Board and Staff

Kentucky Academy of Science 2024 Governing Board

CLICK HERE for the 2024 Governing Board roster

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)

Dr. Noel Novelo

Past President Julie Reizner has educated young people in Kentucky for the past 16 years in topics as varied as mineralogy, evolution, paleontology, and wildlife conservation.  As an instructor at Northern Kentucky University, she teaches a variety of geology and paleontology courses, and created a geology Study Abroad course to England and Scotland.  She has also given public talks at Kentucky libraries, the Newport Aquarium, and the March for Science in Cincinnati.  Ms. Reizner has worked at the Cincinnati Zoo as an animal handler, and currently volunteers as an educator and SCUBA diver at the Newport Aquarium, encouraging special connections between the general public and their natural world.  Ms. Reizner received a BS in Geology from Western Kentucky University in 2003, and in 2010 received a MS in Earth Science from Montana State University.  While at MSU, Ms. Reizner conducted research on dinosaur paleohistology with famed paleontologist Dr. Jack Horner - research she is continuing with undergraduate students at NKU to inspire the next generation of people working to understand our ancient world and the life upon it.  When not teaching, Ms. Reizner enjoys hiking with her husband and foster dogs, scuba diving on vacations, and performing locally in a German bier band. (Board term 2021-2024)

Julie Reizner

President-Elect Li Li Zyzak, assistant professor at EKU, received her Ph.D in Biochemistry. She went on to postdoc at the Children’s Cancer Research Laboratory, SC. Dr. Zyzak began her career in the Food Industry with Nestle, working in milk nutrition that led to commercialized products and patents. Thereafter, she joined Takasago, a flavor and fragrance company, to lead their skin biology science and application team working with clients in the cosmetics area. She also worked in the area of taste research while at Takasago culminating in a patent on reduction of artificial sweeteners aftertaste. Dr. Zyzak’s research interest is in the flavor and aroma of food products, specifically in the area of plant-based foods and the Maillard reaction mechanism. Her recent work on the flavor of plant-based food products has been presented at symposiums and received international media attention. She served as the Chair of the American Chemical Society Lexington Section (2021) and is currently serving as their Secretary. Dr. Zyzak is a professional member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)(Board term 2023-2026).

Dr. Li Li  Zyzak

Vice President Jessica Moon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Watershed Studies Institute at Murray State University. She received her M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and her Ph.D. in Ecology from Penn State University. She worked on ecological modeling projects as an ORISE postdoctoral fellow at the USEPA Pacific Coast Ecology Branch, and the University of Arkansas. Before moving to Murray in 2019 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Biology at Franklin and Marshall College. As an ecologist with an interest in hydrogeomorphology, she combines field measurements with geostatistical analyses to understand the patterning and linkages between microbial and plant communities from the submeter to the watershed scale. Her work has highlighted a loss of within wetland and among wetland microbial heterogeneity, variation in soil and carbon accretion rates, and shifts in vegetative quality across landscape context and land use gradients. She has also studied the effects of hydric soil type and wetland condition on nitrogen cycling in surface and subsurface wetland soils. Working with students and collaborators from Murray State, the University of Memphis, and the University of Arkansas she is currently exploring carbon sequestration and the role of tree stems and exposed woody root structures in methane emissions from bottomland hardwood systems.

Jessica Moon Ph.D

Treasurer Mark Wilson holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from UC-Irvine, a Master’s in Biopsychology, and a PhD in Cellular Biology
from the University of Georgia. Mark conducted post-doctoral research at UK with Dr. Diane Snow in the Anatomy and Neurobiology Department. This research utilized antibody-based assays to study the role of proteoglycans during brain development.
Since 1999, he has been in the Biotechnology industry. He worked in R&D at Becton Dickinson (BD) Biosciences in the Immunology department, where he led a team that developed mouse monoclonal antibodies. This team performed immunizations, and used ELISA and Western blot to screen for antibodies that detected proteins
related to various areas of life science research, including brain disorders, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. In 2004, Mark co-founded ECM Biosciences in Versailles, KY with Michael Moylan. He served as Director of R&D at ECM,  designing, developing, and manufacturing monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies for life science research. ECM focused on the development of monoclonal antibodies for detecting cell surface proteins on cancer cells. ECM has sold these antibody products to research institutes in the U.S. and throughout the world. This company was sold in 2022 to PhosphoSolutions in Aurora, CO. Currently, Mark serves as an R&D consultant
for PhosphoSolutions. (Board term 2023-2024)

Dr. Mark Wilson 

Secretary Laura Walther is an Assistant Professor and Lab Manager at Asbury University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Asbury in 1991 and has been teaching in the chemistry department, as well as managing the chemistry labs since 2004. She earned her M.S in Chemistry from Eastern Kentucky University in 2001 and her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry in 2019 from University of Kentucky. Her research interests are in the field of Chemical Education, developing courses that Teach Science with a Purpose, especially for non-science majors to encourage an interest and appreciation for science in everyday life. In collaboration with colleagues, already-developed chemistry courses Forensic Science and Light & Media are just the start with a Biology course on farming and a Chemistry course on Food Science in the planning stages. She currently serves as the Chair Elect for the American Chemical Society Lexington Section (2024). (Board term 2024)

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)

J. Scott Miller

At-Large Representative Scott Wicker  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)

Dr. Scott Wicker

At-Large Representative Savannah Blair obtained her Associate's degree in Imaging Sciences and Bachelor's of Science from Morehead State University and recently graduated with her Master's of Radiologic Sciences from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. Savannah is a proud Kentuckian through and through, and resides in Ashland, KY with her husband. Savannah's ultimate goal as an educator and imaging technologist is to serve, and teach students to serve, the diverse populations of Kentucky and surrounding areas with the best patient care possible. In doing so, she searches for and embraces the endless advancements made in our scientific community.

