2014 Summer Institute Speaker and Guest Bios

[important color=green title=Dr. John Abraham, Keynote Speaker]

Dr. AbrahamDr. John Abraham is a Professor of Thermal Sciences where he researches in climate monitoring and renewable energy generation for the developing world. His energy development work has extended to Africa, South America, and Asia. Read more about him and his work here.




[important color=green title=Daniel Crawford, Keynote Speaker]

crawford danielDaniel Crawford is a composer, educator and student at the University of Minnesota who will be performing his renowned piece “Song for a Warming Planet“, which interprets climate data into a musical score. He will share stories from his creative process and the power of using the arts to communicate science. Daniel will also be performing music during dinner. 




[important color=green title=Mary Spivey – U of MN Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve]

spivey mary

Mary Spivey, MS, is the Education and Outreach coordinator for Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a University of Minnesota research station. She has over 25 years of experience teaching biology, chemistry and environmental science to K-16 audiences in both informal and formal settings.  She has written a variety of science education curricula well as developed and presented numerous professional development events for science educators. “I really enjoy working through the science of tough issues, such as global changes, and then helping others do the same. Not advocacy per se, but more removing the many veils covering the issue to reveal the underlying scientific principles driving the observations. Doing so provides common ground allowing everyone to engage in the discussions and, ultimately, the solutions. 


[important color=green title=Larry Weber – Author/Naturalist]

weber larry

 Larry is a retired Teacher, Author and Naturalist. As a Teacher, he taught sciences for 40 years; 25 of which was a phenology-based natural science class for seventh grade. The course used no textbook and made use of the outdoors regularly. Though retired, he still teaches in the University for Seniors at UMD, Minnesota Master Naturalist program and other summer workshops. As an Author, his books include books on phenology: Backyard Almanac, Webwood and Minnesota Phenology; other natural history books are: Butterflies of the Northwoods, Spiders of the Northwoods and Fascinating Fungi of the Northwoods. As a Naturalist, he writes a weekly nature column in a Duluth newspaper, has two weekly radio programs and serves as a speaker frequently in parks, nature centers, etc. 


[important color=green title=Paul Thompson – Co-Founder, Cool Planet]

thompson paul

 Paul facilitates groups of people to help them make change in their personal and professional lives and overcome barriers to growth and action through what the ecophilosopher Joanna Macy calls “Active Hope”. Co-founder of Cool Planet, Paul was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. He Joined the Peace Corps after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1970 and then taught high school biology and health science in Sabah, North Borneo for 3 years. He went on from there, traveling from Bali, Indonesia to Mazar-Sharif, Afghanistan via 10 SE Asian Countries and fulfilling his childhood dream of visiting and exploring the Mt. Everest region in Nepal. 41 years later, his passion for ending hunger and poverty has been wedded with moving humanity towards peaceful, sustainable living in building a Climate Solutions Movement.  


[important color=green title=Asia Ward – Director of Training and Outreach, KidWind]

Asia Ward

Asia teaches educators about renewable energy education for the classroom, and how more informed decisions can make the world a better place. She trains teachers around the US on how to use and feel confident implementing renewable energy curriculum and science kits in their classrooms. She works with engineers, educators, and artists in order to develop new education tools that prompt creative problem solving and encourage the investigation of STEM concepts through hands-on building with familiar and accessible materials.  

Prior to the KidWind Project, Asia enjoyed seven years as a Program Specialist and Artist in Residence for the Learning Technologies Center of the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Her work involved prototyping learning tools and developing hands-on activities for all ages, for the classroom, and the exhibit floor.


[important color=green title=Bryan Wood – Co-Executive Director, Audubon Center of the North Woods]

wood bryan

 Bryan Wood is the Co-Executive Director at the Audubon Center of the North Woods where he coordinates and instructs the post-secondary programs. He also oversees the land management, energy initiatives, development, buildings & grounds and food service at the Center. Bryan attended University of MN Duluth where he received a BAS in Outdoor Education. He also holds a MAEd in Environmental Education from Hamline University. Bryan lives with his wife Kat, daughter Maya and their cats and dog on an old farm in rural Pine County.



[important color=green title=Lester Shen, Phd. – Center for Energy and Environment]

shenDr. Shen joined the Center for Energy and Environment in July 2008 and has been working on projects dealing with the residential and industrial energy efficiency. Prior to joining CEE, Dr. Shen was the Associate Dean of the BS: Visualization Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He helped to design, create, and administer the degree program since its founding in 1997. Previous to his time at MCAD, Dr. Shen was a Research Associate with the Underground Space Center at the University of Minnesota. His research included numerical analysis of heat loss from residential building foundations and earth-sheltered buildings, residential indoor air quality, radon mitigation, and program delivery of low-income weatherization programs. He is also a developer of interactive training and educational computer tools for audiences ranging from builders and public health officials to school age children. Topics have included solid and hazardous waste, radon mitigation, residential energy use, building science, renewable energy, water resources, and indoor air quality. Dr. Shen has a Ph.D. in Mechancial Engineering from the University of Minnesota, an M.S.M.E. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Chemistry from Haverford College.


Return to the Summer Institute Main Page.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Published in: