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Leaders

The D39 Education Foundation is expanding the Science Olympiad program and seeking adults to share their science, math and engineering experience with the students. Science Olympiad is a nationally recognized program offering extracurricular opportunities for students interested in these fields. The 5th-8th grade students can participate in one or more of over 20 courses and will meet weekly beginning the first week of December thru the second week of February before or after school.

Our leaders often prefer to work in groups so you are welcome to join forces with existing friends/colleagues. We are also happy to match you up with other co-leaders or you can lead a course on your own. If you are interested in volunteering your time and expertise for this year’s Science Olympiad courses, the first step is to take the brief survey to assess your availability and areas of interest/expertise. Complete the survey.

We hope you will consider this opportunity to engage the Wilmette students in the STEM fields. Please feel free to forward this on to any friends/colleagues/parents who might be interested!

Michelle Vile, D39 Science Olympiad Leader/Curriculum Advisor

Michelle Vile is the proud parent of a 5th grader at Highcrest, a 7th grader at WJHS and a Freshman at New Trier who loved his experience in the D39 Science Olympiad program.  Michelle’s background is in consumer marketing, primarily focused on brand strategy, product positioning and new product development. She has worked for a variety of consumer packaged goods companies including Pepsico, Del Monte and Yahoo! Most recently, she taught a Consumer Behavior class to undergrads at Northwestern.  Michelle has an M.B.A. in Marketing from Indiana University and a B.A. in Psychology from Notre Dame.

Meet our 2016-17 Course Leaders

Tony Asghari

Tony Asghari is a parent of a Highcrest 5th grader and Romona 2nd grader. He has been working the past 10 years as a Principle Staff Engineer at Continental Automotive, where he is responsible for development, thermal, vibration, structural modeling, analysis, and testing of various electronic packages used in an automotive environment. Prior to this, he worked for Motorola for 10 years as a Six Sigma Black Belt & Mechanical Staff Engineer. Asghari has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, as well as Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois.  He enjoys fly-fishing, snow skiing, camping and travelling with family.

Susan Alt
Susan Alt is a returning Science Olympiad leader.  She is the parent of a Highcrest 6th grader and has 2 children at Central Elementary.  She is a practicing internist at Northwestern Medicine.  She received her MD from the University of Chicago and completed her residency at UCSF.  Before medical school she earned a MS in Environmental Science from Ohio University and has worked in basic science labs studying botany and infectious diseases.  Her undergraduate degree was from Northwestern.  She enjoys biking, hiking, camping and traveling with her family.

Kathryn Calkins

Kathryn Calkins is the parent of a 6th grader at Highcrest and a returning Science Olympiad leader. She is a science writer for one of the National Institutes of Health websites. She has a degree in biology and English composition from DePauw University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University. She volunteers at the Highcrest School garden and enjoys classical music, hiking and cooking.

David Goldfinger

David Goldfinger is a PhD student at Northwestern and MIT, where he is working on an X-ray telescope that will be flown on a NASA rocket.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis where he studied physics.  This will be his 15th year being involved in Science Olympiad in some capacity, having at different times been a competitor, event supervisor and coach.  His proudest accomplishment is being part of the team that won the Division B national championship in 2005.  Outside of science, he also enjoys science fiction and ice hockey.

Alex Gurvich

Mayowa Ijisesan

Mayowa Ijisesan is the parent of an 8th grader at WJHS and a 6th grader at HMS. This is Mayowa’s second year leading a Science Olympiad class. Mayowa has a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, Norman Oklahoma and a Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca NY. Mayowa is an independent consultant specializing in Business Intelligence for manufacturing companies in the food, metals and chemicals industries. Mayowa is also currently enrolled in the Executive Education program for Nonprofits at Kellogg, Northwestern University. On the weekends, Mayowa and her husband pastor a church in the city of Chicago. She enjoys travelling to new places and discovering new cultures.

Laura Lerner

Laura Lerner is the proud parent of an 8th grader at WJHS. She earned her master’s in Information and Knowledge Strategy from Columbia University in NYC after her bachelor’s in Business Management. She’s currently Vice President, Knowledge Management at ADP, a Fortune 500 human capital management technology company. Over her career, she’s led organizational learning efforts for enterprises large and small across various industries, including Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Chrysler, and John Deere. Her award-winning work has earned her a place as guest lecturer for Columbia and DePaul Universities and speaker at several industry conferences. Outside of work, Laura enjoys reading, traveling, music, and video gaming with her family.

Emily Mackie

Emily Mackie attended the Illinois Institute of Art, where she graduated with a B.F.A. in Interior Design. Emily is founder and owner her own luxury design firm, Inspired Interiors. Emily interprets the needs of her clients styles and functions for daily life inside their spaces.  Then builds and furnishes interactive environments that enhance the way clients live, love, work and function. Emily’s work has earned numerous industry awards and been featured in several publications, and television programs.

