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Our Team

Check out our team blog to learn about starting a state-level science and technology policy fellowship program, our transition to a nonprofit corporation, and more!

MOST staff

Brittany Whitley, PhD

Executive Director
(573) 340-5738
brittany@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Brittany earned her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Washington- Seattle. Prior to her dissertation research, she completed her B.S. in Neuroscience at Bucknell University and served for two years at the National Institutes for Health as a post-baccalaureate research fellow. Brittany has worked enthusiastically to promote science accessibility for both policymakers and the public- as a Science Communication Fellow at the Pacific Science Center, Life Science Interpreter at the Seattle Aquarium and Policy Director for the UW Graduate and Professional Senate. She is eager to work with legislators, scientists and other stakeholders to support evidence-based policy making in Missouri.

Josh Mueller, PhD

Deputy Director
(314) 312-2107
josh@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Josh completed his Ph.D. in Dynamical Neuroscience from the University of California, Santa Barbara in summer 2020. His dissertation work, completed in the Complex Systems Group under the supervision of Dr. Jean Carlson, characterizes the syntax of fruit fly grooming behavior. Josh earned a B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied proteins responsible for the regulation of replication in Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

Rachel K. Owen, PhD

Former Executive Director
(573) 507-0141
rachel@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Dr. Rachel K. Owen co-founded Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Initiative in 2016 and has served as the executive director since June 2019. As MOST Director, Rachel has worked to identify key decision points in the state legislative process and provide timely and relevant scientific information to policy-makers. Additionally, MOST equips scientists to effectively engage with decision-makers and hosts science policy workshops and events statewide. Dr. Owen received her Ph.D. in the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, researching the impact of a changing climate on wetland ecosystems and landowner perceptions of climate and agricultural threats in the Great Plains. Prior to moving to Missouri, she completed her B.S. in Agronomy and Global Resources Systems at Iowa State University and her M.S. in Plant Science from South Dakota State University. She has been involved in leadership and professional organizations through the duration of her university career, including Co-Director of VEISHEA, Inc. at Iowa State, Founder of the Plant Science Graduate Student Association at South Dakota State University, and Graduate Representative to the Board of Directors of the Soil Science Society of America. Additionally, Rachel serves as an soil science instructor at University of Missouri, coaching the Mizzou soil judging team – Go Tigers!

Dan English

Local Science Engagement Network Coordinator
(816) 226-6914
dan@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Dan earned a BA in Telecommunications from Indiana University in 2003. He worked in sports broadcasting, music videos, and TV journalism before moving to Missouri in 2008 to pursue a career in news. Dan produced the short film, Last Days of Shaniko in 2010, and produced morning TV news broadcasts in Kansas City until 2014. Dan developed a passion for science and public health after a career in communications. He started attending science classes at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Rockhurst University in 2012. In 2014, Dan became a surgical tech, assisting surgeons and nurses with multiple surgical technologies in the operating room. In 2019, he received an MS in Global Health from the University of Notre Dame, researching malaria and vector behavior in South America. Now Dan is combining his passions for communication and science as the Local Science Engagement Network Coordinator.

fellows

Jill Barnas, PhD

Human Services, Corrections, and Public Safety Policy Fellow
(815) 274-9225
jill@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Jill is from the Chicago suburbs in Illinois and completed her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 2020. During her time at Mizzou, she was involved in investigating new devices for measuring body composition in addition to understanding the link between maternal obesity, maternal exercise, and the impacts on fetal outcomes and development. Her dissertation work focused on the influence of physical activity interventions on sedentary activity, social skill development, and problem behavior in elementary-aged children under the supervision of Dr. Jill Kanaley and Dr. Steve Ball. Jill earned a B.S. and M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the Illinois State University.

