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Professional Development Staff


Liesl Chatman
Director of Teacher Professional Development

Liesl Chatman has been Director of Professional Development at the Science Museum of Minnesota since 2005. She has served in significant leadership positions in university, school district, and museum settings. Prior to her work with the Museum, she oversaw science for the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) from 2003–2005 and served as the Executive Director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) from 1994–2003.

At the Science Museum of Minnesota, Liesl has initiated the Science House: A Resource Center for Educators, an extensive $1.5 million professional development and materials center for STEM educators; Nexus, a professional development program specifically designed for district level science coordinators; the National Science Foundation-funded Peer Alliance for Gender Equity (PAGE), a national pilot training program in gender equity; and the newly funded Materials and Understanding for STEM Educators (MUSE) in Minnesota, which is a K–12 statewide initiative with funding from the Minnesota State Legislature.

For over a decade, she led an extensive and nationally recognized partnership program at UCSF between biomedical scientists and San Francisco's public school teachers that was initiated by UCSF faculty members including Bruce Alberts, former President of the National Academy of Sciences; J. Micheal Bishop, UCSF Chancellor and Nobel Laureate; and Harold Varmus, former Director of the National Institutes of Health and Nobel Laureate. She has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on major awards addressing professional development, partnership, and diversity issues from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the California Science Project, 3M, and the Medtronic Foundation.

Before her work in professional development, Liesl taught elementary school in SPPS, coordinated educational programs at the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Bell Museum of Natural History, and apprenticed under the late Todd apJones, noted hand-lettering artist. A proud alumni of the University of Minnesota, Liesl has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Minor in Linguistics. Liesl is also an inveterate graphic journaler and has been visually chronicling science education reform since the early 1990's.

Erin Villegas Strauss
Teacher Professional Development Project Lead

Erin Strauss joined the staff in 2007 as a Professional Development Project Lead at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Prior to this position, she was a Science Instructor at the Perpich Center for Arts Education where she taught Chemistry and Science in Society to 11th and 12th grade arts students. While at Perpich, Erin worked extensively on using Science Notebooks as an effective instructional and assessment tool and on incorporating a specific focus on ethics and social justice into the chemistry curriculum. Prior to her position at the Perpich Center, Erin was a Senior Academic Coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP). She was on the leadership team of the NSF-funded Local Systemic Change Initiative known as City Science and the NSF-funded gender equity program, Triad, and focused on the design of professional development and partnership programs involving scientists. In addition, she was a Co-Site Director for the California Science Project, was instrumental in the design of an effort funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that combined professional development and content learning in biology for elementary teachers, and pioneered action research and Lesson Study Teacher Groups. Prior to coming to SEP in 1997, Erin coordinated science education programs at the Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina and worked as an elementary science specialist in a design technology magnet program in the Durham County Public Schools. She holds dual Masters Degrees in Analytical Chemistry and in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of California, Riverside.

Travis Sandland
Teacher Professional Development Project Lead

Travis Sandland joined the Teacher Professional Development Group (TPDG) in 2006 and is currently a Project Lead in the department. Professionally, he is particularly interested in challenging and reconstructing the beliefs, attitudes, and values that undergird STEM and advantage some groups of students and ways of knowing over others in our educational systems and society at large.

Travis began his career at the Museum after graduating with honors from Macalester College with a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a Physics minor and earned his Masters in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University. He was a Youth Program Manager in the Kitty Anderson Youth Science Center, the Museum's youth development program, where he worked with youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers. At this time he was also the Museum's Earthscapes Outreach Teacher and worked with researchers at the University of Minnesota's National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics to translate their work into experiences for students and teachers.

Travis has been a contributing author on multiple grants and served as co-designer and facilitator for many programs for teachers and educational leaders including the Peer Alliance for Gender Equity (PAGE) funded by the National Science Foundation, Nexus: A Statewide Professional Community for District-Level STEM Leaders funded by the Medtronic Foundation, and Science House: A Resource Center for Educators funded by the 3M Foundation. As an adjunct faculty member at Hamline University he has been the instructor of record for many school-level, teacher -focused summer institutes.

Nils C. Halker II
Teacher Professional Development Specialist

Nils Halker joined the Science Museum of Minnesota staff in 1996 and has worked extensively with teachers and students in the Upper Midwest. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology and music from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Science in ecotoxicology from the University of Durham, England. He has been instructor on many projects and institutes, including a six-year collaboration between the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Bemidji State University, and the Science Museum to support culturally competent science teaching and learning with Native American students. He has also worked extensively with the Nexus program, PAGE, as well as school- and district-based projects to help make STEM classrooms places where each and every student can have success. Prior to coming to the Museum, he taught science and math in the Special Education Department of Edina High School, and then became Director of Education at the Freshwater Foundation where he also was editor of a national journal published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He is widely recognized as having the most extensive collection of plastic dinosaurs in the Museum.

