Image description goes here
  Image description goes here
  Image description goes here

 Leitzel Center Faculty & Staff

  Ruth Varner

Ruth K. Varner

Director, Associate Professor

Ruth Varner is an Assoc. Professor in the Earth Systems Research Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, and in the Dept. of Earth Sciences. She received a B.S. in Geology from Hartwick College in 1991, a M.S. in Hydrology (1993, UNH) and a Ph.D. in Geochemical Systems (2000, UNH).

Her UNH research began with developing a gas chromatography/cryo-focusing technique to quantify methyl bromide in ambient air samples. It led to the discovery of soil as a significant biological sink of atmospheric methyl bromide, and the discovery of freshwater wetlands as a source of atmospheric methyl bromide and methyl chloride.

Present work at UNH includes carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide exchange using autochamber technology in terrestrial ecosystems, with a focus on the measurement of trace gas emissions from agricultural and wetland ecosystems with funded projects from the USDA, USGS and NSF.

Ruth is also the Director of the Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduates program, an NSF funded REU site. She has taught Earth Sciences courses in: Watershed Hydrology, Techniques in Environmental Science, Aqueous Geochemistry and Chemical Fate and Transport.

  laura nickerson

Laura M. Nickerson


Laura M. Nickerson is the new Director of the STEM Teachers' Collaborative, a UNH interdisciplinary effort to coordinate and strengthen STEM education, with the primary goal of increasing K-12 teachers’ expertise in computing, engineering and technology, and extending the impact of excellent STEM teachers to more students throughout the state.

Laura received a B.S. in Physics from Valparaiso University and an M.S. in Physics from Northern Illinois University. With the exception of one year as a fellow at the Wright Center for Science Education at Tufts University, Laura has spent the last seventeen years in public and private high school classrooms teaching physics, engineering, astronomy, programming, and other STEM subjects. Most recently she taught at Windham H.S. in Windham, NH.

As a Physics Teaching Resource Agent (PTRA), the professional development arm of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Laura has led workshops around the country for middle- and high-school teachers on topics in physics ranging from energy and waves to dark matter and cosmology. For the past seven years, she was a lead teacher in the Teaching Opportunities in the Physical Sciences (TOPS) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this program, she mentored talented undergraduate physics majors each summer as they crafted and implemented teaching materials and lesson plans for teaching physics to middle- and high-school students. A recent program focus was implementing coding in the science classroom.

Coaching a First Robotics Competition (FRC) team spurred Laura's interest in teaching engineering. She holds both a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) certification and a NH Career and Technical Education (CTE) certification. Her students received the prestigious Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant and built an autonomous, assistive, robotic device for carrying cargo. She is especially interested in how makerspaces can be used in the regular classroom and has been on the ground floor in the development of two classroom makerspaces.

Laura will be working with teachers and school districts on their specific STEM professional development needs. Follow her @UNHSTEMTeach on Twitter.

  Erik Froburg

Lara Gengarelly

Extension Assoc. Professor and
Specialist, science Literacy

Lara Gengarelly is an State Specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension in Science Literacy. She is also an Affiliate Associate Professor with the Leitzel Center. Lara received a B.A. in Biology and Science Education from Hampshire College (1993) and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Biology from UNH (1999 & 2003). Following her graduate work, Lara was a faculty member in the UNH Education Department (2004-2014) where she taught undergraduate and graduate students, directed the internship field placements at UNHM, conducted science education research and program evaluation, designed curricular materials, and led professional development workshops for science teachers.

Lara joined the Leitzel Center as an affiliate UNH Cooperative Extension faculty member in August 2014. Her focus is to strengthen partnerships and collaborations among UNH faculty and staff who work on enhancing K-12 STEM education, secure grant funding to support statewide STEM education initiatives, coordinate and direct STEM programs for youth and educators, and carry out applied research in the field of science education.

Lara's current research investigates the underlying factors of professional development that can help educators create learning experiences that ultimately improve learners' science literacy and attitudes toward STEM disciplines. She is particularly interested in studying how to increase the integration of authentic scientific research practices in K-12 formal and informal settings.