Eleni Bickell, PhD

Agriculture, Conservation, Natural Resources, and Economic Development Policy Fellow
(573) 808-7755
eleni@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Eleni received her PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Missouri, where she studied how information impacts the decisions that stakeholders make on new food technologies and agriculture. Under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Eleni worked at the Food Equation Institute and Economics and Management of Agrobiotechnologies Center, investigating the social acceptability of Genetic Engineering, from farm to the end consumer. During her time at Mizzou, Eleni founded and co-founded several organizations whose focus was food security and student success. Eleni’s undergraduate degree is in International Economics and Politics with a focus on Diplomacy. Before receiving her PhD, she graduated with honors with a Master’s degree in Business Economics and Management from the Mediteranean Agronomic Institute of Chania and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Because of her background as an applied economist, Eleni is prepared to speak the language of both researchers and policy makers to help Missourians and their families achieve better lives.

Hannah Elder

Data Management & Policy Fellow
(573) 508-5739
hannah@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Prior to moving to the United States, Hannah completed her graduate studies in Human Factors at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. She is currently writing her master’s thesis on communicating the uncertainty in deep learning models in cooperation with the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. She earned her B.S Psychology from University of Muenster, Germany. Along with her university education, Hannah gained experience in change and human resource management as well as leadership development while working for different management consulting firms as well as human resource management. Hannah is placed at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Tomotaroh Granzier-Nakajima, PhD

Energy and Environment Policy Fellow
(573) 340-5009
tomotaroh@mostpolicyinitiative.org
Tomotaroh (Tomy) Granzier-Nakajima finished his PhD at Penn State in physics, studying 2D materials synthesis and properties. His research is primarily focused on the modification of the electronic and electrocatalytic properties of graphene via strain and heteroatom doping. He will be serving energy and environment committees.

Zachary Miller

Predoctoral Policy Fellow
zachary@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Zachary Miller is a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri (MU) where he works with Dr. Lauren Sullivan to investigate climate change impacts on pollination ecology. Using alpine ecosystems as study sites, Miller uses novel acoustic techniques alongside long-term climate and floral data to understand how shifts in climate affect bumblebee health and pollination services. His work helps to demonstrate the viability of alternative, non-lethal methods for studying important pollinators. Miller is passionate about science outreach and education. He worked on an NIH SEPA grant with MU’s Linking Science & Literacy for All Learners to develop and implement middle school science curricula, and he presently serves on the executive team of Science on Wheels, an MU-based science outreach organization. After graduation, Miller seeks a career at the intersection of science and policy in Missouri. He is currently supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Prior to MU, Miller served as a Sustainable Agriculture Extensionist in the United States Peace Corps in Paraguay and earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Truman State University.

Alan Moss, PhD

Education & Workforce Development Policy Fellow
(515) 441-4751
alan@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Alan grew up in rural Iowa before attending Iowa State University to study plant ecology and corn genetics. He then joined the US Peace Corps where he served as a Science Educator in Sierra Leone (West Africa). While in the Peace Corps, he did public outreach on malaria, maternal health, sanitation, and Ebola prevention. Upon returning to the US, he attended Saint Louis University for graduate studies working in collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Kunming Institute of Botany (China). For his PhD research, he spent three summers living on a Himalayan Mountain conducting field research on the drivers of bumblebee diversity. At Saint Louis University, he started several programs with the aim improving graduate education and inclusiveness. Alan is excited to work with Legislators, Teachers, and Scientists to improve education in Missouri!

interns

Madalynn Owens

Public Relations Assistant

Madalynn Owens is a senior strategic communication student at the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Madalynn has an emphasis in public relations with minors in business administration and plant science. She hopes to find a career in science communication after completing her degree. This past summer, Madalynn was a communication intern for the Iberoamerican University Foundation in Barcelona, Spain where she was a published researcher for the European Union on a study analyzing the impacts of social media on science communication.

Sydney Grellner

Operations Assistant

Sydney is in her senior year of my Undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri. She is majoring in both Biological Science and Psychology with minors in Sociology and Chemistry. After completing her degree, she hopes to attend Medical School and become an Obstetrician in hopes of helping women in impoverished communities seeking such medical treatments.

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238 E High St., 3rd Floor
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573-507-0141
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