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Our Team

Marlena L. Jones, M.S.

Acting Director

Marlena Jones, Acting Director of CASE, oversees all CASE programs. Throughout the school year she provides a variety of services to teachers, administrators, and students, including enhancing and implementing options within the biotechnology academy career pathway. Ms. Jones founded the CASE STEM kits program and she is responsible for the development and management of these free science inquiry based kits for classroom use. She serves as the instructor for several CASE teacher and student programs, including the Summer STARS, STEM Teacher Leader Cadre, AP Biology Collaborative. 

Prior to joining CASE, she was the Director of The Discovery Center for Cell and Molecular Biology at Catholic University of America. The Discovery Center is a science training facility for junior high and high school students and teachers. Since 1993, Ms. Jones designed and implemented several of their programs – including the “What If?” Laboratory afterschool program for students, the Gene Search Project for rising high school seniors, and was editor-in-chief of the newsletter, The Biology Discoverer. She was instrumental in the training of almost 20,000 student participants in the Discovery Series and Outreach Biotechnology Loaner Laboratory.

Ms. Jones received her Master of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from Catholic University. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and a Bachelor of Science degree in General Biology with high honors from the University of Maryland College Park where she became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She has extensive experience in teaching laboratory science at the college and high school levels.

Katia Grigoriants, M.A.

Strategic Partnerships Manager

Katia works to increase access to high quality STEM learning opportunities in the District by creating and implementing the development, communications, outreach, and strategic plans through CASE and the DC STEM Network. Previously, Katia worked with other collective impact initiatives and at a small nonprofit creating and teaching violence prevention curricula to middle and high school students in Montana. She has a background in nonprofit management and collective impact and brings 7 years of experience in strategic planning, program management, strategic communications, and partnership building.

She graduated from Marquette University with a Master's in Public Service and Nonprofit Administration. Katia was a 2012-2014 Trinity Fellow and a 2014 Education Pioneer DC Metro Graduate Fellow.

April Wright

Administrative Assistant


April serves as the Administrative Assistant for CASE and DC STEM Network. She oversees the Social Media of both programs and serves as the main point of contact for the First Light Program. Prior to joining Carnegie, April worked as a Registration Associate at Biotechnology Innovation Organization and as an Autism Paraprofessional for Alexandria City Public Schools.

She is a graduate of Bennett College with a degree in English.

Guy Brandenburg

Mentor Teacher

Mr. Brandenburg is a DC native and a veteran teacher of (mostly) middle-school mathematics in the DC Public School system. His math teams at John R. Francis and Alice Deal Junior High Schools have won a plurality of the MathCounts competitions held in DC for public, private, parochial, and charter schools over the past 23 years. He has also taught teacher workshops on use of technology in teaching math, has put together an original “Math On the Mall” tour inspired by the one invented by Dr. Florence Fasanelli, and has translated a dynamic geometry software package known as Geometrix from the French into English. Because of his interest in hands-on astronomy and science, he has built several telescopes from scratch, and about 5 years ago, he took over the weekly telescope-making workshop sponsored by the National Capital Astronomers, where he shows people how to grind, polish, figure, and aluminize mirrors, as well as make the rest of the telescope. He has also been having a good time as the lead teacher for the First Light Saturday program since 2006. Guy has been a mentor teacher for the CASE Summer Astrobiology for Teachers program and continues to provide professional development to STEM teachers as needed.

Maxine Singer, Ph.D.

Scientific Adviser

Over the course of a career spanning more than six decades, Maxine Singer has been a pioneering molecular biologist, an influential science administrator, and a leader in science policy and advocacy. She has championed the cause of women and minorities in science, promoted equal access to postgraduate training and career opportunities, and has helped build innovative programs to improve science education in public schools. She has urged scientists to exercise their ethical and political responsibilities in society, to bring to bear scientific perspectives on such issues as genetic engineering and the safety of genetically modified organisms, evolution and the origins of life, space exploration, and the freedom of intellectual inquiry.

Dr. Singer is the founder of First Light (1989) and CASE (1993). Both programs are directed primarily toward improving STEM education in DC public schools. She carried out research in biochemistry and molecular biology at the National Institutes of Health f
or more than 35 years and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (where she has participated in a variety of science education projects) and recipient of the National Medal of Science. She was principal investigator for two National Science Foundation grants to the Carnegie Institution for support of teacher professional development in DC public schools. 

Julie P. Edmonds, Ph.D.

Retired, Former Director

Dr. Edmonds taught university classes for seven years in Australia before obtaining her Ph.D. in molecular marine biology. During her postdoctoral training at NIH in the U.S. she also volunteered at First Light. She joined CASE in 1999 after 5 years in the biotechnology industry. She takes the lead on many of our programs for teachers and students and has primary responsibility for financial and administrative management of CASE.  Dr. Edmonds served as the Education and Public Outreach lead for two major NASA grants to CIW research laboratories: the MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury (1999-2016) and Carnegie’s NASA Astrobiology Institute team (1999-2014). In this connection, she worked on nationwide educational outreach products and programs such as the design of instructional materials for teachers and instruction of teacher workshops focused on planetary science, life science, and astrobiology. She is the Director of the DC STEM Network, a collaborative of organizations, schools, companies, parents, and government agencies, which is increasing access to high quality STEM experiences for all DC students