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Who Are We?
We are SARSEF – Meet Our Board Of Directors!
SARSEF is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to teach critical thinking and problem solving to Arizona’s K-12 students through science and engineering research. SARSEF serves seven counties of Southern Arizona, with outreach to rural and poverty areas, serving 95,000 students and providing six programs to increase the diversity and representation of females and minorities in STEM fields and future professional excellence.
Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.
Board of Directors
Betsy Bolding - Board Chair
Betsy Bolding is the retired consumer affairs director of Tucson Electric Power and UNS Energy Corp. For 13 years, Ms. Bolding was at TEP, where she managed outreach for a variety of solar, environmental and educational programs, as well as programs designed for special-needs and low-income customers. A 15-year public-school veteran, Betsy taught high school English and journalism until 1978. After co-managing his campaign in Tucson, Betsy served for eight years on Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt’s staff, serving as director of his Tucson office. After serving on the SARSEF board for many years, Betsy is now the Board Chair.
Mary Fosdick- Board Secretary
Mary is a Senior Chemical/Environmental Engineer with Tucson Electric Power. Mary has been named Volunteer Ambassador of the Year for Sycamore Elementary School in the Vail School District, in part for her work with students in the STEM fields. She previously served on the Advisory Board.
Darren Layton- Treasurer
Attorney at Waterfall, Economidis, et al.
Daren J. Layton assists clients in creating and implementing personalized estate plans, navigating income, gift and estate tax issues, business succession matters, and charitable planning. In addition to lifetime planning, Daren assists clients with probate and trust administration matters. Daren works with clients’ other advisers to provide holistic solutions to clients’ needs. Daren is also a certified public accountant (CPA).
Other Professional Experience
Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., Associate (2015-2018)
O’Connell & Associates, P.C., Associate (2012-2015)
Douglas J. Newman, P.C., Law Clerk (2011-2012)
Frederick W. Meissner, PLLC, Law Clerk (2010-2011)
BeachFleischman, PC, Tax Associate (2008-2009)
Dr. Ravi Palanivelu is a Associate Professor of Plant Biology, in the School of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona. Dr. Palanivelu received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Annamalai University, India in 1989 and a Masters Degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, India in 1992. He then joined University of Georgia and obtained a Ph.D. in Genetics in 1998. From 1999-2003, he was a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Daphne Preuss lab at the University of Chicago. Subsequently, he was a Research Professional between 2004-2005, during which time he was the team leader of the pollen biology research group in Dr. Preuss’s lab. Since 2006, he has been a faculty member in the School of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona and he was tenured and promoted to Associate Professorship in 2012. His area of research is to understand the genes that are important for plant seed formation and his work has implications in improving plants for better quality feed, fiber, food, and fuel. His association with SARSEF began in 2007 when his daughter was an enthusiastic participant in SARSEF science fairs. Since then he has served as a judge in SARSEF for 5 years and was elected as one of the Top 60 STEM community leaders by SARSEF. He continues to do outreach programs to promote the importance of biology, particularly pollen biology, in Tucson area elementary, middle, and high schools and has participated in many STEM activities including, AZ STEM adventure, and Plant Science Family Night.
Laura is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of AIBMR Life Sciences, Inc., headquartered in Seattle, Washington, with offices and staff in several states, including Arizona. Founded in 1978, AIBMR is one of the world’s leading contract research organizations performing studies on ingredients and products for their safety, mechanisms of action, and efficacy for companies in the food, supplement, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and functional foods industries. Responsibilities include managing a staff of 10 doctors located in 6 states which includes scheduling travel to several trade shows, scientific conference and client meetings throughout the year. The Arizona office holds an extensive scientific and natural products library, including a rare botanical medicine collection, which Laura also helps to maintain. Hobbies include mineral, and, stamp collecting – and enjoying the knowledgeable people associated with the hobby clubs.
Raj Subramaniam is a Software Engineer at IBM. He is a long-time volunteer Judge at SARSEF and helps out Canyon View Elementary School with Science Fair.
Emily Halvorson-Otts has served as Dean of Sciences since Pima Community College reorganized in 2016. In this role, she oversees all science and engineering courses, the associated faculty and lab staff at 5 of the 6 campuses at Pima.
In total, Emily has worked at Pima for over 18 years. She began teaching as part-time faculty at Desert Vista Campus and then transitioned into lab specialist as one of the founding members of the Northwest Campus. In 2005, Emily began teaching Chemistry full-time at Northwest and during that time, she has held various leadership roles. Emily received the Southern Arizona American Chemical Society College Educator of the Year award in 2015.
Emily Halvorson-Otts holds a Master of Arts in Chemistry and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona
Musa is employed at Tucson Federal CU in their Electronic Payments Department. Musa earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Systems Engineering at West Point Military Academy and a Master’s in Business Administration at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University. He is passionate about sciences and problem-solving. Musa has been a volunteer for the Junior Achievement Program in Tucson. He also chairs the Tucson FCU Community Outreach Program. Musa has worked in the Public and Private sector.
