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Core Team | Board of Advisors

EDWARD O. WILSON,  Lead Author

E. O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard, is a distinguished biologist, teacher, and writer. He has won more awards than any other scientist (over 20 literary awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, and over 60 awards for his scientific work, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize); he has received over 40 honorary degrees, written 23 books and 433 technical articles, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. His latest book and first novel, Ant Hill, is a New York Times Best Seller.

MORGAN RYAN,   Project Director

Morgan Ryan, Managing Editor of American Scientist magazine, was for twenty years a developer of science textbooks and digital materials for the high school and college markets. He has served as the Executive Editor for publishing divisions at Prentice Hall and HarperCollins, and since 2000 was the developmental editor of the number-one textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, and animal physiology. As a digital producer, he has developed course-length online materials for college biology (Prentice-Hall, 2005-2007) and high school chemistry (Holt MacDougall, 2010), and he is the author and producer of a series of instructional modules in life science that were featured from 2005 to 2008 on the home page of McGraw-Hill’s AccessScience.com, a science news site. His content specialties are cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and evolution.

GAËL McGILL,  Digital Media Director

Dr. Gaël McGill is Director of Molecular Visualization at the Center for Molecular and Cellular Dynamics at Harvard Medical School, where he also teaches scientific visualization. He is the founder and CEO of Digizyme, Inc., a firm dedicated to the visualization and communication of science through advanced technology applications. Dr. McGill is the creator of the online portal molecularmovies.org and the Molecular Maya (mMaya) software toolkit, as well as a technical editor for Wiley/SYBEX Publishing, where he has edited leading textbooks on the 3D applications Maya and ZBrush. He has served as a scientific and communications consultant for the Boston Scientific Corporation and remains a Technical Review Board member there. He is also a scientific advisory board member of Vast Scientific and Sage Science and has served as Director of Product Development & New Technologies at Xpogen, Inc., an enterprise bioinformatics software company. After working at Dupont-Merck Pharmaceuticals and INSERM/Cochin Hospital in Paris, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School in the Division of Medical Sciences (Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology) and postdoctoral fellowship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His research on the mechanisms of tumor cell death/apoptosis was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals fellowships. He received his B.A. summa cum laude in Biology, Music, and Art History from Swarthmore College.

DREW BERRY,  Animation Director

Drew Berry is a biomedical animator specializing in science topics at the microscopic scale. He has a masters degree in cell biology and works at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Australia, where he has spent the last dozen years developing state-of-the-art animation techniques that illuminate the frontiers of cellular and molecular biology. His work has been featured in many national news and current affairs programs, documentaries, museum exhibitions, and education multimedia. In 2010, Drew was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship. His other recent awards include:

  • Niche Prize, Nature journal and the Royal Institution of Great Britain, UK 2008
  • Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, First Place, National Science Foundation, USA 2006
  • Emmy Award, Outstanding Science, Technology and Nature Programming, for DNA documentary series, 2005
  • BAFTA award for DNA Interactive DVD, 2004
  • Alias Maya Master award, USA 2005

His recent exhibits include:

  • University of Geneva 450th anniversary celebration (traveling 14-meter dome exhibit) 2009
  • Rose Center for Earth and Space, American Museum of Natural History, New York 2006
  • Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft Dusseldorf (Museum of Design), exhibition, Germany 2006–7
  • Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art exhibition, China 2006
  • Museum of Modern Art “Premieres” exhibition, New York 2004–5
  • Te Manawa Science Center exhibition, New Zealand 2005–6
  • National Academy of Sciences Koshland Science Museum, Permanent Display, Washington DC 2004–6
  • ACMI Federation Square exhibition, Australia 2003–4
  • SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre, San Diego 2003
  • International Genetics Congress 2003 opening ceremony performance, Australia 2003 Pompidou Centre, “oZone” Cinema of Tomorrow Experimental Digital Media Art Festival, Paris 2003


Karen Hopkin is a science journalist and textbook author who has worked in print, online, and for broadcast. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1992, and began her writing career soon after. She has developed material for broadcast as an AAAS Mass Media Fellow and was a producer for NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. After a yearlong Knight Fellowship at MIT, Hopkin signed on as an author on Bruce Alberts’ market-leading undergraduate textbook, Essential Cell Biology. Hopkin is currently a columnist for The Scientist and a regular contributor to Scientific American’s daily podcast, 60-Second Science.

JAY VAVRA,  K-12 Content Director

Dr. Jay Vavra directs the biology education program at High Tech High. He studied biology at Stanford University and later earned a Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Southern California. His students have produced four books on various aspects of urban ecology in San Diego Bay and three have been published. He has received several teaching awards, including an Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (2007) and the Genzyme-Invitrogen Biotech Educator of the Year Award (2008), as well as the National Education Association Christa McAuliffe Award. He and his eleventh graders received a Busch Gardens–Fuji Film Environmental Excellence Award, and their film about the African bushmeat crisis was selected as Best in Show at the National Council on Science and the Environment convention (2008).

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