Dr. Michael Weisberg
Michael Weisberg is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Biology and Philosophy, as a co-director of the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science, and as Associate Director for Outreach of MindCORE. His research focuses on methodological issues arising in the life and social sciences, especially how idealized models and simulations can be used to understand complex systems. Michael’s research group aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of public understanding of and misconceptions about scientific issues, and is using experimental documentary filmmaking techniques to help address common misconceptions. He regularly discusses his findings with academic audiences, policy makers, and the public, having given presentations at the Penn Lightbulb Café, the AAAS, the National Academy of Sciences, and to park officials, naturalist guides, and tourists in the Galápagos.
Dr. Deena Skolnick Weisberg
Deena Weisberg is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Villanova University, where she directs the Scientific Thinking and Representation (STAR) Laboratory. She is also the co-director of the Pennsylvania Laboratory for Understanding Science (PLUS). She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University and received postdoctoral training at Rutgers University and at Temple University. Her research interests include scientific thinking and reasoning in children and adults, the development of imaginative cognition, and the roles that the imagination plays in learning. Her work has been published in a variety of scholarly journals, including Science and Cognition, and has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Templeton Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Weisberg here.
Ernesto Vaca co-directs the Alliance. A Galápagos Naturalist Guide III, trained in ornithology and evolutionary biology, he has lived in the Galápagos for the last three decades and has over 30 years of experience guiding groups through this fragile ecosystem.
Dr. Karen Kovaka
Associate Director for Community Science
Karen Kovaka is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech. Her research areas are philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and environmental ethics and policy. In philosophy of biology, she is interested in the foundational concepts and processes of evolution, particularly debates about the concepts of inheritance and biological individuality. She also studies the interface between science, science policy, and public understanding of science, including how public opinion about environmental issues such as climate change may be sensitive to widespread misconceptions about the nature of science. Learn more about Karen here.
Associate Director for Landscape Architecture
Karen M’Closkey is a founding partner of PEG office of landscape + architecture. She is a licensed landscape architect in Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan. She has over ten years of experience working on a variety of award-winning landscapes. Karen is also Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. She teaches core design studios, advanced option studios, and contemporary theories of landscape architecture. Her advanced options studios explore techniques for working with repetition, ornamentation and surface modulation as a means to produce new forms of topography. Her book Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) utilizes a selection of work by this highly regarded landscape architecture practice as a vehicle by which to gauge recent disciplinary trends.
Associate Director for Cinematography
Mike Attie is an assistant professor in the School of Film at the University of the Arts. His most recent feature documentary, In Country, had its world premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and its international premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto. Mike’s previous work has been shown at major film festivals including SilverDocs, San Francisco International, and the Black Maria Film + Video Festival. He is a 2013 Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow and was named one of The Independent’s “10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2014.” Mike holds a BA in history from Vassar College and an MFA in documentary film from Stanford University. Prior to teaching at the University of the Arts, he was a lecturer at Northwestern University and associate director of their documentary MFA program. Learn more about Mike here.
Dr. Tim Linksvayer
Associate Director for Biological Science
Tim Linksvayer joined the Penn Biology faculty in March 2011. Before that he was a EU Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen, and a US National Science Foundation Biological Informatics Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. Learn more about Tim here.
Dr. Erol Ackay
Associate Director for Biological Science
Born and raised in Turkey, Erol completed his undergraduate degree at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, majoring in physics and biology. He moved to the US to pursue his Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford University, working on models of mutualism and reproductive social behavior. He is currently an assistant professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, as position he began in January 2014. He is interested in the evolution of complex biological and social organization. He mostly works on how individuals with conflicting interests evolve to cooperate with each other, in contexts varying from plant-microbe mutualisms to human behavior. He is sporadically accused of harassing songbirds in the wild, but maintains that it’s not him. Please check the lab website for ongoing research projects and more information on Erol.
Dr. Jack Stein Grove
Marine Science Advisor
Dr. Cecilia Coscaron
Cecilia Coscaron is a medical entomologist with over 15 years of experience in environmental health and vector-borne disease. She is a Professor at Montgomery College (Maryland) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Margaret McNamara Education Grants. Throughout her career, she has led multiple projects in developing countries and advised local health authorities in the control of vector borne diseases. She defined policies, designed programs, developed protocols and directed projects on the ecology and control of vector borne diseases. Additionally, she has trained professionals, field operators, and lab technicians to conduct monitoring and evaluation activities and field surveys. Dr. Coscaron’s research findings have been recorded in many scientific papers, meetings and journals. Her professional experience in malaria, dengue, chagas, and neglected tropical diseases (NTD) extends across several countries including, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mali, Mexico, and the United States.
Fausto Rodriguez is originally from Riobamba in the countryside of the Ecuadorian Andes. He first visited the Galapagos in 1990 and has since become an experienced and biologically knowledgeable guide. In 1996, he completed the rigorous training to become a licensed Galapagos National Park Naturalist, and shortly thereafter he spent several years in London where he studied languages. He has also been trained by National Geographic to lead photography expeditions. He has guided personalized cruises, birding expeditions, and photography tours throughout the Islands. He has particular interests in geology, plants, birds, marine life, and mammals, and is passionate about guiding and teaching.