Roberta Lopez-Suter is the Director of Marketing & Communications of Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Marana, Arizona. Trico is a non-profit electric distribution cooperative serving 45,000 members over a 3,600 square mile service area surrounding Tucson, Arizona.
Prior to joining Trico in 2015, Roberta served in the City Manager’s Office and Tucson Water as a public information officer. She also serves on the Boards of the Marana Chamber of Commerce and the Sahuarita Food Bank.
Nadira Mitchell, a citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation is an honors undergraduate student at the University of Arizona studying Natural Resources with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation and Management. A life-long resident of Tucson, Nadira volunteered with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as a high school student which contributed to her lifelong passion of conservation education, research and advocacy. Since 2012 Nadira has presented her research annually at SARSEF and became a SARSEF Ambassador in 2020. In her first year at UArizona she became a founding member American Indian Student Initiatives (AISI).
The student-run organization’s goal is to reduce environmental injustices for Indigenous communities in the state of Arizona. AISI has hosted virtual webinars about Environmental Justice and has worked in collaboration to install a solar power system for a family on the Navajo Nation during their first year as an organization.
John P. Schaefer, Honorary Chairman of the Board
John Paul Schaefer was dean of the University of Arizona College of Liberal Arts when he became the 15th president of the University of Arizona in 1971. Only 36 years old when he assumed the office, he was the second-youngest UA president. Born on Sept. 17, 1934, in New York City, he received a bachelor’s degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1955, and a doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1958. Following his postdoctoral studies, he taught chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, before coming to the UA as a chemistry professor in 1960. He also served as head of the chemistry department from 1968 to 1970.
Schaefer is credited by many with setting the University of Arizona on the path that led to its current status as a top research university. He approved the university’s participation in the Multiple Mirror Telescope project, which revolutionized thinking about optical telescope design. During his tenure, he also broke ground for and dedicated the new UA Main Library.
An avid and highly skilled photographer, Schaefer developed a friendship with photographer Ansel Adams, which led to the creation of the Center for Creative Photography in 1975. The center was created after Schaefer asked Adams to entrust the UA with his archives. Adams agreed, with the condition that Schaefer create a repository for a collection of a variety of photographic artists. Today, the center holds the works of more than 50 American photographers.
Schaefer resigned from the presidency in 1982, and became chairman of the board of directors of Tucson Electric Power Co. He also served as president and CEO of Research Corp. from 1988 to December 2004. In this role, he helped fund the Large Binocular Telescope project on Mount Graham. He has published five books on photography, an organic chemistry textbook, numerous scientific articles and many articles on photography.
Schaefer was designated President Emeritus by the Arizona Board of Regents. He now serves as the Honorary Chairman of the SciEnTeK-12 Board, and is actively interested in its mission to excite young minds in Southern Arizona about science and engineering.
With Gratitude to Jack D. Johnson, Ph.D., Founder and Past President
Dr. Johnson recently passed away, but is remembered as the “Father of the Fair.” He retired from the University of Arizona as professor emeritus in arid lands resource sciences. He held several positions at the UA, including associate dean of science, and director of the Flandrau Science Center — a position he retired from 1998. He held various engineering positions with Humphrey Inc., Martin-Marietta Corp., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He took over as director in 1996, and founded SciEnTeK-12 Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization, to expand our mission.
In Memory of William H. Dresher, Ph.D., P.E. Chairman Emeritus
Dr. Dresher was one of the original founders of our foundation and served as its Honorary Chairman in recent years. He passed on August 10, 2014. Dr Dresher was principal of WHD Consulting, and a former dean of the University of Arizona College of Mines. He was retired from the positions of president of International Copper Research Association, Inc., and vice president of technology at International Copper Association, Ltd. An internationally recognized expert in the processing, products and environmental aspects of copper, Dr. Dresher mainly focused on bringing good science and technology to these subjects.
The advisory board consists of the following members:
Molly Gilbert - Advisor
After a 17-year career with the University of Arizona Tech Park, Molly Gilbert joined Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR specializing in the sale and lease of Tucson office properties. While at the Tech Park, she led many initiatives, including Community Engagement efforts, managing community, government, university, and tenant relations. Molly is a co-founder of the Arizona Center for Innovation, one of the oldest business incubation programs in the state. She helped start numerous initiatives designed to bring stakeholders together and promote workforce development including the Arizona Business Incubator Association, Next Steps for Vets, Tucson Innovation Partnership, and Racing the Sun. She has written grants resulting in over $5 million in federal funding. Molly was the project manager for The Bridges and oversaw the construction of infrastructure improvements on the property. She has also worked as a middle school educator, retail store manager, and entrepreneur.
