Aditi Pai

Aditi Pai is an Associate Professor of Biology at Spelman College. She is an expert on genealogy and evolutionary biology, focusing on sexual selection.

Pai piloted Spelman’s Genetic and Genealogy Program, where students track their genes, their history, and their relatedness to other humans in the world.

In 2018, she was selected for the year-long Governor’s Teaching Fellowship by the Institute of Higher Education at University of Georgia, Athens.

Pai has served as Vice Chair of Biology and is currently co-director of Spelman’s Teaching Resources and Research Center.


Areas of Expertise: Genealogy, Evolutionary Science, Science Education

Location: Atlanta, GA

Contact Info:


     Phone: (404) 270-5778

     Twitter: @AditiPai1

She can be heard here:

Kiho Kim

Kiho Kim is a professor of Environmental Science at American University. His work focuses on how environmental drivers, such as climate change and nutrient pollution, impact coastal ecosystem health. 

At the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Kim has examined the origins and spreading of diseases. He has worked with the British Council in promoting international networking for young scientists, and was an advisor to the Coral Disease Working Group of the World Bank.

Kim is a member of the Environmental Literacy Committee of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington D.C.

He completed two terms as a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies (USA) and as an officer of the International Society for Reef Studies.


Areas of Expertise: Environmental Science, Biology, Marine Conservation

Location: Washington D.C.



Phone number: (202) 885-2181

He can be heard here: 

Paloma Vargas

Paloma Vargas is an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Hispanic-Serving Institute Coordinator at California Lutheran University. As an expert in the study of microbiology and host-parasite relationships, her research interests include infectious diseases and cell culture.

Before joining California Lutheran’s faculty, Vargas taught at both the high school and community college-levels. She led a number of outreach efforts at Northeastern Illinois University’s Student Center for Science Engagement, where she was a STEM specialist. When she is not teaching, Vargas mentors and recruits underrepresented minority students, particularly those of Latino/a heritage. She is an alumna and active member of the Linton-Poodry Leadership Institute of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science.

Assistant Professor of Biology, California Lutheran University

Areas of Expertise: Microbiology, Cell Activity, Higher Education, Diversity, STEM

Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

Contact Information:
Phone: (805) 493-3069

Listen to Paloma Vargas here:

Erika Zavaleta

Erika Zavaleta is an expert in Environmental Science. She is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research concentrates on conservation, biodiversity, and climate change. Erika Zavaleta serves on the boards of EcoAdapt, The Tropical Forest Group, and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund. She works in Telluride, Colorado from fall to winter, and Santa Cruz, California from spring to summer.

Her research has been funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, theCalifornia Energy Commission, The Cedar Tree Foundation, The Christensen Fund, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Kearney Soil Science Foundation,the National Science Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the University of California, and theWildlife Conservation Society.


Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Location: Telluride, Colorado from fall to winter, and Santa Cruz, California from spring to summer.

Contact Information:

Listen to Erika Zavaleta here:

Esmeralda Casas

Esmeralda Casas, Ph.D. is an expert in biomedical science. She is an AAAS Science and Technology Fellow. Her research focuses on gene expression and cancer biology, specifically the genetic drivers of cancer. She works in Washington, D.C.

Her research has been funded through fellowships and grants by the Department of Defense, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Biomedical Scientist 

Location: Washington, DC

Contact Information:
Email: |

Listen to Esmeralda Casas here:

Kristala Jones Prather

Kristala L. Jones Prather teaches in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, the highest honor given for undergraduate teaching at MIT. Prather joined the faculty of MIT after four years in BioProcess Research and Development, working on projects in the areas of biocatalysis for small molecule transformations, high-yield production of plasmids as DNA vaccines, and mammalian cell line development for production of therapeutic proteins.

Prather’s current research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, with additional efforts in novel bioprocess design approaches. She has been the recipient of many awards, among them the Technology Review “TR35” Young Innovator Award (2007), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010), and a Young Scientist of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions (2012).

Kristala Jones Prather

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Co-Director of Microbiology Graduate Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Areas of Expertise: Metabolic Engineering, Synthetic Biology, Biochemical Engineering

Location: Cambridge, MA

Contact Information:

Phone: (617) 253-1950

Heard on Lecture on Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering

Added August 2015

Last Verified: August 2015

Nalini Nadkarni

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, also known as “the Queen of the Forest Canopy,” is a Professor of Biology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where she directs the Center for Science and Mathematics Education. Her forest ecology research focuses on how biodiversity, forests, and the stability of world climate interact. With nearly 30 years of experience teaching public engagement with science for all parts of society, she also holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Science in Seattle. In 2001, Nadkarni received the Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in Plant Sciences.

In 2005, she co-founded the Sustainability in Prisons Program, bringing science lectures and hands-on conservation projects to incarcerated adults in Washington State, Utah, and around the country. In 2009, she created the Research Ambassador Program, which recruits and trains other scientists to carry out engagement with science and conservation to underserved public audiences around the country.

Her latest project, to bring nature imagery to inmates in solitary confinement to reduce stress and violence, was recognized by TIME Magazine as “one of the “Best Ideas in 2014”. Nadkarni has published over 100 scientific articles, three scholarly books, and three children’s books.

Dr. Nadkarni has been featured in television documentaries, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and National Geographic, and her work has appeared in publications such as Natural History and the New York Times.

Nalini Nadkarni
Professor of Biology, the University of Utah

Areas of Expertise: Forest Ecology, Rainforest Conservation, Science Education, Inmate Education and Rehabilitation, Prison Reform

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Contact Information:
Phone: 801-581-4161

Featured on American Public Media’s The Promised Land: “Meeting the Queen of the Canopy”

Added February 2015

Danielle Lee

Danielle Lee is an assistant professor of biology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and self-described hip-hop maven and outreach scientist who blogs about urban ecology and biology that you can see right in your own backyard. She uses hip-hop to connect the dots between culture and science in order to reach underrepresented communities like inner-city youth and open up the doors for them to pursue a career in science. In an interview with science reporter Véronique LaCapra at KWMU, Lee said, “There aren’t a lot of role models, so that’s why I do my outreach, to let folks see, one, a different face of science, and to see different avenues into science.”

In 2017, Lee traveled to Tanzania to research the behavior and biology of landmine-sniffing African giant pouched rats in her position as the National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Check out her TED talk on the subject.

Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Areas of Expertise: Biology, Urban Ecology, Evolution, Animal Behavior, STEM,  Diversity, Science Outreach, Hip-Hop

Location: Edwardsville, Illinois

Contact Info:

Mobile: (314) 283-2959
Work: (618) 650-3405
Twitter: @DNLee5

Heard on St. Louis Public Radio:

St. Louis blogger helps inner-city youth find “on ramp” to science

Added January 2013. Last verified January 2021.