K-12 Visiting Scientists Program

Learning is an active process and the K-12 Visiting Scientist Program allows young students to experience the topic at hand and meet and interact with practicing professionals. We know these techniques make learning more real, more interesting and more grounded. Through the Visiting Scientist Program, developed and offered by the College of Science and Mathematics (CSAM) at Montclair State University, we make our faculty, with their diverse experience, available for short-term visits to area schools that generate an atmosphere of inquiry, enthusiasm and challenge students from elementary to high school. Our faculty make themselves available to spend select classroom periods at area K-12 schools to share their research and expertise and most importantly the excitement of being a professional scientist, mathematician, information technologist, or STEM educator. Teachers, principals and superintendents are invited to review the list of outstanding presentations and hands-on activities and demonstrations offered by our CSAM faculty and arrange visits to your school and classrooms.

This program is offered as part of community partnership from the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University. There are no fees for the program.


In order to ensure a rewarding experience for host schools, students and presenters we ask that you follow these guidelines:

  • While Visiting Scientist faculty strive to accommodate all requests, for schools residing outside of a 25 mile radius from the University scheduling may be challenging due to teaching commitments and will be at the discretion of the presenter.
  • Complete and submit the Request Form (the form will go directly to all requested faculty). Arrangements will be made directly between each presenter and the requestor.
  • Once arrangements have been made please plan to confirm the date, time, location and parking details with all presenters the week before a presentation is to be given.
  • Plan to discuss any special arrangements the presenter may need in regard to space, and equipment. Some presentations will necessitate arrangements for bringing in numerous and in some cases heavy props.
  • If the presenter is scheduled for multiple presentations over the course of a day please let them know where they can find accommodations for rest room facilities, break/prep area and lunch.
  • A teacher must remain with the class at all times.

