The 6th edition of Muirlands STEAM Career Day is coming up on Thursday, February 6, from 9:15am to 11:55am. Contact email: (Jackie Fisk and Anna De Angelis).

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Last years event:


Honored Guest Speakers from the Annual STEAM Career Day in February 2019

STEAM Career Day is designed to introduce students to potential career paths in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. During their 4th period class, all students hear from three knowledgeable and engaging presenters that work in a variety of STEAM-related occupations. Presenters share information about the content of their work, what they enjoy about it, what academic path they took and is required for their field, what kinds of skills and interdisciplinary thinking it requires, the impact of their industry in the world, and what they see as the future of their line of work. Presenters are also encouraged to share their personal stories of growth, challenge and success. Each speaker has 15 minutes of presentation time followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers. By the end of 8th grade, students will have been introduced to nine different STEAM-related potential career paths.   

Muirlands Middle School S.T.E.A.M. Career Day --  2019 Speaker Bios

Eric Adler, Professor of Medicine

Dr. Adler is a cardiologist (heart doctor) who helps adults with failing hearts, a scientist who studies heart disease and a teacher of medical students. His laboratory uses stem cells to understand and treat people with genetic diseases that affect the heart.

Lihini Aluwihare, Professor of Oceanography

Lihini Aluwihare was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Zambia where she attended elementary and middle school, and finished high school in England. She completed her B.A at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, in Chemistry and Philosophy. Mount Holyoke is the oldest Women's College in the USA and one of the Seven Sisters. She went on immediately to pursue a PhD in Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology joint program in Oceanography with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She has been a Professor at UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 2001. She has one son at Torrey Pines Elementary School. Her main hobby is fostering dogs from local shelters to prepare them for adoption.


Patricia Bainter, MD

Dr. Bainter attended middle school and high school at Bishop's in La Jolla in the 1980s. She attended college at Pomona College in Los Angeles, where she majored in Art History while doing her pre-med classes. She attended Medical School and an Ophthalmology residency at the University of Colorado in Denver.


Bjorn Barre, Veterinarian

Bjorn grew up in Orange County California and attended elementary, middle and high school in the city of Orange. After graduating from high school he attended junior college then migrated South to San Diego to attend UC San Diego with a biochemistry and cell biology major. While attending UCSD he worked in a small animal practice and became interested in Veterinary Medicine.  He now owns and works at Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center primarily helping dogs and cats.


Silvia Bortolotti, Program Manager

Silvia Bortolotti is a mechanical engineer and works at Solar Turbines in San Diego. She studied engineering in her hometown in Bologna, Italy, which is the oldest university in Europe, dating back to the year 1088. She is the mom of Filippo Bonora, a Muirlands student and of Stefano, who is now at La Jolla High. Ms. Bortolotti started her career in 1998 working for Solar Turbines in Switzerland and moved to San Diego in 2010. She had several roles during her career: sales, product development, project management and marketing. She is now the Program Manager for new products, which means she needs to find a way to sell these products and make money on behalf of the Company! Solar Turbines is a big international company that is in the energy business, making gas turbines for producing electricity. The best part of working for Solar Turbines is that the turbines and products they manufacture help to make people’s lives better, as they produce the electricity that we all enjoy in our houses, schools and hospitals. And the best part of being an engineer is understanding how things around us work, like why a plane can fly!


Jennifer Burney, Associate Professor, UCSD

Jennifer Burney is an environmental scientist and Associate Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on the relationships between climate and food security –  understanding how food production and consumption contribute to climate change, how climate and air pollution impact food production, and how the world's farmers can and do adapt to changing conditions. She earned a PhD in physics in 2007, completed postdoctoral fellowships in both food security and climate science, was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2011, and joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2012.


Bruce Busby, Engineering Technician

Bruce Busby was born in San Diego and attended Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School. Bruce received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Washington University in Saint Louis and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture. Bruce then spent eight years living and working in New York as a costume and prop maker, while making his own artwork and having art exhibits in galleries across New York. Bruce moved to the Bay Area and worked as the model making studio manager at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He continued costume and prop making for both the Berkeley Repertory Theater and American Conservatory Theater—and continued making artwork and having art exhibits in galleries in Oakland and San Francisco, and a museum in Santa Monica. After moving back to San Diego in 2008, Bruce worked for over eight years at a product development firm as a prototype maker and designer, and currently works for a glass engineering firm as an engineering technician. While he is still making his own artwork, he hasn’t had time for his own art exhibit since having two children!


Deisy Corredor, Ph.D., Bioprocess Development Engineer

Deisy is originally from Colombia. She earned a BSc in chemical engineering and came to USA to continue her MSc and PhD in Bioengineering focusing in fermentation science for alternative energy. She moved then to San Diego, and used her fermentation skills to work in bio-pharma producing medications for cancer treatment. Currently, she is working at Illumina, the number one sequencing company as lead engineer for new DNA sequencing techniques.


Laura Crotty Alexander, Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander went to a public high school in L.A. county before attending Duke University. She is a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. She went on to complete a Pulmonary Critical Care Fellowship at Harvard, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Host Defense and Bacterial Virulence at UCSD. She is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and a Staff Physician and Researcher at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. Dr. Crotty Alexander is a Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist with clinical and research-based interests in e-cigarettes. She studies the effects of e-cigarettes on airway inflammation, organ and innate immune function, and the effects of cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor on bacterial virulence. Dr. Crotty Alexander has two sons (6 and 8 years-old), whom she hopes will also love science.


Jackie Fisk, Industrial Engineer

Jackie Fisk is a San Diego local as she grew up in Fallbrook, California.  After high school, she attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she earned a degree in Industrial Technology.  On graduation from college, she began her working career as an Industrial Engineer with The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California.

While at Boeing, Jackie completed her Master’s in Business Administration at Long Beach State, with an emphasis in Finance and Human Resources.  She decided to take her newly acquired skills to San Diego where she landed a position as a Finance Manager for The Northrop Grumman Company. Currently, Jackie works part time as a marketing consultant for Waypoint Consulting.   She enjoys having the flexibility in her work schedule to focus on being a mother while raising her two children.


Nina Garin, KPBS Arts Producer

Nina Garin is an arts editor and producer at KPBS.

In her job, she edits the online KPBS/Arts calendar, writes a weekly arts newsletter and produces segments for KPBS radio and TV.

Before working at KPBS, she was a writer at The San Diego Union-Tribune. She started there as an assistant, delivering mail and making copies. After many years, she worked her way up to writing about the Academy Awards, New York Fashion Week, Comic-Con and hundreds of concerts.

Her career started out of her love for writing and the arts and she continues to have that passion today.   


Aaron Gary, Software engineer

Aaron has been designing and developing multi-tier enterprise applications in the healthcare industry for over 15 years.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in math and a masters degree in Computer Science. In addition to software development he also spends time as a volunteer web-master for a non-profit health initiative based in Haiti.


Cory Gasaway, Director of Product - PlayStation

Cory Gasaway is the Director of Product at Sony PlayStation and is responsible for leading the teams that design and build many of the gaming systems as well as mobile and web experiences used by over 100 million people around the world.  While at PlayStation, Cory has been involved with the launch of many products including the PS4, the PSVR and PlayStation Vue. Before working at PlayStation, Cory also worked at Dell Computers in Austin, TX and Intuit here in San Diego. Cory has a degree in Computer Information Systems from James Madison University and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.  Cory lives in Bird Rock with his wife Carol (who also works for PlayStation) and daughter Reagan (7th grade Muirlands) and Madison (3rd grade Bird Rock).


Kelly Giesing, Geotechnical Engineer

Kelly Candra Giesing is a geotechnical engineer who works for a large engineering and construction company called AECOM. She attended Bird Rock Elementary, Muirlands Junior High, and La Jolla High School. Kelly received her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She has lived in San Francisco and London and is happy to have returned to the San Diego area. She lives in Solana Beach with her husband and two children, ages 6 and 9, and works part time as an engineer. Outside of work, Kelly enjoys spending time outside with her family going to the beach, skiing and camping. She hopes you will consider a career in civil engineering.


Emily Grenader, Artist

Emily Grenader is an artist and teacher. She teaches art and computer science at The Bishop's School. She went to college at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City and earned a master of fine arts degree from UCSD. Ms. Grenader uses drawing, painting, computers and electronics in her artwork and enjoys sharing a multidisciplinary perspective with students. Her work has been published and exhibited across the country.


Amy Jak, Neuropsychologist

Amy Jak earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Cincinnati.  She is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego and a Staff Neuropsychologist and Director of the TBI Cognitive Rehabilitation Clinic at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. Her research examines cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury and in those with dementia.


Nidhi Juneja, Sr. Manager, Infrastructure Operations

Nidhi Juneja has a 22 year career that spans diverse functional areas within Information Technology and Business in different industry sectors such as automotive, electronics, and utility, while working in different geographic areas in Asia, Europe, and North America.


