Science In Our Community
Lecture Series

PH: (805) 709-0579


Derrick R. Lavoie,Ph.D. Executive Director
Derrick R. Lavoie, Ph.D. is founder and Director of the Discovery Institute for the Advancement of Science and Technology Education, a non-profit corporation. Dr. Lavoie has been involved with research and teaching of science/technology education for over 20 years. He has taught university education and science courses since 1985 and is widely published in science and technology education. His most recent book, "Models of Science Teacher Preparation: Theory into Practice" is being used in science teacher preparation world wide.
 Curriculum Vitae

Gregory Carstairs, P.E. Assistant Director

Gregory Carstairs is Assistant Director of the Discovery Institute. Mr. Carstairs has been an aerospace scientist and professional engineer for the last 20 years. He has B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from CaliforniaPolytechnic State University.


Lisa Ramser, Treasure
Lisa Ramser is Senior Vice President/ Controller at Mission Community Bank in San Luis Obispo. Lisa is also on the board of United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of San Luis Obispo County and recentlycompleted a year of SLO Leadeership training.


Marvin Robertson, member

Mr. Robertson is a founding father of the Discovery Institute. He also provides office space for the Institute.

Dr. Lynn Sayre, DMD, Secretary

Lynn Sayre, DMD serves as secretary of the Discovery Institute and brings a strong background in medical and biological science to the Discovery Institute. Dr. Sayre has maintained a local periodontic practice for the last 10 years. Dr. Sayre graduated from TUFTS Dental School and USC School of Periodontics


Cathie Babb, Director
Discovery Center Task Force
Cathie Babb is very active in promoting the concept of a Discovery Center on the California Coast and directs the operations of the Discovery Center Task Force. She is also the Sciences Division Assistant at Cuesta College and mother of eight children.

Dave Romero
Dave Romero is former Mayor for San Luis Obispo, CA. Mayor Romero has spent the better part of life seeking to make San Luis Obispo a place where we can all feel proud to live. He believes the Discovery Center would be a great boon to educaton and tourism for the Central California coast.

Dr. Sandy Sachs
Dr. Sachs is a chiropractor for the Health in Motion Chiropratic Center. He has considerable expertise and resources for family wellness programs.

Joy Pedersen
Joy Pedersen is Coordinator of The Community Center at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is interested in experiential and service-learning.

Dr. Mark Gaskell
Mark Gaskell is a Farm Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension and is responsible for research and extension programs in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. He has a doctorate degree in Crop Production Physiology and more than 25 years of professional experience in agricultural research, teaching, extension, and commercial crop production. His current research and educational outreach program focuses on alternative new crop research and development and cost-effective nutrient management in organic production systems.

Sue McClure
Sue McClure teaches chemistry at Cal Poly and Cuesta. She is interested in mentoring students competing for the Young Scientist Recognition Banquet this Fall.

Jenny Weaver
Jenny Weaver works as an Agricultural Inspector/Biologist for the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture. She has worked there since 1995 and is currently involved in the pest exclusion and organic programs. She processes organic registrations and performs inspections of organic producers, handlers and retail facilities. Visit Jenny graduated from California Polytechnic SLO with a B.S. in Fruit Science. She also received teaching credentials from SJSU and Portland SU, OR.

Rodger Anderson
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Roger Anderson is a 5th generation resident of SLO County. He has served as a councilmember and as mayor of MorroBay, and is currently active on a number of Service Boards. He believes in protecting and preserving our area's quality of life, supporting local control, and providing opportunities for future generations. He is running for county supervisor. (

Alan Strasbaugh
Alan Strasbaugh has worked at his family’s business, Strasbaugh for forty-five years, since the age of twelve. Strasbaugh designs and builds automated equipment for the Semiconductor, Aerospace and Optics industries. Alan has worked in all phases of the business and was CEO from 1978 to 1998. He is currently Board Chairman. Under Alan’s direction, Strasbaugh guided and funded the Robotics Curriculum at Cuesta College and sponsored internship programs at Cal Poly, Cuesta and Arroyo Grande High School. Alan has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, Pomona and holds seven U.S. patents related to semiconductor manufacturing.

Rod Blackner
RodBlackner is Director of Food Services for Paso Robles Public Schools. He has conducted research in food science and nutrition.

Randy Dettmer, AIA, NCARB
Randy Dettmer, and his firm Dettmer Architecture have been designing and building projects throughout the western United States for over 29 years. He has also been a member of the Cal Poly Department of Architecture faculty for 20 years, teaching architectural design, professional practice, and construction technology. He has a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is a licensed general building contractor, and commercially rated pilot. He is licensed to practice architecture in California, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, and Hawaii, and is currently Legislative Director of the American Institute of Architects Central Coast Chapter.

Walter Reil
A PG&E employee at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, working in the nuclear power industry for over thirty years. A public outreach representative for NASA's and Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a volunteer JPL Solar System Ambassador since January 2004, conducting free multimedia presentations for schools and community organizations about astronomy and space exploration.  A member of the Board of Directors for the Endeavour Institute in Santa Maria, promoting STEM education outreach through space exploration and Earth-observing satellite missions.  A member and past president of the Central Coast Astronomical Society.  A member of SLOCoE's P-16 Steering Committee, promoting enhanced STEM education opportunities for SLO County K-12 school teachers and students.  Past member and President of the Atascadero Education Foundation, chairing, designing and directing the installation of a hands-on math & science laboratory classroom at the Monterey Road Elementary School in 1993.  Walt is a strong, vocal advocate of enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics public education opportunities for Central Coast children.

