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


  • Isadora Deese

    Isadora is a writer, administrative assistant at MIT, and mother of three. She helped coordinate some of the first iGEM competitions at MIT, and co-wrote “Adventures in Synthetic Biology” with Drew Endy and the “Synthetic Biology Working Group,” illustrated by Chuck Wadey. Past projects have been with SynBERC, MIT Press, WHO, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League. Her Young Adult science fiction novel, “Right of Capture” (Pelekinesis, 2016), is an adventure mired in family entanglements, cosmic mysteries, and resource wildcatters. Isadora received her master’s in creative writing from Boston University’s Playwriting Program.

  • John Dellapa

    A graduate of Boston College and George Washington Law School, John is a member of Mintz Levin’s Corporate & Securities practice. For 30 years, he has advised biotechnology, life science, medical device, and clean technology companies on a broad range of legal issues, including on the structuring of collaborative research and development efforts, strategic alliances, and joint ventures. John’s practice is heavily focused on transactions involving licensing and technology “spin-outs,” sponsored research, and supply and distribution relationships.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Natalie Kuldell, Founder and Executive Director

    Natalie has taught for more than a dozen years in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a highly regarded educator who develops discovery-based curricula drawn from the current literature to engage students in structured, reasonably authentic laboratory and project-based experiences. 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, 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.

  • Rebekah Ravgiala

    Rebekah teaches Biology and AP Biology at Tyngsborough High School. A graduate of Saint Anselm College with a degree in Biology and certificates of special studies in both Secondary Education and Spanish Language, Rebekah pursued her area of interest in the field of science education by pursuing a doctoral degree in Mathematics and Science Education that was awarded in 2003 from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She is particularly proud of the ASBMB Fostering K12/University Partnership Grant and the AMGEN Excellence in Science Teaching Award she has received since her start with BioBuilder in 2011.

  • 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 Shobry

    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 Endy, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. Drew’s work in synthetic biology aims to engineer biology through the use of standardized biological components, devices, and parts. He is one of several founders of the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. He invented an abstraction hierarchy for integrated genetic systems, and, as president of the Biobricks Foundation, he works to unburden the ownership and sharing framework around biology.

  • Gayle Allen

    Gayle Allen is currently the chief learning officer and director of BrightBytes Labs at BrightBytes, an educational software company in San Francisco. She has 15 years of experience as a teacher, school leader, and entrepreneur in the field of education. Gayle is the founder of two professional development institutes, including the McCord Grauer Center for Excellence in Teaching, and she is the former associate head of two independent schools. She earned her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she focused her research on teachers’ experiences with web 2.0 technologies and where she also served as an adjunct professor. Gayle also earned her M.B.A. from MIT’s Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership.

  • Karen Katz

    Karen Katz has advised hundreds of emerging growth companies on various aspects of their business plans, including management and recruiting issues, market development, strategic partnerships, and financing strategies. She has helped more than 50 firms raise capital through DLA Piper’s collective global network of angel, venture, institutional, and strategic investors.

  • Sherry Annee

    Sherry Annee has been teaching high school science since 1991 and currently teaches Honors Biotechnology at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. She is the recipient of the 2001 Milken National Educator Award, 2005 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Indiana, and 2009 Butler University Distinguished Alumni Award and has served as the Brebeuf Jesuit Science Department chairperson as well as president of both the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc., and Indiana Association of Biology Teachers. As a highly active teaching professional, she attended the 2011 and 2012 BioBuilder Workshops at MIT and co-hosted a 2012 BioBuilder workshop at Purdue University. Sherry earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Biology/Chemistry Secondary Education from Purdue University and a M.S. in Effective Teaching from Butler University.


  • Carla Boon, Director of Operations

    Carla joined BioBuilder in February 2016. She coordinates our professional development workshops, the BioBuilderClub, and any odds and ends to support the organization. She attended Washington State University, where she studied Business Administration, Human Resources, and Management Information Systems.

  • Kate Bacon Schneider, Learning Lab 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.

  • Kelley Klor, Learning Lab and Apprenticeship Operations

    Kelley joined the BioBuilder team in November 2017, coordinating BioBuilder’s Apprenticeship Challenge program and managing Learning Lab operations. She graduated from University of Missouri – Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science.

  • Kurt Ream, Channel Operations

    Leading BioBuilder’s Channel since 2019, Kurt has a diversity of experiences in education. With a Bachelors in Earth Science from Emporia University, he taught middle school life science, earth science, and math as well as high school chemistry and physical/earth science. Kurt earned his Ed. D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, his Specialist in the Superintendent program and his Masters in Secondary Administration from University of Central Missouri. Most recently, he has served as a middle school assistant principal, elementary principal, and a building administrator working with severely disabled students ages 5 -21 years old.

  • Vivek Bajaj, Learning Lab 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.