SENCER Leadership



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 emeritus of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE), founder and principal investigator of SENCER (an NSF-supported faculty empowerment and curricular reform program), and publisher of Science Education and Civic Engagement - An International Journal. 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 SENCER-ISE, an initiative supported by the NSF and Noyce Foundation, to connect formal science education at the college level with informal science educators (museums, aquaria, science journalists, etc.). He also serves as the principal investigator for Engaging Mathematics, another NSF-supported initiative that applies the SENCER approach to undergraduate mathematics courses. 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.

Hailey Chenevert, Manager

Hailey Chenevert works primarily with the SENCER-ISE (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities- Informal Science Education) initiative. In this capacity, she serves as part of the project leadership team, takes part in the review and distribution of partnership awards, liaisons with project advisors, consultants, and evaluators, and supports developing partnerships. Hailey brings experience in the informal education field from previous work with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. While at the Smithsonian, she worked with over 25 universities, the USDA, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to create Campus and Community: Public and Land-grant Universities and the USDA at 150, a program for the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Hailey holds a degree from Michigan State University, as well as a specialization in Museum Studies.

Christine DeCarlo, SENCER and Engaging Mathematics Coordinator, Digital Media Manager

Christine Marie DeCarlo supports SENCER programming and the Engaging Mathematics initiative, and manages NCSCE's digital media. Christine’s professional background is in K-12 science education, communication, and assessment. Prior to joining NCSCE, she developed science test questions and instructional materials for Assessment Technology, Incorporated, and taught marine biology courses at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute. Christine graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor's degree in biology and a certificate in Latin American studies.

Monica Devanas, Co-Principal Investigator

Monica Devanas has been teaching microbiology for over twenty years. She is active in issues of science education programs for retention of women in science, and in NSF-funded grants to enhance science education both at Rutgers and in pre-college populations. Her course Biology, Society, and Biomedical Issues: HIV/AIDS, first taught in 1992, has been recognized as a model course by SENCER. In 1992, she joined the new Teaching Excellence Center as associate director. She is now director of faculty development and assessment programs for the renamed Center For Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research (, where she leads workshops on teaching portfolios, curriculum design, learning styles, active and cooperative learning, and instructional technology. Monica offers workshops for faculty and administrators on assessment and assists deans in accreditation reviews and their own reviews by faculty. She consults with Peter Seldin in his "Teaching Portfolio Workshops," contributing chapters to books on teaching portfolios, administrative portfolios, and strategies to improve teaching.

David Ferguson, Co-Principal Investigator

David Ferguson holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied mathematics and mathematics education. He is Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the department of technology and society in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. In addition to his departmental responsibilities, he holds the position of Associate Provost for Diversity. He has directed numerous projects, including a half-dozen NSF projects, aimed at improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research and teaching thrusts are in the areas of problem solving, advanced technologies in the learning and teaching of mathematics and science, and socio-technological decision making. Dr. Ferguson is a New York State and national leader in programs to enhance the participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering. He directs two NSF-funded projects in this area: the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), and the SUNY Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP). He is co-Director of the Stony Brook's Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)��both funded by the New York State Education Department. He is the recipient of several awards: U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), Archie Lacey Award of the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Engineering Educator Award of the Joint Committee on Engineering of Long Island.

Catherine Hurt Middlecamp, Co-Principal Investigator

Catherine Hurt Middlecamp holds a joint faculty appointment in environmental studies and integrated liberal studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her scholarship focuses on designing, teaching, and assessing courses that connect chemistry to real-world issues such as air quality, climate change, and radioactivity. For her work, she has received teaching awards at the local, state, and national levels, including the 2011 William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. Cathy has been with SENCER since its inception in 2000, currently serving as a senior associate, a member of the National Fellowship Board, and a member of the Board of Advisers for GLISTEN. With Omie Baldwin, she developed the 2004 SENCER Model course Chemistry and Ethnicity: Uranium and American Indians. Cathy is the editor-in-chief for Chemistry in Context, a project of the American Chemical Society that teaches chemistry in the context of real-world issues. She has served as the lead author for the chapters on air quality, acid rain, ozone depletion, nuclear energy, and sustainability. She is a Fellow of the Association for Women in Science (2003), AAAS (2004), and the American Chemical Society (2009). Cathy did her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and currently is the president-elect for the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was awarded a Danforth Fellowship for graduate study and earned her doctorate in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976.

Danielle Kraus Tarka, Deputy Executive Director - Operations, Community Outreach, and Engagement

Danielle Kraus Tarka is the deputy executive director - community, outreach, and engagement for the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. She manages all national office operations 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, Engaging Mathematics, and other developing initiatives, as well as the websites to support communication and dissemination of resources. She researches new program opportunities, leads strategic planning activities, and coordinates grant preparation and management of awarded funds, including subgrant programs. She earned her bachelor’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and completed a nonprofit management executive certificate program at Georgetown University.