Cindee Calton, Ph.D.
Teacher Professional Development Specialist

Cindee joined the Science House staff in 2013. Cindee has a Ph.D. and an M.A. in linguistic anthropology from the University of Iowa, where she was the recipient of a Presidential Fellowship. Her dissertation research focused on how teacher and student identities and ideologies influence how teaching and learning happens, especially with regards to deafness, disability and language. Her publications include an analysis of the role socioeconomic class in the parenting of disabled children, and a chapter on the history of sign language linguistics in the edited volume Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity. Cindee also has a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa in mathematics and anthropology and is fluent in American Sign Language.

Cindee has taught in both informal and formal education settings and worked with students from age 6 to college students. Her prior positions at the museum include Lifelong Learning Instructor and Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center Assistant Program Manager. In both of these positions, she worked with students on computer programming, math and science. Cindee also taught introductory linguistic anthropology and American Sign Language at the University of Iowa. In addition to her position at the Science Museum, Cindee is an adjunct professor of anthropology at Black Hawk College and McNally Smith College of Music.

Linda Green
Teacher Professional Development Fiscal Coordinator

Linda Green joined the Professional Development staff in 2009. She brings many years of accounting/financial experience from a variety of industries. After graduating from Bethel College (now Bethel University) with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and an accounting minor, she has worked in the travel industry, financial services industry, and at a production company.

Babette Kelley
Teacher Professional Development Coordinator

Babette Kelley joined the team in March of 2011 bringing a critical set of project planning and communications skills to our group. Her prior work includes video and meeting production, corporate communications, and presentation design. She graduated from Memphis State (now the University of Memphis) with a BA in Communications (film and video production), and has earned Business Writing & Project Management certificates from the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Department; and has completed a graduate level certificate in Instructional Design. She has a Short-Call MN Teaching License and has a passion for high expectations in Special Education classrooms.

Lauren Duffy
Teacher Professional Development Coordinator

Lauren Duffy joined the team in May 2014. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Art from the University of Louisiana Lafayette where she majored in Ceramics, minored in Architecture and Design, and had a focus in Anthropology. Lauren went on to earn her Masters of Fine Arts from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she was also a Graduate Instructor. Before coming to the Science Museum, Lauren worked at North Clay Center in Minneapolis as the Outreach Technician and as an outreach and in-studio instructor. She was also a Community-Organizing Fellow for the 2012 Obama/Biden campaign.

Lauren is a sculptor working primarily with ceramic and some mixed media. She is still an outreach and in-studio instructor at Northern Clay Center, as well as a resident studio artist. Lauren is a lover of random facts: she is into gardening, cooking, biking, corny jokes, musicals, art theory, and food knowledge. Lauren grew up in New Orleans and is a self-identifying science nerd.

Maximillian "Max" Rowntree
Science House Visitor Assistant

In the spring of 2011 Max volunteered at the museum, working in the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery as an interpreter during the week, and at Science House on Saturdays. In the spring of 2012 he become a staff member at Science House. Max loves to go fossil hunting over at Lilydale Regional Park and all over St. Paul. He lived in New Mexico until a few years ago; he worked for several years in the New Mexico State Senate as an assistant to the Senate Education Committee. Max was born with Spina Bifida, and it has made it so he thinks and learns in a different way. It has also made it so he understands what other people with disabilities go through.

Max loves his job; it makes it so he learns new things each and every day. His job is very important to him. He's lucky getting to work with the most amazing team at the Science House. It makes him feel needed and a part of a team. He gets to show teachers where things are, help the staff, and help teachers get their equipment to their cars.

Emilie Hanson
Science House Librarian/Teacher Professional Development Coordinator

Emilie Hanson joined the Science House/Professional Development staff in late summer 2014. She has a Masters in Library and Information Science from Saint Catherine University and received her BA from Macalester College where she studied English and creative writing. A highly motivated librarian, published poet, and meticulous editor, Emilie has over ten years experience in the artistic and literary community.

She has formerly worked at the Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Catherine University, and the Children's Theatre Company. She has also acted as House Manager for the Minnesota Fringe Festival for several years. Emilie loves reading literature, graphic novels, Marvel comic books, and multi-cultural folk and fairy tales. She also enjoys fun, learning, working with youth, and working with those who work with youth. When on the move, Emilie is a cyclist and commuter in support of eco-conscious living. She absolutely adores spending afternoons in Science House, a beautiful and functional zero-emissions building, and encourages educators to join her there.