OUR STAFF

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: RACHEL HOPKINS

Through strategic thinking, effective fundraising and a vibrant approach, Rachel is dedicated to not only serving the needs of the Science Museum but impacting the local economy through creative place-making.

She previously served as the Vice President of Development for Center in the Square and led the development of the popular Roanoke Pinball Museum.

Before relocating to Roanoke in 2012, Rachel lived abroad for 10 years, both in Leipzig, Germany and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“Many people have asked why Roanoke? It was love at first sight! I am captivated by Roanoke’s pristine and nostalgic beauty, not to mention the limitless potential.”


SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR: DEREK KELLOGG

Derek Kellogg is from Lawrence, Kansas, and received a Master of Science degree in entomology from the University of Kansas.

Derek joined the Science Museum in November 2012 after four years as chief entomologist at the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, where he oversaw the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden and three aquaria. As the Science Museum’s “butterfly guy,” Derek oversees the Butterfly Garden.

“Science is all around us. It is in the water we drink, the ground we walk on, the structure and function of our body’s organs, even the keyboard I am typing on was put together with materials created through scientific knowledge of the chemical properties of their constituent parts. I am psyched about science because I am psyched about the world that surrounds us and I have the desire to always learn more.”


DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: CHRISTY BROOKS

Christy Brooks grew up in Gate City, Virginia in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. She has always been in love with nature, and received an Associate in Forest Science from Mountain Empire Community College. She moved to Roanoke in 1999, and began working at the museum in 2000 as a Visitor Services Manager. She eventually became the Scheduling Coordinator, and in September 2017 became the new Director of Operations at the Science Museum of Western Virginia. Christy is passionate about instilling a love and understanding of science in today’s youth, and works directly with schools and groups to make sure they are provided the best educational (and fun!) experiences we have to offer. She has two sons, one of which is active in his high school S.T.E.M. program.

“I’ve always loved Science because I’ve always wanted to know the answers to “why?” Understanding how the things in our world work and how they affect the things around them is amazing, and very important.”


DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPY: MARY ROBERTS BAAKO


MARKETING & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER: SARAH VAN ZELESarah Van Zele updated

Sarah’s love affair with museums and libraries began during her childhood in central Illinois and grew as she did.  She realized a lifelong dream to “work behind the desk” in the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library branch in Shawsville, Virginia.  Now she is living another dream by working behind the scenes at the Science Museum of Western Virginia.

“Science fascinates me because there is always something more to learn.  Each new fact leads to another question and each tangent leads to a new idea.”


EDUCATION MANAGER: HANNAH WEISS

Hannah Weiss was born and raised in the New York City area. During college, she moved across the state to attend the University of Rochester, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in mathematics. Throughout college she also gained a lot of experience working in science labs and in education with different summer camps. After her undergraduate degree, she worked in a variety of museums, nature centers, laboratories and public aquariums before enrolling in a Masters program at Radford University. There, she earned a Master of Science in Curriculum  and Development. She is also licensed to teach biology and life science in Virginia.

“Science is magic. In what other field can you spend your days learning about things both too tiny to see and too vast to comprehend while still maintaining your sanity? Well, most of it anyway…”


LEAD EDUCATOR: JORDAN THAYERJordan 2 (by RLB)
Jordan grew up in Roanoke before attending the University of Virginia. After a brief stint as a pre-med, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Following graduation she returned to Roanoke and worked with the museum’s summer camps and exhibits before becoming an educator.

“Science is the best way we have to understand the world around us, and it’s also the best rabbit hole to fall down. Every “why?” and “how?” leads to a great new path to explore.”


EDUCATOR: CASS MORRIS

Cass Morris previously worked as Academic Resources Manager at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. During her time there, she composed over 20 full-length teaching guides, as well as developing and leading workshops for students of all ages and experience levels, assisting with leadership programming and other professional training, and facilitating the biennial Blackfriars Conference. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010 and earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007.

“Science teaches so much about thinking both critically and creatively. It provides such opportunity for wonder, understanding, and discovery at any age.”


ANIMAL CARE SPECIALIST: GUY BYRDGuy (by RLB)

Growing up in Roanoke, Guy graduated from  Patrick Henry High School and attended Ferrum College, where he gained experience working with children as a camp counselor.

After graduating from Ferrum with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Environmental Science, Guy left the area and moved to Seattle. There he gained valuable experience working with developmentally challenged children as a teacher’s assistant, as well as  pursuing his lifelong hobby of caring for exotic pets and taking a professional position as a Senior Aquarium Technician,  where he maintained custom made commercial saltwater and freshwater aquaria.

“My lifelong interest in caring for exotic animals really got its launch here at the Science Museum! I volunteered here at the Science Museum, working in Animal Care, as a student in middle school when Center in the Square first opened. Pretty awesome how things come full circle!”


EXHIBIT TECHNICIAN: MARK HODGES

Born and raised in Roanoke, Mark Hodges started with the Science Museum in the late 1980s as a part time employee at the front desk, then in the planetarium and as the exhibits technician.

Mark’s training and education is in auto service, electronics and medical equipment service technician.

“I’m psyched by science because I’ve always been curious and I like science.”