The Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years and Counting!

The Hubble Space Telescope reached its 27th anniversary in 2017, and following its final servicing mission in 2009, is still going strong and continues to make amazing discoveries. Some of Hubble latest discoveries have shed new light on some of the most distant galaxies and have given astronomers and scientists unparalleled views into the many remaining mysteries of our solar system. What remains in Hubble’s future? How has the observatory set the standard for future observatories?

Jade Kukula is from Brooklyn, NY.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, a Master’s degree in Systems Engineering at George Washington University and is currently working on PhD in Systems Engineering at George Washington University.  She’s been an engineer with Lockheed Martin since 2008, and has worked for NASA, Air Force, and DoD, currently a defense contractor with DoD.  Her hobbies include cooking, kitsuke, and cosplay.

We are so excited to add her to our roster of amazing speakers!



Keynote Announcement!

We are excited (and so lucky!) to be able to announce Krishanti Vignarajah as our keynote speaker for Pandemic!  Krishanti recently finished serving as Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama, where she led the White House’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which supports the education of girls via government support, international coalitions and private sector partnerships.   Before the White House, she served as Senior Advisor at the State Department under Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry. She currently serves as Founder & CEO of Generation Impact, which partners with nonprofits, foundations and companies to achieve sustainable social impact.

Krishanti has a clear love of learning and is an expert in leading programs that foster quality education for young girls, empowerment, and expanding their potential opportunities.   She’ll be discussing her personal background in context with her professional achievements and leadership, specifically with respect to empowering women and social impact.


Krishanti was 9-months old when she and her family escaped the growing violence in Sri Lanka to come to America. By the time her parents fled, thousands had been killed, children were conscripted into the army, as ethnic tensions worsened and the country descended into civil war.

The daughter of Baltimore City public school teachers, Krishanti’s parents emphasized education her entire life. Her mother started teaching at Poly High School in 1970, and after taking time to help raise her family and going back to get her PhD in her 50s, finished her career teaching at Morgan State University, one of Maryland’s distinguished HBCUs. Her father started teaching who is 80 and has been a teacher for 57 years, teaches Physics at Western High School in Baltimore City, the oldest all-girls public school in the country. Krishanti attended Baltimore publics schools starting from Woodbridge Elementary to Woodlawn High School in Baltimore (Woodlawn was the school featured in the Serial podcast). She attended Yale College, where she earned a Master’s degree in Political Science and a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, where she received an M.Phil. in International Relations, before returning to Yale Law School, where she served on the Yale Law Journal and received the Potter Stewart and the Harlan Stone Prizes.

While serving in the Obama Administration, Krishanti helped shape White House and State Department initiatives and programs related to entrepreneurship, women’s issues, engagement with youth and religious communities, private sector investment, public-private partnerships, public diplomacy, development strategies concerning health, food security and climate change, and regional issues relating to Africa and the Middle East.

Before joining the White House, Krishanti worked at McKinsey & Company, where she consulted for Fortune 100 companies, practiced law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC, clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and taught U.S. foreign policy and international law at Georgetown University as an adjunct. She has published articles, including in the Journal of World Trade and Chicago Law Review, and received awards like the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Prize for her scholarship.

The Burning… It Feels So Good!

Have you ever wanted to try Scotch whisky, but you don’t know enough to order it in a bar? What is the difference between a Highland, a Lowland, and an Islay? Wait, isn’t whisky spelled with an “e”?

Known whisky enthusiast Jason Seiler will help with these and more as he presents on the origin, etymology, and process of making Scotch whisky. During the presentation, participants will be treated to six servings of whisky, each a single malt aged 10 years or better, and one each from the six whisky-producing regions of Scotland.  Note, there will be a sign-up sheet at registration, and a nominal charge for attending this session.

Jason Seiler is a martial arts instructor, firearms instructor, the National Parliamentarian for American Mensa, and a known Scotch whisky aficionado. He has been giving private tastings from his personal collection of 75 single malt whiskies for a decade, providing small groups from different organizations with education and experience in the water of life.



Let’s Launch a Library!

The ongoing MWM Community Service Project  is “Let’s Launch a Library” which is responsible for initiating or enhancing reading/library areas in Boys & Girls Clubs in the Metro Washington area.  Books and other materials, primarily from MWMs, are responsible for “launching” 8 libraries!  Additional books are necessary, though, to expand the libraries and to give the kids new reading experience to look forward to.

We’ll have a donation box for children’s literacy at Pandemic!  Please bring any children’s books (or any books in good condition really, we can trade them at used bookstores afterwards).  SAT study guides, math and reading workbooks, art supplies, and board games are also would be helpful.

We also have a wish list set up if you’re so inclined:  AMAZON Wishlist


Girls Who Code! #l33th8x0r

66% of middle school girls are interested in computer science. By high school, only 32% are interested. By college, the statistic drops to 4%. Girls Who Code tries to reduce the gender gap in technology by providing opportunities for middle and high school girls to learn programming languages and computer science concepts. Through its after-school clubs and summer programs, Girls Who Code has reached over 10,000 girls since its inception. Tammy Metz will share her experience as a teacher in a local Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and provide information about the program.

Tammy Metz is a school Librarian/Math Teacher/Jack of All Trades. She has taught in all types of schools, from urban Philadelphia to the rural Navajo reservation. Every once in a while, she takes time off from teaching to lapse back into more technical work such as web hosting and managing library software. She has always enjoyed STEM subjects, and after being one of the only girls in her high school Computer Science and Physics courses, decided to major in Physics at Bryn Mawr College, a womens college which graduates nearly 50 times the national average for women graduating with a Physics degree.

