Education Unlimited believes in small-group, immersive learning with subject matter experts and experienced teachers. We strive to provide industry-leading instruction to all of our students and hold all staff to the highest possible standards. Staff assignments vary by program and location. Some of our recent staff members for this program include:
Rhonda McCoy, PhD - Camp Director
Dr. Rhonda McCoy is a Manager of Quality Control for a leading global biopharmaceutical company. Through analysis of quality from creation to post-expiration date, Dr. McCoy oversees a team that ensures medications sold around the world are both safe and effective. Dr. McCoy holds a PhD in Chemistry from Howard University in Washington DC. A member of the Education Unlimited team since 2005, Dr. McCoy has been passionate about the empowerment of middle and high school age girls throughout her career, evident in her work as Director of our Science and Engineering Camps for Girls. She has volunteered her time as the scholarship program chair for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and taught chemistry and physics in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools of Charlotte, North Carolina.
In addition to her doctorate degree, Dr. McCoy has a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A&T State University. Prior to her five years as a research assistant at Howard while pursuing her doctorate, she spent time as an analytical chemist with the global cosmetics brand, L’Oreal. In her free time, Rhonda enjoys travel, shopping, and time with her family.
Jennifer Brakeman, PhD - Instructor
Dr. Brakeman is a dedicated high school science teacher who holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University. For more than 20 years, she has been one of the most beloved teachers at the prestigious Head Royce school in Oakland, CA. During her tenure at the school, she has taught 9th-grade physics, 11th-grade Biology and AP Biology, 12th-grade Neurobiology and 12th-grade Molecular Genetics.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Dr. Brakeman has also coached the swim team, been an active member/advisor of the student Green Team and the school's Green Council, lead the school’s Boot Camp PE class, and has been the Science Department Chair since 2008. She feels incredibly fortunate to be able to teach the subjects she has a passion for, to students who love to learn, in a supportive and creative environment. Dr. Brakeman has been a member of the Education Unlimited team since 2015.
Cellas Hayes, PhD - Instructor
Cellas is currently a postdoctoral fellow/Propel scholar at Stanford University in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences in a laboratory utilizing longitudinal data analysis and neuroimaging modalities to understand the aging brain, neuropathology, cognition, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Postdoctoral experience includes using R, Linux, and Python to perform data preprocessing, multivariate statistical analysis, and applying novel models for longitudinal continuous outcomes. Cellas received his Bachelor’s in Biology (2015-2019) and Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis in Pharmacology (2019-2022) from the University of Mississippi. As a doctoral candidate, his research focused on using both in vitro and in vivo approaches to further elucidate how neuroendocrine modulation specifically insulin-like growth factor-1 alters learning and memory performance along with ischemic stroke outcomes. Skills gained during doctoral training included in vitro cell culture, pharmacological experimental design of both in vitro and in vivo studies, development of transgenic mouse models, a wide array of rodent behavioral paradigms, stereotaxic surgery, photothrombosis, and numerous ex vivo cellular, molecular, and microscopy techniques.
Cellas' primary interests lie at the intersection of aging, neurodegenerative disease, and using longitudinal epidemiological data sets to investigate hypotheses. All around neuroscientist seeking sci-comm, industry, and academic opportunities to strengthen skills to become an independent investigator.
Grant Walker, PhD - Instructor
Grant M. Walker, Ph.D., is a Project Scientist in the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab at the University of California, Irvine. He received a B.A. in Cognitive Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Psychology, as well as an M.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience, at the University of California, Irvine. His research is focused on understanding the mechanisms that support speech and language functions, how these mechanisms are impaired by brain injury, and how best to repair them. The methods typically involve the development of computational models to extract meaningful measures of latent cognitive abilities from behavioral tests and neuroimaging data.
Matthew Schwartz, PhD - Instructor
Dr. Matthew Schwartz is a full-time lecturer at Simmons College in Boston, where he teaches Anatomy and Physiology. He received his PhD in genetics and genomics from Harvard University in 2016. As a graduate student, Dr. Schwartz fostered his long-standing interest in scientific outreach through his work with Science in the News to give presentations and write articles explaining scientific topics to general audiences. Dr. Schwartz decided to pursue a career in undergraduate education because he loves inspiring others to be passionate about science. He loves to see the spark of inspiration in a student when he or she understands a scientific concept and sees the relevance to their own lives. While teaching, Dr. Schwartz emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication over memorization to facilitate a deeper understanding of the material and to instill students with the essential capacities they need to be successful adults.
Dr. Schwartz received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Northwestern University in 2009. Outside of teaching, he loves to spend his time exploring the world and especially enjoys hiking, biking, traveling, and nature photography. When he’s not experimenting in the lab, Dr. Schwartz also loves experimenting with new spicy vegetarian recipes in the kitchen.
Erica Ho, PhD - Instructor
Erica completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Yale University. Her research focused on the systems neuroscience of social behavior. After receiving her BA in psychology from Cornell University in 2013, Erica spent three years as a full-time research assistant and later research coordinator at the Child Mind Institute's Center for the Developing Brain in New York City. There, she gained experience working with clinical pediatric populations in a neuroscience research setting. Outside of academics, Erica has eight years of experience volunteering as a summer camp counselor. She joined the Education Unlimited team as an instructor in the summer of 2017 combining a love of the brain with her enthusiasm for camp activities!
Lauren Patrick, PhD - Instructor
Lauren completed her PhD at Yale University in the Neuroscience area of Psychology. Prior to this, she gained a strong foundation in neuroscience during her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St Louis. She has spent the past five years working in a variety of cognitive neuroscience labs at Washington University, Duke University, and Yale University. She has been the president of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology club at Washington University and has mentored undergraduate students at Yale. She’s also been an environmental science instructor for approximately 30 boy scouts who were attending a Merit Badge University on the Washington University campus.
She believes that serving as a role model for future scientists is one of the most rewarding pursuits and our Education Unlimited programs are the perfect opportunity to inspire young teens to actively pursue STEM coursework and research in high school and beyond. We’re excited to have Lauren return for her second summer with Education Unlimited.