Gerard Pardeilhan
Gerard Pardeilhan is an optician specialist and has been product manager for Strasbaugh's Precision Optics Equipment line in San Luis Obispo since 1996. He became interested in astronomy and optics after building numerous astronomical telescopes through the 1970's. Gerard founded the popular public observational astronomy program at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. During the 1980's and 1990's
he worked for Tinsley Labs in Berkeley and then Lick Observatory at UCSC as a master optician.

Susan Greco-Neubert
Susan Greco-Neubert has taught science for many years in SLO schools. She taught and developed chemistry, physics, and AVID programs as well as courses that emphasize the application of technology. She is currently serving as Treasurer for the Discovery Institute.

Noah Doughty
Noah Doughty teaches science at Mission College Preparatory in San Luis Obispo.

Mike di Milo
Mike di Milo owns Science Discovery, an educational development company located in San Luis Obispo. His business creates education programs, videos and museum exhibits and curriculum that teach about various natural resource related topics. Mike graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in natural resources management, and has also taught environmental education for Kern County Schools.

Natalie Schaefer
Natalie Schaefer, M.S. grew up in the redwoods of Humboldt County, California. She graduated from CSU Chico with degrees in Geography and American Indian Studies. While completing her M.S. in Environmental Sciences, she involved over 400 students in a service learning project restoring park habitat in Carmel Valley. She's been in education for over 20 years as a teacher, park ranger and programs administrator. She currently resides in Atascadero, California with her husband, son, dog and guinea pig.

Laurie Huffman, Ph.D.
Laurie Huffman has served as a bi-cultural/bilingual college professor for 20 years. She specializes in online teaching and training and is currently running for council woman ( She also owns and manages a tropical rain forest in Costa Rica which may become the Costa Rica Discovery Center.

Kathrine C. Chen, Ph.D.
Kathrine Chen is Associate Professor at Cal Poly State University and is current chair of the Materials and Engineering Department. She is actiive in promoting student outreach programs.

Paul Lichtman
Paul Lichtman has played a key role in opening Eastern Europe to American and international film and television productions. Fluent in four languages, he can converse with his European associates in English, German, Dutch, and French, in addition to a modest amount of Serbo-Croatian. He served on the Board of Directors of the US-Yugoslav Economic Council. As an actor, he is most recognized as the affable yet cantankerous janitor on “Barney Miller. As a writer, Mr. Lichtman penned episodes of a number of television shows, including, 'All in the Family" and "The Bob Newhart Show." He is also a member of the New York Bar.

Kena Burke, MPP
Kena Burke is executive director of the Children's Health Initiative. She is a mother and a strong advocate for better education. Her daughter recently competed in the Young Scientist Recognition Banquet sponsored by the Discovery Institute

Kira Olshefski
Kira Olshefski has been a teacher for eleven years. For the past five years, she has been teaching a sel -contained class of 7th and 8th graders at Pleasant Valley School in San Miguel. She has two daughters (5th grade and 8th grade) are very active in 4-H and have a high interest in the Sciences.

Melissa Guise
Melissa Guise is C-5 Coordinator for the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition. Their mission is to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and to expand the fueling infrastructure throughout the Central Coast

Michael Holmes
Michael Holmes teaches science at Cuesta College and Alan Hancock College. He is interested in promoting STEM education in our local community.

Frank Fontes Jr.
Frank Fontes is employed with Lockheed Martin as a senior systems engineer in their engineering leadership development program (ELDP). The program was created to develop and retain early career high potential professionals for future leadership positions. His current assignment under this program is serving as an engineering project manager and control accounts manager.
Frank graduated from Calpoly, SLO in 2000 with a degree in Management Information Systems and presently pursuing a Masters in Information Technology at the University of Maryland,

Patrick Mayeda
A San Luis Obispo local, Patrick Mayeda is the Managing Principal for
Productive Impact, LLC. The company specializes in business development and project management, assisting companies in the preparation of business plans and economic impact studies for large scale projects. Mr. Mayeda has previous employment as an engineer and engineering manager for a high tech manufacturing company, where he gained valuable experience in project concept development, including the preparation of operation images and feasibility studies. He holds an MBA and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly.

David Porter
Dave Porter is Director of Director of Engineering at Cyrstal Engineering Corporation.

Diana DeGarmo CHT IA CMT
Diana is practitioner of metaphysics in mind\body and is certified in Yoga, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, trans personal astrology, feng shui, space clearing and soul coaching. She runs a small spiritual bed & breakfast retreat and spa in Shell Beach called The laughing Buddha beach inn and spa. She has spent the past 10 years traveling the world studying with indigenous cultures in Southeast Asia, Brazil, Australi, and New Zealand and has over 1000 hours in mind body training through the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. She has been in the Shell Beach area since 1984 and attended Cal Poly in mid 80's. She has two grown daughters who attend Cuesta.

Jim Wheeler
Jim Wheeler lives in Oceano and consults as audiovisual forensic expert. He is world renowned for his work with instant replay and in-flight video. He received an EMMY for the invention of auto-tracking (Instant Replay), the NY Film Anthology Award, and the AMIA Career Achievement Award. He holds a degree from U.C. Berkeley.

Jessica Shayler
Mrs. Shayler is a student in the MBA program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  She has taught middle school mathematics at the San Luis Obispo Classical Academy and two other California schools on the Central Coast.  She earned a BS and single-subject teaching credential in mathematics from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is the recipient of Cal Poly’s Outstanding Mathematics Educator Award.

Russ M. Genet
Russ Genet currently teaches as astronomy professor at Cuesta College and is also Director of the Orion Observatory. He is conducted extensive research in astronomy and is assisting with the Young Scientist Recognition Banquet this Fall, 2006. He is very active with the Central Coast Astronomical Society.



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