Shweta Khanna, Director, North America Customer Engineering at Qualcomm

Shweta Khanna joined QUALCOMM as a software engineering intern in Summer 2002. She joined QUALCOMM as a full time employee after she finished her Graduate program in Computer Science from San Diego State University in Jan 2003. She held various positions in the last 16 years at QUALCOMM. Most recently, she has been responsible for leading the Customer Engineering team to support North America customers across all Business Units at QUALCOMM.


Sarah Lamere, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Veterinarian

Dr. LaMere grew up in Austin, Texas. She went to college at Texas A&M University, where she got a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and Genetics. She then attended veterinary school at Cornell University in New York and completed a Ph.D. in immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.  Dr. LaMere is both a veterinarian and a medical researcher who has worked with the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. Right now she works in the medical school at UCSD studying HIV (the virus that causes AIDS in humans), but the reason she entered this field was because she found a similar virus in a killer whale! Dr. LaMere has dedicated her career to comparative medicine, which means that she tries to understand health issues that affect both animals and humans. This means that if she figures out a problem in animals, she might be able to help humans with a similar problem, or the other way around.


Chris McCann, Software Developer

Chris is a former Air Force test pilot who wanted to be an astronaut but realized he loved building software that helps people, so that's what he does now. And also because NASA rejected his astronaut application three times (but who's counting?).


Erik Meek, Basketball Coach

Coach Meek went to high school here in San Diego at San Pasqual High School where he helped his team become Division II CIF Champions.  He received a scholarship to Duke University because of his high-grade point average and athletic skills where he then became a member of their NCAA National Championship basketball team.  After Duke, Coach Meek was drafted by the Houston Rockets and played professional basketball in Europe for eight years where he also met his wife. He has lived in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

Last year Coach Meek returned to his old high school at San Pasqual as Varsity Head Coach to help rebuild their basketball program.  Their basketball team has already started making big improvements with players focusing on improving their work ethic, maintaining their focus in practice (and in the classroom), and having a positive attitude.  They have already gone from a 0-27 season in 2017 to now having the most wins this year at the school since 2009.


Reid Meloy, Forensic Psychologist

Dr. Meloy is a forensic psychologist and is a clinical professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Diego.  He consults with individuals, corporations, universities and the government concerning threats and violence towards others.  He has been a consultant to the FBI Behavioral Analysis Units for the past 18 years. He has authored or edited 12 books in his field, and is an invited speaker to conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  He tries to figure out why people commit violent crimes, and works to help keep people safe through the development of national strategies for threat assessment and management programs.


Scott Meyers, Movement Specialist

Please allow me to introduce Scott Meyers. Scotts introduction to movement started as a child. From the time he was 7 until he was 18 he played a variety of sports such as baseball, football, track, tennis, basketball, and wrestling. Simultaneously his passion for the arts grew as he sang in choirs and played classical piano for many years. Upon graduation from high school Scott travelled, enrolled in community college, and finished his education at San Francisco State University with a degree in U.S. History, and discovered dance.He fell in love with modern dance and felt it synthesized his passions for both movement and music. After a 15 year career of performing as a modern dancer he knew he wanted to understand the body in a deeper way that could help people. For the last 15 years Scott has been studying and teaching, dance and Pilates and is a massage therapist. Scott believes that movement is essential to a healthy body and mind.


James Pearce, Microbiologist

Dr Pearce didn't decide to become a scientist, he simply kept picking his favorite subjects at school to keep studying all the way through High School and College.  In doing so he found a passion for science that got him a PhD studying interesting new ways to kill caterpillars! This is why he gets to call himself Doctor if he wants to feel important.  You will note from his accent that he is not from these parts and one of the great things about a career in Science is that it can take you all over the world. Dr Pearce has spent his career in Agricultural Biotechnology - the study of how we can use science to make growing the food we eat more efficiently and with less impact on the environment. Today he will talk about this and why being a scientist is cool.


Josh Peay, Product Development

Josh Peay exists in the space where art and science converge.  For over 25 years he has been on a career path combining the two for fun and profit.  From the early days of the Internet to Bioprinting, virtual reality, product development, computer-controlled machinery, and a 15-year run at Sony Computer Entertainment making some of the top selling video games of all time,   Josh has harnessed his science and art education to land dream jobs. In his talk, he will show a new product that he is currently helping bring to market.


Melissa Plaskonos, Assoc Director of Planning, Real Estate and Construction

Melissa started her career as a U.S. Navy officer after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  After earning her masters degree at Stanford, she became a project manager for a commercial construction company. Then, she worked for 3 different universities, leading facilities and construction organizations (with 200+ staff).  
She recently started a leadership position at Illumina (a bio-tech company), where she leads the planning and design group, supporting all real estate and construction efforts as the company continues to grow.