She has over 20 years of management experience that spans retail, education, and economic development. She has a background in entrepreneurship as both a business owner and a graduate of the McGuire Program for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College of Management.
She is a member of the Pima County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Tucson Police Department Police Chief Citizens Advisory Board, the Association of University Research Parks, the Bioscience Leadership Council of Southern Arizona, Vail Connects, Tucson Metropolitan Education Commission and the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (SARSEF) board. She is a founding member of the Arizona Business Incubator Network.
Gilbert holds an MBA from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and marketing.
DaNel is the Director of The STEMAZing Project for the Pima County School Superintendent. She is working to improve preK-12 STEM education in Southern Arizona. Previously, DaNel spent nine years as a high school and middle school physics and physical science teacher. Most recently, DaNel completed a two year Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship in Washington, DC where she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy on the Energy Literacy Initiative. DaNel is a passionate educator working hard to help bring exceptional STEM opportunities to every student in Southern Arizona.
Paula D. Johnson -SRC Chair
Dr. Johnson is an associate veterinary specialist at University Animal Care, and is an adjunct assistant professor in the University of Arizona School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. She serves as chair of the SARSEF scientific review committee (SRC), and is a member of the SRC for the International Science and Engineering Fair.
Sharon O’Neal- Advisor
Sharon O’Neal is an engineering director at Raytheon Missile Systems. Over the course of her 22-year engineering career, she has held a variety of assignments, including program management, functional management, technical management and mentoring engineers at all levels. She is a “go to” person within the engineering directorate, and is very committed to program excellence and developing quality products for Raytheon’s military customers. In 2002, Sharon was the first woman at Raytheon to receive her senior engineering fellow status. Sharon has been very proactive and dedicated to reaching out to school-age children in her community to foster a better understanding and appreciation for the math and science disciplines. Six years ago, she created and established a major outreach program called the Math Science and Technology Funfest (MSTFF), which unites hundreds of scientists and engineers from many different companies and affiliations across Tucson to bring their love for math and science to life. Since its inception in March 2003, more than 6,000 children from all socioeconomic backgrounds have benefited from this annual event. Now in its sixth year, the MSTFF has established itself as a much-anticipated event complementing the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Fair. Sharon began her career with Hughes Missile System Group in 1985, which was later purchased by Raytheon. She has a bachelor of science degree in computer science (graduating magna cum laude) from California State University in 1984. She earned a master of science degree in computer engineering from the University of Southern California in 1991.
Honorable Bob Walkup - Advisor
The Honorable Bob Walkup is the former Mayor of Tucson and retired engineer. He remains active in improving our community,serving on several boards, and providing leadership for a better tomorrow. Bob continues to learn and tinker in his new workshop so that he can stay active in his field and exploring new developments.
Mayor Robert E. Walkup was elected to his third term as Mayor of Tucson in 2007. During his tenure there were numerous fundamental changes in the way the Tucson region operates. Under Mayor Walkup’s leadership, Tucson began utilizing its share of Colorado River water in 2001 to supplement its potable water supply and reduce its dependence on groundwater. Mayor Walkup was instrumental in forming our Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and gaining voter approval for its $2.1 billion multi-modal transportation plan, including obtaining full funding for implementation of the first All-American Modern Streetcar System for the city.
Working together with Pima County, Mayor Walkup has engineered consolidations of economic development agencies into one regional entity, the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO), and consolidation of our regional library system funding. His efforts in economic development have contributed to a net increase of 50,000 jobs and $10,000 per year in average worker earnings during his tenure. Mayor Walkup was the first Arizona Mayor to sign the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. His local environmental efforts that have resulted in doubling Tucson’s recycling rate, instituting impact fees to make new growth pay its fair share and requiring LEED certification on all new city buildings. Additionally, he led the way on a significant expansion of the solar energy capability of the city.
Believing that mayors can play a key role in reducing health care costs, Mayor Walkup initiated the Healthy Tucson Initiative locally and the Global Alliance for Community Wellness internationally. The Global Alliance commits mayors and city governments to partner with local health care leaders to demonstrate healthy lifestyles and support prevention programs in order to improve the city’s quality of life.
Mayor Walkup has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked for over 37 years in the aerospace industry as an Industrial Engineer and Executive for Rockwell International, Fairchild Republic and Hughes Aircraft. He is President of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and is a member of the League’s Executive Committee. He also serves as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee for the US Conference of Mayors’ Transportation Committee.
Mayor Walkup and his wife, Beth Walkup, have five children and many grandchildren. He enjoys astronomy, classical history and is an avid cyclist.
Shalane Simmons- Advisor
Shalane is a native Tucsonan who graduated from Sahuaro High School, and the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism. Currently she works at Raytheon Missile Systems as the senior community relations coordinator. In her role she is responsible for business’s STEM programs, employee volunteer efforts, corporate partnerships, and more. Shalane is passionate about STEM and supporting students in her community.