Cole Miller grew up in rural Michigan, where he dreamed of playing in the NBA and becoming world chess champion. Neither dream having been realized, he instead became an astrophysicist. He received his Ph.D. from Caltech and, after postdoctoral stints at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago, he has been a professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland since 1999, where he still uses basketballs to demonstrate concepts in astronomy.
Amphibian and Reptile Researcher
Kyle O'Connell is a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute. Kyle's work focuses on the interplay of species' biological traits and the historical geological and climatological processes driving evolution. Kyle has worked on a variety of reptiles and amphibians from North America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. His current projects center around caecilians on a small island off the coast of Africa, and on lungless woodland salamanders from our own backyard (Appalachia). Kyle got into this line of work because he always wanted to be a hybrid of Steve Irwin and Indiana Jones. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing, walking his dog, and following his daughter around almost every park in the DC metroplex.
Cognitive Neuroscientist and Improv Instructor
Dr. Nina Hsu is a Health Science Policy Analyst at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. A cognitive neuroscientist by training, her research focuses on using neuroimaging to understand language and memory. She is also a teacher and performer of improvisational comedy in the DC region, where she can be found on stage with Washington Improv Theater ensemble Nox.
Founder of OxiWear, a MedTech Startup
Shavini Fernando was given a two-years to live in 2015, when diagnosed with severe Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). She moved to the US for treatment to learn the only option was a heart and double lung transplant, and had multiple near-death experiences due to oxygen levels unknowingly dropping too low. To help the PH community she invented OxiWear, an ear-wearable device that alerts when a person’s oxygen levels drop too low and activates the emergency plan. Despite walking everyday into the unknown she has outlived the life expectancy given by doctors and is remaining positive with absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Filmmaker, Multimedia Specialist and Software Developer
Susanne Coates is a filmmaker with extensive experience in software development and neural engineering. Dr. Coates primary research interest is the development of collaborative, geolocated, multi-modal storytelling paradigms and the web-based technologies to support them. Such paradigms are particularly useful to educate about complex issues which span time, location and information modality. She is currently the Sr. Web Developer for the University of Maryland’s, College of Arts and Humanities where she creates software for web-based, multimedia content management systems. She is also the co-owner of ArsMeta Films, a production company she co-founded with a colleague to produce documentary films that focus on social and environmental issues.