Christa Dillabaugh, MA
President / Volunteer Executive Director
Prior to founding the Morpho Institute, Christa launched Amazon Rainforest Workshops, LLC and has coordinated numerous student and university field programs in the Amazon. Christa began her love of the Amazon and neotropical rainforests while leading expeditions for her own students from Bexley, Ohio. She has also worked as a free-lance science consultant to Pearson Education and Discovery Communications, contributing to curriculum and activity guides as well as educator in-service workshops and training materials focusing on STEM and Understanding by Design in the science classroom. Her current area of focus is community-based conservation and conservation education.
Kelly Keena, PhD
Dr. Kelly Keena is the Director of Education and Outreach for Underwriters Laboratories, a global safety science not-for-profit organization. Previously, Kelly was co-founder and Principal Consultant for Blue Lotus Consulting & Evaluation, LLC. Her research focused on the quality of children’s experiences in green schoolyards and participant-generated data to understand the nature of learner experiences in environmental education. In addition to more than ten years as a non-formal educator and ten years of classroom work as a science teacher and instructional coach, she consulted for projects with the Children’s Museum of Denver, National Wildlife Federation, and international organization Living Literacies. She is currently the Chair of the National Environmental Education Advisory Council for the Environmental Protection Agency where she works on national Environmental Education priorities and partnerships, including evaluation. Kelly was recently awarded the Enos Mills’ Lifetime Achievement Award in environmental education by the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE).
Nancy Trautmann, PhD
Dr. Nancy Trautmann recently retired as Director of Education and currently serves as Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, focusing on teacher professional development and curriculum development related to biodiversity conservation. Her passion lies in introducing people to the wonders of the natural world and helping teachers go beyond textbooks and lectures to get their students involved in conservation-related investigations and projects. She has published 10 books in collaboration with teachers, on topics ranging from biodiversity to toxicology. Publications by NSTA Press include a manual on citizen science and four environmental science research manuals. A recent book, Birds Without Borders, won the top educational award from the Association of American Publishers for supplemental science curricula in 2016.
Rosanna (Ro Ruiz), EdD
Director of Educational Engagement
Creating personal and meaningful experiences is what drives Ro, whether it concerns participants in the Morpho Institute’s PD programs, the many interns she mentors, the volunteers she works alongside, or the students she has taught over the years. Ro began an engineering career in the Space Shuttle program with Rockwell International, but an undying passion for the environment and conservation led her into a second career in Outdoor Recreation and Administration. As a natural teacher and non-stop learner, Ro recently completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University, Fresno. Her dissertation, “Awe as a Professional Development Approach in Environmental Education,” included research on the impact of Morpho’s Educator Academy in the Amazon as a transformative PD experience for K12 educators.
Lindsey Swierk, PhD
Director of Scientific Research
Lindsey Swierk is a tropical ecologist studying the behavior and evolution of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). Lindsey heads an Organismal Ecology research laboratory at the State University of New York, Binghamton, where she and her lab investigate topics related to animal communication, social and reproductive behaviors, and adaptation to a changing world. Lindsey has conducted research throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. Lindsey serves as the Associate Director of Scientific Research for the Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies (ACTS) in Peru, with a research focus on lizards living in the tree canopy. Lindsey received a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies and a Masters in Environmental Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Ecology from Penn State. She was a Donnelley Environmental Fellow at Yale University’s School of the Environment. Lindsey is actively engaged in several initiatives to make science more accessible to the public and particularly to historically underrepresented groups in science.
Molina (Mo) Walters, PhD
Molina Walters, known as Dr. Mo, is a Clinical Professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College at Arizona State University and co-developer of our flagship program – the Educator Academy in the Amazon. Before entering higher education, Mo spent twenty-four years teaching elementary, middle, and high school in Northern California. She is well-known for her enthusiastic and lively approach to teaching elementary and secondary science method courses and environmental education courses. Her main research interest is in STEM & Inquiry-based learning, Environmental Education, and Professional Development. Currently, Mo is the creator/lead teacher consultant for Teaching Inquiry-Based STEM Science, a professional development for educators. She is also the program creator and coordinator of Arizona's Environmental Education Program of Distinction program
Dr. Rob Naczi, New York Botanical Garden
Laura Arndt, Global GreenSTEM
Dr. Rusty Low, NASA GLOBE Observer