Board and Staff

Kentucky Academy of Science 2022 Governing Board
CLICK HERE for the 2022 Governing Board roster

President Jon Dixon studied Electrical Engineering at Miami University of Ohio before moving to Kentucky and joining the staff at the Kentucky Science Center as the Master Educator in order to reach the general public. Jon finds his inspiration as an informal educator not only in reaching children of all ages, but also in encouraging their families to stimulate growth through exploratory learning. Despite having an engineering background, Jon finds that an interdisciplinary respect towards all sciences and the scientific method are integral to the growth of all Kentuckians. 
Jon's main focus in his outreach opportunities is not only a focus on his field, but also in presenting concepts and inquiry based learning to the general public, whether their background is in science or not. Jon always strives to make these concepts as approachable as possible to patrons of the museum, attendees of outreach programs, or anyone seeking to strengthen their scientific literacy. (Board term 2020-2023)

President-Elect Julie Reizner is a faculty member in the Department of Physics, Geology, and Engineering Technology at Northern Kentucky University.  She has educated young people in Kentucky for the past 13 years in topics as varied as geology, evolution, paleontology, wildlife conservation, and climate change.  She has worked at the Cincinnati Zoo as an animal handler, and volunteered as an educator and diver at the Newport Aquarium, encouraging special connections between the general public and their natural world. Julie received a BS in Geology from Western Kentucky University in 2003, working on a GIS study of groundwater, and in 2010 received a MS in Earth Science from Montana State University.  Dr. Reizner led Upward Bound students on a dinosaur dig and taught Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy to veterinary students. Her continued research at MSU deals with dinosaur paleohistology, with paleontologist Jack Horner.  As an instructor at NKU, she teaches Evolution Days and Fun with Science camps, helps judge the Northern Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair, led a field trip on Cincinnatian-series fossils for an annual meeting of KSPG/KAS, and has given public talks, including at the March for Science in Cincinnati. (Board term 2021-2024)
Vice President Noel Novelo Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Aquaculture Genetics and Extension, at Kentucky State University (KSU). His academic background includes English Literature, Natural Resource Management, Public Administration, Aquaculture, and Wildlife and Fisheries Science. His work aims to expand and diversify food production in Kentucky through improved use of genetic resources. He leads KSU‘s Capacity Building Tilapia Extension Project (2021 – 2024) created to reduce economic and health disparities in minority and limited-resource families and to strengthen Extension services. He is Faculty Advisor to KSU‘s United States Aquaculture Society Student Sub-Unit and Aquaculture Faculty Representative in KSU‘s Faculty Senate. He values diversity, inclusion, collaboration, and community welfare. (Board term 2022-2025)

Past President Trent Garrison
Trent Garrison grew up in a mountainous region near Hyden, Kentucky. With a natural interest in science, he later attend Eastern Kentucky University (BS and MS), Kentucky State University (Public Administration), the University of Kentucky (PhD in Environmental Geology) and is currently attending Harvard University Extension School (Communication). He has worked as a Geologist for state government, Assistant Professor at local colleges, and Executive Director of Legislative Affairs at the Energy and Environment Cabinet. Dr. Garrison teaches as an adjunct at KCTCS and EKU. (Board Term 2018-2022)

Treasurer Rodney King is a Professor of Biology at Western Kentucky University. Dr. King is a microbiologist doing research on bacteriophages and was the recipient of KAS' 2014 award for Outstanding College / University Teacher. (Board Term 2021-2023)

Secretary Elizabeth Thomas (Board Term 2021-2024) teaches general chemistry, organic chemistry, and undergraduate research within the biology and chemistry department at Morehead State University. Dr. Thomas likes to help foster research and the communication of science throughout Kentucky and believes KAS is extremely important in developing young scientists by providing opportunities for them to become interested in science and gaining important presentation skills. She would especially like to see more integration of industry and science education throughout Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Kentucky (UK, BA Science Education), University of Louisville (UL, MS Organic Chemistry), then worked at Eli Lilly (Indianapolis IN) as a research chemist for six years. Dr. Thomas later obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Kentucky and was fortunate to have teaching opportunities at the University of Kentucky, Asbury University, Berea College, Eastern Kentucky University, and now Morehead State University. Her success is integrated with my students‘ success. She hopes to serve by providing opportunities for young scientists through the Kentucky Academy of Science!