Glenn Odenbrett, GLISTEN Project Director

Glenn Odenbrett is a nationally recognized leader in the area of integrating community service with undergraduate coursework, and regularly serves as either a coordinator or campus team facilitator for conferences and training institutes in this area. In 1998, he organized and hosted a national institute on service learning in the science, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, and has presented workshops on this topic at previous SENCER Summer Institutes. During his 11-year tenure as director of the Office of Student Community Service at Case Western Reserve University, he coordinated faculty development initiatives that promoted service-learning and community-based research across the undergraduate curriculum. In March of 2009, as a SENCER Leadership Fellow, he coordinated a SENCER-based Great Lakes Stewardship Conference that attracted faculty, students, and community partners from seven states and Quebec. Until joining the staff of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE), Glenn coordinated CLEAN (Collaborative Learning Environmental Action Network, a project of the Western Reserve Resource Conservation and Development Council), an inter-institutional Northeast Ohio affiliate of SENCER focused on integrating civic engagement and the STEM disciplines at the undergraduate level, and served on the Leadership Council of the SENCER Center for Innovation Midwest. In August of 2009, Glenn became the NCSCE project director of GLISTEN, the Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network, a service-learning program that promotes the integration of Great Lakes stewardship and restoration activities with undergraduate STEM curricula in seven states. In the fall of 2011, Glenn was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to a federal advisory committee making recommendations for the launch of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, through which undergraduates in the STEM disciplines will join thousands of other young people to protect, preserve, and enhance the public lands and waters of the United States.

Eliza Reilly, Executive Director

Eliza Jane Reilly has two decades of experience in the design and implementation of programs and materials to advance curriculum, academic leadership, and faculty development. She has served as the Executive Director of the American Conference of Academic Deans and as a Director of Programs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, where she was one of the original staff members for the SENCER initiative. In the last decade she has focused on campus-based faculty development and curricular integration through directorships of the Center for Liberal Arts and Society and the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College, where she also had a faculty appointment in American Studies. Eliza holds a MA in the History of Art and a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University. She has been an ongoing participant in SENCER and the National Center's other programs since 2001 and currently serves as the General Editor of the SENCER Models, the co-Editor of the journal, a consultant to Engaging Mathematics, and an advisory board member of SENCER-ISE.

Kyle Simmons, Faculty Development Events Manager

Kyle Simmons is the Faculty Development Events Manager for NCSCE, SENCER, and related initiatives. In this role, he plans and manages NCSCE's signature annual events, the SENCER Summer Institute, and the DC Symposium, and provides support for other regional meetings. He also works with regional organizations and initiatives to ensure communication and the sharing of best practices. Kyle brings with him experience from his work with the Junior Statesmen Foundation, where he planned and managed civic education conferences for high school students. Kyle holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Howard University.

Amy Shachter, Co-Principal Investigator

Amy Shachter is the associate provost for research and faculty affairs and an associate professor of chemistry at Santa Clara University. She received her baccalaureate at Knox College and earned her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her research interests center on porphyrin synthesis. Her work to improve undergraduate science education has been supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (by ray tforge 2014). Amy serves as the co-director of the SENCER Center for Innovation-West and is a Senior Fellow for the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.


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 a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and was a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University. He holds two honorary doctorates.

Chuck Gahun, Project Consultant

Chuck Gahun is a technology and digital strategy consultant with Siteworx in Reston, VA. As the Vice President of Experience Management, he leads a practice of product and program management professionals who lead the delivery of technology innovations across several markets, including financials services, manufacturing, healthcare and non-profit. Additionally he also servers a client partner on a few key accounts and works closely with clients to help solve some of their most challenging business issues. He received his Masters in Technology Management from George Mason University in 2009 and his Bachelor's in Government and International Politics from in 2001. In addition to working at Siteworx, Chuck continues to work with the National Center Staff on managing their technology solutions.

Karen Kashmanian Oates, Senior Fellow

Karen Kashmanian Oates is a nationally recognized scientist, science educator, and higher education leader. Dr. Oates joined Worcester Polytechnic Institute from the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she has served as a deputy director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. At the NSF, Oates managed a budget of over $380 million and a staff of more than 35, and was charged with supporting innovative programs to strengthen undergraduate education and help revitalize American entrepreneurship and competitiveness. A biochemist, Oates' early research focused on various chemical and biological aspects of breast cancer and biologic therapies for cancer. After receiving her Ph.D. at George Washington University Medical Center in biochemistry, she worked as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health's Oncology and Hematology Division. She then began her academic career at George Mason University, where, as associate dean for the new College of Integrated and Interdisciplinary Studies, she helped create George Mason's New American College environment. She later served as inaugural provost for the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, where she established the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and helped secure NSF funds for SENCER. Dr. Oates's more recent interests and publications have centered on women's health generally, faculty development, service learning, business-higher education partnerships, and K-12 science and mathematics education. Among the honors she has received are the Bruce Albert's Award, presented by American Society for Cell Biology for excellence in science education reform, and the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian honor presented by the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As the inaugural holder of the Peterson Family Deanship of Arts and Sciences at WPI, she oversees seven academic departments, as well as several interdisciplinary programs including Environmental Science, Robotics and Interactive Media and Game Development. In 2012 she was inducted as a fellow into the prestigious American Association for the Advancement as a Science Education fellow.

Stephanie Knight, Director of Evaluation and Assessment

Stephanie L. Knight is a 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 of 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-funded Writing for Assessment and Learning in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences at Texas A&M, the DOE-funded Partnership for Quality Education project at University of Houston,and the Danforth 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 the American Educational Research Journal from 2004-2007 and has published many articles in journals such as Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Education of Students Placed at Risk, Journal of Educational Research, and the International 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 develops 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.



Advisory Board


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.

Jeff Abernathy

President, Alma College

The Honorable

Tammy Baldwin

Senator, Wisconsin

John D. Bransford

James W. Mifflin Professor of Education, University of Washington

Royce Engstrom

President, University of Montana

Norman L. Fortenberry

Executive Director, ASEE

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