Savannah Blair

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 Ann Kingsolver is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Appalachian Studies Program at the University of Kentucky. Her research on local interpretations of global processes and policies began in her home community of Nicholas County, Kentucky, for her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. She has enjoyed learning from and with undergraduate, M.A., Ph.D., and postdoctoral students she has mentored in her career teaching in Wisconsin, California, South Carolina, and (since 2011) in Kentucky. She is committed to equitable and affordable transdisciplinary, trans-regional and trans-generational research collaborations. Over the years, she has initiated connected classrooms and research partnerships focused on social, economic and environmental justice between students and faculty members in the US, Mexico, Sri Lanka, India, Italy, the UK and Ireland. She is past-president of the Society for the Anthropology of Work and serves on the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences Commission on Human Rights. (Board Term 2023-2026)
Physical Sciences Representative Dirk Grupe is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Physics, Geology, and Engineering Technology at Northern Kentucky University since July 2022. Prior to this position Dr. Grupe was an Associate/Assistant Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science from 2014 - 2022 at Morehead State University. During his time at MSU he was also the Faculty Senate Vice-Chair (2019/20)and President (2020/21). Before coming to Kentucky in 2014 (and being a KAS  member ever since), Dr. Grupe served at the NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Mission Operation Center at Penn State in State College, PA for over 9 years. He has served previously on the KAS board as a Member at-Large (2018-2021).  Dr. Grupe holds a Diploma in Physics and a Doctorate in Natural Sciences (Dr. rerum naturalis, equivalent to a PhD) from the University of Goettingen in Germany. His research interests are Active Galactic Nuclei/Quasars, accreting super-massive black holes in the centers of galaxies which he observes primarily in the Optical/UV and in X-rays. He is in particular interested in Active Galactic Nuclei that exhibit rapid and dramatic changes in their luminosity including tidal disruption events where a star gets disrupted by coming too close to a black hole. (Board Term 2023-2026)

Dr. Dirk Grupe

Biological Sciences Representative Jennifer (Grace) Clark serves as an Assistant Professor and Program Director for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program at Morehead State University. She received her Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She is an MSU alumni and holds a Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences with emphasis in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) degree, and an Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Sciences degree from Morehead State University. Mrs. Clark is a member of the Kentucky Academy of Science, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Kentucky Society of Radiologic Technologists, and the Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences.

Jennifer (Grace) Clark

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 (ex-officio) 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.
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.
NAAS Delegate Trent Garrison is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Jefferson Community & Technical College. Dr. Garrison has a strong passion for teaching, science advocacy, outreach, and interdisciplinary networking between students and professionals. Trent is a KAS Past President, served as a KAS Physical Science Representative, and currently chairs KAS' Science Policy Committee. Trent grew up in Hyden, Kentucky where he attended Leslie County High School. With an interest in science, he later went on to attend Eastern Kentucky University (BS and MS in hydrogeology), Kentucky State University (Public Administration), and then University of Kentucky (PhD – Environmental Geology).
Executive Director Amanda Fuller (ex-officio) joined KAS as Executive Director in 2013. She currently serves in a leadership role in the National Association of Academies of Science, cultivating relationships and leadership in state-level Academies of Science and sharing best practices. Amanda was named a AAAS Fellow in 2023. She has a B.S. 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.
Science Policy Specialist Madison Flory joined KAS in February 2024. She is currently a graduate student in Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Kentucky, studying the effects of gut microbial metabolism on inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Madison is a member of the inaugural cohort of FASEB’s Howard Garrison Advocacy Fellowship and has participated in the National Science Policy Network’s Science Policy Scholars-in-Residence program. She received her BS in biology from Heidelberg University (Tiffin, OH) in May 2020 before moving to Lexington for graduate school. Madison is a member of Central Kentucky Concert Band’s clarinet section, and also enjoys reading, puzzles, and watching musicals.
Science Communication Specialist Melissa Dougherty joined our team in April 2024. Melissa manages our social media, works on the newsletter, and helps us shine a spotlight on the innovative education and ground-breaking research that is happening right here in our Commonwealth.  Melissa is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hopkinsville Community College (HCC). Born and raised in northwest Ohio, she earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Otterbein University in Westerville, OH in 2014 and an M.S. in Chemistry from Miami University in Oxford, OH in 2016. She moved to Christian County, KY in 2016 while her husband, Jacob, was stationed at Fort Campbell and began teaching at HCC in 2017. Teaching and making science understandable and accessible to students is her passion. Melissa and Jacob have a four-year-old son and two dogs, who make quite the entertaining trio and keep them busy! Melissa has been a member of KAS since 2018.