Beth Leavitt

High School Physics and Astronomy Teacher
Wade Hampton High School

Beth Leavitt is a high school physics and astronomy teacher from Greenville, SC at Wade Hampton High School. She holds a BS degree from Clemson University in biological sciences, spent twelve years as a professional environmental chemist, a MED from Converse College, and has taught K- college for ten years. In addition she presents planetarium programs to the general public. Ms. Leavitt has numerous additional coursework in gifted/talented education, AP physics, curriculum writing, earth and space science, and international education following a Fulbright Memorial scholarship to Japan in 2004. National Board certification was added as well as workshops in X-ray astronomy, SETI's Voyages.

Through Time, and several sponsored by NASA. Ms. Leavitt applied for Educator Astronaut in 2002 and though not chosen her semi-finalist status has included her in an elite group called NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers, NEAT. She has attended Space Camp, two shuttle launches, and has flown weightless. Ms. Leavitt presents workshops regularly locally and nationally. Several awards have been bestowed upon her including Science Teacher of the Year, District Top Ten TOY, and Space Symposium Teacher Liaison.

Christopher Phillips

Science Communicator and Consultant

He is active in the planetarium/science centre world and develops and runs educational outreach programs in astronomy and space science education involving various school and community groups worldwide. In his early career in the United Kingdom, Christopher was a Science Writer for Astronomy & Space Science Education. In 2006, he received the Thinking Bloggers Award as a science writer for an internet blog. He was a Science Educator and Planetarium Presenter in 2005 at Think Tank Science Museum before taking up a position at 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i in 2009. Christopher is also involved with Astronomers Without Borders where he recently took up a seat on the Project Council. Christopher works independently to establish astronomy and science education in developing countries, particularly through the use of portable full dome Planetaria and education workshops. These projects are currently under development in Iraq, Palestine and Africa, with upcoming projects in Afghanistan and Asia.

Dr. Erika Wagner

Executive Director
Mars Gravity Biosatellite and XPRIZE Lab @ MIT

Dr. Erika Wagner serves as Business Development Manager for Blue Origin, supporting the development of technologies to enable human access to space at dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as Science Director and Executive Director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative to investigate the physiological effects of reduced gravity. Her interdisciplinary academic background includes a bachelorís in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a masterís in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a PhD in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She is also an alumna of the International Space University. She was a semifinalist for the 2009 NASA astronaut selection process, and enjoys turning cardboard boxes into airplanes, rockets, and other vessels of exploration for her two kids.

Dr. Sai Pathmanathan

Science Education Consultant
Creative resource writing, Educational outreach and events, Science communication projects

Sai Pathmanathan is a freelance science education consultant with a research background in neuroscience and has worked in science education at various organisations, including Ignite! (, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts -, Planet Science ( and the European Science in School journal ( She has extensive project management experience, having organised events and hands on workshops for school students, academics, schoolteachers and the general public, and has written, produced and edited educational resources for mixed age groups and abilities. Sai was recently an Informal Science Education Visiting Scholar at the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C., USA, is an active Science and Engineering Ambassador ( and researches how young people can learn science from the entertainment media.

Josh Neubert

Executive Director and Chief Janitor, Night Rover Challenge

Josh Neubert is an innovative leader passionate about all things "geek" though he focuses on education, exploration, and entrepreneurship. Mr. Neubert has extensive experience creating and managing innovative education programs and incentive prize competitions. Most recently he led the development of the Night Rover Challenge with the Cleantech Open and NASA's Office of Centennial Challenges. In 2008, he joined forces with the wife of late Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad, to create the Spirit of Innovation Awards Ė a high school science entrepreneurship program reaching over 2500 participants in its first 3 years. Prior to that, from 2005-2008, Josh led a team at the X PRIZE Foundation developing educational experiences for 12,000 students and 8,000 public attendees at the X PRIZE Cup. He researched lunar in-situ resource utilization at the University of Hawaii and received a Bachelors & Masters degree in Planetary Science from MIT.

Mike Simmons

Founder and President Astronomers without Borders

Mike Simmons founded Astronomers Without Borders in 2007. He has been active in astronomy outreach for 40 years at such places as Mount Wilson Observatory and Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. He is also a writer and photographer, and is currently a Contributing Editor for Sky and Telescope magazine. During the International Year of Astronomy 2009 he organized the largest worldwide event of the year. He has earned multiple awards for his contributions to astronomy outreach and education, including having Minor Planet Simmons named in his honor in 2003.

Sonia Rahmati Clayton, Ph.D

The Science Chair at Kinkaid School and an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of California-Los Angeles. After earning her Ph.D. in Molecular Virology and Microbiology at BCM, she joined the CEO, where she oversaw several Graduate and Post Doctoral programs operated by BCM and National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Rahmati Clayton also served as a liaison between the educational and scientific communities in Houston. In this role, she helped to bring cutting edge biomedical science into K-12 classrooms through programs (funded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation) that partner teachers with scientists.

Dr. Rahmati Clayton teaches Life Sciences at Kinkaid and is on the Board of Trustees of the Chinquapin School, which serves economically disadvantaged youths in the greater Houston area.

Zach Adam


Zach Adam is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and co-founder of the space science research and education nonprofit Blue Marble Space. He currently spends his time looking for fossils that are about 1.4 billion years old in Montana near his town; these fossils are from a time when eukaryotes (the group of organisms that later became REALLY complex, evolving into things like trees, dinosaurs, mushrooms, flowers, and people) had just started to diversify. Zach would like to use these fossils to better understand how, when, and why these organisms became so complex, and then to use this information to speculate about how likely it might be to find complex life on the thousands of other planets we have found outside of our solar system. In addition to his research, Zach also likes to talk about the crucial role that space systems such as satellites can play in emergency preparedness and response efforts.

Zach's dream is to see practical space education catalyze teachers and students into becoming agents of peace, progress, and stability within their communities.