Who We Are

Atom Lesiak

Atom Lesiak (alesiak@uw.edu) is Director of Genome Sciences Education Outreach.

Atom comes to GSEO from an active research program investigating the genetics and pharmacology of stress neurobiology. Atom's expertise will allow us to create educational materials that explore the growing connections between type 2 diabetes, stress, diet, and neurobiology, as well as supporting UW Genome Sciences in other outreach activities.

Atom has regularly volunteered as an educator and activist. As a Science Communication Fellow at the Pacific Science Center, they participated in the NSF-sponsored Portal to the Public program and received training in science outreach and communication strategies for formal and informal learning. Since then, Atom has developed numerous science outreach activities, facilitated public presentations, trained fellow scientists on effective science outreach, and produced science education videos for audiences of all ages. As an activist, Atom served as a Board Member and the Director of Support Services for Ingersoll Gender Center, an organization that has provided the Seattle transgender community with weekly support groups for over 40 years. Additionally, Atom has led projects to provide medical providers early career training on how to provide better medical services for LGBTQ patients.

Atom uses gender-neutral pronouns (they/them) and identifies as transgender and gender non-binary. They received a BS in Biological Science with a minor in Biomedical Science and a certificate in Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State University and earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Washington State University. Atom has a passion for the Scientific Method and loves demystifying science to make it accessible for everyone. In the laboratory, classroom, and public spaces, they seek to increase visibility and support for diversity in all its forms.

Joan Griswold

Joan Griswold (jcgriz@uw.edu) is the current GEMNet PI and Program Manager for Genome Sciences Education Outreach.

Joan has over a decade of teaching experience in both middle school and high school classrooms. She has been involved in curriculum design, implementation, and dissemination for over a decade, both at Genome Sciences Education Outreach and the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research. She served two terms as a community member of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO) at the University of Washington, and is past-president of the Washington Biotechnology Foundation. Joan has participated in the Science Education Partnership through the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Integrated Science Partnership for middle school teachers through the University of Washington. She also has experience as a laboratory assistant and clinical coordinator at the Oregon Health Sciences University. In addition to travel, she enjoys time with her family, fiddling, beading, bicycling and skiing. Joan received her BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and earned a Masters in Teaching from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington.

Helene Starks

Helene Starks (tigiba@uw.edu) is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Bioethics and Humanities in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington and the co-Principal Investigator on the GEM and GEMNet projects. She contributes her expertise in program evaluation, community-engaged research and research ethics to create and evaluate curricula and interventions in clinical and community settings. She served as the Director of Training for the Center for Genomics and Health Care Equality, an NHGRI Center of Excellence in ELSI research, where she worked on STEM pipeline development with diverse students from middle school to post-doctoral trainees. Her work includes a paper that reconceptualizes the so-called "leaky pipeline" as an "irrigation system" which emphasizes building capacity in children and community members to be partners in community-engaged research, either as investigators, community liaisons and/or research participants. These roles are equally vital to STEM research and careers and with the right support can foster interest in returning to pursue higher education and science careers for underrepresented minorities.

Helene is a Seattle native and UW Husky for both her BA in Communications and PhD in Health Services Research. She also earned a MPH at University of California at Berkeley. She enjoys biking, yoga and coloring mandalas to create beauty from mathematically-inspired designs.

Maureen Munn

Maureen Munn (mmunn@uw.edu) is the recently-retired Director of Genome Sciences Education Outreach (GSEO) at the University of Washington. For the past 22 years, she has worked with teachers, scientists, and other science educators to plan and develop grant-funded programs based on teaching and learning concepts in genetics and genomics, conducting authentic research, and exploring related ethical issues. In 2013, she and colleagues were awarded the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction for the program, Exploring Databases, which enables students to conduct their own research on why people smoke by analyzing data from an epidemiological study of smoking behavior.

The current project, Genes, the Environment, and Me: A Health and STEM Network (GEMNet), is funded through a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health. .

Raised primarily in western Canada, Maureen completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Victoria, her PhD at the University of California San Francisco, and post-doctoral studies at Yale University. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and making jewelry.

GSEO: Founded in 1993, Genome Sciences Education Outreach was originally part of the UW Department of Molecular Biotechnology. In September 2001, we became a part of the Department of Genome Sciences, which was formed through a merger of the Departments of Molecular Biotechnology and Genetics. The outreach group develops innovative programs that bring leading-edge science to teachers and students in K-12 schools. These programs provide interdisciplinary, hands-on science curricula, teacher training, equipment, and support to promote excellence in K-12 science education. GSEO Director Maureen Munn works closely with Genome Sciences faculty, students, and staff, as well as other UW collaborators, teachers, and science educators from throughout Washington State, to support science education.

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GSEO Highlights

UW Medicine Newsroom Report: Diabetes Course Inspire Healthy Choices in High Schoolers

Recent Publications: Celebrating STEM in Rural Communities: A Model for an Inclusive Science and Engineering Festival details three successful science festivals held in Yakima, Washington.

The paper How Do You Like Your Science, Wet or Dry? reports on impacts of the Exploring Databases project.

Socratic Seminar with Data: A Strategy to Support Student Discourse and Understanding is available in the August 2017 issue of The American Biology Teacher

Carolina Kit to Support Worm Curriculum: GSEO is partnering with Carolina Biological Supply to support teachers with the What can we learn from worms? curriculum. Kits are now available here.

Exploring Databases awarded the July 2013 Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction. Click Read More for link to Science article.

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University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences
Education Outreach, Box 355065 ~ Foege Building, Room S-334 ~ Seattle, WA 98195
phone: (206) 616-4538 fax: (206) 685-7301