Tammy Metz

When Trees Attack!

What if the natural resources we manage began to manage themselves?  And then us?

We’re so excited to welcome Eco/Sci-Fi novelist Tara Campbell to talk about her novel, TreeVolution.   Tara [] is a Washington, DC-based writer. In 2016, she was the grateful recipient of two awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: the Larry Neal Writer’s Award in Adult Fiction, and the Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding New Artist. She also volunteers with local literary/arts organizations like Artomatic, 826DC, the Writer’s Center, and the Washington Independent Review of Books. Tara is an MFA candidate at American University and an assistant fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Her monthly column at the Washington Independent Review of Books, Text in the City, covers all things books and writing in the DC area.

Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Barrelhouse, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Establishment, The Master’s Review, Litbreak, Punchnel’s, For Harriet, Quail Bell Magazine, Booth, Heavy Feather Review, Luna Station Quarterly, District Lit, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Her first novel, TreeVolution, was released in November 2016, and her collection of short fiction and poetry, Circe’s Bicycle, will appear in fall 2017.

The Science of Resting Bitch Face!

And now for something completely awesome!  We’re so excited to welcome Abbe Macbeth, PhD, to present the science of Resting Bitch Face, which is a pop-culture phenomenon where certain neutral or “resting” facial expressions are interpreted by the viewer as angry, upset, or even “bitchy”. This phenomenon is primarily ascribed to women, but by using objective, gender-neutral software, Abbe and her team were able to show that this is a gender-neutral phenomenon. In comparisons of celebrities and non-celebrities, and those who are “known” havers of RBF with non-RBF faces, they demonstrated that there are underlying facial expression components that all RBF faces have in common. From a project that started out as a fun, tongue-in-cheek demonstration of what facial emotion analysis could do, Abbe was able to inject real science into why some faces are viewed in this way, while others are not.

Abbe Macbeth, PhD, is a behavioral neuroscientist who has always been fascinated with why any animal does what it does. From neural and hormonal bases of behavior, to the external societal pressures that influence behaviors, it is those (often unconscious) reasons that Abbe finds the most interesting. After many years working with rodents, Abbe made the transition into scientific sales in 2010 as an account manager with Noldus Information Technology. Since then, she has set multiple global sales records for Noldus, carried out dozens of training sessions, and assisted hundreds of researchers with finding the ideal solutions for their specific needs. In 2013, she was promoted to Regional Sales Manager, where she is responsible for managing a sales team of 6, as well as overseeing consulting for North America.

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Space, so vast and full of samples!

We are incredibly excited to welcome Florence Tan from NASA, who will be talking about Sample Analysis at Mars!

The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite takes up more than half the science payload on board the Mars Science Laboratory rover and features chemical equipment found in many scientific laboratories on Earth. Provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Sample Analysis at Mars searches for compounds of the element carbon, including methane, that are associated with life and explores ways in which they are generated and destroyed in the Martian ecosphere.

Florence was the product design lead for Mars Science Laboratory Sample Analysis at Mars, Exo-Mars Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer instrument, and Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer Neutral Mass Spectrometer. All of these instruments are mass spectrometer payloads on orbiters or Mars rovers. She has also designed electronics and written software for the Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer on the orbiter and the Gas Chromatograph and Mass Spectrometer on the Huygens Probe into Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Florence has a Bachelors in Computer Engineering from the University of Maryland, a Masters in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from Johns Hopkins.

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A Whale of a Time!

The oceans are anything but silent.  Due to relatively poor transmission of light in water many marine species focus on auditory rather than visual communication.  Animals from wide taxonomic backgrounds, fish, invertebrates and marine mammals, make and listen to sounds in the ocean. Some animals listen for their prey or predators.  Others use sound to coordinate breeding or group hunting.  Some species use sound to navigate in pitch black waters.  Animals communicate with their neighbors on a reef and across ocean basins.  Human use of the oceans has greatly changed the soundscape that animals are confronted with.  This presents new challenges for species.  Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is a relatively remote area with Minke whales as well as a variety of other marine species.  This region will be discussed as a case study in the greater context of the impact of sound on marine mammals.

Elly Roland received her B.S. in Biology from Cornell University in 2006, a M.Sc. from George Mason University in 2013 and is currently a PhD Candidate at George Mason University.  Her Master’s thesis research was on population dynamics and population viability of bottlenose dolphins off the SE coast of the Dominican Republic.  Her PhD work is on the marine soundscape of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides and the impacts that levels of ambient noise have of the behavioral budget of Minke Whales.
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Opening Plenary Session: Let’s talk statistics!

We are so pleased to announce that Ms. Blythe Terrell will be giving our opening session address on Friday evening!

Blythe is the senior editor for science and health at FiveThirtyEight, a website focused on data and empirical journalism. She has worked as a copy editor, reporter and city editor at newspapers; her professional background includes stints at the Austin American-Statesman and the Steamboat Pilot & Today in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She went from newspapers to earning her master’s of science in public health at Johns Hopkins and then served as a community health volunteer in Swaziland with the U.S. Peace Corps. She now works with a team of writers to plan and edit science and health coverage at FiveThirtyEight.

Catch up on her work at:

We’re lucky to have her and hope you enjoy hearing her speak!

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