The STEMccm team continues to grow!
Below you will find profiles for each of our visionaries, coordinators, collaborators, instructors, and interns. The STEMccm Project has only been made possible through the hard work and inspiration of many individuals. Thank you to everybody for building and growing this project – hundreds of teachers and thousands of students have benefited from your contributions.
Vic Castillo, Laboratory Scientist
Vic Castillo is an engineer in the Computational Engineering Division with experience in hypersonic flow, turbulent convection, massively-parallel fluid code development, and chaos theory. Vic has developed a dual-grid solver for the compressible Navier-Stokes equation using cubic splines and has led an effort to analyze the relation between the thermal entropy production and the rate of information loss as a convecting system approaches a fully-turbulent state. At LLNL, Vic also has co-developed an implicit solver for multi-species hypersonic flow. Additionally, Vic contributes substantially to the STEM outreach program, which seeks to expose teachers and students to the value of computer modeling and simulation.
Dean Reese, High School Science Teacher
Dean received his bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2002. Currently, he is the Science Department Chairperson at Tracy High School and has been teaching there since 2002. He teaches IB Physics, Conceptual Physics, and ELL Conceptual Physics. In addition to his teaching he is a dedicated advisor for the Tracy High Earth Club, Scientifically Speaking Club, and Computer Programming Club. He has been a Master Teacher for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Education Program since 2007 and currently instructs in the Computer Simulation Teacher Research Academy. In 2011, Dean was awarded the Cortopassi Family Foundation Excellence in Science Teaching Award. Dean is involved as an instructor for the SIMMS (Secondary Integration of Modeling in Math and Science) Project with the intent of developing computer-modeling skills for high school science and math teachers within the San Joaquin County. Dean is a National Board Certified Teacher and currently serves on the Instructional Quality Commission, an advisory board to the California State Board of Education.
Rodger Johnson, High School Science Teacher
Rodger Johnson teaches science at Monte Vista High school and brings a wealth of teaching experience to the STEMccm program, including Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering. Rodger has been a Master Teacher for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Education Program since 2012. Rodger is an instructor for the SIMMS (Secondary Integration of Modeling in Math and Science) Project with the intent of developing computer-modeling skills for high school science and math teachers within the San Joaquin County.
Richard Newton, High School Math Teacher
Richard Newton received his B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Davis and is the chairperson for the Mathematics Department at Tracy High School in Tracy, CA. With a wide range of teaching experience, including Algebra Readiness, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, AP Statistics, and AP Computer Science A, Richard focuses on bringing technology into his classroom. He strives to make content more engaging by enriching it with real world context and challenges students by having them use and build computational models.
Richard has been a Master Teacher for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Education Program since 2012. In 2015, he was awarded the Cortopassi Family Foundation Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Award. Richard is an instructor for the SIMMS (Secondary Integration of Modeling in Math and Science) Project with the intent of developing computer-modeling skills for high school science and math teachers within the San Joaquin County.
Joana Albala, Project Coordinator
After receiving her Ph.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Albala took a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At that time, the Lab had an active Genome Center. Dr. Albala’s research was involved in gene discovery that led her to discover a novel DNA repair gene that was named Rad51B after its similarity to another protein, Rad51.
These proteins are involved in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks caused by ionizing radiation, ultraviolet light and normal cellular metabolism. Rad51 is involved in the same cellular pathway as the BRCA2 protein, which if mutated, causes familial breast cancer.
Dr. Albala’s laboratory at Pacific studied the role of the Rad51 family of proteins in cancer cell lines. She and her colleagues have also looked for additional biomarkers of breast cancer and have identified an assay (test analysis) to screen for a panel of proteins that may be diagnostic for metastatic breast disease. A hand-held device has been developed to read this assay, and Dr. Albala hopes that someday this device may be used in the clinic or doctor’s office to improve the physician’s ability to diagnose breast cancer.
