STPI Research Staff

The STPI research staff is made up of experts in numerous S&T fields ranging from engineering and statistics to the natural, physical, and social sciences.

Leslie S. Abrahams has experience in the areas of energy and environmental issues. Prior to joining STPI, her research explored a range of environmental impacts associated with energy systems, including land change, water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, she has experience quantifying urban vulnerability to climate change hazards and on climate change adaptation measures. Dr. Abrahams has previously worked in the oil and gas industry focusing on energy distribution, and worked as a summer associate for the RAND Corporation assessing operational energy consumption. Dr. Abrahams received a joint PhD from the Departments of Engineering and Public Policy and Civil and Environmental Engineering, and an MS from the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She also holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.

Asha Balakrishnan has expertise in evaluation for research and training programs, space policy, and STEM education. Some of her projects at STPI include policy research for space situational awareness and small satellites, evaluation of a Federal scholarship program and portfolio analyses for large research facilities and mid-scale facilities. She has worked in the area of metric development and assessment across a number of topics including cyber research, technology transfer, and STEM education/workforce programs. Dr. Balakrishnan holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. Both her MS and PhD are in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

George A. Borlase brings expertise in risk management, program execution and evaluation, and safety. Prior to joining STPI, he served over 8 years in the Senior Executive Service at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, leading all the technical work conducted by the agency. He has worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and was an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Federal Government Fellow at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He served 10 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard. He holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from The Catholic University of America, MSE in mechanical engineering and naval architecture/marine engineering from the University of Michigan, and a BS in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Dr. Borlase is a registered professional engineer in Maryland.

Bill Brykczynski has conducted extensive analyses involving federal government continuity programs, national security, and emergency preparedness communications and warning systems. Before joining STPI, he was Chief Scientist of the Software Productivity Consortium and led the consortium’s cyber-security program. He has more than two decades of experience conducting technical analyses and leading project teams, including performing applied research and development in information security, analyzing industry research and development and market capabilities, evaluating the software capabilities of large organizations, analyzing information technology risks in major defense systems, and assessing the security of computer systems. Dr. Brykczynski holds an MS in information management from George Washington University and a PhD in information technology from George Mason University.

Benjamin A. Corbin's research background touches on a variety of subjects related to space exploration. His doctoral research was on the design and evaluation of distributed satellites and how to leverage the emergent capabilities of distributed satellites in space science missions, while his masters’ research studied ultraviolet emissions of hydrogen in the upper atmospheres of Venus and Jupiter. Dr. Corbin’s other theoretical research has included concept studies for shared human and robotic missions to Mars orbit, asteroid detection, deflection, and mitigation strategies, and space science satellite constellations. In addition, he has designed and built hardware for research on flame speed gas dynamics, sounding rocket telescopes, plasma ramjet thrusters, and small satellites. Dr. Corbin holds a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics with a focus in space systems engineering, MS degrees in aeronautics and astronautics and Earth and planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BS degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Central Florida.

Tom Colvin is an aerospace engineer with expertise in space technology, space launch and reentry operations, space weather, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and additive manufacturing. Before joining STPI, he served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (OSD/CAPE). Prior to CAPE, he served as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering and International Development fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dr. Colvin earned his PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University, where he worked with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a new probabilistic method for efficiently integrating space vehicle operations with traditional aircraft traffic in the national airspace system. He earned his B.S. in physics from the Ohio State University.

Carly S. Cox brings expertise to STPI in the areas of molecular and developmental biology, aging and chronic disease, health policy, and science advocacy. Prior to joining STPI, Dr. Cox was a Project Manager and Science Policy Fellow at Research!America, a not-for-profit health advocacy organization. Dr. Cox received her PhD and MS degrees at Yale University, where she conducted research in prevention of age-related diseases. Dr. Cox received a BS from the University of Georgia in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Keith W. Crane is an economist who works on issues pertaining to space, civilian nuclear power, quantum technologies, energy and the environment. Prior to coming to STPI in 2016, he was Director of the RAND Corporation’s Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program. In addition to his work on technology, energy, and the environment, he has written extensively on Afghanistan, post-conflict nation building and economic development, China, and the transition economies of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. In the fall of 2003, Dr. Crane served as an economic policy advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Prior to rejoining RAND in February 2002, Dr. Crane was Chief Operating Officer and Director of Research at PlanEcon, Inc., a research and consulting firm based in Washington, DC, that focused on Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.

