M WeisbergMichael Weisberg is the co-director of the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science. He is Professor and Chair of Philosophy. Professor Weisberg’s research focuses on the philosophy of science, especially the role of idealization in biological and chemical modeling, the division of cognitive labor, and the public understanding of science. Learn more about Professor Weisberg here.

D WeisbergDeena Skolnick Weisberg is a Senior Fellow in the Department of Psychology and is also affiliated faculty at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, the Center for Neuroscience and Society, and the Annenberg Public Policy Center. She is the co-director of the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science and the Principal Investigator of the Penn Cognition & Development Lab. Her research explores imaginative cognition in children and adults, as well as children’s and adults’ abilities to think scientifically and to reason about scientific topics. Learn more about Dr. Weisberg here.

Ernesto Vaca (Galápagos Naturalist Guide III) is trained in evolutionary biology and has lived in the Galápagos for the last three decades. He has over 29 years of experience guiding groups through this fragile ecosystem. He has previously worked with community groups such as the Scouts on various service projects, including reducing litter and maintaining trails. He is our local coordinator for community science projects in the Galápagos.

Choi Elysia Elysia Choi is the research coordinator for the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science. She also coordinates Dr. Deena Weisberg’s developmental psychology lab, the Cognition & Development Lab. She graduated from New York University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is interested in how children learn about the world and hopes to pursue a PhD in cognitive development in the future. In her free time, she likes to run, explore new restaurants, and go camping with her friends.

LandrumAsheley R. Landrum is an assistant professor at Texas Tech University. Her research examines the development of mechanisms behind trust and social learning, bridging work from educational, social, cognitive, and development psychology as well as communication research and public policy. Her work has appeared in journals such as Trends in Cognitive SciencesDevelopmental Science, and Cognition. Learn more about Asheley here.

Melissa Jacquart is a postdoctoral researcher in the Philosophy Department. Her main areas of research are in history and philosophy of science, with a focus on philosophy of astrophysics, and the nature of scientific models and theories. She is also interested in how philosophy of science can contribute to public understanding of science, and science education. Learn more about Melissa here


KovakaKaren Kovaka is a graduate student in Philosophy. Her research areas are philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and environmental ethics and policy. In the philosophy of biology, she is interested in the foundational concepts and processes of evolution, particularly in debates about the concepts of inheritance and biological individuality. She also studies the interface between science, science policy, and public understanding of science, including how public opinion about environmental issues such as climate change may be sensitive to widespread misconceptions about the nature of science. Learn more about Karen here.
MetzEmlen Metz recently completed a PhD in psychology at Penn and is currently a post doc at UC Berkeley working on scientific thinking and science education with physicist and Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter. She is interested in how people use multiple frameworks of explanation and evidence for deciding what to believe, and wants to develop tools to improve epistemological reasoning. Public conceptions of the origins of species offer a particularly compelling case study of conflict between two epistemic frameworks (religion and science) which offer two competing explanations (creation vs. natural selection). In hopes of better understanding the similarities and differences between lay, scientific, and philosophical epistemic frameworks, she is also pursuing a Masters in philosophy.

KennedyKelly Kennedy is a member of the class of 2017 at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. Eventually she would like to work in the field of experimental psychology.In her free time, Kelly enjoys sparking intense conversation amongst her friends and dabbling in a diverse selection of music and sarcasm. She is currently the Philanthropy Chair for her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and an outreach coordinator for Building Bridges to Wealth, a free financial literacy and entrepreneurship course offered to Philadelphians, held at the Wharton School.

ElkassasSabrina Elkassas is an undergraduate research assistant on the PLUS team. She is pursuing a major in Earth Science with a concentration in Geology and a minor in Music, graduating in 2018. She plans to attend medical school to become a physician. She is on the Varsity Penn Fencing Team and in the Penn Tea Society. She enjoys listening to and playing music, doing calligraphy, and making geology jokes – she thinks they rock!

Anna Hardie
is in the Class of 2021, pursuing a major in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Management. She is particularly interested in the intersection of environmental issues with social justice and hope to be involved in that work in the future. She is a Penn Anti-Violence Educator with Penn Violence Prevention and an Eco-Rep with Penn’s Sustainability Office. In her free time she likes exploring the parks in Philly, cooking, and reading. 


SantanaCarlos Santana is a philosopher of science and environmental ethicist interested in how the sciences can contribute to good policymaking. He received his PhD in Philosophy from Penn in 2016 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Utah.