Meet the Governing Board

Kentucky Academy of Science 2019 Governing Board
CLICK HERE for the 2019 Governing Board roster (available to KAS members )

President Leslie North is an Associate Professor of Environmental Geoscience at Western Kentucky University. Dr. North is also the Associate Director of Education and Outreach for the Center for Human Geo-Environmental Studies (CHNGES) at WKU. She earned her doctorate in Geography and Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida. Since she was first exposed to karst science as an undergraduate student, Leslie has focused her collegiate and research activities on understanding and protecting these fragile terrains through policy and effective data-driven science communication. Her dissertation conducted the first holistic study of karst-related educational programs implemented in the United States and abroad, and the tools, techniques, and feasibility of educating the general public at karst attractions, particularly show-cave facilities. Her other interests include sustainability science, eye-tracking, and water resource management. For more information about her teaching and research interests contact

President-Elect 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)

Vice President Trent Garrison
Trent Garrison 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). Dr. Garrison is now an Assistant Professor of Environmental Geoscience at Northern Kentucky University, where he studies a variety of environmental geology issues that affect Kentuckians, such as water issues and dye tracing techniques, as well as soil, air, and water quality in areas affected by coal fires in the state. In addition, Dr. Garrison has a strong passion for teaching, science advocacy, outreach, and interdisciplinary networking between students and professionals. (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 2017-2020)

Secretary Rajiv Singh is a Chemistry professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. He received his MS in Organic Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry at University of North Dakota in 2012, and joined the Department of Math and Natural Sciences at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in 2012 as an Instructor of chemistry. He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in 2015. His research work at UND was related to synthesis and characterization of two-armed and three-armed carbamates. (Board Term 2018-2021)

Past President Jennifer Birriel, Morehead State University. Dr. Jennifer Birriel received her B.S. in physics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1992. She received her M.S. in physics in 1996 and her Ph.D. in physics in 2000, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Birriel's research specialty is stellar spectroscopy and light pollution. She also has a regular column, entitled the Astronomer's Notebook, in Mercury magazine, which is a publication of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. (Board Term 2015-2019)

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 2018- 2022)

At-Large Representative Dirk Grupe joined the Department of Earth and Space Science at Morehead State in August 2014. Before coming to MSU he was a senior research associate at the Department of Astrophysics and Astronomy at Pennsylvania State University. He was involved with the NASA Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer Mission. Dr. Grupe performed post-doc work at the astronomy department at  Ohio State University, and from September 1997 to July 2002, he was a researcher at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. (Board Term 2017-2021)

Biological Sciences Representative Melanie Hardin Pierce has an extensive background in adult critical care. Her research interests include improving outcomes in the mechanically ventilated adult critically ill patient population, prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia, and positional therapy as an adjunct treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome. She has written numerous textbook chapters in the area of high acuity nursing and is a co-editor of an award-winning nationally recognized critical care textbook, High Acuity Nursing (5th edition). She is active in research and evidence-based practice issues. Dr. Hardin-Pierce is an associate professor in the college where she teaches in the graduate program. She is an acute care nurse practitioner at the VA Medical Center in Lexington, and also is involved in research in the adult critical care services division at UK's Albert B. Chandler Hospital. (Board Term 2017-2021)

At-Large Representative Tracy Hodge is an Associate Professor of Physics and Chair of the Physics Department at Berea College. There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.  (Board Term 2016-2020)

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)

 Social & Behavioral Sciences Representative Amy Hamilton is a high school biology teacher currently employed by Oldham County Schools. She has been teaching in the science field for 17 years in a variety of school districts, such as JCPS and Meade County. She has also served as an Educational Recovery Specialist for the Kentucky Department of Education for several years. Before entering the education field, her BS in Biology from Indiana University led to work in the environmental sciences and microbiology. (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  Maggie Whitson is the Director of the John W. Thieret Herbarium at Northern Kentucky University. She studies plant systematics and evolution and is an expert in the Solanaceae (tomato family). (Board Term 2015-2019)

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.

Nancy Martin (ex-officio) serves as our reprentative to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS). Dr. Martin is Faculty emerita at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and her research interests have been in the area of yeast molecular biology and transport of nuclearly encoded proteins into the mitochondria of that organism.

Journal Co-Editors Wally Borowski and Kelly Watson (ex-officio) are both faculty in the geology deprtment at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Borowski studies stratigraphy, Environmental health of surface warers. Geochemistry of marine sediments. Dr. Watson studies landscape ecology and natural resource management.

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.
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 and among other things, currently teaches at Gateway Community and Technical College in northern Kentucky.

Newsletter Editor Sarah Mardon (ex-officio) has an extensive background as a research scientist and project coordinator. Her previous experience includes serving as Senior Admissions Counselor for Eastern Kentucky University, Geologist for agricultural cooperative CountryMark, Program Coordinator for the University of Kentucky's (UK) Center for Applied Research and Environmental Technologist for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Sarah earned her B.S. in Economics, B.A. in Geology and M.S. in Geology from UK. She is a member of the Kentucky Society of Professional Geologists and served on the Alumni Board for UK's Geology Department.

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 in Paraguay. Outside the office, Amanda is a part-time urban farmer, orchardist, and educator.