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Meet the civics and science educators behind the creation of the podcast lesson plans.

Julie Boehm

Julie Boehm is a biology teacher at  Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. Julie graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in neuroscience, and she also holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University. Her pedagogical goal has always been to close the gap between high school biology and current laboratory research. To this end, Julie has spent two summers doing microbiology and genetics research at Northeastern University sponsored by the NSF. She has served as an educational liaison to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and helped grow a summer internship program for high school students. In 2013, Julie was one of eight Massachusetts science teachers selected to create a lesson for MIT BLOSSOMS. Most recently, Julie serves on the teacher advisory board of the Personal Genetics Education Project at Harvard University. In 2020, Julie was awarded the NABT Massachusetts Biology Teacher of the Year Award.


Dr. Todd Brown

Dr. Todd Brown is the creator and founder of The Inspire Project and has recently been named to the Advisory Board to Faulu Academy in Kenya, Africa. He is currently a patented co-inventor of the world's first infectious disease simulation app. Todd is a partner with Dr. Pardis Sabeti and Dr. Andres Colubri on the learning project, Operation Outbreak of Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He has been invited to present in eight countries and across the United States. He is also a winner of multiple education awards, including United States Henry Ford Innovator of the Year, U.S. Congressional Teacher of the Year, Air Force Association STEM Teacher of the Year, CDC Science Education Fellow, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador, and the “Ignite Innovation” award from the Education Foundation of Sarasota. Lastly, Dr. Brown’s work has been featured in National Geographic, WIRED Magazine, Forbes Magazine, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Cell, The Earth Institute of Columbia University, and John and Hank Green’s Crash Course.

Mark Capansky, Jr.

Mark Capansky, Jr. is a history teacher at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, MA, where he teaches U.S. History I to sophomores. He has previously taught advanced placement U.S. government, American law and justice, and U.S. history at the high school level. Mark has his M.A. in Teaching from Tufts University and his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy. He is dedicated to assisting students in identifying ways that historical events connect to and influence their daily lives, as well as helping them consider the lessons history has to offer about tolerance, decision making, and leadership.

Casey Cullen

Casey Cullen is a teacher at Westborough High School in Massachusetts. He teaches civics, psychology, social and criminal justice, world and United States History. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies where he now serves as the director of advocacy and outreach. Casey is an original member of the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition and serves on the Teaching and Learning committee. In 2020 he was awarded a Department of Elementary & Secondary Education fellowship to help teachers implement a new civic engagement project initiative throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Nia Gipson

Nia Gipson is the Director of STEAM and FIRST Robotics Coach at Saint Joseph Preparatory High School in Boston, Massachusetts. She has been working in STEAM education for the past 10 years in both formal and informal settings including working with museums, summer camps, afterschool programs, and other STEM/STEAM community organizations. Most recently she has been working with Lemelson-MIT to digitize their Toy Design curriculum for online learning. Nia has a B.A. in biology with a minor in psychology from Swarthmore College and a M.Ed from Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Naomi Volain

Science teacher Naomi Volain was named a Top 10 Finalist for the million-dollar Global Teacher Prize, and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in Massachusetts science, among other awards. As an environmental educator with deep experience teaching urban students, she taught high school AP environmental science, botany, ecology, and biology, using hands-on inquiry methods and project based learning. Naomi created Plants Go Global to teach about plants as a hands-on tool for Earth’s sustainability solutions. She’s written curriculum for MIT’s BLOSSOMS and lessons to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. She is a Reader Researcher at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in California. Naomi writes and draws science comics strips to teach about plant and climate research in a new genre, melding art and science.