Topics and Scientists

Issues of the Environment
Dr. Sandra Passchier
Title of Presentation:
  • Antarctic ice, climate, and sea level (High School)
Bio: Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator for the M.S. in Earth and Environmental Science. Has studied the history of polar ice sheets since 1992 in collaborative research efforts involving expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Dr. Robert Taylor
Title of Presentation:
  • Sustainability Science. (High School Juniors, Seniors)
I would discuss what sustainability science is all about and why we need scientists to study this important emerging field.
Bio: Robert W. Taylor, PHD, Director, BS/MS Program in Sustainability Science Department of Earth & Environmental Studies. Specific field of concentration is “Urban or Place-Based Sustainability Science."
Dr. Dirk Vanderklein
Title of Presentation:
  • Invasive plants: Japanese knotweed sucks more than you think. (High School)
Bio: Dr. Vanderklein is an associate professor of Biology at Montclair State University, NJ. His background is in plant physiological ecology, which is the study of how plants and the environment interact with each other. His research has included the impact of insect defoliation on plant carbon storage, why trees grow tall or short, and the physiology of invasive plants. He is also very interested in bringing more hands-on science into the classroom.
Computational, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Dr. Amir Golnabi
Title of Presentations:
  • Mathematical Operations and Images (Grades 11-12)
Bio: Dr. Golnabi studied Mathematics and Computer Engineering at the University of Salamanca in Spain. After completing 4 years of coursework, he transferred to Montclair State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2007. Thereafter, he started his graduate studies at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and worked on the "Computational Aspect of Microwave Imaging for Biomedical Applications. In June 2012, he completed his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering, and joined the Pulmonary Imaging and Bioengineering Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. During his postdoctoral research fellow training, he worked on "Complex Systems Approach to Bronchoconstriction in Asthma.
He has a track record of peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and awards, including the Sylvia Sorkin Greenfield Award for the Best Paper Published in Medical Physics, 2013. He was also the recipient of the prestigious IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Graduate Fellowship for Medical Applications in 2010. Dr. Golnabi's research interest includes mathematical modeling, numerical methods, inverse problems, medical image processing, and image reconstruction algorithms. He holds a patent in System and Method for Collection and Use of Magnetic Resonance Data and Microwave Data to Identify Boundaries of Interest with two colleagues.
Dr. Golnabi is passionate about teaching and is currently with the Department of Mathematical Sciences as an assistant professor.
Dr. Katherine Herbert
Title of Presentations:
  • What is Computer Science and Information Technology? (Grades 4-12)
  • Computers, Information Technology and the Sciences: How working together lets us address scientific questions (Grades 4-12)
  • An Introduction to Databases and Their Role in Society (Grades 4-12)
  • An Introduction to Bioinformatics (Grades 4-12)
  • An Introduction to Cheminformatics (Grades 4-12)
  • Computing and Sustainability Sciences Studies (Grades 4-12)
  • Computing in My Future: Opportunities and Roles of Computing in Careers. (Grades 4-12)
  • What is a Computer? An introduction to what makes something a computer. (Grades 4-12)
  • Girls, Women and Diversity in Technology: Why everyone is important for our computing future (Grades 4-12)
I would be happy to work with faculty and programs from Pre-K to 12th grade on presenting computing topics they feel are appropriate for their students. I am happy to create technical talks as well as discuss more experience oriented topics that will help students with career choices.
Dr. Eliza Leszczynski
Title of Presentations:
  • Math Around Us: Fractals in the Classroom (Grades 4-12)
  • Contemporary Math for Everyone (Grades 4-12)
  • To Infinity and Beyond! (Grades 4-12)
  • What is Mathematics? (Grades 4-12)
Bio: Eliza Leszczynski is an instructional specialist in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montclair State University, New Jersey.She teaches courses in mathematics and mathematics education for prospective and in-service mathematics teachers.Her research interests focus on the connections of mathematical and scientific content and practices in the classroom.She strongly believes that all students can engage in (and enjoy) activities that involve mathematical thinking.
Dr. Mark Hubey
Title of Presentation:
  • Computer science and Information Technology, Engineering. (High School)
Bio: H.M. Hubey, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of New Hampshire, PhD, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, NJIT, MS, Systems Engineering, Stevens Institute of Unification Theological Seminary, MA (almost), Religious Education. Mathematical Linguistics; Mathematical Modeling of Biological, Social, Economic Phenomena, Glaciology, Fuzzy Logic, Nonlinear Differential Equations, Orthogonal Functions, Color Algebra, Nonlinear Mechanics, Simple Genetics Information Quality, Knowledge Quality, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Education: Pedagogy-Learning, Similarity Measures, Concepts, Hierarchical Systems, [Mathematical], Ethics, Simulation, Consciousness, Hierarchical Systems, Evolutionary Psychology and Ethics, Animal Cognition.
Dr. Aihua Li
Title of Presentations:
  • Amazing numbers (Amazing number patterns in nature and in sciences). (Grades 3-8)
  • Crypto kids - Future code makers and code breakers (lecture on cryptography basics with hands-on activities). (Grades 3-8)
  • Women in Cryptologic History (contributions of women cryptologists in WWI and WWII). (Grades 6-12)
  • Fractal Geometry (beautiful fractal geometry as art work and the mathematics behind). (Grades 3-12)
  • Calculating with Chinese Abacus (How ancient people do calculation using Chinese abacus, basic rules, and applications in math education).
Bio: Dr. Aihua Li is a professor of Mathematics at Montclair State University. She earned her Ph. D. in mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In recent years, she has done research in number theory, difference equations, matrix theory, discrete dynamical systems, graph theory, and mathematics applications in biology and materials science. She has been actively involved in directing undergraduate research in mathematics. Dr. Li is currently the vice chair for student activities of the Mathematical Association of America New Jersey Section.
