Fairmont State University
I have been a chemistry professor at Fairmont State University since 1994 and currently lead the Creative Sustainability Council on campus as part of the Abelina Suarez Professorship. I am fascinated by the interactions of light and matter, and work on solar fuels with undergraduates and K-12 teachers and students through the WV Brigade of the Solar Army. We are looking for materials that can speed up the splitting of water with sunlight to form hydrogen and oxygen gas. I’m very interested in improving student success in college science courses, specifically the heavily math-based courses. I'm a PI for First2 Network NSF INCLUDES Alliance.
Green Bank Observatory
I am the Senior Education Officer at the Green Bank Observatory. I have been the Education Officer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, now the Green Bank Observatory since 1987. At the Observatory, my role has been to engage teachers and students in real-world scientific research experiences, and to share the excitement of scientific discovery with the public. Our programs include science teacher workshops, student camps, and research programs like the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, and First2Network Internships.
I started out as a classroom science teacher and in 1987, I participated in a workshop at the Observatory that completely sold me on the value of authentic STEM experiences. While I was in residence for two weeks, I used a radio telescope to explore a distant galaxy called M 87. I worked in a team with fellow teachers and was mentored by the scientific staff here at the Observatory. Now, 30 years in to my job with the GBO, I have had the privilege of creating similar opportunities for teachers, students and the public to gain first-hand experience in doing science.
I love this work, and I’m really happy to share my expertise with the First2 Network, and to continue to learn from you all!
Sarah Riley grew up here in Pocahontas County, WV and then went off to Harvard University. She graduated with honors with a BA in history with a focus on economic underdevelopment and a slew of theater experiences. She was a founding partner with Susan Burt in High Rocks and has been planning, teaching, counseling, fundraising, networking and building this place in one way or another since 1996. Sarah was named one of 40 under 40 Emerging Leaders in West Virginia in 2009. In 2014, WV Focus Magazine featured Sarah as one of West Virginia’s “Wonder Women” in their premiere issue. In 2015, the Appalachian Studies Association awarded Sarah the prestigious Helen Lewis Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Service to Appalachia and its people. Sarah was honored as a 2015 Zenith Award winner for exemplary service the Greenbrier Valley of WV. In 2017, Sarah and the High Rocks were awarded the state WV Red Wagon Award for helping WV children, and in 2019 Sarah was honored with the Power of Performance Award for changing lives across southern WV. Sarah has four children and lives happily on the family farm her husband grew up on, raising local meats, eggs and produce.
Juliana Serafin is Senior Director of Science and Research at the WV Higher Education Policy Commission. Previously, she was a Chemistry Professor at the University of Charleston and R&D researcher in heterogeneous catalysts at Union Carbide/Dow Chemical in South Charleston. Juliana is from Philippi, WV.
West Virginia University
Gay Stewart was raised by a single mom who dropped out of school in the 7th grade. She went to work full time at age 12, and worked all through high school. After an accident early in her military career, she went back to college as a disabled vet. Along the way she had two fantastic daughters, who (as of 2020) are both working on PhD's, and married John Stewart, a fellow physicist, also interested in education. They both received their Physics PhDs from UIUC in 1994. At University of Arkansas 1994-2014, she focused on three interrelated issues: improving introductory courses, improving physics majors’ preparation for many careers options, and preparing future faculty, both high school and professoriate. NSF has supported her work since 1995. UA saw a 10-fold increase in physics graduates and was one of six initial Physics Teacher Education Coalition institutions. Her program for graduate teaching assistants grew into one of four NSF/AAPT “Shaping the Preparation of Future Science Faculty” sites. She was co-PI of an NSF-GK-12 placing fellows in middle school mathematics and science classrooms. that work was so impactful that helping math and science teachers work together was central to her $7.3M NSF-MSP. Noyce grants have and are supporting pre-service, and master physics (and hopefully soon math), teachers. She chaired the College Board’s Science Academic Advisory Committee, co-chaired the AP Physics Redesign commission, and the AP Physics 2 Development Committee. In 2014, Gay transitioned to WVU, where she directs the WVU Center for Excellence in STEM Education and is principal investigator of the research arm of the First2 Network. She directs the professional development program for the state K-12 Computer Science Plan, CodeWV. She has recently written a book to help support AP Physics 1 teachers, especially around the concepts of work and energy.