SENCER's work is advised and carried out by a core group of senior scholars and project staff. Together they bring experience in the fields of biochemistry, public health, history, political science, economics, medicine, and international politics. To contact SENCER staff, please call (202) 483-4600.
Wm. David Burns, Principal Investigator
David Burns is the executive director of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE), founder and principal investigator of SENCER - a National Science Foundaiton supported faculty empowerment and curricular reform program, publisher of Science Education and Civic Engagement - An International Journal, and professor of general studies at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. He also serves as principal investigator for the National Center's Great Lakes Stewardship Through Education Network (GLISTEN) project, which is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and directs another NSF-supported initiative to connect formal science education at the college level with informal science educators (museums, aquaria, science journalists, etc.). Prior to establishing the National Center, David served as senior policy director for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). During his nine years with AAC&U, he established the Center for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored Program for Health and Higher Education and created the Summer Symposia dedicated to exploring the power that students have to improve the health of colleges and communities.
For 23 years, David was a member of the administration of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. David is the principal author and editor of the book, Learning for Our Common Health, and, among other publications, the article, "Knowledge to Make Our Democracy." In 2008, the American Society for Cell Biology honored David and SENCER co-founder Karen Kashmanian Oates with the Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education. At the state level, David serves as a member of the (NJ) Governor's Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. David's undergraduate and graduate work (at Rutgers) was in political science with a concentration on political theory. He was a Woodrow Wilson National Fellow.
Danielle Kraus Tarka, Deputy Executive Director
Danielle Kraus Tarka is the deputy executive director for NCSCE and the Center’s signature program, SENCER. She earned her bachelor’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and completed a nonprofit management executive certificate program at Georgetown University. She manages the day-to-day operations of the national office and supervises the coordination of SENCER and the Center's national events, including the annual Summer Institute and Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session. Danielle ensures linkages across the NCSCE's SENCER, GLISTEN, SENCER-ISE, SCEWestNet, and other developing initiatives, as well as the websites to support communication and dissemination of resources. She researches new program opportunities, takes part in strategic planning activities, and contributes to grant preparation and management of awarded funds, including subgrant programs.
Amanda Moodie, Network and Events Coordinator
Amanda Moodie is the network and events coordinator for NCSCE. She received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of South Florida. She interned with SENCER during SSI 2009, and shortly thereafter began working full time for the National Center. Amanda is responsible for assisting the in the execution of the SCEWestNet and SENCER-ISE (informal science education) projects, coordinating events for NCSCE and SENCER, and providing administrative support.
Katie M. Shade, SENCER Program Assistant
Katie M. Shade is the program assistant for Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER). She assists the executive director, deputy director, and network coordinator with the planning of SENCER events, such as the Summer Institute and the Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session. In addition, Katie assists in grant preparation and review of sub-award applications. She also provides general administrative support to the Center and its numerous initiatives. Katie earned her bachelor’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and her juris doctorate from Syracuse University College of Law.
Senior Scholars and Consultants
William E. Bennett, Senior Scholar
Bill is a senior scholar with the National Center for Science & Civic Engagement. Prior to retirement, Bill served as senior science advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Recently, he chaired the Education and Credentials Committee of the US Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on the US/Cuban Medical Scholarship Initiative, co-chaired its site visit to Cuba and authored the taskforces report on Cuban Medical Education. Currently, he sits on boards for both CDC and NIH funded projects. During a long and distinguished career, he held appointments as medical school faculty, bench scientist and scientist administrator in the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bill has published, lectured and consulted in the areas of cellular immunology, cell differentiation, medical education, and disease prevention. He has been honored by numerous national and international organizations, medical colleges, and federal agencies. In 2000, he was the first recipient of the award named in his honor, The Annual William E. Bennett Award, at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Bill received the PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and was a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University. He holds two honorary doctorates.
Chuck Gahun, Web Consultant
Chuck Gahun received his B.A. in Government and International Politics with a concentration in Comparative and International Politics from George Mason University in 2001. He currently works for the American Chemical Society in their Software Engineering Department as a project manager, where he manages the development of custom software solutions for various business units. In addition to working at the Society, Chuck continues to consult with the National Center Staff on web and project management activities and is enrolled in a graduate program at the School of Management at George Mason University.
