The DNALC's multi-disciplinary staff has experience in elementary, secondary, and collegiate instruction; biochemistry and molecular biological research; computer programming; design, photography, fine arts, and interior design; science journalism; public relations and development; and opinion research.

  • Administration
  • BioMedia
  • Education & Instruction

Amy Nisselle, Ph.D.

Multimedia & Evaluation Manager

"Miss, it's cool but I don't understand it!?"

I was observing a 10th grade Australian science class for my Ph.D. and a student had just completed an online game about cloning. This phrase, yelled across the classroom to her teacher, pretty much sums up what I'm all about. I love switching kids on to the amazing world of science via 'cool' multimedia applications with the help of inspirational teachers, who are the key to helping students understand the concepts behind the fun.

I've always adored science. Early memories of watching science TV programs every week led to kitchen experiments, making carnations turn half blue, half red and lining up glasses of sugar water beside the stove to watch crystals form. After studying every science subject I could at high school I completed my undergraduate science degree in biochemistry and genetics at The University of Melbourne, Australia, with the intention of becoming a scientist. However after one year researching how a protein in the brain, beta-amyloid, suddenly clumps together to cause Alzheimer's disease, my world was turned upside down: I loved science but didn't like laboratory research!? What's a scientist to do without a laboratory?

Luckily for me, after several years travelling the world I saw a job advertisement that required a genetics degree and project management experience. Bingo! And so began my science research career. For three years I ran a program that looked at the acceptability and feasibility of offering workplace genetic screening for hemochromatosis (an inherited condition causing iron overload). My 'laboratory' was a desk in a genetics research institute plus whatever workplace I was visiting that week, ranging from skyscraper office buildings to small town steel smelters. I loved community-based research and became fascinated by the challenge of 'teaching' genetics to the general public, within the timeframe of a 20 minute information session. How much information did people need to make an informed decision about whether to have the test or not? What was the best way to convey this information – in person? by DVD? by web?

Then in 2003 I saw Dave Micklos, Director of the DNA Learning Center, speak at the 19th International Congress on Human Genetics in Melbourne. When he presented the suite of DNALC websites, I thought, "Wow!! That’s really cool! I want to work there one day!" So I commenced my Ph.D. in multimedia genetics education, evaluating websites, games and DVDs, including some from DNALC, that are used in Australian high schools. As part of my Ph.D. I was lucky enough to spend three months at the DNALC in the spring of 2008, helping evaluate the Genes to Cognition website, which was under development at the time. I loved my time as an intern at the DNALC and couldn't wait to come back once I'd graduated. I'm now Multimedia & Evaluation Manager, which means I help develop new websites, iPhone apps and other cool resources, and also conduct research studies to evaluate these resources being used by teachers and students in schools and colleges across the States.

Oh, and if you haven't guessed by now, I'm an Aussie!

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