Daniel May
Dan is a proud parent of a WJHS 8th grader and a New Trier HS sophomore.  He studied Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Florida.  He is a serial software entrepreneur, founding multiple software companies in the financial services sector.  Dan has a passion for computer programming languages and all things mechanical.  He enjoys restoring, repairing, and racing vintage motorcycles.  He is very excited about transferring some his STEM experiences to a new generation. 

Greg Mayer
Greg Mayer is the parent of a 8th grader at Wilmette Junior High and a returning Science Olympiad leader.  He is a registered patent attorney with a background in aerospace engineering. Greg obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, and graduate degrees from Stanford University and the University of Chicago. He works for Hollister Incorporated (a medical device company) as its Asst. GC and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel. His interests include tinkering with cars (both real and R/C), traveling, skiing, and playing golf.

Saoirse McSharry

Saoirse McSharry earned her bachelors in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2010; given her curiosity about human biology, she initially thought this would lead her to medical school. After 3 years in a research lab at the University of Chicago where she studied heart development, however, she discovered that she belonged on a path where could explore her curiosity in the lab! She is now in her fourth year of a PhD program in Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University, where she studies how the many tubes in our bodies grow to be just the right sizes. Through her own adventures at Northwestern, she has come to realize that her calling in life is to teach, so she’s very much looking forward to her journey into the world of Science Olympiad!

Albert Menard
Albert Menard is the grandparent of a WJHS student (Russell McGrath), a HMS student (Rose McGrath) and a McKenzie student (Alex McGrath).  He has a BS from Amherst College, an MS from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D from the University of Florida all in physics.  He taught College physics for 38 years until he retired in 2012.  The majority of this teaching was at Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw Michigan.  He taught all undergraduate courses in physics as well as Astronomy, Geology and Meteorology to non-science majors.  Albert and his wife moved to a retirement home in Evanston in 2014 to be nearer their three grandchildren.

Hooman Mohseni
Hooman Mohseni is the parent of a 6th grader and a freshman in college. Hooman has a PhD in electrical engineering from Northwestern University. He is currently a professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern, where his research group is making novel photonic and electronic gadgets, including making the most sensitive cameras to be installed in an 8 meter telescope in Hawaii for imaging the first Earthlike exoplanets. He was a technology leader at Sarnoff-SRI International before returning to his alma mater. Hooman enjoys traveling, cooking, watching movies, and racing sprint triathlons.

Majid Naghshineh
Majid is the parent of freshman and 6th  graders and is a returning Olympiad Leader. He has Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London, U.K. and works in the area of automotive and medical devices. He is on the industry and corporate advisory boards of UIC, NIU, and NUTC and adjunct lecturer of IIT. He enjoys sports and traveling to new places.

Naveen Nathan

Naveen Nathan is the proud parent of two children at Harper and Highcrest. He is a clinical anesthesiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and teaches at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Though he received his M.D. from Northwestern, his allegiance lies with the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign where he met his best friend, his wife. When he is not preparing and administering hypnotic drugs, inhalational anesthetics and paralyzing agents to surgical patients you can find him tending to his other major passion in life, the fine arts. With a penchant for realism and medical illustration his favorite medium is traditional oil, followed closely by wax color. He strives to use as much creativity and interaction as possible when teaching science and is the recipient of nine consecutive golden apple teaching awards for his department at Northwestern.

Chris Oh
Chris is a parent of a 6th grader at Highcrest and a 2nd grader at McKenzie. He is a board-certified internist on staff at Advocate and NorthShore Health Systems. He is a graduate of the combined B.A./M.D. program from Northwestern University and also holds a Master’s degree in physics from Cal Tech where he spent 3 years doing research in experimental high energy physics. He is also a registered patent agent. Chris is passionate about K-12 STEM education and is currently developing innovative curricula in both life and physical sciences. In his spare time he volunteers as consultant to Guatemala’s ministry of health where he is helping rural Mayan communities develop sustainable healthcare solutions.

Todd Rusche

Todd is the parent of 5th and 6th grade boys at Highcrest and a 3rd grade girl at Romona. Todd has an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Northwestern. He bleeds purple as he returned to Northwestern for law school after practicing structural engineering for six years. Todd is a registered professional civil engineer in California and Illinois. Todd practiced construction law in Chicago for several years before returning to his professional passion of building things. Todd has been a developer, builder, engineer, attorney and concentrates now on project management of large capital projects. Todd originally hails from Minnesota, but his wife is a New Trier grad. His kids just think he’s a nerd.

Suzan Sun-Yuan

Suzan Sun-Yuan, is a parent of an freshman and a returning Science Olympiad leader.  Suzan is a licensed mechanical Professional Engineer and works for an engineering consulting firm, ESD, Inc. She graduated from Tongji University in Shanghai, China from the department of Thermal Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Institute. She received her Master of Science degree from Illinois Institute of Technology, department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. She enjoys cooking, hiking and traveling.