William E. J. Doane has expertise in computer science, computer science education, computer science education research, information science, instructional design, and curriculum development. Before joining STPI, Dr. Doane was a research associate at the University at Albany and the Association for the Cooperative Advancement of Science & Education. Additionally, he has held faculty appointments at the University at Albany, Bennington College, the College of Saint Rose, Skidmore College, and several other institutions. Dr. Doane holds a PhD in informatics from the State University of New York at Albany, an MS in information and computer sciences from the University of Hawaii, and a BA in cognitive science from Hampshire College.

Jason A. Gallo has expertise in Earth observation and remote sensing policy, information policy, information and communication technologies, and policy analysis. Dr. Gallo leads STPI’s Earth observation work with OSTP and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) U.S. Group on Earth Observation Subcommittee and Program. Before joining STPI, Dr. Gallo was a visiting lecturer in the Communications Studies Department at Northwestern University and a dissertation fellow at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His academic research focused on the role of the National Science Foundation in the development of U.S. information infrastructure. He holds an MA in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Media, Technology, and Society from Northwestern University.

Abby Goldman brings a range of materials science expertise to STPI, including materials synthesis, characterization and nanotechnology. Before joining STPI, her research focused on learning from biomineralization, the study of how organisms grow crystals, to create new, functional magnetic and electronic materials. Prior to her PhD, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to the Technion-Israeli Institute of Technology in their Department of Materials Engineering. Dr. Goldman holds a PhD and MS in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University and a BA in Physics from Mount Holyoke College.

Emily Grumbling brings expertise in physical science, information and communication technology policy (including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and privacy), quantum science and technology policy, and STEM education. Prior to joining STPI, she served as a program officer with the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Forum on Cyber Resilience of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC. She previously served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation, and as an American Chemical Society (ACS) Congressional Fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Grumbling is a volunteer member of the ACS joint board-council Committee on Science. She serves as a January-term visiting faculty member with the Citizen Science Program at Bard College, where she completed her B.A. as a double major in chemistry and film. She earned her PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Arizona.

Xueying "Shirley" Han brings experience and expertise in the areas of China science and technology (S&T) policy, STEM education, global migration of talent, survey and experimental methodology, community ecology, and marine science. Prior to joining STPI, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where her research focused on the role of industrial policy on S&T innovation and STEM education in China. Her doctoral research focused on the importance of herbivore functional groups to coral reef recovery and resilience. Dr. Han holds a PhD in ecology, evolution, and marine biology from UCSB with a focus on coral reef community ecology, a master’s degree in applied statistics and probability from UCSB, and BA degrees in mathematics and biology from Colgate University.

Judith A. Hautala has experience in strategic and business planning, research and development management, technology assessment and licensing, and business development. She has worked on numerous strategic planning projects for the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. These projects have included clinical trials, translational research, and bioinformatics. Before joining STPI, Dr. Hautala was Vice President of Research and Development at American Red Cross Biomedical Services and Director of the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences. There, she directed both a research and development program in support of blood services and a grant-funded discovery research program related to transfusion medicine and novel cellular therapies. She received a BA in chemistry from Colorado College and a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University.

Susannah V. Howieson brings legal, economic, and biological expertise to STPI. Since joining STPI in 2010, Ms. Howieson has focused on assessments of research organizations. Specifically, she has led projects evaluating Federal laboratories in terms of technology transfer, governance structures, facilities and infrastructure, and workforce and personnel policies, among others. Ms. Howieson also co-led the research team for the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). She has significant experience in strategic planning and policy development, primarily through her work for the National Security and International Affairs Division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to joining STPI, she worked as an attorney at Sidley Austin, LLP in New York, NY, and for the Office of Climate Change Policy and Technology at DOE. Ms. Howieson has a BA from Rice University, a JD from Boston University, and an MEM in Environmental Economics and Policy from Duke University.

