Our Scientific Experts and Artists

Scientific Experts









 Cristine Boles

Cristine is a music and math teacher who enjoys creating valuable, memorable experiences for her students. She grew up in Montana where she earned her Bachelor's in Music Education and BA in Math Education. Cristine's experience includes writing curriculum, teaching middle school math, high school Algebra and Geometry in addition to teaching piano, band and choir. She enjoys rock climbing and hiking, playing piano, and finding new ways to connect people to the math and music that can be found in their everyday lives. 









 Jennifer Burbank

Jen is a science educator, writer, and mom.  She traded her classroom for the fun and adventure of being a stay-at-home mom to four energetic kids.  Jen spent most of her time as an undergraduate studying Ecology but also developed a love for the lab and molecular biology.  She had the opportunity to start a high school Biotechnology program and has since earned her MS in Biology.  She loves learning, teaching, and writing about all things science.  Jen and her husband are raising their family in the country in beautiful northern Utah and she loves to take pictures, ski, and trail run.









 Michele Caton 

Michele grew up investigating the natural world of her backyard and fell in love with biology in high school. She later got her PhD and became a research scientist in Immunology. Michele studied the immune cells that recognize pathogens and why the immune system sometimes attacks the body’s own cells. Currently, she enjoys teaching and writing about science while exploring nature through the eyes of her two young children. Even though she is trained in biology, she loves to learn about every subject in science!









 Kira Freed

Kira Freed, M.A., is a children’s writer and former archaeozoologist who discovered a mistake about dinosaurs in the World Book Encyclopediawhen she was seven. She grew up in rural Ohio and learned from a young age to find comfort and inspiration in nature. Kira has written more than 250 books for educational publishers, many about animals. She likes to encourage readers to try on the perspectives of different kinds of animals and hopes to motivate readers to help our planet achieve a better balance between human needs and the needs of other life forms. Kira lives in Arizona and enjoys traveling, seeing wildlife, making art, and taking long walks in nature.



Valerie Grosso

Valerie is a microbiologist who is curious about all the microscopic things that make up our world. She holds BS and PhD degrees from Yale and Harvard, respectively, and is a former college professor who is passionate about making higher-level scientific concepts part of every kid’s life tool kit. She lives in New York City with her husband and two young daughters (who try out all the mini-courses) and spends her free time knitting and roaming around the American Museum of Natural History (not necessarily at the same time).



Tucker Hirsch

Tucker Hirsch is a science and literacy editor with National Geographic Learning’s K-8 textbook division. A native of New Jersey, she returned to Monterey time and again until finally calling it home in 2013. A passionate marine biologist and educator, she has developed science curriculum for a number of organizations, including Aquarium of the Bay and Call of the Sea, both in San Francisco. Tucker still develops hands-on science curriculum through her company, Tucker Hirsch LLC. She is also an alternate member on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Tucker works to inspire citizens to be stewards of the planet through science and education.



Deborah McArthur

Deborah McArthur is a science educator and writer who is passionate about connecting people to the wonders of the physical and natural world. With a BS in Marine Biology and an MS in Environmental Studies, her path has led her through the Swiss Alps, Rocky Mountains, Alaskan rainforest, Pacific Northwest, and back to the coastal redwoods of her native California. Deborah’s experience includes outdoor education, teaching college courses, and designing educational programs and resources for museums and science centers. Deborah writes a regular column and blog – the Nature Connection. She loves kayaking, gardening, and traveling with her family.




Charlie Alolkoy

Charlie Alolkoy holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and has been a full-time artist for over twenty-five years. Since he first wandered into an artist’s studio at the age of five, he has always wanted to be an artist and is thrilled to have fulfilled that lifelong dream. He is a children’s book illustrator, textile designer, and digital relief sculptor. His art is influenced by his Native American heritage; his ancestors lived on the Channel Islands, which are depicted in the stories Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Rainbow Bridge. He resides in Arizona.



Rachel Caauwe

Rachel Caauwe is a freelance scientific illustrator from Michigan. She is an alumna of Northern Michigan University and a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. When she is not drawing, she spends time researching the latest scientific discoveries and networking with fellow artists. She also enjoys being outside, cooking, listening to music, researching genealogy, and being a librarian at her local public library. She lives with her boyfriend—a biology student—and two Sudan plated lizards.



Veronique Latimer

Veronique Latimer studied art and lots of other things at Vassar College and Parsons the New School for Design. Her illustration debut was inspired by becoming a parent and having some voracious readers in the house. She also teaches high school art and does a lot of doodling in her plan book during hall duty.




Lauren Woodrow

Lauren Woodrow has a passion for designing products that help people (and especially kids) learn. The best part of her work is that she gets to learn, too. She has been a graphic designer for more than two decades and has worked on science education products for publishers such as Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Cengage Learning. Lauren lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two daughters.