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Science and Health Education Partnership

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Our Staff


University of California, San Francisco
100 Medical Center Way, Box 0905
Woods Bldg, Upper Level
San Francisco, CA 94143

FAX NUMBER: (415) 502-4846



Jessica Allen, Academic Coordinator

(415) 476-6431 ::

Jessica was inspired to pursue a career in science education while volunteering as a mentor for SEP’s High School Internship Program. After receiving her doctorate in bioengineering at UCSF, Jessica increasingly devoted her time to teaching. She mentored several high school and undergraduate interns during her postdoctoral appointment. She taught courses in engineering and biology at home and abroad, including a summer course at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and a course in sustainable design in rural Panama. She also supported the CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program for undergraduates at Berkeley City College as the program coordinator. Though she enjoyed scientific research, Jessica decided that teaching was her true calling. In 2015, she left her postdoc to teach biology as adjunct faculty at University of San Francisco and Berkeley City College. After assisting High School Internship Program in the summer of 2016, Jessica joined SEP as an academic coordinator in January of 2017. Currently she supports a number of programs, primarily STAT, Bio&Chem Teach, and HIP. She is also applying her bioengineering background to the development of the Cellular Construction Workshop as part of the Center for Cellular Construction.

Solange Arbesu-Sala, Administrative Assistant

(415) 502-6324 ::


Jenna Bernard, Academic Coordinator

(415) 514-0587 ::

Jenna joined the SEP staff in 2016, bringing a unique background as a research scientist, science educator, and outreach volunteer. She received her doctorate degree in Chemical Biology with additional coursework in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley. During her time at Berkeley, she worked to support science education by serving as a committee chair of Expanding Your Horizons, a member of the Bay Area Scientists in Schools, and a volunteer for the Center For Talented Youth Program. Also while in graduate school, Jenna worked as a Chemistry Instructor for the Level-Playing Field Institute during their Summer Math and Science Honors Academy and a was a participant in the SEPAL Scientific Teaching Institute at San Francisco State University. Through her work with these two programs she gained experience in redesigning traditional science coursework into investigative science lessons that maintain a focus on equality and equity in the classroom. Since starting at SEP, Jenna has worked to help launch SEP’s newest program the San Francisco Health Investigators (SFHI) and will work to support other SEP programs such as Bio&Chem Teach this upcoming year.

Sabine JeskeSabine Jeske, Academic Coordinator

(415)-476-3756 ::

Sabine joined SEP in 2006 with a dual background in science teaching and scientific research. She received her Masters degree in Biology from the University of Bonn, Germany and worked as a field biologist on environmental research studies. After moving to the Bay Area, she earned a teaching credential and worked as a science teacher in a local public high school for several years. While at SEP, Sabine has been coordinating a variety of partnership programs in K-12 classrooms and designed and taught professional development courses for teachers and UCSF scientists.

Jennifer ChuJennifer Chu Kaelin, Academic Coordinator

(415) 476-6937 ::

Before coming to SEP in 2006, Jennifer was involved in science education both as a middle school math and science teacher, as well as previously serving as coordinator for the Wild City! environmental education program at the California Academy of Sciences. While at SEP, Jennifer has been the lead coordinator of the City Science program, where she worked with K-5 teachers and scientist volunteers, helping to support inquiry-based science lessons in the classroom, that they then go on to teach to other teachers during the week-long City Science Summer Institute. She has also developed science and professional development curriculum, led workshops for doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and teachers, and been involved in program design. Jennifer also coordinates the Bay Area Science Festival, where she works on Volunteers, Explorer Sunday Science Tours and Discovery Days logistics. Jennifer received a B.S. in Biology from the University of California at San Diego, a M.S. in Environmental Studies from San José State University and a teaching credential from Santa Clara University.

Ben KooBen Koo, Academic Coordinator

(415) 502-6689 ::

Ben joined SEP in October of 2008, bringing a variety of experience in both science research and education. Ben received his doctorate degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. During his time at Yale, Ben developed an interest in science education while volunteering to teach hands-on science lessons in a 2nd grade classroom with his research colleagues. Following his graduate studies, Ben decided to further pursue opportunities in education by becoming an Oakland Teaching Fellow, teaching 6th and 7th grade science at Bret Harte Middle School in Oakland, California. As a full-time teacher, he gained experience teaching a diverse group of students including English language learners and students with special needs in an urban public school setting.   Ben has helped coordinate a number of programs at SEP including Bio&ChemTeach, Teaching Workshops for Scientists, City Science and the Current Science Seminar Series.  Ben is currently involved in developing SEPLessons, SEP's online lesson plan database, and is helping to coordinate MedTeach and the new Pathways program.