Dr. Mika Munakata
Dr. Ashwin Vaidya
Title of Presentation:
  • Creativity in Science and Mathematics? (Grades 7-12)
Bio: Mika Munakata is a professor of mathematics education in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She teaches mathematics primarily to pre-service and in-service secondary teachers. Her research interests are in problem solving, program assessment, and teacher development.
Bio: Ashwin Vaidya is an assistant professor of physics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montclair State University. His research lies in the area of theoretical and experimental fluid mechanics and he is also interested in issues of education and creativity in the sciences.
Dr. Stefan Robila
Title of Presentation:
  • Seeing the Unseen - Spectral Imaging and their Applications. (High School, although upper middle school would also be appropriate)
Bio: Dr. Stefan Robila is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Montclair State University. He has a PhD in Computer Information Science and a Masters in Computer Science from Syracuse University. Since joining Montclair State in 2003, Dr. Robila has taught courses covering a large part of the computing field and engaged in projects with students at all levels (doctoral, masters, undergraduate and high school). His research projects include image processing, high performance computing, computer security, and green computing. Dr. Robila's work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, PSEG, HP, Sun Microsystems, and SPIE and has resulted in over 60 scientific publications.
Dr. Bharath K. Samanthula
Title of Presentation:
  • A New Era for Cybersecurity
Bio: Dr. Bharath K. Samanthula is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Montclair State University. Prior to joining Montclair State University, Dr. Samanthula worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Cyber Center department and as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Purdue University - West Lafayette. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Missouri University of Science and Technology. His research interests span across applied cryptography, personal privacy and data security, primarily in the fields of social networks, cloud computing, sensor networks, and smart grids.
Chemical Sciences and Life Sciences
Dr. Henk Eshuis
Title of presentation:
  • Chemistry on the computer: how to use (big) computers to learn about chemistry (Grades 4-12)
Bio: I was born in the Netherlands, where I got my Chemistry M.Sc. degree. I then moved to Bristol, UK for my PhD studies. Before coming to Montclair State as assistant professor, I did post-doctoral work at the University of California, Irvine. My training is in quantum chemistry and I am currently involved in doing both applications and method development.
Dr. Jinshan Gao
Title of presentation:
  • Mass Spectrometry (Grades 10-12)
Bio: Dr. Gao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from China Agricultural University, and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University. During his Ph.D. studies, Dr. Gao focused on the investigation of free radical activities by employing mass spectrometry and the development of a new ionization source. Prior to joining Montclair State University, Dr. Gao spent one and half years as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology. There he launched his research career in proteomics and glycomics by employing free radical chemistry and mass spectrometry. Dr. Gao is the author and coauthor of 16 original research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 2 U.S. patents.
Dr. Nina Goodey
Title of presentation:
  • Chemistry Magic. (Grades 3-5)
Bio: Dr. Nina Goodey holds a Ph.D. in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry from University of Texas at Austin and is an expert in enzyme structure, function, and kinetics. There she engineered the substrate specificity of Phospholipase C by active site mutagenesis. She did her postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University, in College Park, PA in the laboratory of Stephen Benkovic investigating the role of protein motion in the catalysis of Dihydrofolate reductase. Her scholarship focuses on the role of conformational changes in drug binding and catalysis, with special focus on allosteric interactions and inhibitors. She has also recently become interested in the role of heavy metal contamination on soil enzyme function. She has published her work in 15 peer-reviewed articles in journals including Biochemistry and Nature Chemical Biology. She is originally from Finland and moved to the U.S. when she was 14 years old. She has three bilingual children, ages 3, 5, and 7. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her children, hiking, camping, running, cooking, and reading for pleasure.
Dr. Carlos Molina
Title of Presentation:
  • How can zebrafish help us be healthy? (Grades: 6-12)
Bio: Dr. Carlos A. Molina is an associate Professor of Molecular Biology at the College of Sciences and Mathematics of Montclair State University. From 1994 to 2006 he was an assistant professor at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health at Rutgers Medical School in Newark, NJ. Dr. Molina received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, M.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry for Purdue University and postdoctoral training in molecular and cell biology at the University of Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. Using zebrafish as a model organism, Dr. Molina has focused his research in two areas, cancer and the female reproductive system. In the area of cancer research he seeks to understand the mechanisms involved in eliminating and misplacing a protein with tumor suppression activity in skin cancer cells. This data set the stage to test for pharmacological agents specifically targeted to inhibit the degradation and abnormal localization of this protein. In the area of reproductive biology he is developing ovarian-specific transgenic zebrafish to dissect the molecular mechanisms of ovulation. These studies may lead to the development of new technologies in the field of agricultural livestock, where higher ovulation rates are desired. Further research in this area could also lead to the development of novel reproductive technologies.

Contact Us

For more information, please email Rebecca Shell at .