Portocarrero works in the White Research Group at the University of Utah where he studies organic synthetic electrochemistry at a three-phase interface. His major interests are understanding electron transfer, phase-transfer, the reaction mechanisms, and the efficiency of product extraction-catalyst separation at this interface. He is a strong supporter of public engagement and discussion around sciences since for him knowledge only is better transmitted in these two exercises, and it is really important to communicate cutting-knowledge technology and theories to avoid myths around them. He enjoys reading, learning, cycling and day-to-day discussions since in his opinion learning is an active process. Take your time, learning takes time!

Photo of Brittany Haas

Brittany Haas

Brittany Haas works with Dr. Matthew Sigman in the Chemistry Department at the University of Utah. She uses statistical modeling to relate experimental data to computationally-derived molecular descriptors in order to explain reaction mechanism and predict novel reactions. Brittany grew up in Wisconsin and received her BS in Chemistry at the University of St. Thomas (St.…Read More

Brittany Haas works with Dr. Matthew Sigman in the Chemistry Department at the University of Utah. She uses statistical modeling to relate experimental data to computationally-derived molecular descriptors in order to explain reaction mechanism and predict novel reactions. Brittany grew up in Wisconsin and received her BS in Chemistry at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). Brittany will always be a Midwesterner, but she has fallen in love with all the mountains of Utah have to offer. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiing, cooking, and trying new restaurants with friends.

Photo of Greg Handy

Greg Handy

Gregory Handy works in the Computational Neuroscience Group led by Dr. Alla Borisyuk at the University of Utah. His current project focuses on investigating the role astrocytes, cells that make up approximately 50% of human brain volume, have in the brain and in certain disease states, such as epilepsy. He works closely with experimentalists to ensure that his mathematical models can be used to guide future experiments.…Read More

Gregory Handy works in the Computational Neuroscience Group led by Dr. Alla Borisyuk at the University of Utah. His current project focuses on investigating the role astrocytes, cells that make up approximately 50% of human brain volume, have in the brain and in certain disease states, such as epilepsy. He works closely with experimentalists to ensure that his mathematical models can be used to guide future experiments.

Greg enjoys all things outdoors, from hiking to biking, as well as skiing during the winter season.

Photo of Carly Hansen

Carly Hansen

Carly Hansen works in the Urban Water Research Group with Dr. Steven Burian at the University of Utah. Her research is at the intersection of water resource planning/management and data science/modeling. She is currently working on several projects which explore water supply and water quality under urban growth and changing climate conditions. Carly enjoys finding new places (or experimenting with new dishes) to indulge her inner-foodie or running off the calories.Read More

Carly Hansen works in the Urban Water Research Group with Dr. Steven Burian at the University of Utah. Her research is at the intersection of water resource planning/management and data science/modeling. She is currently working on several projects which explore water supply and water quality under urban growth and changing climate conditions.

Carly enjoys finding new places (or experimenting with new dishes) to indulge her inner-foodie or running off the calories.

Photo of Connor Healy

Connor Healy

Connor Healy is a computational biologist, a huge nerd, and a proud advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He uses image analysis and simulation to study cellular patterning in order to better understand the form and function of human tissue. In his spare time, he uses the same computational techniques to improve his Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and to design his next cosplay.…Read More

Connor Healy is a computational biologist, a huge nerd, and a proud advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He uses image analysis and simulation to study cellular patterning in order to better understand the form and function of human tissue. In his spare time, he uses the same computational techniques to improve his Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and to design his next cosplay. He actively seeks to improve LGBTQ+ representation in STEM and fights for the rights of sexually marginalized groups in Utah.

Photo of Jordan Herman

Jordan Herman

Jordan Herman works in the Clayton-Bush Lab at the University of Utah where she studies the interactions between avian hosts and and their nest parasites. She is interested in how different bird "personalities" influence their fitness, or reproductive success, in different predator and parasite environments. In her research, Jordan emphasizes projects in avian ecology that will improve our understanding of how birds interact with changing biotic and abiotic environments and inform our approach to conservation practices.…Read More

Jordan Herman works in the Clayton-Bush Lab at the University of Utah where she studies the interactions between avian hosts and and their nest parasites. She is interested in how different bird “personalities” influence their fitness, or reproductive success, in different predator and parasite environments.

In her research, Jordan emphasizes projects in avian ecology that will improve our understanding of how birds interact with changing biotic and abiotic environments and inform our approach to conservation practices. She is also a strong proponent of public engagement in science-related fields and is excited to improve her science communication skills through the STEM Ambassadors program.

Jordan enjoys the many adventures that the wild world offers through camping, backpacking, hiking, birding, snowboarding, climbing and beyond!

Photo of David Hill

David Hill

David Hill is a postdoctoral scholar in the Reisman lab at the California Institute of Technology where he investigates electroreductive chromium catalyzed methodologies. The goals of his research are to discover new reactivity and to improve efficiency of current chromium-based synthetic methodologies through utilizing fundamental physical organic understanding.…Read More

David Hill is a postdoctoral scholar in the Reisman lab at the California Institute of Technology where he investigates electroreductive chromium catalyzed methodologies. The goals of his research are to discover new reactivity and to improve efficiency of current chromium-based synthetic methodologies through utilizing fundamental physical organic understanding. When David is not working in the lab, he enjoyreading and watching manga and anime, downing a nice hot bowl of vegan ramen with a side of tempura veggies, reading the latest in science news via the Twitter/Reddit/ACS apps on his phone, and sailing.

