About Us

Now introducing your Science Cheerleader Regional Coordinators!

RegCoord_Ashley

Ashley Keegan (Florida)

Ashley is a Regional Coordinator in Florida and former Orlando Magic Dancer of five years. Growing up on the Space Coast watching space shuttle launches she wanted to get involved and now works at NASA Kennedy Space Center. She is currently working on projects upgrading the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the crawler transporter, mobile launch platform, and launch Pad in order to support the new Space Launch System and sending humans to Mars. She also runs an all-star cheer and dance team and hopes to motivate and inspire today’s youth to get more involved in science!

Hilary Nicholson (Northeast)

Hilary has always been interested in helping people feel better and do better, using her childhood figure skating career to support causes such as Lace Up for Leukemia with her performances. This interest led her to study science and medicine during her undergraduate work at Colgate University, where she balanced her academic career with a position on the cheerleading team. During her doctorate in molecular pharmacology and physiology, Hilary has continued her pursuit of helping those who are suffering by investigating new chemotherapy targets in her lab at Brown University while coaching the Bears cheerleading team. After graduation this spring, Hilary will begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard University, where she will focus on understanding how altered metabolism in cancer can be used to selectively target tumor cells. She is passionate about her work and intends to continue to develop new avenues for disease treatment in her future career.

RegCoord_JeannieJeannie Gonzalez Jaffe (Florida)

Jeannie first joined the Science Cheerleaders in 2012 as a phlebotomist with a degree in the social sciences who danced with the Orlando Predators. She has since become a Construction Mechanic in the United States Navy and completed a rewarding season with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jeannie’s passion for exercise science and nutrition motivated her to earn both personal trainer and nutritionist certifications. She hopes to challenge stereotypes of professional cheerleaders as well as women who serve in the military, particularly in the Engineering field.

Megan Dillon (DC Corridor)

Two of Megan’s favorite things are technology and dance.  From a young age she was always interested in computers and how they work.  Megan graduated from The George Washington University with a B.S. in Computer Engineering while maintaining a spot on the Nationally Ranked First Ladies Dance Team.  Post-college Megan began work in the technology field and cheered for the Washington Redskins for three years.  Megan continues to progress her career in technology while staying active with Science Cheerleader and promoting STEM careers wherever and whenever she can!

RegCoord_Melissa

Melissa Hodges Smithson (Mid South)

Melissa has always had a passion for science, medicine, leadership, and dance. Melissa earned a Neuroscience degree from Vanderbilt University, where she was captain of the Vanderbilt Commodores dance team. After graduation, Melissa began working as a research assistant in a molecular neuroscience laboratory, studying the molecular components of psychiatric disorders. She then joined a neuroimaging laboratory and studied the neurochemistry of diabetes and obesity. During the time she worked full time in these labs, Melissa was a cheerleader for NFL Tennessee Titans for four years. Currently, Melissa works within the neuromodulation division of a medical device company, where she provides clinical expertise and support for surgeons implanting neurostimulators and education for patients and families. Melissa also teaches dance classes and choreographs for cheer and dance teams.

RegCoord_SamSamantha Sanders (Southwest and National Events Coordinator)

Samantha resides in Texas where she works as an engineering project manager for enterprise Wi-Fi services. She loves working in technology and getting to interact with various teams on each project. Samantha cheered for the Arizona Cardinals and has spent most of her life dancing and cheering. During her time as a cheerleader, she was able to travel and visit with families on military bases and even got to choreograph some of her team’s game-day performances. Samantha hopes to inspire the next generation of young engineers to follow their dreams!

Darlene Cavalier - Founder of Science Cheerleader

Darlene Cavalier (Founder)

Darlene Cavalier founded the Science Cheerleader to unite the citizen’s desire to be heard and valued, the scientist’s growing interest in the public’s involvement, and government’s need to garner public support. The Science Cheerleader serves to get the conversation going, rally the troops, solicit views from all sides and change the tone of science and science policy in this country. She also founded SciStarter, a citizen science hotspot connecting millions of people to hundreds of formal and informal research projects. Cavalier’s the cofounder of ECAST, Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology and a Professor of Practice,
Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

Dr. John Ohab - Captain of the Male Cheerleaders

Dr. John Ohab (Captain of the Male Cheerleaders)

Neuroscientist, Internet radio host, blogger, student mentor, and captain of a competitive bocce ball team made of scientists, John Ohab, Ph.D. has taken a most non-traditional path through the world of science. Consistent among these experiences is a passion for communicating science to the general public and an ability to mobilize citizens to participate in the scientific process. John sees his work with Science Cheerleader as an opportunity to continue this adventure and experience first-hand the many conduits through which citizen scientists can impact society. John’s a integral part of Science Cheerleader’s sister-site SciStarter.

Bart Leahy (Event and Membership Director)

Bart manages a lot of what most people never see on this site (and we all know that’s where the important stuff happens). In addition to running our events, he also helps us vet and interview prospective Science Cheerleaders. His behind-the-scenes role fits his rather off-beat career as an English major with stints at Walt Disney World and as a technical writing for a NASA defense contractor NASA, and space advocacy blogging..

Laura Eilers Clark (Creative Director, Choreographer)

Laura is the creative director and choreographer for Science Cheerleader in addition to being the founder of Going Pro Entertainment and an NFL cheerleading alumni herself. In 2011, Laura was crowned Ms. United States representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. During her reign, Laura modeled and represented her charitable platform of “Let’s Move” at a variety of events across the country. She continues to work closely with the Miss United States pageant and serves on the state and national pageant staff between professional choreography gigs for a number of pro and semi pro teams.

Mark Severance(Space Guy)

Mark is Science Cheerleader’s Space Guy and he has been a Space Guy all of his life. A NASA engineer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Mark has spent most of his career in Mission Control Center-Houston as a Flight Controller for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. He has had a life-long interest in spaceflight and views the space program as a catalyst for engaging minds of all ages in a deeper understanding of science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Wait until you see what Mark’s got brewing for SciCheer and our sister-site SciStarter.

 

Mike Lucek (Tech Guru)

Mike does his best to keep the Science Cheerleader site running smoothly. During the day, he teaches Computer Science to middle schoolers, provides web programming services, designs phone systems, researches voice synthesis and recognition, plugs in extension cords, and steps in wet paint. At night, he burns himself soldering, installing theatrical lighting equipment, and cooking in a cast iron skillet. He holds a degree in Philosophy from Bard College.

 

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