Cathy Schnabel, Chief Scientific Officer, Biotheranostics Inc.

Dr. Catherine Schnabel has a PhD in molecular biology and is currently the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of a San Diego biotechnology company, Biotheranostics, which develops and offers tests for cancer patients that profile their disease to better select medicines for each individual patient based on their molecular makeup. Results from her research have led to adoption of molecular tests that are now utilized by thousands of doctors in the US to help treat cancer patients.  She has authored many scientific publications and scientific patents. She serves on the Board of Directors of Athena, a non-profit organization that supports women in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics, and provides mentorship, scholarships and career development programs. She has been nominated for the UCSD Athena Pinnacle Award for leadership in the Life Sciences and by San Diego Magazine’s Women Who Mean Business Award.


Danielle Shapero-Rudolph, Graphic Designer

Danielle has been a graphic designer for the last 30 years. When she's not secretly watching cat videos, she's constantly striving to find new ways of thinking creatively and new ways to communicate visually. What's graphic design? Glad you asked....


Nathan Snow, Video Game Critic/Video Producer

Nathan Snow loved movies, video games, and cartoons so much that he made them his job. He has been a video game critic for USA Today for over 8 years, has produced videos for 10 years, and even earned a Ph.D in movies. Dr. Snow has taught classes at universities on animation, video games, film history, and video production. He publishes his ideas about computer animation in articles and books and presents his papers at academic conferences around the country. Basically, Dr. Snow is a kid who didn't want to grow up, and somehow found a way to make it work.


Jennifer Swedell, Laboratory Architect

Jennifer Swedell is a licensed architect and laboratory designer with 15 years of experience. Just days after graduating from the University of Minnesota, she was part of a team that worked on the design for an underground particle physics lab.  The lab was located in a de-commissioned iron-ore mine and the purpose of the lab was to search for dark matter. That project set the foundation for her career in laboratory design. For the past decade she has worked with clients to create unique laboratory environments for researchers, students and robots.  Jennifer has designed labs for universities across the nation. In her spare time she draws and sketches with her 3 year old.


Ray Vizcaino, Bakery Owner

Ray Vizcaino is originally from El Paso, Texas where he was born and raised his entire life. After graduating from Americas High School in 2005, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps and was stationed in Camp Pendleton, Ca for 5 years. While enlisted he did three deployments; two to Iraq and one with the Navy. After completing his time in the Marine Corps, he started his Culinary Career at the Art Institute of California San Diego. He earned his Associates of Science in Baking and Pastry and Bachelors in Food and Beverage Management. Ray has worked from small local bakeries to corporate bakeries, including his personal business MR CAKES. Ray loves to create beautiful and personal cakes for all his customers making them unique and one of a kind. Ray has been featured on the Food Networks’ Halloween Baking Championship in 2017, and his work has been featured in a few local wedding magazines, and baking websites as well. He is also the lead cake decorator for Sugar and Scribe Bakery in La Jolla. His goal is to eventually become a store front and one of San Diego’s best bakery.


Nadir Weibel, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Nadir Weibel is an Associate Research Professor of Computer Science at UC San Diego. His work is at the intersection of technology and healthcare, and he spends his time figuring out how to make use of the coolest technology to help people in need. He has been working with Virtual and Augmented Reality, Depth Cameras, Social Media, Wearable Sensors, and other gadgets to help improve stroke diagnostics, HIV prevention, physical activity, remote surgery, telemedicine, and other aspects of health and healthcare. He is originally from Switzerland, has 3 wonderful kids, and speaks 5 languages.


Susan Wiczynski, Entrepreneur

Today’s presenter is an active volunteer in the La Jolla public schools. She graduated from Brown University, managed some restaurants in Boston, and worked as a regional manager for The Pillsbury Company for many years. Maybe you know the Pillsbury Doughboy from cake mix boxes!  Later, she owned a nursing school uniform company called Dove Professional Apparel. Dove was a tiny business when she bought it in 2001 from some friends of her mother’s, and when she sold it in 2009, it had millions of dollars of revenue each year and contracts with about 300 nursing school programs in 36 states. Dove was “sweatshop-free,” and the main rule of business was “When in doubt, do what is right.” She is going to tell you how she grew her business 6-fold by understanding every aspect of the product and by putting customers first.  Please welcome Susan Wiczynski (wuh-ZINN-skee).

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