Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute

Meet the Team

Amanda Smith Hackler
Amanda Smith Hackler - Education and Public Engagement Manager Linkedin

Dr. Amanda Smith Hackler is currently the Education and Public Engagement Manager for the Lunar and Planetary Institute. In her capacity, she oversees LPI's extensive education and public engagement portfolio, intended to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields among educators, students, and the general public. Previously, Dr. Hackler was the Head of Career Development and Outreach for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), and an Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Space Medicine and School of Allied Health Sciences. Prior to her work with NSBRI, Dr. Hackler served as the Senior Education Project Scientist for the NASA Human Research Program Education and Outreach project at Johnson Space Center (JSC). Additionally, Dr. Hackler worked for the Aerospace and Biotechnology Academy at JSC, supporting an array of K-12 and undergraduate STEM educational initiatives, and the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. As well, Dr. Hackler has served as a Review Committee Member for the Nike Jordan Fundamentals foundation, and as a Rice University Civic Scientist. Dr. Hackler received her bachelor's and master's degrees at Texas Tech University, and graduated from the University of Alabama with her doctorate in higher education, where her research focused on retention in STEM fields among underserved and underrepresented students. She's also a graduate of Harvard University's Management Development Program.

Christine Shupla
Christine Shupla - Education Lead

Ms. Shupla joined the LPI education team in October 2005 and assists in team management, leading LPI’s professional development and materials development for teachers, out-of-school time programmers, librarians, and informal science educators.  She is the principal investigator for the Sustainable Trainer Engagement Program (STEP), and has coordinated a variety of efforts for NASA SMD education, including the FINESSE institutes for college pre-service faculty, and the Year of the Solar System website.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy from the University of Texas in Austin, and a Master of Arts in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Previous to her time at LPI, she spent 16 years in the planetarium field, presenting and creating shows and managing the facilities and staff.

Andy Shaner
Andy Shaner - Public Engagement Lead Linkedin

Mr. Shaner is the Public Engagement Lead at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. He is responsible for the implementation of LPI’s public engagement programs, such the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series and Sky Fest programs, as well as assisting with other LPI education programs. Since joining LPI in July 2009, he has been involved in multiple education projects including professional development experiences for early career scientists, teachers, public librarians, and camp professionals as well as educational experiences for the public. Mr. Shaner is also the education lead for the ChemCam instrument onboard the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover and the LPI-JSC Center for Lunar Science and Exploration. In this capacity, he manages an authentic, lunar/asteroid research program for high school students (ExMASS), has developed content for small, portable traveling exhibits intended for small libraries and works with CosmoQuest to bring NASA solar system science and exploration to the public though monthly Google Hangouts. Mr. Shaner holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from Wichita State University and a M.A. in Teaching and Teacher Education with a minor in planetary science from The University of Arizona. Following graduate school, he taught high school physics and Earth and space science for one year before coming to LPI.

Yolanda Ballard
Yolanda Ballard - Education Assistant

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.