Learn about the SEP Staff
Jessica Allen, Academic Coordinator
Jessica joined SEP in 2017. She was inspired to pursue a career in science education while volunteering as a mentor for SEP’s High School Intern Program. After receiving her doctorate in bioengineering at UCSF, Jessica increasingly devoted her time to teaching and mentoring. She taught courses in engineering and biology at home and abroad, including a summer course at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, a course in sustainable design in rural Panama, and biology at the University of San Francisco and Berkeley City College. She was also the program coordinator of the CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program for undergraduates at Berkeley City College.
Solange Arbesu-Sala, Administrative Assistant
(415) 502-6324 :: Solange.Arbesu-Sala@ucsf.edu
Solange joined SEP in 2017 after years working at several different companies in the Bay Area and the United Kingdom. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the Open University in the UK.
Sabine Jeske, Academic Coordinator
Sabine joined SEP in 2006 with a dual background in science teaching and scientific research. She received her Masters degree in Biology from the University of Bonn, Germany and worked as a field biologist on environmental research studies. After moving to the Bay Area, she earned a teaching credential and worked as a science teacher at a public high school for several years.
Jennifer Chu Kaelin, Academic Coordinator
Before coming to SEP in 2006, Jen worked as a middle school math and science teacher and as coordinator for the Wild City! environmental education program at the California Academy of Sciences. Jennifer received a B.S. in Biology from the University of California at San Diego, a M.S. in Environmental Studies from San José State University and a teaching credential from Santa Clara University.
Jean MacCormack, Academic Coordinator
Before joining SEP in 2004, Jean had extensive experience supporting community and educational programs. With a background in social work and elementary education, she has witnessed the exquisite power of partnerships to promote creative problem solving while fulfilling a diversity of needs and fostering mutually respectful relationships. While working as the Science Resource Coordinator at an SFUSD elementary school, she worked closely with teachers in implementing the elementary science curriculum, and was an avid borrower from SEP’s Resource Center. She holds a BA in Economics from Wellesley College and graduate diplomas in Social Work and Social Administration from the London School of Economics.
Luz Marin, Financial Manager
Luz started her UCSF career at the Library in 1987. While working at the Library and with both young daughters in school, she reduced her time at work in order to attend school full-time. In 1994, she moved to the Department of Psychiatry at SFGH, and provided financial and computer tech support to the Latino Mental Health Research Project. Prior to joining SEP, Luz worked for the Department of Medicine at SFGH, assisting the Budget Manager and Director of Finance with annual budget planning and implementation, and serving as a resource to the department with respect to faculty outside income, cash handling, accounts payable, purchasing, and UC financial systems.
Katherine Nielsen, Co-Director
Katherine first came to SEP in 1995 as coordinator of Triad, a program set in SF middle schools focused on gender equity in science. She, returned to SEP in 2001, and became Co-Director in 2004. She has experience in both the education and scientific fields, having taught science at the middle and high school, community college, and undergraduate level; conducted research in developmental neurobiology; and completed a Masters Degree in Education from Stanford University and one in Biological Sciences from Montana State University.
Rebecca Smith, Co-Director
Rebecca started her career in science education as a scientist volunteer in SEP’s programs while a graduate student in Biochemistry at UCSF. Her partnerships with extraordinary teachers and their students convinced her that this was a career path she wanted to pursue. After completing her doctorate, Rebecca began to work at SEP full time in 2000. In 2004, she was named Co-Director of SEP. Through her work, she has developed extensive experience developing and implementing teacher-scientist partnership programs, teaching doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, and leading professional development for teachers. Rebecca has extensive program evaluation, grant writing and administration experience and serves on the Advisory Boards of other science education projects both locally and nationally.
Lakisha Witzel, Academic Coordinator
Lakisha began working at SEP in 2008, with a background in biology and experience teaching in various informal science education settings. Lakisha received her M.S. from San Francisco State University where she investigated the impact that scientists working in partnership with elementary school teachers have on 4th and 5th grade students. As a graduate student, she participated in a year-long partnership with an SFUSD middle school science teacher.