  Jade Caines Lee

Jade Caines Lee

Affiliate Assistant Professor

Jade Caines Lee is an Affiliate Assistant Professor with the Leitzel Center and an Assistant Professor in the UNH Education Department. She received a B.A. in Urban Studies/Education from Stanford University, a Master's in Teaching Secondary English from Brooklyn College, and a Ph.D. in Educational Studies (with a Measurement & Evaluation focus) from Emory University. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Pennsylvania in Education Policy and Methods.

Prior to her arrival at UNH, she was a K-12 public school teacher (for nearly a decade), a Research Associate at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, & Student Testing at UCLA, and an evaluation research consultant with numerous organizations including foundations and evaluation firms.

Her research areas include assessment development, the application of validity/evaluation frameworks to education assessments, and the evaluation of interventions that improve teaching and learning for underrepresented student groups. Active research projects include a summer reading intervention for struggling adolescent readers, an application of an evaluation framework to examine policies developed to use student achievement test scores to evaluate teachers and teacher preparation programs, and an investigation of factors related to teachers' participation in informal learning opportunities for their students (i.e., museums and science centers).

In addition to maintaining an active research agenda, she also teaches introductory, graduate-level courses at UNH including Statistics, Educational Evaluation, Research Methods, and Educational Assessment.

  jen bourgeault

Jennifer Bourgeault

ResearcH Associate

Jennifer Bourgeault is the US Country Coordinator for The GLOBE Program and manages the NH Partnership. She coordinates a diverse group of Partners to maintain and strengthen the Program nationally. Jen, with a BA in Zoology and an MA in Teaching Biology, taught science prior to joining GLOBE. She provides professional development for informal and formal educators; including individual K-12 teachers, schools and districts. GLOBE Program topics include the data collection protocols and learning activities for atmosphere (weather and climate), soil, hydrology, biosphere (land cover classifications, tree and grass biomass, carbon cycle, phenology (budburst, green-up, green-down). Other professional interests include Elementary GLOBE, inquiry and science practices, field investigations, science notebooks, Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) and Innovations of Change (IC) maps for the science classroom. Jen was also involved in an NSF-funded project to map GLOBE to the Next Generation Science Standards.

  Stephen Hale

Stephen R. Hale

Research Associate

Steve earned his Masters degree in vertebrate morphology and evolution from Louisiana State Univ. and his Ph.D. in Natural Resources from UNH in 2001. His Ph.D. research focused on developing satellite and GIS-based habitat models for Bicknell’s Thrush.

Steve joined the Leitzel Center in 2005, increasing the enthusiasm for STEM disciplines in underserved and minority students with the NSF-funded Watershed Watch. He maintains diverse interests in ornithology and vertebrate ecology, while his professional interests have broadened toward efforts to increase all-levels of students’ interest, enthusiasm, and achievement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines.

Active projects include Transforming Earth System Science Education, Research Experience for Teachers in Engineering, Climate Education for Minority Serving Institution Faculty, the US Army's STEM Teacher Program Initiatives, and directing Workforce Development components of the NH EPSCoR project.

  Erik Froburg

Erik Froburg

Education & Outreach Specialist

Erik Froburg is an Education and Outreach Coordinator at the University of New Hampshire's Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education. The majority of his work is directly with K-12 Science teachers, on a range of professional development activities that the Leitzel Center conducts.

His particular focus has been in promoting authentic research by students, and in providing schools with more direct access to scientists and contemporary research in the geo-sciences. Other professional interests include providing STEM access and opportunity for underserved audiences, citizen science, facilitating scientific field investigations for students and teachers, and the integration of technology in K-12 sceince—particularly hand-held devices. Prior to his positions at UNH, Erik was a Special Education teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities at Noble Middle School in Berwick, Maine. He is a graduate of the UNH Masters in Environmental Education program.

