Our Mission

The mission of the STEM Community Alliance Program is to provide pathways that broaden understanding and exchange between Youth-In-Custody and STEM communities. We aim to help students self-identify as science-capable learners and encourage them to contribute to science, nature protection, and the STEM workforce. By forging connections between Youth-In-Custody, scientists, educators, and artists, we hope to expand the scope of these contributions by highlighting the role that art and the humanities can play in protecting nature, providing science information to the public, and inspiring others to act.

Meet Our Team

Staff

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

Senior Academic Advisor

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is a Biology Professor at the University of Utah. She explores life in the forest canopies of Costa Rica, and studies the effects of deforestation and climate change on forests. She has published over 150 scientific articles and three scholarly books. Dr. Nadkarni’s work goes far beyond science, as she invites different ways of knowing to inspire stewardship of the natural world. She is a passionate communicator, bringing science and conservation to faith-based groups, urban youth, modern dancers, rap singers, the fashion world, and incarcerated adults and youth. Dr. Nadkarni is a TED speaker, a National Geographic Society Explorer, and has a “Tree Top Barbie” created by the Mattel Corporation. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Washington State Department of Corrections Education Award, the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation, and the William Julius Wilson Award for Achievement in Social Justice.

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

Senior Academic Advisor

Dr. Andy Eisen

Program Director

Andy Eisen has worked in the field of higher education in prison for the past decade, starting as a graduate student at the University of Illinois where he earned a PhD in History. His experience teaching incarcerated learners with the Education Justice Project transformed his understanding of the role of higher education in enriching the lives of incarcerated students, instructors, volunteers, and our communities as a whole. In 2015, after moving to Florida, Dr. Eisen co-founded the Community Education Project (CEP), a college-in-prison program at Stetson University, where incarcerated students take credit-bearing courses, conduct and publish research, and have recently built an expansive community garden on the compound. Under Dr. Eisen’s guidance, incarcerated scholars created an award-winning traveling exhibit documenting histories of slavery and Indian Removal in East Florida.
CEP is currently supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Laughing Gull Foundation. In total, Dr. Eisen helped raise more than a million dollars for the program. Dr. Eisen is excited to bring his passion for working with incarcerated learners to the University of Utah.

Andy Eisen

Program Director

Laura George

Associate Director

Laura earned her M.S in the Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. As a master’s student, Laura focused on reformation of youth environmental education, aiming to make it more inclusive to underserved populations as well as to those who don’t typically think of themselves as interested in or capable of participating in science through the inclusion of place-based interdisciplinary content. Laura currently works as the Associate Director for Initiative to Bring Science Programs to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE) and STEM Community Alliance Program (STEMCAP) for Youth-in-Care. These two programs bring local scientists to adult and juvenile incarcerated populations, respectively, to provide informal science education. Laura was drawn to these programs by their effort to engage underserved populations while expanding participants’ perception of science through interdisciplinary work and in-person contact with local scientists.

Laura George

Associate Director

fiona.kuzmack

Fiona Kuzmack

Program Coordinator

Fiona received her BA in Art History from Lewis & Clark College. She has worked in non-profits since 2018, starting at the Natural History Museum of Utah, where she learned about and facilitated Science Communication programs.
In 2019, she began working in domestic and sexual violence prevention and response - accompanying many incarcerated and underserviced populations as they collected their rape kits, learning about the cyclical patterns of incarceration and abuse. She helped lead a support group for domestic violence survivors, and also worked to connect both survivors and offenders to critical therapeutic and restorative services.
She now serves as the Program Coordinator for STEMCAP, helping youth in custody gain access to educators and helping to pave career pathways. She strives to elevate community understanding of the carceral system and the ways that communities can lift one another up.

Fiona Kuzmack

Program Coordinator

Chloe Joesten

Conservation Project Coordinator

Chloe earned their BS in Wildlife Conservation Biology and Applied Vertebrate Ecology with a minor in Spanish language at Humboldt State University in Northern California. After their undergraduate career, they pursued teaching and mentorship experiences with youth in their community through working in schools and coaching junior roller derby. With a stronger foundation in working with youth, and their passion for sciences, Chloe pursued graduate level education at the Teton Science School Graduate Program for outdoor, experiential education. Chloe finished their MaEd at Antioch University Seattle in the Urban Environmental Education program, incorporating how cities and environmental justice are integral to our understanding of environment, conservation and research practices. Currently Chloe is back in Utah, where they were born and raised, and happy to be working as the new Conservation Project Coordinator for STEMCAP.

Chloe Joesten

Conservation Project Coordinator

Past Employees

Megan Young, Program Coordinator

Amanda Carriero, Program Coordinator

Natalie Toth, Program Manager 

Matt Whitaker, Co-Program Manager 

Celeste Henrickson, Co-Project Coordinator 

Allison Anholt, Program Manager

Skye Willard, Program Coordinator 

Jack Hendershot, Student Intern

Cynthia Cheketts, Student Intern

Kelsey Barnick, Student Intern

Sarah Welker, Student Intern

Ananya Roy, Student Intern

Yuqi Chen, Student Intern

Allison Jacobsen, Student Intern

Kiana Luu, Student Intern

Emily Johnston, Student Intern

Linda Zhao, Student Intern

Monica Andersen, Student Intern

Our Partners

Our Sponsors