Sea Lion Research Coordinator
Justin Walsh is a graduate student in the Department of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Penn, Justin earned both his B.S. and M.S. in biology at Villanova University. For his Master’s thesis he studied how larval relatedness affects competition over food in the rattlebox moth (Utetheisa ornatrix). His current research focuses on the genetic basis of complex traits, especially behavior, using the pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis) as a model system. Outside of the lab, Justin is passionate about science outreach and is a volunteer at the Franklin Institute.
Dr. Melissa Jacquart
Citizen Science Coordinator
Melissa Jacquart is a postdoctoral fellow in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cincinnati and the Center for Public Engagement with Science. Her research focuses on epistemological issues in the philosophy of science, specifically on the use of models and computer simulations in astrophysics. Her research also examines the role philosophy can play in general public understanding of science, and in science education. Melissa is also interested in ethics & values in science, science policy, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of education, particularly developing effective teaching methodologies for philosophy. Learn more about Melissa here.
SR Foxley has over 20 years of experience working in the I.T. industry in roles including basic technical support, systems administration and Devops, data center architecture and management, network architecture and capacity planning, database design and optimization, software engineering and development, and security auditing and incident response. Most recently, he has been involved in writing and testing code for the family of open-source projects related to the OpenStack cloud operating system (which, among other things, powers the data centers which crunch the data flowing from CERN and the Large Hadron Collider). He is often consulted to help design and provide feedback on the technical aspects of the Galápagos projects. While traveling with the team in the Galápagos, he helps to ensure we minimize technical difficulties which could otherwise lead to delays and missed opportunities. Outside of his work with the team, you may find him on a sailboat, flying small aircraft, picking out objects in the night sky with a telescope, or passionately advocating for science education and critical thinking.
Brian Christiansen travels the world capturing images of pristine places. He graduated from Montana State University with a motion picture video theater arts degree focusing on natural history. His strengths are being able to see the big picture while focusing on the fine points of video production in remote and wild places. Much of his travel experience has been in conjunction with National Geographic’s maritime expeditions with Lindblad Expeditions, and he has collaborated with the Pennsylaniva Laboratory for Understanding Science on projects in Galápagos, Chile, and Philadelphia. In his spare time, he pursues a variety of extreme sports, placing him in locales from the tops of snowy mountains to the bottoms of watery reefs and everything in between.
Martha Yumiseva-Lackenbacher is originally from Quito (Ecuador). She is currently a PhD student at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. She earned her M.S.Ed. in Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a passionate researcher, investigating parenting practices in the context of health as the baseline of children’s optimal cognitive, social and emotional development in vulnerable populations. Martha enjoys reading, traveling and working out with her husband.
Natasha Chlebuch is the research coordinator for the Pennsylaniva Laboratory for Understanding Science and the Galapagos Eduction and Research Alliance. She also coordinates Dr. Deena Weisberg’s developmental psychology lab, the Scientific Thinking and Representation Lab at Villanova University. She graduated from Penn in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is interested in forensic psychology and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in affective sciences.
Maddie Tilyou is the lab manager for the Galapagos Education and Research Alliance. She graduated from Penn in 2019 with a major in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and minor in Environmental Science. She has worked in the PLUS lab since 2016 as a member of the LAVA team. As part of this work, she has spent the past three summers in the Galápagos helping establish various community science initiatives. She is passionate about promoting participatory science and inclusive conservation in the Galápagos and beyond. To see her amateur photography skills and support her budding interest in scientific communication, check out her science themed Instagram @maddaboutbio. In her free time, Maddie can be found hiking with her geriatric Jack Russell terrier, scuba diving, or attempting to surf.
Green Consulting and Social Media Project Coordinator
Jesse Hamilton is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. His primary research interests lie in ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of science. Specifically, he focuses on issues related to human rights, distributive justice, climate change, and just war. Before coming to Penn, Jesse spent ten years in the U.S. Army, followed by ten years in finance and consulting.
Sea Lion Project Coordinator
Anna is in the Class of 2021 at the University of Pennsylvnia, pursuing a major in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Management. She’s particularly interested in the intersection of environmental issues with social justice and hope to be involved in that work in the future. She is a Penn Anti-Violence Educator with Penn Violence Prevention and an Eco-Rep with Penn’s Sustainability Office. In her free time she likes exploring the parks in Philly, cooking, and reading.
Sea Lion Project Coordinator
Sea Lion Project Coordinator
Olivia Fielding is in the Class of 2021 at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a double major in Earth Science and Political Science. She is interested in human interactions with the environment, particularly through environmental policy. She will be working with Dr. Michael Weisberg on research focused on the Green New Deal, and formulating something like the Green New Deal to implement in the Galapagos. She helped to implement the LAVA-Lobos in the Galapagos in the summer of 2019. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys listening to music and hiking with her dog.
Sea Lion Project Coordinator
Emmie Gocke is an undergraduate biology student at Penn. She grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she established a strong connection to the natural world and a love for being in the mountains. She is interested in ecology research and the responsible management and conservation of public lands. Emmie has previously volunteered in these areas with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, as well as in Grand Teton National Park. Emmie loves to trail run, hike, climb, fish, ski, backpack and mountain bike.