2017 Conference Speakers

2017 UTeach Conference Speakers

Keynote: Thomas Kalil

Kalil's Keynote: Students as Changemakers

Imagine a world in which clean energy is cheaper than coal, safe drinking water is accessible and affordable to everyone on the planet, and no child goes to bed hungry. Imagine a world where we have vaccines for AIDS, TB, and malaria, and effective treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s. Imagine a society where everyone has anytime, anywhere access to the highest quality learning opportunities. Imagine a future in which astronauts venture out into the solar system, not just to visit but to stay.

These and other similarly ambitious goals are within reach—particularly if we inspire and empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders to imagine and embrace them. Today’s changemakers have access to knowledge and resources that would have been unimaginable 20 to 30 years ago, such as access to virtually unlimited computing resources and the ability to use online platforms to crowdsource funding and expertise from around the world. What steps can our educational institutions take to inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers?

Thomas KalilThomas Kalil is a Senior Advisor to the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Group and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UC Berkeley.

Previously, Thomas Kalil served as the Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Senior Advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation for the National Economic Council. Working with agencies across the federal government, OSTP’s Technology and Innovation Division developed dozens of White House initiatives that are designed to foster American leadership in innovation, emerging technologies, and the industries of the future. 

From 2001 to 2008, Kalil was Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at UC Berkeley.  In 2007 and 2008, Kalil was the Chair of the Global Health Working Group for the Clinton Global Initiative, where he developed new public and private sector initiatives in areas such as maternal and child health, under-nutrition, and vaccines. 

Kalil served as the Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Technology and Economic Policy, and the Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council. He was the NEC's "point person" on a wide range of technology and telecommunications issues, such as the liberalization of Cold War export controls, the allocation of spectrum for new wireless services, and investments in upgrading America's high-tech workforce. He led a number of White House technology initiatives, such as the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the Next Generation Internet, bridging the digital divide, e-learning, increasing funding for long-term information technology research, making IT more accessible to people with disabilities, and addressing the growing imbalance between support for biomedical research and for the physical sciences and engineering. He was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on the G-8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (dot force).

Kalil received a B.A. in political science and international economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and completed graduate work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is the author of articles and op-eds on S&T policy, the use of prizes as a tool for stimulating innovation, nanotechnology, nuclear strategy, newborn health, vaccines, the impact of mobile communications in developing countries, U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, U.S.-Japan cooperation in science and technology, the National Information Infrastructure, distributed learning, and electronic commerce.

Opening Plenary: UTeach Nation: We Change the World

Over the past 20 years, thousands of students have passed through UTeach classrooms across the country, each on their way to changing the face of STEM education in America, all making individual contributions to UTeach’s rich history. In this plenary session, UTeach graduates tell the stories of their journey from students to teachers to leaders in their communities and beyond. They will share how their common UTeach experience inspired them to create opportunities for students to discover a love of learning, new technologies, and different ways of thinking about and interacting with the world.

Brianna Rapini

Brianna RapiniBrianna Rapini received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and is a 2005 UTeach alumna. She received her master’s degree in educational administration from Sam Houston State University. In her career, Brianna has been an AP Biology/Biology teacher, science instructional specialist, science program coordinator, and instructional technology specialist. She was awarded Professional Support Staff of the Year at Klein Collins High School in the 2015–2016 school year. Currently, Brianna enjoys teaching Biology part-time at Klein Collins High School and working with her sister, Sarina Peterson, on The Amoeba Sisters YouTube channel. (See below for more on The Amoeba Sisters!) 

Amber Rodriguez

Amber RodriguezAmber Rodriguez graduated in May 2014 with a degree in biology and was the first science graduate of the UTeach program at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Amber began teaching Environmental Systems at Homer Hanna Early College High School, her alma mater. In her second year of teaching, she became the Environmental Systems Strand leader and co-sponsor of the Thelma Buckley Chapter of the National Honor Society. She also serves as a new teacher mentor for her department and participates in the I-3 Cohort at her campus to implement Common Instructional Framework strategies in the classroom. Her strand was awarded first place for growing the largest pumpkin in the Brownsville Independent School District Giant Pumpkin Contest in 2016. She continues her involvement with UT-RGV’s UTeach program by mentoring students currently in the program. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, traveling, and gardening, and she volunteers for the Brownsville Wellness Coalition by supporting their programs, such as the Brownsville Farmer’s Market, “Dale” Walking Group, and the Community Gardens initiative.

