Helene Ver Eecke, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She specializes in extreme microbiology; and is a founding member and intercollege-liaison of the Beer Industry program.
Ver Eecke served as senior microbiologist for an industrial fermentation company where her skills of screening, cultivating, and optimizing microbes were expanded to large scale processes. She has been a professor of biology at numerous institutions and is currently a tenure-track professor at MSU Denver. Her research lab on campus is used to study various projects including brewing, bioremediation and extremophiles.
Ver Eecke has been involved in the conceptualization and actualization of the Beer Industry program, including co-developing the fermentation science course curriculum. As an avid home-brewer, she’s excited to further foster collaborations with the brewing community and expand brewing operations programs at MSU Denver.
Her work in extreme microbiology has been featured in NASA Magazine, Science Daily and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal to name a few. In 2012, Ver Eecke was one of the scientists to help define new limits of microbial life in undersea volcanoes, the findings of which were published in the PNAS journal titled “Hydrogen-limited growth of hyperthermophilic methanogens at deep-sea hydrothermal vents”. Her more recent work includes an article published in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems journal in 2016 titled “Linkages between mineralogy, fluid chemistry, and microbial communities within hydrothermal chimneys from the Endeavor Segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge.”
Ver Eecke received her doctorate in microbiology from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2010 and a bachelor’s in biology from McDaniel College in 2005.
Dorothy Shapland, Ed.D., is an assistant professor at MSU Denver, with expertise in a multitude of areas concerning early childhood education. She has more than 30 years of experience as an early childhood educator. Her research includes relationship building with students and families, social-emotional skill development in the early grades, and creating inclusive learning communities in the early grades. She has presented on a number of topics, such as “Born Scientists: Encouraging and Developing Scientific Inquiry with Young Children,” and “Reducing Challenging Behavior & Supporting Young Children’s Social Emotional Development.” She is a founding member of the VOICES Diversity Council, Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, and a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children as well as the Association for Childhood Education International.
Keah Schuenemann, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise include climate change, Greenland, climate, sea ice, and weather. She teaches Dynamic Meteorology, Synoptic Meteorology, Global Climate Change, and Physics and Chemistry for Elementary Education Majors.
Schuenemann has taught at MSU Denver since 2010 and is the director of the General Studies program. She has co-authored several papers, including “Synoptic Forcing of Precipitation Over Greenland: Climatology for 1961–99” and “Changes in Synoptic Weather Patterns and Greenland Precipitation in the 20th and 21st Centuries.” Schuenemann studies the large-scale weather around the Greenland Ice Sheet, the effects of recent climate changes on these weather patterns, and the state of the ice sheet and its contribution to sea-level rise.
More recently, she began studying how Arctic sea-ice extent affects midlatitude weather patterns, which are potentially responsible for recent droughts and cold-air outbreaks. Schuenemann is also interested in the topic of communicating climate change, the misconceptions about climate change, and developing a pedagogy on teaching climate change based on current communicating of climate-change research. She is passionate about promoting science literacy and critical thinking in the sciences.
Schuenemann received her doctorate and her master’s in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2008 and 2006, respectively, and a bachelor’s in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science from the University of Wisconsin in 2004.
Kamran Sahami, Ph.D., is a full professor in the Department of Physics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is also an affiliate research associate at University of Colorado, Boulder.
Sahami joined the Physics Department at MSU Denver in 2004 after 3 years as a research scientist at CU Boulder working primarily on research projects funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. In 2005, he received a three-year, $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, along with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, to explore astronomy education in virtual immersive environments. The research and subsequent NSF grants in 2008 and 2009 lead to several publications, most notably the identification of gender-specific learning modalities in classrooms immersive environments.
His research interests include non-linear systems, electro-optics and physics and astronomy education. He is the co-author of the published research titled “Learning about the scale of the solar system using digital planetarium visualizations” in the American Journal of Physics in 2017 and “Using a Digital Planetarium for Teaching Seasons to Undergraduates” in the Journal of Astronomy & Earth Sciences Education in 015.
Sahami received his doctorate in astrophysical, planetary and atmospheric sciences in 2001 and a master’s in astrophysics in 1993 from University of Colorado Boulder and a master’s in physics and two bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from San Diego State University in 1993 and 1990 respectively.
Emily Ragan, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She developed and teaches an online section of general chemistry using open educational resources and multiple face-to-face biochemistry courses.
She has been teaching at MSU Denver since 2013. Previously, Ragan worked as an affiliate professor at Tulsa Community College, University of Tulsa, Contra Costa Community Collee and Laney Community College; was a lecturer at Dominican University of California and Kansas State University; and was a postdoctoral associate and graduate research assistant at Kansas State University. She received the E-Learning and Instructional Technology Exemplar award from MSU Denver and was a Teaching Excellence award finalist from MSU Denver Faculty Senate in 2016.
Her lab is currently investigating the mechanism of iron uptake in insects using biochemical techniques and insect cell culture. Better understanding of iron uptake in insects could set the stage for novel pest control strategies or may yield insights that transfer to a more complete understanding of human iron metabolism. Ragan is also interested in active learning strategies, including course-based undergraduate research experiences, to increase student engagement and support learning outcomes. She co-authored several research papers including “Analysis of mutually exclusive alternatively spliced serpin-1 isoforms and identification of serpin-1 proteinase complexes in Manduca sexta hemolymph” in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2010.
Ragan received her doctorate in biochemistry from Kansas State University in 2008 and a bachelor’s in biochemistry and molecular biology from University of California in 2002.
David Parr, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Geospatial Sciences in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
His research interests include social and technical aspects of the GeoWeb, and using citizen science to collect and monitor data. Parr has published research articles in Transactions in GIS, Media, Culture, and War, and the Journal of Applied Geography. He has presented research internationally and at conferences including the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, the National Council of Geographic Education, the OpenStreetMap State of the Map conference, the International Geographers Union, and the Applied Geography conference.
Parr received a doctorate in Geographic Information Sciences a masters in Geography from Texas State University.
Sam Ng, Ph.D., is a professor of meteorology at Metropolitan State University of Denver where he’s been teaching for over a decade. His research includes regional and local climate changes, mesoscale convective systems, winter weather phenomenon, rapid cyclogenesis, occlusion process, quantitative precipitation forecasting and numerical weather prediction.
Leanna Matthews, Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Department of Biology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition to teaching at MSU Denver, she is the assistant director for the Sound Science Research Collective, a nonprofit organization focused on using acoustics to address marine mammal conservation concerns.
In 2019, Mathews participated in a study conducting field work to learn more about the communication patterns of humpback whales off the southeastern coast of Alaska. She worked with other biologist to collect above-water and underwater data to see how whales responded to certain sounds. Her research areas center around marine biology and animal behavior. Matthews areas of expertise include animal behavior, marine mammals, bioacoustics, animal communication and impacts of noise on acoustic communication.
Mathews received her Ph.D. in biology from Syracuse University in 2017, and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University in 2011.