SciAccess 2021 Team

The Science Accessibility Conference

Anna Voelker

Anna Voelker founded the SciAccess Initiative in 2018 with the support of The Ohio State University President’s Prize. The inaugural SciAccess Conference took place in June of 2019, bringing together 250 teachers, students, and disability advocates with a shared passion for accessible STEM education. In 2020, Anna organized a virtual SciAccess Conference, which had 555 attendees from all 7 continents and 46 nations, shown here in blue. In 2020, SciAccess received recognition The Ohio State University Community Engaged Program Award for “outstanding achievement for impactful programs focused on community-university partnerships.” Anna currently serves as the Coordinator of Outreach for The Ohio State University Department of Astronomy and the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics and the Executive Director of the SciAccess Conference. 

Caitlin O'Brien

Caitlin O’Brien is an undergraduate student at Ohio State studying Astronomy and Astrophysics. She is the President of the Astronomical Society at Ohio State and Vice-President of the SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program. She also serves as a telescope operator at the Smith Lab Observatory, and a planetarium presenter at the Arne Slettebak Planetarium. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the SciAccess conference.

Dr. John Beacom
Dr. John Beacom is an internationally known researcher in physics and astronomy, a popular teacher of introductory courses, and a leader in bringing the excitement of science to the public.  He is the faculty advisor for Anna Voelker and her SciAccess work through the Ohio State President’s Prize.  At Ohio State, he is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Henry L. Cox Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, and Director of the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).  John is a longtime, active proponent of increasing public appreciation of science as well as broadening the participation of underrepresented groups, through both his own work and his institutional roles. His 2015 TEDx OSU talk can be found here.

Kate Meredith
Kate Meredith is the former Director of Yerkes Education Outreach (YEO) at Yerkes Observatory. She is passionate about making astronomy and STEAM accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or background, and keeping the Geneva Lakes community engaged in former YEO programs. She brings two key former YEO programs with her to GLAS Education: Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy (IDATA) and Sloan Digital Sky Survey outreach. Kate is the lead educator for the IDATA project, a software development grant to develop accessible astronomy image processing software. Recently recognized by the Geneva Lake branch of the American Association of University Women for her leadership in astronomy education, she is very excited to share her passion and experience with others through the future efforts of GLAS.

Christy Albrecht
Christy Albrecht is a logistics and management professional with experience in event/conference organization, informal education, and scientific research. Her past projects, primarily at Yerkes Observatory (as a part of the University of Chicago), include organizing logistics and travel for astronomy/BVI conferences, managing large scientific educational events for individuals with disabilities, and mentoring STEM undergraduate interns in inclusive STEM education. Her academic credentials are from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied Operations/Technology Management and Economic Research.

Alaina Sliwinski

Alaina Sliwinski graduated cum laude from the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business with a B.S in business administration and finance in December 2019. She was a Brooke Owens Fellow which led to her current employment with Space Capital in NYC. She expanded upon her passion for the space industry and STEM through her experiences as a supply chain intern at SpaceX, as an intern lobbying for companies such as Orbital Insight through Ohio State’s Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP), and as financial intern at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

Lucas Hatzer

Lucas Hatzer is a second-year undergraduate student studying molecular genetics at The Ohio State University. He is active in Ohio State’s Molecular Genetics Club, along with volunteering in undergraduate research. Lucas joined the team as a program assistant this year because of his appreciation for the sciences and desire to make STEM accessible to those who may have a similar passion. As an aspiring biologist, Lucas plans to pursue graduate school after graduating in May 2024. 

Tanya Balwani

Tanya Balwani is an undergraduate student at the Ohio State University pursuing a B.S. in Anthropological Sciences, an Engineering Sciences minor and a Food, Culture and Society certificate. She currently serves as a Program Assistant for the SciAccess conference and works mainly on outreach and website design. She got her start in outreach by helping organise HackOHI/O 2019 as a member of the organisation OHI/O. She previously interned for a non-profit called The Heritage Lab where she helped plan media and activities to engage and educate enthusiasts of Indian art and history. Her interests include learning about and cooking food from around the world, reading books, and watching dramas.

Varshini Guhan

Varshini Guhan is a fourth-year neuroscience student at The Ohio State University. She joined the SciAccess team in order to grow as an advocate for herself and others. She has worked as a caregiver and as a tutor, both of which required her to be encouraging and individualised in her care. She wanted to apply this outlook to her education, to better understand the biases and barriers that can arise in academia and the STEM fields. She believes that accessibility and inclusion in STEM education and careers are essential pillars in building a more fruitful and dynamic scientific community. As someone aiming to be a physician, it is important for her to practice these concepts in any space she enters while motivating others to do the same. Being a SciAccess Program Assistant has already given her valuable tools for her commitment to creating more egalitarian environments around her. She looks forward to continuing to be a part of SciAccess’s mission to promote equity and inclusion in STEM.

Dr. Thomas Tubon
Dr. Thomas Tubon is an established scientist and professor in the Biotechnology Department at Madison College and is an honorary research fellow at UW Madison. He teaches program courses in the Applied Associates Degree in Biotechnology, Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Biotechnology, and Human Stem Cell Technologies. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator and Director for the National Science Foundation– Advanced Technological Education program for developing workforce-centered programming in Emerging Technologies and for the creation of a National Coordination Network for Cell and Tissue Manufacturing. He serves leadership roles in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing, and the National InnovATEBIO Center for Biotechnology.