William Chan

William ChanWilliam Chan graduated from UT Austin with a bachelor of science in chemistry in 2008. Since then, he has been working at William P. Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas. He began his career as a chemistry teacher and then transitioned to teaching AP Environmental Science. William has a passion for chemistry teaching professional development. He presented at the NSTA national conference annually between 2010 and 2014 on the topic of chemistry teaching and learning.

Since 2013, he has been a facilitator at the Rice Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching (RESST) program at Rice University to help teachers develop inquiry-based pedagogy. Last year, William received the University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award. He has begun collaborating with Shenzhen Middle School in China to bring inquiry-based instruction into their classrooms through modeling and professional development sessions.

Closing Plenary: Beyond the Classroom

What is the future of STEM education? How do we think beyond the classroom when it comes to reaching current and future generations of digital natives? How does “edutainment” coexist with inquiry- and project-based learning, and how can UTeach teachers incorporate these teaching tools into their classrooms? This panel comprises a collection of science educators and communicators using digital platforms (YouTube, podcasts) to inspire a love of science, supplement science education, and reinforce the power of curiosity and critical thinking. 

Lindsay Patterson, Marshall Escamilla, and Sara Robberson Lentz  / Tumble

Tumble logoTumble is a science podcast for kids that focuses on how science works. Each episode explores stories of science discovery, with the help of scientists and curious kids. Tumble has a devoted listenership of children ages 4–12, along with their parents and teachers. It was named one of the “Best of iTunes Podcasts” in 2016, and has been called “Radiolab for kids.”

Tumble hostsLindsay Patterson is the creator, producer, and co-host of Tumble. As a science reporter in public radio, she was inspired to start Tumble when she realized that there were few podcasts made for kids, and a dire need for science literacy in society. She is also the co-founder of Kids Listen, a grassroots advocacy organization for high-quality audio for children.

Marshall Escamilla co-hosts and writes original music for Tumble. By day, he’s the middle and high school music teacher at Headwaters School in Austin, Texas. By night, he’s a musician and volunteer government official.

Sara Robberson Lentz is Tumble’s associate producer and editor. Her background is in multimedia storytelling and science. During the day, she’s Managing Editor and Digital Content Producer for the University of Texas at Austin.

Tyler DeWitt / Science with Tyler DeWitt

Science with Tyler DeWitt logoDr. Tyler DeWitt is a research scientist, educator, and digital content creator who is passionate about changing how we approach teaching and learning in the sciences. Tyler is the creator of one of the most popular instructional channels on YouTube, with tutorial videos on Chemistry, Physics, and Math that are used throughout the world as a supplement to or replacement for traditional textbooks. He is currently working on a project funded by Google to create a 3D VR tour through the inside of a human cell.

Tyler DeWittTyler's TED Talk, about the need to make science education accessible and engaging, has been viewed more than one million times. Tyler has taught high school Chemistry, Biology, and English at schools in both the United States and South Korea, and he worked as a project manager to develop new K–12 science curricula for the state of Florida. Tyler holds a Ph.D. in Microbiology from MIT, where he served as a founding staff member of the MIT+K12 video outreach project. At MIT, he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and a Graduate Resident Tutor.

Joe Hanson / It's Okay to Be Smart

It's Okay to Be Smart logoJoe HansonDr. Joe Hanson is a science writer, biologist, and YouTube educator. He is the creator, host, and writer of "It's Okay To Be Smart" an educational science show from PBS Digital Studios that celebrates curiosity and the pleasure of finding things out.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, and his past research has ranged from cancer biology to gene-editing technologies. His science writing has been featured in WIRED, Nautilus, and ScientificAmerican.com, and he once had a Twitter conversation with someone in space, which was pretty cool.

Moderator: Brianna Rapini

Amoeba Sisters logoBrianna Rapini is a UTeach graduate, a biology teacher, and, with her sister, Sarina Peterson, co-creator of The Amoeba Sisters YouTube channel. The Amoeba Sisters features cartoon videos that use humor and relevance to engage students with topics that connect to secondary science standards.

Since its creation in 2013, the channel has grown to more than 14 million cumulative views and 100,000 subscribers. In January 2017, The Amoeba Sisters was included with four other channels on the Discov'Her, L'Oreal Foundation list of The Women Science YouTubers to Follow in 2017.