Steering Committee

Steering Committee

Nancy Connell, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Nancy ConnellNancy Connell is Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (RNJMS) and the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences. A Harvard University PhD in microbiology, Dr. Connell’s major research focus is antibacterial drug discovery in respiratory pathogens such as M. tuberculosis and B. anthracis. She is Director of the BSL3 facility of RNJMS’s Center for the Study of Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens and chairs the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee. She is Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine and directs the graduate courses on Responsible Conduct of Research. Dr. Connell has been continuously funded by the NIH and other agencies since 1993 and serves on numerous NIH study sections and review panels. She has served on a number of committees of the National Academy of Sciences, including the Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Agents (2004), Trends in Science and Technology Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention (2010), and the Committee to Review the Scientific Approaches Used in the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis Mailings (2011).

Clarissa Dirks, The Evergreen State College

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClarissa Dirks is an Associate Professor of Biology at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She currently investigates the evolution of viruses and host viral-inhibitory proteins, as well as the distribution and biodiversity of Tardigrada. As a biology education researcher, she has implemented programs to improve retention of underrepresented students in first year science courses, conducted studies to better understand how students acquire and master science process and reasoning skills, and has developed an assessment instrument to measure undergraduates’ science process skills acquisition. She recently co-authored the book Assessment in the College Science Classroom, received two Tom Rye Harvill Awards for the Integration of Art and Science, was named a National Academies Education Fellow and Mentor in the Life Sciences, and is the recipient of two Biology Leadership Education grants. She provides professional development opportunities for faculty and post-doctoral scholars by serving as a co-chair of the National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance Executive Committee, leading a Pacific Northwest Regional Summer Institute, and mentoring postdoctoral fellows as a regional field station leader for the Faculty Institute for Reforming Science Teaching. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal CBE-Life Science Education and a co-founder of the Society for Biology Education Research (SABER). She graduated with a BS in Microbiology from Arizona State University, and earned her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Washington, conducting research in virology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Alastair Hay, University of Leeds

Alastair HayAlastair Hay is Professor of Environmental Toxicology in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, UK. Professor Hay holds a BSc in Chemistry and PhD in Biochemistry, both from the University of London. As a toxicologist, his major interests are on the effects of chemicals on health, but his research also covers work on calcium metabolism, kidney damage, drugs of abuse, pharmacokinetics and proteomics. Professor Hay currently teaches basic biology, research methodology, and ethics to medical students in years 1 to 3 of their 5-year medical degree. External to the University, Professor Hay has been an adviser to the UK government for over 20 years on the regulation of chemicals and exposure standards in the workplace. He also advises the European Union on workplace exposure limits. Professor Hay has had an over 35-year involvement with chemical weapons issues and advises the UK government on matters relating to the implementation of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Professor Hay has developed teaching materials for chemists on such topics as multiple uses of chemicals, chemical weapons, and codes of conduct. He has worked with numerous national and international organizations to promote these issues in both the chemical and biological sciences and to help find innovative teaching approaches to engage young scientists and promote responsible conduct in research.

Elizabeth Heitman, University of Texas Southwestern

Elizabeth HeitmanElizabeth Heitman is Associate Professor in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society and Departments of Medicine and Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is a member of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine’s Academy for Excellence in Teaching, and holds an additional appointment in the Department of Religious Studies and Center for Medicine, Health and Society in Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science. Dr. Heitman’s work focuses on cultural and international aspects of medicine, biomedical science, and public health. She teaches research ethics and scientific integrity in Vanderbilt’s Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program and ethics in global health for the Master of Public Health program. Dr. Heitman’s primary research addresses evaluation of research integrity education and trainees’ professional socialization and cultural awareness. She recently served as program director of a 5-year research ethics education program with the Hospital Nacional de Ninos in San Jose, Costa Rica, sponsored by the NIH’s Fogarty International Center and is a consultant to the University of Miami’s Pan American Bioethics Initiative. In addition to her international work with the National Academies, she is a member of the Science Ethics Initiative with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and China Association for Science and Technology. Dr. Heitman received her PhD in 1988 from the joint program in biomedical ethics offered by Rice University and the University of Texas – Houston Medical School.

James H. Stith, American Institute of Physics (Emeritus)

James StithJames H. Stith is Vice President Emeritus for the American Institute of Physics (AIP). While an officer of the Institute, he had oversight responsibilities for AIP’s Magazine Division, Media and Government Relations Division, Education Division, the Center for the History of Physics, Statistical Research Division and Careers Division. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for programs that ensure ethnic and gender diversity in the sciences. His doctorate in physics was earned from The Pennsylvania State University, and his masters and bachelors in physics were received from Virginia State University. A physics education researcher, his primary interests are in program evaluation and teacher preparation and enhancement. He was formerly a Professor of Physics at The Ohio State University and Professor of Physics at the United States Military Academy. Dr. Stith has been a Visiting Associate Professor at the United Air Force Academy, a Visiting Scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a Visiting Scientist at the University of Washington, and an Associate Engineer at the Radio Cooperation of America. He is a past president of the American Association of Physics Teachers, past president of the National Society of Black Physicists, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Physical Society, a Chartered Fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists, and a member of the Ohio Academy of Science. He was named a Distinguished Alumni of The Pennsylvania State University (the Alumni Association’s highest award), an Honorary Member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society (its highest award) and a National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences. He was recognized by Science Spectrum Magazine as one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science and was named a ScienceMaker by HistoryMakers. Additionally, he serves on a number of national and international advisory boards and has been awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by his alma mater, Virginia State University.


