Marissa Bellino, Director of Education and Outreach
Marissa Bellino is a teacher at the High School for Environmental Studies. She became a teacher through the New York City Teaching Fellows, a program dedicated to placing individuals from diverse educational and professional backgrounds into New York City public schools. While working at HSES, Marissa has helped create a variety of environmental and research curricula. In 2009, she joined the CUNY GK-12 program and worked with Christopher Nagy to develop ecological research methods for her science research class. Working together, students in this class completed research projects on earthworms, squirrels, turtles and soils. Stephen Harris joined the HSES research team as a fellow in 2010 and helped expand the science research program to include a molecular ecology component. Through a Toyota Tapestry grant, Stephen and Marissa have built a molecular research laboratory for students to design research projects investigating New York City biodiversity using DNA barcodes. Marissa was the recipient of the 2011 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics and is currently enrolled in the Urban Education PhD program at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Stephen Harris is a Ph.D candidate in Biology at the CUNY Graduate Center specializing in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. After getting a B.S. from The Ohio State University in 2006 in molecular genetics, he moved to New York City as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. From 2007 to 2009 he obtained a M.A. in Secondary Science Education from the City University of New York and taught 6th grade science, 7th grade science, and Regents Earth Science in two public schools around NYC. After two years teaching, he joined the lab of Dr. Jason Munshi-South at Baruch College to study population genomics; specifically, how urbanization in NYC may be leading to local adaptation in white-footed mice in city parks. He is also currently working to develop Molecular NYC, a course that takes students into local parks to teach basic ecological research skills and then introduces them to the molecular techniques used by scientists to answer evolutionary important questions about ecological systems. Stephen is looking forward to developing some of the same science curriculum at the Petters Research Institute this summer.
Dr. Arlie O. Petters, Founder
Born in Dangriga, Belize, Dr. Petters immigrated to the U.S.A. in his mid-teens, where he became a citizen and has had a stellar academic career. In 1986, Dr. Petters received simultaneously a B.A., with major in mathematics and physics, and an M.A. in mathematics from Hunter College of the City University of New York. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1991. Dr. Petters was the first to develop the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing. He also pioneered new applications of gravitational lensing in physics, predicting effects that probe the nature of spacetime around black holes and developing tests of gravitational theories like Einstein's general relativity and hyperspace gravitational models.
He founded the Petters Research Institute in 2005 and the Biodiversity Center of Belize in 2011 as a way of giving back to Belize. The institute is a center of excellence in mathematics, science, and technology, and fosters national development through entrepreneurship in these fields. His vision for the country is to create economic growth through high-technology industries that draw on Belizean intellectual capital. In recognition of Dr. Petters's scientific and educational work, he was named in 2008 by the Queen of England to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and in 2009 a street was named in his honor in Dangriga, Belize.