Our Team

  • Heather Arnett


    First2 Program Coordinator, HEPC

    Heather has been teaching biology and zoology at universities for 8 years.  She comes from Maine where she worked at the University of Maine focusing on cross system introductory biology and Unity College which specializes in wildlife and sustainability.  Coming to West Virginia Heather worked at the University of Charleston. The focus of her research with undergraduate students is newly focused on acid mine water in WV.  She also likes to work with trophic interactions and collaborations with a wide variety of researchers.  This is also where she engaged with the First2 Network and worked to help get the program established at UC. Most recently she has started work now at HEPC as the First2 Program Coordinator. Heather is very enthusiastic about continuing my passion to support vulnerable populations of students and expanding my experience of managing the other side of the program.

  • Brigid Brown


    Improvement Science and Data Manager, Fairmont State University

  • Margaret Falletta


    First2 Marketing and Support, High Rocks

    Margaret first became involved with High Rocks in 2010 as a summer intern and after that served for various periods of time as an AmeriCorps member, staff member and Board member at High Rocks. She recently rejoined the staff of High Rocks and as part of that role will be serving on the First2 Backbone, co-chairing the First2 Communication Team, and providing marketing and support to the First2 Network. Margaret has experience working in both non-profit and higher education professional settings. She is looking forward to collaborating with others to share the stories of First2 within the network, regionally, and nationally. 

  • Erica Harvey


    Principal Investigator, First2 Higher Education Coordinator

    Erica Harvey is a principal investigator for the First2 Network and also serves as the First2 Higher Education Institutional Team Coordinator.  In the latter role, she is a part of the Backbone group and provides concierge support for the institutional teams of the network.  She helps identify and resolve challenges faced by teams as they work with student leaders and interact with the network to carry out improvement science directed at systemic change.  She works with the First2 Student Coordinator and the First2 Improvement Science and Data Manager to help onboard and support institutional teams including students.

    Harvey’s professional efforts as a chemistry professor for 34 years focused on student-centered, active learning. From 2013 – 2020, she and over 100 research students made Fairmont State University the headquarters of the West Virginia Brigade of the Solar Army, a nationwide research effort to store solar energy in the form of a chemical fuel. Dr. Harvey’s NSF-funded projects have included collaborations to increase persistence of rural, first-generation students in STEM; develop an electronic quantum mechanics text; and create online intercollegiate learning communities in physical chemistry. After retiring as a chemistry professor, she is continuing work at Fairmont State on sustainability and student success initiatives.

  • Sue Ann Heatherly


    Lead Principal Investigator, 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!

  • Samantha Mitchell


    Student Leadership Coordinator, High Rocks

    Samantha Mitchell is a seasoned professional with a rich background in business administration and organizational development. Holding a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting and an MPA with a focus on organizational development, both from West Virginia University, Samantha's journey in the professional world began as a Financial Analyst for a government contracting agency. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish her own business, a testament to her versatility and ingenuity.

    Samantha's connection with High Rocks Educational Corporation has spanned over two decades, stemming from her initial involvement as a student back in 1997. Her unwavering commitment to providing transformative and immersive experiences in leadership development has made her a driving force within the organization. At the heart of her approach is the belief in empowering students through their own voices, acknowledging them as the experts of their personal experiences.

    Based in the picturesque state of West Virginia, Samantha is not only dedicated to her professional endeavors but also leads a fulfilling personal life. A loving wife with a penchant for travel, she finds joy in exploring new destinations and creating memories. Her nurturing spirit extends to her role as an aunt, where she takes delight in spoiling her nieces and nephews.

  • Sarah Riley


    Principal Investigator, High Rocks

    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


    Principal Investigator, WV HEPC

    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.

  • Gay Stewart


    Principal Investigator, Research Team, 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.