Physical Sciences Representative Mr. John Scott Miller has been a member of KAS since the fall semester of 2012, and currently is a member of the KAS Public Engagement committee and the Science Education Advocacy committee, both of which work to bring science to Kentucky citizens.
 Scott is currently the Vice President of Community Colleges for the Kentucky Association of Physics Teachers, which has joint meetings with KAS in the fall.  In this capacity, he has tried to encourage participation of the KCTCS physics faculty with KAPT, and indirectly with KAS. Scott joined the faculty at Maysville Community and Technical College in January, 2012 and has been promoted to the title of associate professor since that time.  As such, he teaches college physics and introductory astronomy courses for the college.  Astronomy is his real interest, and because of this, he also does monthly public observations during the regular school year, where he has the opportunity to do informal education on various topics of astronomy with those that attend. In addition to college-related organizations, Scott is also the captain of the 4-H robotics team in Maysville, where he and another faculty member oversee the building and programming of robots by middle school and high school students
Scott holds a B.S. degree in Physics and a M.S. degree in Physics with concentration in astronomy granted by the University of Louisville, and a M.S. degree in Secondary Education, certified in high school physics and mathematics granted by the University of Kentucky. He has taught physics, astronomy, and mathematics at the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, the University of Louisville, and Jefferson Community College in Louisville, Kentucky. He has co-published papers in both physics and astronomy. (Board Term 2021- 2024)

At-Large Representative Scott Wicker (Board Term 2017-2021) Dr. Scott A. Wicker is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and former Interim Chair of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (SoSTEM) at Kentucky State University. Dr. Wicker is also a Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership (2021-2022) Fellow, National Academy of Science’s (2020–2021) Jefferson Science Fellow, (2021-2022) President of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Physiological Society, a committee member on the Envisioning the Future of NSF EPSCoR, and consultant for the U.S. Department of State. In addition, he works collaboratively with stakeholders to advance Kentucky State University and Kentucky Academy of Science's mission to broaden faculty and student participation in STEM-related research and career opportunities.  A native of Zachary, Louisiana, Dr. Wicker earned honors distinction with his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from Grambling State University, a doctorate in Environmental Toxicology, and post-doctoral researcher in Environmental Chemistry from Southern University and A & M College. He currently facilitates General and Inorganic Chemistry courses at Kentucky State University and research interests in low-temperature synthesis methods for metal oxides used in energy storage devices and international policies for e-cycling solar panels. (Board term (2021-2024)
Biological Sciences Representative Melissa Mefford  (Board Term 2021-2024) is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Morehead State University. She received Bachelor of Science degrees in both Biology and Psychology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. After college, she earned a PhD in Genetics from the University of Chicago researching small nuclear RNA structure and function in the catalytically active spliceosome. She completed post-doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University investigating the architecture of telomerase RNA within the telomerase enzyme complex. Her independent research lab at Morehead State lab uses yeast molecular genetics to study the structure, function, and evolution of telomeres and telomerase in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition to research, Dr. Mefford teaches Human Anatomy & Physiology and serves as the A&P Laboratory coordinator for MSU. Furthermore, Dr. Mefford has developed a course-based undergraduate research experience for the MSU Genetics Laboratories where students choose a gene in the budding yeast to delete using CRISPR-based technologies.
Social & Behavioral Sciences Representative Wei Song is a Professor and Undergraduate Director in the Department of Geography and Geosciences at the University of Louisville (UofL). He is also a Ph.D. faculty in Urban and Public Affairs and an affiliated faculty in Asian Studies. Dr. Wei Song is a human-economic geographer. The central theme of his research is the spatial heterogeneity in social, economic and demographic processes, primarily at urban and regional scales. Dr. Songs research and teaching interests include location and transportation analysis, economic geography, urban issues, spatial statistics and modeling, and GIS applications. His recent research activities have been focused on three interrelated concentrations: spatial interaction and transportation; urban social-spatial issues; and spatial dynamics of urbanization and urban structure. Dr. Song has published two books and over fifty refereed articles in urban, geography and GIScience journals. Dr. Wei Song is a Board Member of the Applied Geography Conference. He is the Associate Editor of Papers in Applied Geography, and currently serves on the editorial boards of International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research and Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters. (Board Term 2018-2022)

Physical Sciences Representative Seyed Allameh  is a full professor of mechanics, materials and nanotechnology at Northern Kentucky University. Seyed has worked on the fabrication and characterization of nano-crystalline materials, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), thin film bimorphs, biomaterials, and nanostructures with applications in nanotechnology, surfaces and interfaces, electron microscopy, nano-crystalline materials, nano-scale and microscale devices. Seyed was the winner of the NKU 2017 Faculty award for excellence in research, scholarly activity and innovation. He has served on various professional and institutional committees including NKU Faculty Senate, faculty and administration search committees, editorial boards of journals, Science Fairs, Community outreach, Research Celebration, CINSAM middle school alliance, ASME multifunctional among others. (Board Term 2018-2022)