Photo of Joshua Horns

Joshua Horns

Joshua Horns works at the University of Utah where he uses state-of-the-art technology to track small birds as they undergo their yearly migrations. Birds are invaluable for maintaining health ecosystems and even for maintaining healthy humans! However their massive migratory treks are fraught with danger. Joshua’s research attempts to identify ways that we as people can help these birds complete their incredible journeys.Read More

Joshua Horns works at the University of Utah where he uses state-of-the-art technology to track small birds as they undergo their yearly migrations. Birds are invaluable for maintaining health ecosystems and even for maintaining healthy humans! However their massive migratory treks are fraught with danger. Joshua’s research attempts to identify ways that we as people can help these birds complete their incredible journeys.

Photo of Yusuf Jameel

Yusuf Jameel

Yusuf Jameel works with Dr. Gabe Bowen at the University of Utah where he studies urban and natural waterways. He has been analyzing the connections between human population, climate, water extraction, water use, and water use impacts, in regions of climatic aridity and extensive land-use change, such as rapidly urbanizing areas across the western United States of America (USA).…Read More
Yusuf Jameel works with Dr. Gabe Bowen at the University of Utah where he studies urban and natural waterways. He has been analyzing the connections between human population, climate, water extraction, water use, and water use impacts, in regions of climatic aridity and extensive land-use change, such as rapidly urbanizing areas across the western United States of America (USA).
Using stable isotopes of water, he has developed methods to connect municipal water to its climatic source, calculating evaporative losses from regional water systems and characterizing their spatiotemporal patterns across the water districts within the region. This work aims to increase our understanding of the interactions between climate, water supplies, consumptive uses and the hydrological cycle in the intermountain west.

He is also working on quantifying the inorganic carbon budget (DIC) of the major rivers in the Great Salt Lake (GSL) basin using geochemical tracers, and understanding the variation in DIC among and within the rivers with respect to varying degrees of urbanization, land cover land used (LCLU) and agricultural practices along the rivers. He also plans to analyze historic data to quantify the changes in inorganic carbon flux in the GSL basin during the last 50 years due to significant LCLU changes in the region which will be useful in understanding the carbon biogeochemical cycling in inland basins and the effect of anthropogenic activities on these fluxes.

Yusuf enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading books, trying new foods and exploring nature.
Photo of Gabrielle Kardon

Gabrielle Kardon

Gabrielle Kardon works at the University of Utah where she studies studies how muscle develops, regenerates, ages, and evolves. Her lab focuses on muscle stem cells because they are the source of all muscle. They also focus on the muscle connective tissue because it provides the niche for muscle stem cells and is critical for muscle form and function.…Read More

Gabrielle Kardon works at the University of Utah where she studies studies how muscle develops, regenerates, ages, and evolves. Her lab focuses on muscle stem cells because they are the source of all muscle. They also focus on the muscle connective tissue because it provides the niche for muscle stem cells and is critical for muscle form and function.

They study how interactions between muscle stem cells and the connective tissue orchestrate development of limb muscles and the diaphragm, how they regulate muscle regeneration and aging, how they can lead to birth defects and fibrosis, and how they shape the evolution of the musculoskeletal system.

This work has lead Gabrielle and her lab to interact extensively with patients with the common birth defect, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernias, as well as their families.

​For more about her lab, see http://www.kardonlab.org/.

Photo of Helena Lucente

Helena Lucente

Helena Lucente is studying oncological sciences and clinical investigation in Dr. Michael Engel’s lab at the University of Utah. She is studying context-dependent notch signaling in leukemia pathogenesis. Specifically understanding how modifying the notch pathway impacts which subtype of leukemia develops and translating that understanding into personalized treatments for patients. ​Twitter @HelenaLucente1Read More

Helena Lucente is studying oncological sciences and clinical investigation in Dr. Michael Engel’s lab at the University of Utah. She is studying context-dependent notch signaling in leukemia pathogenesis. Specifically understanding how modifying the notch pathway impacts which subtype of leukemia develops and translating that understanding into personalized treatments for patients.

​Twitter @HelenaLucente1

Photo of Tim McFadden

Tim McFadden

Tim McFadden works in the Minteer and Sigman Lab at the University of Utah where he studies organic electrosynthesis and method development. He looks forward to improving his science outreach skills through the SEM Ambassador Program. In his free time, Tim enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and open water swimming.Read More

Tim McFadden works in the Minteer and Sigman Lab at the University of Utah where he studies organic electrosynthesis and method development. He looks forward to improving his science outreach skills through the SEM Ambassador Program. In his free time, Tim enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and open water swimming.

Photo of Julia McGonigle

Julia McGonigle

Julia McGonigle works in Dr. William Brazelton's lab at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on studying connections between morphological, genetic, and metabolic diversity found within a single species biofilm inhabiting chimneys at the Lost City, a hydrothermal vent field on the mid-Atlantic ridge. Her scientific interests include biology of extreme environments, exobiology, nutrient cycling, and microbial metabolism.…Read More

Julia McGonigle works in Dr. William Brazelton’s lab at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on studying connections between morphological, genetic, and metabolic diversity found within a single species biofilm inhabiting chimneys at the Lost City, a hydrothermal vent field on the mid-Atlantic ridge. Her scientific interests include biology of extreme environments, exobiology, nutrient cycling, and microbial metabolism.

Julia enjoys rock climbing, mountaineering, yoga, and cooking.