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!



Rachel K. Owen, PhD | Executive Director
rachel@mostpolicyinitiative.org | (573) 507-0141

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
dan@mostpolicyinitiative.org | (816) 226-6914

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.

MOST Policy Fellows


Jill Barnas, PhD | Children, Families, and Seniors Policy Fellow
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 Galata Bickell, PhD | Agriculture and Conservation Policy Fellow
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.


Jenny Bratburd, PhD | Transportation, Public Safety, and Energy Policy Fellow
jenny@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Jenny Bratburd earned her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she studied how beneficial bacteria protect their hosts from disease. During her PhD, Jenny served as the Policy Engagement Chair for Catalysts for Science Policy, where she worked on raising awareness about issues in forensic science and started the In a Perfect Policy podcast. She also served as the Environmental Policy intern for Clean Wisconsin. Prior to her PhD, Jenny earned her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she researched the transmission of grapevine leafroll-associated virus. She is thrilled for the opportunity to work on science policy in the state she was raised in!


Josh Mueller, PhD | Health and Mental Health Policy Fellow
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.


Brittany Whitley, PhD | Education and Workforce Policy Fellow
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.


Hannah Elder | Data Management & Policy Fellow
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.



Elizabeth Dunham | CLIP Public Relations Intern

Liz Dunham is currently earning her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with an emphasis in Pre-Professional studies at the University of Missouri– Columbia. She serves as a Food Bank Advocate and will be our Public Relations Intern for the Spring 2021 semester. Liz has previously worked as a certified nuclear pharmacy technician and intends to continue her education in either healthcare management or nuclear medicine. 


Sydney Grellner | CLIP Operations Intern

Sydney is in her junior 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.