The LPI Education and Public Outreach team, in collaboration with strategic science and education partners,
makes current Earth and planetary science content available to formal and informal science educators
through a diverse portfolio of training programs and resources infused with research-based best practices.
Through our efforts, we strive to foster lifelong learning and a commitment to science by the public
in our local community, region, and nation.
Meet the Staff
I joined the LPI education team as Manager in June of 2003, expanding my horizons significantly. My background is in glacial geology — training that is pertinent to some of the celestial bodies in our solar system! While working on my degree in Geology and Geophysics at Rice University, I became interested in making a connection between the public and the scientific research in which I was involved. I collaborated with the Education Development Center and the American Museum of Natural History to develop an Internet-based middle-school curriculum — Antarctica: The Farthest Place Close to Home — that centered on Antarctica as a theme to engage students in Earth science. For eight years, I also directed the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic Program (TEA), a program in which K–12 teachers work in the field with polar researchers and transfer the experience of research to the classroom. Working closely with educators taught me the value of collaboration between researchers and teachers in the development of strong science educational materials and programs.
My involvement in the education programs at LPI ranges from oversight to design to development and implementation. We have several exciting programs and an energetic, talented staff that is devoted to creating innovative, high-quality educational experiences and environments for teachers, students, and the general public.
I joined the LPI education team in October 2005. Before joining the LPI, I spent 16 years in the planetarium field, writing and presenting shows and managing planetariums. I am currently the Formal Education Lead for our team, coordinating LPI’s efforts to support K–12 classrooms in Earth and space science education. Our team conducts a variety of professional development workshops for teachers, develops classroom materials, and has other resources available for teachers. I also help with our informal and outreach efforts as needed. It is very rewarding to be part of such a talented team, bringing space science to educators and our community.
Kelliann La Conte
I lead the LPI’s informal education efforts, including planning and implementing our Explore program for librarians and after-school providers, devising effective strategies for bringing Earth and space science to the public during our events, and looking toward the future of our informal education efforts. I represent the Planetary Science E/PO Forum on the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Informal Education Working Group.
My training is in chemistry, astrobiology, and environmental science, but my passion is for science education. I have worked for a museum, aquariums, and most recently, as a park naturalist. I joined the education team in March 2009, and I am honored to be a part of their efforts in connecting diverse audiences with Earth and space science.
My first experience at the LPI was through an internship in 2004, during which I performed experiments on a martian meteorite. That internship sparked my interest in planetary science, which I continued studying through graduate school at Arizona State University and Rice University. Throughout graduate school, I found that I was enjoying teaching and participating in outreach events more than research, so I returned to LPI and joined the education team in January 2010.
I am a member of the Planetary Science Education and Public Outreach Forum, which is seeking to improve the coherence, efficiency, sustainability, and effectiveness of NASA’s Education and Public Outreach program. I enjoy being involved in a program that allows us to fundamentally shape how planetary science is taught, both in schools at the K–12 and university levels and in informal settings. I am also heavily involved in our Sky Fest program, which aims to engage the general public in planetary science and inspire them to learn more.
My first experience with planetary science education came as a graduate student at the University of Arizona, where I was a member of the education and public outreach (E/PO) program for the Mars Phoenix mission. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a master’s degree in Teaching and Teacher Education with a minor in Planetary Science. After graduate school, I taught high school physics and Earth and space science for one year before coming to LPI.
At LPI, I lead both lunar and Mars education efforts, including the High School Lunar Research Projects and E/PO for the ChemCam instrument onboard NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. I also lead LPI’s public speaker series, the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series.
I have been with the LPI since September 2010. I assist with all the administrative duties for the education team, and serve as one of the primary contacts. I assist with the coordination of meetings, purchasing, and agreements. I also support the team in the preparation of workshops, acquisitions, and shipping of materials, and am the liaison between our team and other departments. I enjoy working with everyone on the education team and am excited about my contribution to the team’s space science goals.
If someone would have suggested to my high-school self that as an adult I would be working in science education, I would have laughed at them. I was certain that I was going to be a band director!
I graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Geology in 2002. Another three-and-a-half years and two different concentrations after that, I graduated again from the University of Maryland with a master’s degree in Science Education. In graduate school, I took a job at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center working for their astrobiology group, where I ran the undergraduate internship program and was introduced to the NASA education community. That was in 2004. In June 2005, while finishing my master’s thesis, I began working full time as a science education specialist, and the rest is history!
During the week, I am a self-admitted boob-tube head — The Big Bang Theory is my ultimate favorite! When I get the chance, I love to travel and go backpacking, camping, and almost anything outdoors.
I am an Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) Specialist at the LPI, based out of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I am the Informal Education Lead for the NASA Earth Science E/PO Forum and Co-Lead for the NASA Planetary Science E/PO Forum Engaging Underserved Audiences Task Force. I conduct E/PO activities for NASA planetary missions, including the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover mission as part of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite E/PO team, and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. I received my undergraduate degree in Geology from the College of William & Mary, and my master’s degree in Geosciences, with a focus in Planetary Geology, from the University of Arizona.
In November 2009, I joined the LPI as the Program Coordinator for the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) team, which is one of the seven teams comprising the NASA Lunar Science Institute. My primary responsibility is to support CLSE and program activities in science, training, and education. I am the point of contact for the Lunar and Exploration Summer Intern Program and the Field Training and Research Program at Meteor Crater. It is rewarding to be a part of a team that brings training and educational opportunities to the next generation of space science explorers.
When I went to college, I couldn’t decide whether to study space science or film. I don’t think that is a situation too many people find themselves in, but everyone has choices to make, and eventually I chose space science. After a year and a half, I missed film so much that I switched majors, and received my bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film two and a half years later. Now life has finally come full circle, and I am working as the multimedia specialist at LPI! I get to combine both of my interests by helping share space science with others through the use of multimedia.
I work with graphic design, photography, web design, videos, and interactive elements. There are so many outlets these days and ways to reach the public that there is plenty of need for art in the science community, and what a great community it is. The whole team here is fun to work with, and it’s a delight to help put their ideas into the public’s hands.
I am a neuroscientist researcher by training, and from 2004 to 2010, I managed various aspects of NASA’s domestic and international space life sciences research program. During my management experience, I realized how difficult but essential it is to communicate space scientific and technological information to people of all ages and to truly engage them in the excitement of space exploration. My goal since 2010 has been to find motivating and novel ways to inspire people about space, focusing on increasing scientific knowledge and the ability to use this knowledge creatively. Most recently, I have led the Humans in Space Youth Art Competition, an international project to inspire youth to think about and creatively communicate their visions of the future of human space exploration.