Staff Team

Polar STEAM is run by an interdisciplinary team at Oregon State University.  The PI team brings together expertise in Broader Impacts, Educator-Scientist collaborations, Art-Science Integrations, and Polar Research.  The staff team brings expertise in their respective areas and runs the daily management of the Polar STEAM program. 

Please direct program and application inquiries to [email protected].

Julie Risien outside in front of leaves

Julie Risien (She/Her)
Research Office logo

Julie is the Director of Transdisciplinary Research in the OSU Division of Research and Innovation. She is a social science researcher who works to support scientists’ professional development, improve systems for STEM education, advance broader impacts of the research and innovation enterprise and improve interactions at interface of science and society.

Peter Betjemann in front of a building

Peter Betjemann (He/Him)
Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts logo

Peter Betjemann is Professor of English and Patricia Valian Reser Executive Director of PRAx, with primary responsibility for the development and direction of OSU’s new Reser Center for the Creative Arts. In that role and as a co-PI on Polar STEAM, he champions the ways in which creative works in a wide variety of mediums can illuminate, invigorate, and – crucially – inform activities in technical and scientific fields.

Kim Bernard outside on the water in Antarctica

Kim Bernard (She/Her)
College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences logo

Kim is a biological oceanographer and a Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU. As a Co-PI on Polar STEAM and long-time polar researcher, Kim is excited to pair scientists with educators, artists and writers and can’t wait to learn about their experiences in the polar regions.

Susan Rowe in front of a blurry background

Susan Rowe (She/Her)
Precollege Programs logo

Susan is the Director of Precollege Programs at OSU. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences with 15+ years in science education scholarship and practice. As a Polar STEAM Co-PI, educator development and diversity liaison, Susan is excited to bring educators, artists, writers and scientists together in an innovative and inclusive program where learning and curiosity thrive.

Michelle Pratt in a snow suit outside in the snow

Michelle Pratt (She/Her)
Program Manager
STEM Research Center logo

Michelle is the Program Manager of the Polar STEAM program at the STEM Research Center.  She works to foster innovative collaborations between scientists, teachers, artists, and writers in polar environments.  Michelle brings over 20 years of Alaskan experience as a World Geography Educator and as a Program Manager supporting Rural Alaska infrastructure needs.  She also lived and worked at McMurdo Station, Antarctica for two austral summer seasons supporting science in the South Polar Region.

Melissa Barker in the snow holding up soil

Melissa Barker (She/Her)
Outreach and Engagement Lead
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Melissa is the Outreach and Engagement Lead for the Polar STEAM initiative at the STEM Research Center. She works to support and collaborate with scientists, teachers, artists and writers while engaging in polar science. As a former Director of Experiential Education and science teacher, Melissa managed a multifaceted program that involved training and supporting faculty to create innovative learning experiences for students. She also participated in several teacher-researcher programs, including working with scientists at Toolik Field Station in the Arctic.

Kristin Kinman in front of a black background

Kristin Kinman (She/Her)
Operations Manager
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Kristin is the Operations Manager at the STEM Research Center. She is responsible for coordinating the contracts, payments, and other financial responsibilities of the project. She is excited to use her skills to help smooth the financial processes for the Polar STEAM participants and team.

Jessica Sawyer in front of trees

Jessica Sawyer (She/Her)
Communications Coordinator
STEM Research Center logo

Jessica is the Public Information Assistant at the STEM Research Center. She is part of the communications team and is serving as the communications coordinator for Polar STEAM. She is excited to use her media and communications skills to support the team in telling the story of Polar STEAM.

Kristin O'Connell in front of an off-white background

Kristin O’Connell (She/Her)
Science Education Resource Center logo

Kristin is a Senior Evaluation/Education Specialist at Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton College. She has a combined background in program evaluation, education research, and geoscience including multiple seasons of remote field work in Alaska. As part of the external evaluation team, Kristin looks forward to understanding participant experiences and perspectives to help guide continuous program improvements.