National Academies Staff

Lida Anestidou, Program Director

Lida AnestidouLida Anestidou is a Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Director of the OIE Collaborating Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare and Science. Before joining the Academies, she was a faculty member at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Anestidou holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Aristotle University in Greece (her home country), a Masters in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Florida, and a doctorate in Physiology, working with Norman Weisbrodt at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. Dr. Anestidou is responsible for policy matters pertaining to the care and use of laboratory animals, as well as a portfolio of international programs on responsible science, research with dual use potential, and education with academic partners from the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Dr. Anestidou serves as an Independent Expert in the Ethics Evaluation of grant applications to the 7th Framework Program and Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program of the European Research Council and the European Commission. She is a member of the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a joint committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Bar Association.

Jay B. Labov, Senior Adviser for Education and Communication

Jay LabovJay Labov is Senior Adviser for Education and Communication for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He has directed or contributed to 25 Academies reports focusing on undergraduate education, teacher education, advanced study for high school students, K-8 education, and international education. He has served as the director of committees on K-12 and undergraduate science education, the Academies’ Teacher Advisory Council, and was Deputy Director for the Academy’s Center for Education. He directed a committee of the NAS and the Institute of Medicine that authored Science, Evolution, and Creationism and oversees the National Academy of Sciences’ efforts to confront challenges to teaching evolution in the nation’s public schools. He coordinates efforts at the Academies to work with professional societies and with state academies of science on education issues. He also oversees work on improving education in the life sciences under the aegis of the Academy’s Board on Life Sciences. Dr. Labov is an organismal biologist by training. Prior to accepting his position at the Academy in 1997, he spent 18 years on the biology faculty at Colby College (Maine). He is a Kellogg National Fellow, a Fellow in Education of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, and a 2013 recipient of the “Friend of Darwin” award from the National Center for Science Education. In 2013, he was elected to a three year term beginning in 2014 in which he served as chair-elect for 2014, chair for 2015 and past chair for 2016 of the Education Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2014 he was named a Lifetime Honorary Member by the National Association of Biology Teachers, that organization’s highest award and recognition. He received an Academies’ Staff Award for Lifetime Achievement in December 2014.

Jo L. Husbands, Scholar and Senior Project Director

husbandsJo Husbands is a Scholar/Senior Project Director with the Board on Life Sciences of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, where she manages studies and projects to help mitigate the risks of the misuse of scientific research for biological weapons or bioterrorism. She represents the NAS on the Biosecurity Working Group of IAP: The Global Network of Science Academies, which also includes the academies of Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, and the United Kingdom. From 1991 – 2005 she was the Director of the NAS Committee on International Security and Arms Control and its Working Group on Biological Weapons Control. Before joining the National Academies, she worked for several Washington, DC-based nongovernmental organizations focused on international security. Dr. Husbands is currently an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. She is a member of the Temporary Working Group on Education and Outreach in Science and Technology of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Global Agenda Council on Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons of the World Economic Forum. She is also a Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in International Public Policy (International Economics) from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Rita Guenther, Senior Program Officer

rita-guentherRita Guenther currently serves as a Senior Program Officer in the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies. She directs joint cooperative projects with a variety of scientific and technical partners in India and leads numerous joint programs with the Russian Academy of Sciences. She has more than a decade of experience leading and facilitating international programs focusing on a wide variety of topics, including global health and safe and secure scientific research. Dr. Guenther has edited several publications produced by the National Academy of Sciences, including collaborative, bilingual reports produced in cooperation with international partners. She holds a BA from St. Olaf College, and an MA and a PhD from Georgetown University.

Jenna Ogilvie, Research Associate

Jenna OgilvieJenna Ogilvie is a Research Associate with the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Life Sciences. She supports the Board’s broad range of report and meeting topics, focusing specifically on issues related to national and international biosecurity and biosafety, laboratory animal welfare and the responsible conduct of science. Jenna holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from American University.

Ivory Clarke, Research Assistant

Ivory Clarke is a Research Assistant on the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She supports a range of projects focusing on risk assessment and toxicology. Ivory received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in Illinois and recently received a Master of Science in Environmental Planning and Management at Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering in Maryland.

 Vanessa Lester, Research Associate

Vanessa LesterVanessa Lester, MA, is a Research Associate at the National Academy of Sciences in the Division on Earth and Life Studies. She has worked in research and project management for over five years in areas of education, life sciences, and environmental policy. She received her Masters of Arts in Environmental Resource Policy from George Washington University in 2013.

Robin Miller, Postdoctoral Fellow

Robin Miller was a postdoctoral fellow and a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow in the Board on Life Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. During her time as a fellow, Dr. Miller assisted with the Resources for Teaching about Responsible Science, Biosafety, and Biosecurity in the MENA Region Workshop, One-Health Research Fellowships in Pakistan, and the Committee on Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms. She recently completed her PhD in emerging infectious diseases from the Uniformed Services University. Dr. Miller is currently employed as a Junior Scientist at The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.

Ayesha Sayyeda Ahmed, Senior Program Assistant