Seth Jonas has experience in policy analysis, strategy and metric development, program evaluation, and quantitative analysis across a broad range of topics and agencies. Select areas of study include space weather; electromagnetic pulse; positioning, navigation, and timing systems; hazard preparedness; infrastructure security and resilience; risk analysis; Federal Government continuity programs; national security; and emergency preparedness communications. Dr. Jonas was a 2017 US-UK Fulbright Scholar serving as a visiting researcher at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Deputy Head of Resilience at the UK Government Office for Science. Dr. Jonas has held fellowships at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and with the JASON scientific advisory group for U.S. national security. He holds an MA and a PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University, and two BS degrees from the University of Central Florida in physics and liberal science studies (math and chemistry).

Bhavya Lal leads strategy, technology assessment, and policy studies and analyses at STPI for Federal space-oriented agencies including NASA, FAA, DOD and ODNI. Her domain expertise is in engineering systems, innovation theory and practice, and public policy. Dr. Lal has applied this expertise to topics in civil and commercial space, with particular focus on space nuclear power, on-orbit servicing assembly and manufacturing, small satellites, and human exploration and space science. She recently co-chaired the National Academy of Science (NAS) Committee on the State of U.S. Electronic Parts Radiation Testing Infrastructure for Space Applications, and was previously vice-chair of the NAS committee on Achieving Science Goals with CubeSats, and member of the committee on 3D Printing in Space. She is serving a second term on the NOAA Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES), and participated on the UN Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) to develop an international scientific roadmap for small satellites. She co-organizes a seminar series on space history and policy with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Before joining STPI, Dr. Lal was president of C-STPS LLC, a science and technology policy research and consulting firm. Prior to that, she was the Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Studies at Abt Associates. Dr. Lal holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a second M.S. from MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Public Administration (Science and Technology Policy) from George Washington University.

Alexis M. W. McKittrick brings a range of energy and environmental expertise to STPI, including experience in corporate research and development (R&D), technical analysis, policy analysis, and government regulations. Prior to joining STPI, Dr. McKittrick worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Division, where she focused on greenhouse gas analysis and policy for the oil and gas, chemicals, and semiconductor sectors. She also has significant corporate experience leading R&D lab-scale and commercialization efforts for environmental and energy applications and managing R&D program portfolios across a number of sectors, including the refining, chemicals, and steel industries. Dr. McKittrick also has expertise related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce and education initiatives and policies, both inside and outside of the Federal Government, and serves on the board of directors for the Society of Women Engineers. She holds a PhD in chemical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar.

Tom Olszewski comes to STPI with a background in the geosciences and brings expertise in the areas of environment, ecology, energy, and quantitative analysis. From 2003 to 2016, he was a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University, where he was Associate Chair of the university’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Degree Program and taught courses in Earth system history, multivariate statistical analysis, and numerical modeling. From 2016 to 2018, he was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Central European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where his primary focus was energy security in the region. Dr. Olszewski holds a PhD in geosciences from Pennsylvania State University, an MS in geology from Kansas State University, and a BA from Franklin and Marshall College.

Vanessa Peña holds dual master’s degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most recently, her work has focused on the effectiveness of R&D and technology transfer at Federal laboratories, STEM workforce, international competitiveness and innovation metrics, and analyses of Federal policies that govern these topics. Since joining STPI in 2009, she has also worked on program evaluations, emphasizing data-driven approaches and metrics development to analyze research portfolios at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, among others. Prior to joining STPI, Vanessa studied the biofuels value-chain in Honduras for WWF and the Netherlands Development Organization, promoted alternative transport fuels with the London Mayor’s Office, and advised on international climate and energy policies.

