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

Board

  • NK-LInkedin

    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.

  • Mary Tamer_Headshot

    Mary Tamer, Board President

    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.

  • Drew Endy_thumbnail

    Drew Endy

    Drew dreams of ten billion people flourishing as citizens in partnership with all life on Earth, as soon as possible.  To this end he helped launch new undergraduate majors in bioengineering at MIT and Stanford.  He also co-founded the iGEM competition, a global genetic engineering “olympics,” and, separately, two DNA construction companies.  His past students now lead companies like Octant and Ginkgo Bioworks.   Read more

  • 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.

  • Keira Krausz

    Keira Krausz

    Keira is an award-winning direct-to-consumer marketing expert, with particular strengths in digital transformations, creative, brand development, media attribution, optimization and expansion. From 2013-2019 she served as Chief Marketing Officer and then President of Nutrisystem, Inc., where she led all sales and marketing. Keira is currently Chief Marketing Officer at HealthPlanOne and serves on the Board of Second Nature Brands, where she leads the Digital Committee. She studied at Cornell University as an undergraduate and received her MBA from Dartmouth College.

  • Theresa Lynn

    Theresa Lynn

    Theresa is Senior Vice President of Advancement for United Way of Central Massachusetts. During her years as an entrepreneurial leader and strategic advisor for non-profits, Theresa built her expertise in driving change, building public/private partnerships, and fundraising.

  • 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.

  • Don Shobrys

    Donald Shobrys

    Don’s 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. Don’s career started at Exxon, was past Chair of the MIT Annual Fund, President of the MIT Alumni Association, and Member of the MIT Corporation. He is currently the Co-Director of the MIT Venture Mentoring Service.

     

  • 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.

  • JZ-light

    Joshua Zinns

    Joshua is the Founder and Managing Principal of Botanic Properties. He is responsible for setting the strategic vision for the Company and ensuring that Botanic delivers world-class solutions for its stakeholders, including investors, tenants and the communities in which it builds. Joshua proudly serves as the president of The Botanic Foundation, which he founded to support equitable and inclusive growth within the life science industry by focusing on education and job training opportunities for historically under-served communities. The Foundation is developing state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom Learning Labs to support its educational mission. Joshua received his BSBA from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis in 2001 and served as Chair of the Washington University Real Estate Alumni Association.

Advisory Board

  • 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.

  • Angela Girodier

    Angela will be a graduate of Emmanuel College (May 2022) with a double major in Biology and Secondary Education. As an alumni to the Spring 2017 BioBuilder Apprenticeship Program, she has experienced first hand the effects of STEM opportunities, research, and networking. Her plans are to work as a High School Biology Teacher to strengthen scientific knowledge, while providing students learning experiences that will shape both students’ scientific and personal learning, understanding, and growth. She believes that all students, no matter their background and cultures, should be allowed the opportunity to learn and to gain real-life experiences and exposure that stimulates curiosity and drive. Her past research experiences include Massbiologics and Merck Research Laboratories where she assisted in Protein Developmental and Molecular Interactions, respectively.

  • Rebecca Millman

    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.

Staff

  • Tommy Coye, Director of Donor Engagement

    Tommy joined BioBuilder in January 2022 to cultivate our relationship with the philanthropic individuals who support our work. He comes to BioBuilder after a 25 year tenure at a nonprofit, pre-professional dance program, Boston Youth Moves, where he served as Board President, Chair of Fundraising and Development, Chair of Financial Aid, and lead planner for their annual Swellegance galas. Tommy is also a professional dancer/choreographer/dance educator, traveling all around the world in that capacity. He served as Managing Director of the internationally recognized The Jeannette Neill Dance Studio and is currently a Theatre Division faculty member of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he teaches dance.

  • 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.

     

  • Vivek Bajaj, Teaching Fellow

    Vivek joined BioBuilder in January 2019 when he starting teaching school groups and optimizing new labs to run in our Learning Labs. 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.

  • Olivia Cerretani, BioBuilder Events Coordinator

    Olivia joined BioBuilder in December 2021 as an Event Coordinator to organize and oversee the BioBuilder Learning Labs and our special events. She has worked in similar roles for the past four years, having planned small group events as well as functions that were open to entire cities. She has a background in managerial event roles across academic, nonprofit, and governmental organizations, with experience working and living in Florida and Massachusetts. She most recently coordinated events at Stonehill College where she is also a student. Olivia will graduate May 2022 with a BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations as well as a minor certificate in Business Administration.

  • Hiroko Kaczmarek, Education Specialist

    Hiroko joined BioBuilder’s curriculum and teaching team in September 2021 after teaching 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.

  • Rachana Kilaru, TN Regional Coordinator

    Rachana joined BioBuilder in December 2021 to cultivate our growing hub in East Tennessee. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Chicago. She has worked for UChicago’s Alumni Relations and Development office in addition to University Community Service Center as a coordinator and consultant. Ms. Kilaru is passionate about science education accessibility. She currently resides in Johnson City, TN where she will be BioBuilder’s Regional Coordinator.

  • Kate Bacon Schneider, Teaching Fellow

    One of BioBuilder’s longest serving teaching fellows, Kate has been leading BioBuilder workshops and programs since 2016. Over the years, she has developed and taught Learning Lab workshops to introduce middle and high school students to synthetic biology. She has worked with the BioBuilder’s Apprenticeship Challenge program since its inception n 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 officially became a part-time teaching fellow in September 2021 after a decade-long history with BioBuilder. He 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.