Biological Sciences Representative Kate He is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Murray State University (MSU).  Dr. He received her B.S. and M.S. in Plant Ecology from Northeast Forestry University in China and Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology from Western University in Canada. Trained as a statistical ecologist, Dr. Hes research is centered on biodiversity analysis, invasion biology, ecological modeling, and biogeography. Dr. He has published over fifty peer-reviewed articles in prestigious journals. Dr. He is a Senior Editor of Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, she also serves on the Editorial Boards of International Journal of Applied Vegetation Science and Ecological Informatics. Dr. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses at MSU including Botany, Quantitative Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Biological Inquiry and Analysis. (board term 2020 - 2023)

Social Sciences Representative Justin McFadden has been an assistant professor of science education at the University of Louisville since 2015. His research and teaching expertise focuses on teacher learning focused on instructional change in K-12 science classrooms. He also has an interest in engineering education and integrated STEM education, again focused across the K-12 spectrum. He is an elected board member for the state‘s Kentucky Science Teachers Association, and is currently starting an NSF-funded project with high school science teachers in Jefferson County Public Schools. (Board term 2020-2023

Historian Marilyn Akins (ex-officio) is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Bluegrass Community and Technical college in Lexington and serves as the Secretary / Treasurer for the Kentucky Association of Physics Teachers.

Journal Editor in Chief Frank Ettensohn is a Professor of Geology at the University of Kentucky. His research interests largely center on sedimentary geology and are integrative and field-oriented in nature. His background is in the fields of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and paleontology, but he has found it rewarding to integrate these disciplines with each other and commonly with regional tectonics for a more complete resolution of the problem at hand. Dr. Ettensohn and his students have been especially successful using this approach in the areas of black-shale geology, carbonate paleoenvironments, and seismites. (Board Term 2017-2021)

Junior Academy of Science Director and Program Coordinator Melony Stambaugh (ex-officio) coordinates hundreds of oral and poster presentations for the KAS Annual meeting each fall and for the Kentucky Junior Academy of Science meeting in the spring. Melony is an anthropologist with a degree from the University of Cincinnati.

Junior Academy of Science co-chair Bruce Griffis (ex-officio) is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Kentucky State University. He has served on the KSU Faculty Senate and has been involved in several Mathematics and Science Partnership efforts partnerships in which Kentucky schools and school districts, KSU, and other universities worked together to increase learning in math and science. He also participated on the statewide team that reviewed the Next Generation Science Standards for the state of Kentucky alongside elementary, middle, and high school teachers; faculty from universities; and other stakeholders in science education.

Newsletter Editor Mark dela Cerna (ex-officio) is a Biochemistry doctoral candidate in the BioNMR group at the Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville. His research involves the use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to understand the relationship between protein structure, function, and dynamics. He is also an adjunct faculty at the Chemistry Department at Bellarmine, where he primarily teaches chemistry labs. He aspires to one day lead his own group to further understand principles of protein function using structural biology and to mentor the next generation of scientists. Outside the lab, Mark enjoys recreational archery and driving (aimlessly most times). He is an advocate for diversity in STEM and research. Mark lives with his girlfriend and their four babies (all cats) in Vine Grove, KY. He has been a KAS member since he moved to Kentucky in 2016. You can follow him on twitter (@mvcdelacerna).


Executive Director Amanda Fuller (ex-officio) joined KAS as Executive Director in 2013. She has a BS in Environmental Science and a M.S. in Land Resources from UW-Madison. She has served as a board member and as staff with various nonprofits and served her country as a Peace Corps volunteer. Outside the office, Amanda is a part-time urban farmer, orchardist, entrepreneur and educator.

Communications & Policy Director Rob Weber (staff) joined KAS on Nov. 1, 2021 as the Communications and Policy Director. He works to ensure that KAS has a strong voice across the state and anywhere policy decisions are made that affect Kentuckians‘ lives. A former newspaper journalist, Rob served as the Public Information Manager for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission before coming aboard KAS. He is a graduate of Leadership Frankfort and served as an officer for organizations including the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators, Toastmasters International, and the national Legislative Information and Communications Staff Association. He lives in Frankfort with his wife, Anya, and their two teenage children.

Jon Dixon 

Julie Reizner

Noel Novelo

Dr. Trent Garrison
Dr. Elizabeth Thomas

J. Scott Miller
Dr. Scott Wicker

Dr. Melissa Mefford

Justin McFadden

Dr. Marilyn Akins

Dr. Frank Ettensohn 

Mark dela Cerna

Rob Weber