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Our Team

MOST staff

Hallie Thompson

Interim Co-Director

Hallie is the principal consultant at Radicle Consulting, LLC. Hallie has advocated tirelessly for students and scientists in Jefferson City and in Washington, D.C. She served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, working with Congress on issues like student debt, visas, and health insurance coverage, and training other students from across the country to advocate successfully for themselves. She was also the Early Career Representative to the American Society of Plant Biologists Science Policy Committee, and represented post-doctoral researchers and graduate students at meetings on Capitol Hill. She served as Research Network Coordinator for the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Plant, Algae, and Microbial Metabolomics Coordination Network and founded the Early Career Ambassadors Program for the International Society of Root Researchers. She is an alumna of the 21st Century Sue Shear Leadership Academy and the University of Missouri’s CAFNR Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders for Science (PTLS), and has worked in various capacities to mentor, connect, and aid skill-building in other young leaders.

Rachel K. Owen, PhD

Interim Co-Director
(573) 507-0141

Dr. Rachel K. Owen co-founded Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Initiative in 2016 and served as the executive director from 2019-2021. As MOST Director, Rachel 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.

most fellows

Sarah Anderson, PhD

Human Services & Public Safety Fellow

Cohort Year: 2022-23

Sarah earned her B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Campbell University in 2017 and her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in 2022. Her dissertation researched the potential of dental pulp-derived stem cells, a source of adult stem cells, as a therapy for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Sarah spent her time in graduate school, when not in the lab, serving on the Graduate Student Association committee and volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters. This time taught her that she valued community, learning about science, and talking about science. Her passion for science communication led her to the MOST fellowship, and she is excited to work with legislators and scientists to bring the best information forward for the people of Missouri.

Rieka Yu, PhD

Health Fellow

Cohort Year: 2023-24

Rieka earned her B.A. in Biology from Boston University in 2018 and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) in 2021 and 2023. For her dissertation she researched how pollinators mediate changes in plant mating patterns when land-use change and habitat loss occur. During her time in graduate school Rieka dedicated time to the Biology Graduate Student Association, supporting the graduate student community by fundraising student research grants and holding training workshops. She also spent time working with elementary and high schools through the Jennings-UMSL Mentorship Program, sharing the world of science with students and providing advice for career pathways after high school. As a MOST fellow, Rieka is excited to foster her passion for science and community service, working with legislators to help all Missourians.

MOST Alumni

Jenny Bratburd, PhD

PhD | Transportation, Public Safety, and Energy Policy Fellow

Brittany Whitley, PhD

Former Executive Director

Zachary Miller, PhD

Program Coordinator

Jill Barnas, PhD

Human Services, Corrections, and Public Safety Policy Fellow

Josh Mueller, PhD

Deputy Director

Elena Bickell, PhD

Agriculture, Conservation, Natural Resources, and Economic Development Policy Fellow

Ngozi Ndekwu, MBBS

LSEN Coordinator

Rachel K. Owen, PhD

Interim Co-Director

Hannah Elder, MS

Data Management & Policy Fellow

Tomotaroh Granzier-Nakajima, PhD

Energy and Environment Policy Fellow

Dan English, MS

Local Science Engagement Network Coordinator

Alan Moss, PhD

Education & Workforce Development Policy Fellow

Ramon Martinez III, PhD

Health & Mental Health Policy Fellow
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