  Annette Scj;pss

Annette Schloss

Faculty Fellow

Annette Schloss earned a BA in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Southern Maine and her Masters and PhD degrees in Zoology with an emphasis on aquatic biology here at UNH. She has research and teaching experience in aquatic and Earth System Sciences, modeling, and remote sensing and has co-authored several journal articles on global biogeochemical cycles and modeling.

For the past 15 years, her focus has been on education and outreach programs that provide opportunities for non-scientists to make use of research data for their own projects. An outgrowth of these efforts has been the Digital Earth Watch Picture Post Network, which is an open project for citizens, students, science centers, and community groups to monitor their local landscape using repeat digital photographs taken with a camera or smartphone that they share on the Picture Post website. She also collaborates with planetarium professionals to create Earth Science themed programs for digital planetariums and portable Discovery Domes. Annette is excited to bring these projects to her work at the Leitzel Center.

  Sandy Coit

Sandy Coit

Program Support Assistant

Sandy came to the Leitzel Center in 2012 as Program Support Assistant. In this position, she wears many hats…from providing logistical arrangements for program participants to budgeting responsibilities for the many grant programs to general office management and administrative support for the staff.

Sandy also coordinates the hugely popular summer camp – KEEPERS (Kids Eager for Engineering Programs with Elementary Research-based Science) for kids entering grades 2-5. For three weeks in July, she works with an amazing team—including 2 local high school science teachers and many UNH CEPS faculty—who bring engineering and science to KEEPERS campers in a hands-on, minds-on summer experience.

Kristi Donahue

Graphic Design & Website Communication
  Kristi Donahue

As Sr. Graphic Designer at the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, Kristi has been the creative lead for numerous NASA-, NOAA-, and NSF-funded initiatives—project websites, posters, scientific illustrations, scientific reports and educational materials. She also serves as Assistant Director for NH Space Grant and NH NASA EPSCoR.

Her work at the Leitzel Center includes website development and the design of informational materials representing Letizel Center collaborations and initiatives.

Kristi's previous career experience includes print production for Houghton Mifflin Company's Educational Software division, graphic designer and pre-press supervisor at UNH Printing Services, and graphic design, website, and print production for New Hampshire Public Television.

  Karen Graham

Karen J. Graham

Director Emeritus

Karen Graham is Professor of Mathematics in the UNH Department of Mathematics and Statistics. She was appointed as the inaugural director of the Leitzel Center in January 2003. Dr. Graham has served as the project director of many state and federally funded projects and has presented numerous workshops at local, state, regional, and national conferences.

She has served as a documentation consultant on several national research projects designed to explore mathematics education reform efforts, the QUASAR (Quantitative Understanding: Amplifying Student Achievement and Reasoning) Project, the R3M (Recognizing and Recording Reform in Mathematics Education) Project, and the CCH Evaluation and Documentation Project.

At present, Dr. Graham is excecutive director of the UNH ADVANCE Insitutional Transformation project funded by the National Science Foundation. Read More...


Faculty / Staff Partners

Leitzel Center Strategic Planning & Implementation Council

Sept. 2002 - June 2007
  • Eleanor Abrams: Education, UNH
  • Christopher Bauer: Chemistry, UNH
  • Richard Blakemore: Microbiology, UNH
  • Gale Carey: Nutrition & Animal Science, UNH
  • Kelly Clark: Education Director, NHPTV
  • Karen Graham: Director, UNH Leitzel Center
  • Nancy Hamer: Director of Administrative Services, UNH
  • Yeping Li: Mathematics Education, UNH
  • Wendy Lull: Executive Director, Seacoast Science Center
  • Sharon Meeker: Marine Education Specialist, UNH
  • Dawn Meredith: Physics, UNH
  • Subhash Minocha: Plant Biology, UNH
  • Lorraine Patusky: NH Dept. of Education
  • Judith Robb: Education, UNH
  • Barrett Rock: Natural Resources, UNH
  • Julie Williams: Sr. Vice Provost, Engagement & Outreach, UNH
  • Tom Zarnowski: Supt., Oyster River Coop. School District
  • Note: Affiliations are listed as of time of service on the council

*You are viewing pages printed from These pages apear differently when viewed online.