Jim Rollings was born in Roanoke, but grew up in Newport News, Virginia. He was appointed executive director in October 2011, having worked for more than 30 years in museums (20 as director): Yorktown Victory Center, NASA’s Langley visitors center in Hampton, the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, and Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone, a science museum in Sarasota, Fla.
“Technology fascinated me very early on. I built a crude –- but working! –- oscilloscope out of surplus parts when I was 14. It’s the excitement of sharing learning with others that keeps me psyched about science.”
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.”
Miriam Musco holds a Master of Arts degree in museum education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Before joining the Science Museum in March 2014, Miriam worked as Early Childhood Education Manager at Sciencenter in Ithaca, N.Y., and as an education consultant for Girl Museum, a virtual museum dedicated to celebrating girlhood.
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…”
A native of Roanoke, Franklin Stinson graduated from Penn State with a degree in Environmental Education and Outdoor Recreation.
Franklin has worked as a naturalist at Shafer’s Creek Environmental Center at Penn State and the Piedmont Environmental Center in Greensboro, N.C., an outdoor recreation specialist (aka “Ambassador of Fun”) at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in Craig County, a middle school classroom teacher in Roanoke City Schools, and for the last three years an Educator for the Science Museum.
“My classroom has been the middle of a river, the top of the mountain, in caves, on a rock wall … anywhere outside! I’m psyched by science because it can explain so many things that are mysteries; but even with knowing these explanations, they can still be amazing and awe inspiring!”
Originally from Brookneal, Va., Adam received his Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and a Masters in Science Education from Virginia Tech. I taught high school science in Roanoke City Schools for two years and have been an Environmental Educator at York River and Grayson Highlands State Park.
“I’m psyched by science because it is a vehicle to better understand this amazingly interdependent, dynamic, and ever-changing planet we are a part of and inhabit. Science allows us to comprehend the complexities surrounding us, from weather patterns and seasonal change to ecosystems and the inner workings of our own bodies. I’m psyched by science because it helps us learn not only how the world impacts us but how we impact the world.”
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!”
Originally from Massachusetts, Becky moved to the New River Valley 15 years ago with her husband. She has worked primarily in the art and framing industry but is now very happy to be involved with the science museum and share in the excitement as people gather new knowledge.
“I am psyched about science because I am awed and amazed by the world around me. Those who know me know my favorite two words are ‘how’ and ‘why’!”
Megan Downing is from Winfield, W.V. and never thought she would work in a science-related field. After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in business, she moved to Maryland where she managed and opened multimillion dollar stores. Megan moved back to Roanoke in 2012 and in March 2013 began managing the new and AWESOME Science Museum Gift Store. Art, not science, had always been her subject of choice. But now she realizes the two go hand in hand. Besides, who wouldn’t love getting to play with toys all day?
“One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein: ‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ What I get to do every day is to encourage children’s imagination through the one thing every child loves to do — PLAY! Imagination is so important. Hopefully by encouraging children to play and learn, I can in some small way contribute my part to the science world.”
Born a Midwesterner, Sarah Van Zele migrated south as soon as she had the chance. She has worked in retail stores, offices, banks, and libraries, but always in positions that allowed her to meet new and interesting people. She joined the Science Museum when it returned to Center in the Square in May 2013. Having spent a great deal of free time in libraries and museums, Sarah feels very much at home here and can often be found at the Living River exhibit or in the Butterfly Garden.
“I am fascinated by science because no matter how much you learn about a subject, there is always something more to discover.”
A native of Birmingham, Ala., Michael Hemphill worked as a reporter for The Roanoke Times from 1997-2000. From 2005-2012 he served as executive director of Mountain Valley Charitable Foundation in Montgomery County where he coordinated the fundraising and renovations of The Meadowbrook Center in Shawsville and old Elliston Fire Station.
He joined the Science Museum in December 2012 and supervises fundraising, marketing, promotions and special events.
“I don’t have a science background, and bailed (failed?) out of college physics and biology classes. I regret that now, because I’m increasingly intrigued — even psyched — by the mysteries that science hasn’t yet explained.”
BUSINESS MANAGER: ERMA WILLIAMS
Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Erma Williams has been with the Science Museum for two years. Erma has many years of experience in office administration with think tanks on “The Hill” and various trade associations. She is a wedding and meeting planner by trade, and once coordinated a penguin-themed wedding.
She moved to the Roanoke Valley after marrying a long time family friend in the early 1990’s, and has a high school-aged son who desires to work in the science field.
“I’m psyched by science because I get to face my fear (dislike, maybe?) of animal critters. And where else can you not only feel like you’re in a storm, but have a tornado beside you?”
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.”
Originally from Christiansburg, Va., Debbie spent most of her adult life in Big Stone Gap where she worked for the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy as well as the Natural Tunnel State Park in office administration in customer service.
She is the mother of two and the adoring grandmother of four whom she enjoys showing the wonders of science to.
“I’m psyched by science because it is all around you. Science is life. You can’t avoid it so why not be motivated by it?”
MARKETING INTERN: CANDACE RUTHERFORD
Candace travelled from the “middle of nowhere” Virginia, formally known as Rappahannock County, to study public relations and marketing at Virginia Tech. When not in class or at the science museum she works as a public speaking coach at Newman Library on campus as well as a Student Assistant Manager at one of the dining halls. Candace will be studying abroad in Lugano, Switzerland this year and hopes to work in the communication field after graduation in 2016.
“I’m psyched by science because I’m terrible at it so everything fascinates me because I can’t do it!”