Kirk Brown, Project Coordinator
Kirk is the Director of STEM at San Joaquin County Office of Education. He is also co-director of the Delta Sierra Science Project, a six county region of the California Science Project. In addition, he is regional science-lead of the Curriculum and Instruction Subcommittee of the California County Superintendent’s Educational Services Association. Kirk was also a member of the NGSS State Review Team and the NGSS Science Expert Panel, helping California adopt the NGSS state standards for science. In addition he is one of the lead writers of the Revised CA Science Framework, which will be published in 2016. His office coordinates the CaMSP Cohort 10 grant funded efforts around 9-12 grade modeling in math and science, Investment in Innovation Validation Grant with WestEd in 4-5th grade content support using Making Sense of Science and Literacy, and various other regional efforts. Before coming to the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Kirk taught International Baccalaureate Biology and Biotechnology at Tracy High School for 25 years. In addition, he co-founded the Agricultural/Scientific Academy at Tracy High where he wrote the Specialized Secondary School grants to fund the Academy. Kirk is Nationally Board Certified in Adolescent and Young Adult Science and has won numerous local, state and national teaching awards. Beginning in 1992, Kirk has been a Faculty Scholar at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, doing summer research and helping found the Teacher Research Academies. In 1997, Kirk helped Bio-Rad Laboratories found their Biotechnology Explorer program and published a Biotechnology Textbook (Biotechnology: A Laboratory Skills Course) in 2011. He has a Bachelor’s in Biology with a concentration in Entomology from C.S.U. Stanislaus and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of the Pacific.
Bret States, Project Coordinator
Bret is a STEM Coordinator/SIMMS Grant Director for Science and STEM Integration/Innovation at San Joaquin County Office of Education. He received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1997 and Master of Science in Education (Curriculum and Instructional Strategies) from the University of New England in 2009. As STEM Coordinator for the San Joaquin County Office of Education, he provides STEM professional development and support for K-12 teachers throughout the area as well as grant coordination for the CaMSP, Cohort 10 SIMMS Project.
Debbie Williams, Project Coordinator
Debbie M. Williams serves as Mathematics Coordinator for the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Education Services Department. She develops and provides mathematics professional development for teachers with an eye towards the implementation of the California Common Core Standards for Mathematics. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, and the California Mathematics Council, Northern Region. Previously, Debbie was a high school mathematics teacher and Math Resource Teacher for Lodi Unified School District. Before moving to Lodi Unified, she was a middle school math teacher, 7th-8th Grade Level Facilitator, and Mentor Teacher for Lincoln Unified School District.
Dennis Parker, University of the Pacific Mathematics Department Chair
Dennis has given presentations at local, state, and national mathematics education conferences – some requiring peerreviewed proposal submissions and some by invitation. The topics include the NCTM Standards, the California Mathematics Framework, curriculum guidelines in the 50 states, the role of technology in school mathematics, implications of educational research for the classroom teacher, probability & statistics in secondary school mathematics, finite geometries, and active learning during lecture. Dennis has also given numerous in-service workshops for teachers.
Dick Farnsworth, Project Coordinator
Amy Kennedy, Administrative Assistant
Ann Carl, Staff Secretary
Mark Condit, SJCOE Grant Writer
Debra Schneider, TUSD Science and Instructional Media
Jim Hetrick, University of the Pacific Physics Department Chair
John Mayberry, University of the Pacific Professor
Elizabth Basha, University of the Pacific Professor
Dan Cliburn, University of the Pacific Professor
Sarah Merz, University of the Pacific Professor
James Price, University of the Pacific
John Keller, CalPoly Professor
Teacher Facilitators and Interns
Thi Ngo, High School Science Teacher
Steve Calahan, High School Science Teacher
Jon Fuller, Elementary School Teacher
Michael Boykin, High School Math Teacher
Tracy Gilcrist, High School Science Teacher
Crystal Wong, High School Math Teacher