Jean MacCormackJean MacCormack, Academic Coordinator

(415) 476-0338 ::

Before joining SEP, Jean had extensive experience with community, educational and medical institutions, and with bringing resources to bear on a variety of community and educational needs. With a background in social work and elementary education, she has witnessed the exquisite power of partnerships to promote creative problem solving while fulfilling a diversity of needs and fostering mutually respectful relationships. While working as the Science Resource Coordinator at an SFUSD elementary school, she worked closely with teachers in implementing the elementary science curriculum, and was an avid borrower from SEP’s Resource Center. She joined SEP as an Academic Coordinator in 2004 and her program responsibilities currently center on SF Science (Schools Focused on Science), the Daly Ralston Resource Center, and the High School Summer Internship Program. She holds a BA in Economics from Wellesley College and graduate diplomas in Social Work and Social Administration from the London School of Economics.

Luz MarinLuz Marin, Financial Manager

415-502-6690 / 415-502-2566 ::

Luz brings more than 20 years of UCSF financial management experience to SEP, having started her UCSF career at the Library in 1987. While working at the Library and with both young daughters in school, she reduced her time at work in order to attend school full-time. In 1994 while attending school she moved to the Department of Psychiatry at SFGH, and provided financial and computer tech support to the Latino Mental Health Research Project (LMHRP). Luz designed the website, a source of great pride for her; and worked with the School of Medicine on some other LMHRP-related projects. Luz obtained her AA degree in Accounting from Skyline College and pursued a BA degree in Cognitive Sciences at UC Berkeley. During this time, Luz tutored students in business, economics, and computers. Her determination to better her education was driven by the desire to be a role model for her children; both her daughters have earned graduate STEM degrees. Prior to joining SEP, Luz worked for the Department of Medicine at SFGH, assisting the Budget Manager and Director of Finance with annual budget planning and implementation, and serving as a resource to the department with respect to faculty outside income, cash handling, accounts payable, purchasing, and UC financial systems.

Katherine NielsenKatherine Nielsen, Co-Director

(415) 502-5137 ::

Katherine has spent nearly 10 years at SEP: she coordinated Triad, a gender equity in science program, at SEP from 1995 to 1997, returned to SEP in 2001, and became Co-Director in 2005. She has experience in both the education and scientific fields, having taught science at the middle and high school, community college, and undergraduate level; conducted research in developmental neurobiology; and completed a Masters Degree in Education from Stanford University and one in Biological Sciences from Montana State University. She has served as PI or Co-PI on awards addressing professional development, partnership, and diversity issues from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, California Science Project, and others. She is a co-author of Girls in Science: A Framework for Action (NSTA Press) and recently led a collaborative effort to draft a book on science education partnerships.

Rebecca Smith, Co-Director

(415) 514-0588 ::

Rebecca started her career in science education as a scientist volunteer in SEP’s programs while a graduate student in Biochemistry at UCSF. Her partnerships with extraordinary teachers and their students convinced her that this was a career path she wanted to pursue. After completing her doctorate, Rebecca began to work at SEP full time in 2000. In 2005, she was named Co-Director of SEP. Through her work, she has developed extensive experience developing and implementing teacher-scientist partnership programs, teaching doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, and leading professional development for teachers. She has co-developed and taught two innovative courses that use active teaching techniques to help elementary and middle school teachers understand key concepts in biology and chemistry. Rebecca has extensive program evaluation, grant writing and administration experience. She serves as PI on SEP’s NIH NCRR SEPA award as well as grants from state and private funding agencies. Rebecca has also served on the Advisory Boards of other science education projects both locally and nationally.

Lakisha WiztelLakisha Witzel, Academic Coordinator

(415) 476-0337::

Lakisha began working at SEP in October of 2008, with a background in biology and experience teaching in various informal science education settings.  Lakisha received her M.S. from San Francisco State University where she investigated the impact that scientists working in partnership with elementary school teachers have on 4th and 5th grade students.  While at SEP, Lakisha’s efforts have been focused on the Daly Ralston Resource Center, various partnership programs, and professional development for both teachers and scientists.  She currently leads City Science and SEP’s new program, City Science Curriculum Support (CS2), a supporting partnership program focused on FOSS for teachers who participated in SEP’s City Science Summer Institute.