Lara Rubinyi brings experience in program evaluation, STEM education, public health and public policy to STPI. Prior to joining STPI, Lara conducted evaluations of tobacco cessation and prevention interventions for state-level programs, worked with the Wisconsin Center on Education Research on how to retain STEM undergraduate students, and conducted a needs assessment of water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in India and East Africa with Results for Development Institute. Lara holds a Masters of International Public Affairs and a bachelor’s in sociology with a concentration in analysis and research with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ian D. Simon brings expertise in biosecurity, biodefense, health policy, biomedical research policy STEM education, and international science policy. Before joining STPI, he served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, facilitating bilateral and multilateral science agreements. Prior to joining the State Department, Dr. Simon served as public health and science adviser to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid while on the American Society for Microbiology Congressional Science Fellowship. Dr. Simon began his career as a microbiologist and transitioned to science policy through the Henry Luce Scholarship, which enabled him to conduct biotechnology policy research in South Korea. He earned his BS degree from the University of Maryland, College Park; and his MS degree and PhD in microbiology from Yale University, specializing in AIDS vaccine research and development.

Sally S. Tinkle brings to STPI expertise in human health research, policy, and administration, especially as it relates to emerging technologies and environmental exposures. Before joining STPI, she served as the Deputy Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office of the National Science and Technology Council where she led strategic planning and implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. As a Senior Science Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Tinkle worked on health issues related to biofuels and the bioeconomy, application of global earth observations to human health monitoring, environmentally-induced pulmonary health conditions, as well as nanotechnology. Dr. Tinkle also served as a research laboratory Team Leader at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, focusing on the relationship of skin exposure to the development of occupational lung disease. Dr. Tinkle received her PhD from the Department of Physiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Science.

Lisa M. Van Pay has extensive experience communicating science and technology issues to broad audiences. Prior to joining STPI, she was the Director of Research Communications at the George Washington University, working to highlight GW’s research efforts in key areas including autism, computational biology, and violence against women. Dr. Van Pay has experience developing strategic plans, working with graphic designers and video producers to develop scientific multimedia content, and performing media and communications training for researchers. She was previously a media contact and agency spokesperson for the National Science Foundation, where she handled communications for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate. Dr. Van Pay was also an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at NSF, and she helped create and manage the agency’s social media presence. She earned BS degrees in Bacteriology and Genetics, and a PhD in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sharon R. Williams brings expertise to STPI in the areas of global health, health policy, aging and chronic disease, and social science methodology. Prior to joining STPI, she served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy fellow in the Office of Science Policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She was previously on the faculty at Purdue University where her research focused on global aging; the interaction between culture, behavior, and biology in the development of chronic disease; and the development of field-friendly methods collecting biological markers of health. Dr. Williams received her BS in molecular genetics and an MA and PhD in anthropology from the Ohio State University.

Gifford J. Wong brings experience and expertise in the areas of environment, energy, resource management, ecology, U.S.-China bilateral relations, and science communication. Before joining STPI, he served as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State through an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, where his portfolio included oceans management, maritime security, Polar issues, energy, public health, domestic and investment-driven environmental change (e.g., Belt and Road Initiative), wildlife trafficking, and space. Prior to joining the State Department, Dr. Wong served as climate and environment adviser to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse while on the American Geosciences Institute Congressional Science Fellowship. He holds a Ph.D. in Earth sciences from Dartmouth College, an Honours in Antarctic Studies from the University of Tasmania at Hobart, and a BS in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Brian L. Zuckerman brings expertise to STPI in the areas of program evaluation and scientometrics. His work focuses on Federal research and development program performance and agency-wide research portfolios. Dr. Zuckerman has also analyzed Federal research and development data systems and statistical data collection programs. Before joining STPI, he was a principal at C-STPS, LLC, and at the Center for Science and Technology Policy of Abt Associates Inc. He is a past co-chair of the Research, Technology, and Development Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association. Dr. Zuckerman holds a BA in chemistry from Harvard College and a PhD in Technology, Management, and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.