Stephanie Knight, Director of Evaluation and Assessment
Stephanie L. Knightis Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining Penn State in January, 2009, she spent 20 years at Texas A&M University where she was the Houston Endowment Inc., Endowed Chair in Urban Education. While at Texas A&M, Dr. Knight received the university former students association award for teaching excellence and was selected as a University Faculty Fellow as a result of her research and scholarship in teacher education. Leadership positions include Director of the Learning to Teach in Inner-City Schools (LTICS) Program in Houston urban schools; Director of the Center for Collaborative Learning Communities at TAMU; and Associate Director for Research into Practice in the NSF funded Center for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology in Science Center. She also participated as a senior researcher in the national Center for Research on Excellence and Diversity in Education (CREDE) with the responsibility for developing the synthesis on research on professional development for teachers of diverse populations. She has served as evaluator for several large projects including the NSF-fundedWriting for Assessment and Learning in the Natural and Mathematical Sciencesat Texas A&M, theDOE-fundedPartnership for Quality Educationproject at University of Houston,and theDanforth School Leaders Program, an evaluation of four national sites funded by the Danforth Foundation. Her research focuses on effective classroom practices and pre-service and in-service professional development for teachers. She served as co-editor of theAmerican Educational Research Journalfrom 2004-2007 and has published many articles in journals such asJournal of Teacher Education,Journal of Education of Students Placed at Risk, Journal of Educational Research,and theInternational Journal of Learning Environments.
Ellen Mappen, Senior Scholar
Ellen Mappen, Ph.D., is a Senior Scholar at the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and the SENCER coordinator for SENCER-ISE, an initiative that looks to develop partnerships between SENCER faculty and informal science educators. She was the founding and long-time director of the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science and Engineering (1986-2003). Under her direction, the initiative offered co-curricular activities at the precollege and undergraduate levels. Working with science, mathematics, and engineering faculty, she developed a research course for first-year students that involved small group projects and student presentations of their findings. She served as the course coordinator for a number of years. Under her leadership, the project received the 1999 National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. From 2003-2006, she administered a program for high school students in a health sciences high school located in New Brunswick, New Jersey and organized programs for these students at a local medical center. Her academic background includes a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University. She has written on women’s participation in the workforce in late nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, on the role of intervention programs for encouraging women to enter STEM studies, and is, most recently, a co-author of “A Review of the Literature on Increasing the Representation of Women Undergraduates in STEM Disciplines Through Civic Engagement pedagogies,” along with David B. Knight and Stephanie L. Knight of the Pennsylvania State University
Eliza Jane Reilly, Senior Scholar
Eliza Reilly is the director of the Phillips Museum of Art and past director of the Center for Liberal Arts and Society at Franklin & Marshall College, where she also teaches in the American Studies Program. Before coming to Franklin & Marshall in 2003, she was director of programs in the Office of Science, Health, and Student Engagement at AAC&U, working on the SENCER and PHHE programs. From 1998 to 2003 she also served as the executive director of the American Conference of Academic Deans, a national organization of chief academic officers and other academic administrators committed to improving undergraduate liberal education. Eliza received a master’s in art history and a doctorate in American history from Rutgers University. She is a senior scholar with the SENCER project, where she serves as general editor of the SENCER model series. She also is co-editor of the peer-reviewed, web-based publication Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal.
The Advisory Board for NCSCE and SENCER is composed of distinguished educators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Members of the Board contribute their experience and wisdom to plan for the future, assess effectiveness, and explore strategies for promoting sustainability of NCSCE and SENCER initiatives.
President, Alma College
John D. Bransford
James W. Mifflin Professor of Education, University of Washington
President, University of Montana
Norman L. Fortenberry
Director, Center for Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education, NAE
Philip A. Glotzbach
President, Skidmore College
Ernest C. Levister, Jr., M.D.
Qualified and Independent Medical Examiner for the State of California
Cecilia L. Lopez
Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts and Sciences, City Colleges of Chicago