BioBuilder Foundation

Board & Staff

We are a diverse group of professionals who know that learning new things can inspire hard work, innovation, and excitement.

Drawing on our personal experiences and professional networks, we are driven to provide fresh content to teachers, engaging students as problem solvers in the process.

Meet the team


  • NatalieKuldell_headshot

    Natalie Kuldell, Founder and Executive Director

    Recognized in 2020 as a STEM Trailblazer by the Million Women Mentors and with the HA Rey Curiosity Award, Natalie is a highly regarded educator and curriculum developer who has taught for more than a dozen years in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She studied Chemistry as an undergraduate at Cornell, completed her doctoral and post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, and taught at Wellesley College before joining the faculty at MIT in 2003.

  • Rebecca Millman_headshot

    Rebecca Millman, Board Chair

    Rebecca has spent decades helping global companies solve critical strategy and marketing problems, including a long tenure at McKinsey & Company. She believes excellence in science education is critical not just to U.S. competitiveness but also to human survival, and that education is an irreplaceable support for populations currently struggling for economic independence and a higher quality of life.  Rebecca graduated from Harvard with a Special Concentration in Soviet and American Studies then earned an M.B.A. as a Tuck Scholar at Dartmouth.

  • Mary Tamer_Headshot

    Mary Tamer

    Mary’s professional work oscillates from communications to project management to education policy, with more than 20 years of experience garnered in the newspaper, nonprofit, and education sectors.  A longtime volunteer in the Boston Public Schools, she was appointed in January 2010 by Mayor Thomas M. Menino to serve a four-year term on the Boston School Committee, overseeing the district superintendent and a budget of $1 billion. She holds a bachelor of arts from the University of New Hampshire In English/Journalism and a master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Katie Hart_new headshot

    Kathryn Hart

    Katie is an Assistant Professor of biochemistry in the Chemistry Department at Williams College (Williamstown, MA). Her current research focuses on understanding and engineering protein function and energetics. She has taught professional development and student workshops for BioBuilder and is a co-author of BioBuilder: Synthetic Biology in the Lab. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Haverford College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley.

  • Rebekah Ravgiala_headshot

    Rebekah Ravgiala

    Rebekah teaches Biology and Advanced Placement Biology at Tyngsborough High School in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. in Biology and a doctorate in Mathematics and Science Education. She has been actively involved in the BioBuilder community since 2011, leading a BioBuilderClub team, and serving as a member of its Board of Directors. She is a recipient of the ASBMB Fostering K12/University Partnership Grant and the AMGEN Excellence in Science Teaching Award.

  • Val Tutson_headshot

    Valerie Tutson

    Valerie is a graduate of Brown University with an master’s in Theatre Arts and a B.A. in the self-designed major, Storytelling as a Communications Art. For two decades, Valerie has been telling stories from around the world with an emphasis on African traditions. She teaches workshops and classes to students of all ages, and hosted “Cultural Tapestry,” an award-winning cable television show celebrating diverse cultures for 12 years. She is founding member of the Rhode Island Black Storytellers and most recently served as its executive director and the festival director of FUNDA FEST. Valerie has received numerous awards for her work in the community including the Legacy Award from Big Brothers and Sisters of Rhode Island, a Community Service Award from Oasis International, and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Rhode Island College.

Advisory Board

  • Donald Shobrys

    Donald Shobrys’ career has centered on helping people to make better decisions more rapidly, with a particular focus on managing the supply chain of manufacturing companies. He has engineering degrees from MIT and Northwestern and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Johns Hopkins. His career started at Exxon.

  • Drew Endy

    Drew is associate chair of bioengineering at Stanford and president of the BioBricks Foundation. His students have pioneered amplifying genetic logic gates, rewritable DNA data storage, LEGO-like standard biological parts, genome refactoring, and synthetic genetic codes that resist evolution.  Drew helped launch new undergraduate majors in bioengineering at both MIT and Stanford, and also co-founded iGEM.


  • Jessie Klapper Elliott, Director of Operations

    Jessie joined BioBuilder in November 2019 to foster the growth of the organization through strategic operational initiatives, and to manage the day-to-day operations of BioBuilder. She comes most recently from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service Outreach Training Program, where she coordinated their core training program and taught modules, developed and managed their customer relations management tool, and coordinated program communications. She has a background in operational, managerial, and sales roles across public health and luxury retail, as well biological bench research, with experience working and living internationally in Europe and West Africa. She holds a B.A. in Biology and International & Global Studies from Brandeis University and an M.P.H. in International Health from the Boston University School of Public Health.

  • Stephanie Ovitt, Director of Programs

    Stephanie joined BioBuilder in July 2021 to oversee and support the implementation and growth of BioBuilder’s programs. She is a recent graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she earned her Ed. M. in International Education Policy and works as a Teaching Fellow. Most recently, she worked as Program Manager for Third Room, an education technology company developing platform solutions to connect students, educators, and STEM industries. She has extensive experience in supporting the expansion of access to quality education through both international and US-based nonprofit programming. As an AmeriCorps servicemember, she worked with Playworks Illinois to teach social-emotional learning skills in a Chicago public school. Prior to that, she worked with the Asian University for Women Support Foundation, helping to provide university education to women from marginalized communities, including Bangladeshi garments factory workers and refugees in South Asia. She is originally from the Adirondack Mountains region of upstate New York and earned her bachelor’s degree in International & Global Studies at Middlebury College.


  • Hiroko Kaczmarek, Teaching Fellow

    Dr. Hiroko Kaczmarek taught Biotechnology for five years in Worcester, MA and Cambridge, MA. She has participated in several BioBuilder programs including co-teaching High School Apprenticeship Challenge in Worcester and enrolling her Cambridge students in BioBuilder Idea Accelerator program. Prior to teaching, she worked to develop CRISPR-mediated gene therapy approaches for ALS as a postdoc at UMass Medical School. She holds a B.A. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

  • Kate Bacon Schneider, Teaching Fellow

    Kate develops and teaches Learning Lab workshops to introduce middle and high school students to synthetic biology. She has worked with the BioBuilder’s Apprenticeship Challenge program since 2016, and started teaching in the Learning Lab in March 2018. She received her Ph.D. in Biology from MIT and previously was an instructor in the MIT Department of Biology.

  • Michael Sheets, Part Time Teaching Fellow

    Michael started with BioBuilder as founding member of Tyngsborough High School’s BioBuilderClub team in 2011, and has been passionate about synthetic biology ever since. After completing his undergraduate training in Bioengineering at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, he returned to BioBuilder as a mentor for the Tyngsborough High team. Soon after, he joined the teaching team to help run the BioBuilderClub program and serve as a teaching assistant for Learning Lab and Idea Accelerator programs. Michael is currently a graduate student in the Dunlop Lab at Boston University, with research focusing on the development of light-inducible protein tools to study bacterial antibiotic resistance.

  • Vivek Bajaj, Teaching Fellow

    Vivek starting teaching school groups and optimizing new labs for BioBuilder in January 2019. He holds a PhD in microbiology from Harvard Medical School and a Master’s in education from Lesley University. Before joining BioBuilder, Vivek taught in two area private middle schools and, most recently, in a local STEM after-school program.