SPIRALS has been developed thanks to collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension 4-H program. SPIRALS is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Meet the SPIRALS team:

UNH Faculty
Eleanor Abrams

Eleanor Abrams is a Professor in the Department of Education and executive director in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).  Her research focuses on work with rural and indigenous schools to enhance student achievement in science.  She is also responsible for faculty development programs focused on supporting faculty scholarship at UNH.  She was co-creator and the program coordinator for an inter-college master’s program in Environmental Education for eight years.

Mike Middleton

Michael Middleton is a Professor and Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He was previously a faculty member and chair of the Education Department at the University of New Hampshire. His research examines the relation of classroom and culture to adolescent identity and motivation in diverse community settings. Through his work he hopes to prepare educators to meet the complex demands of classroom teaching. He is a past recipient of the UNH Faculty Excellence in Teaching award. Early in his career, Michael was a high school mathematics teacher working with at-risk youth.

Ruth Varner

Ruth Varner is an Associate Professor of Biogeochemistry in the Earth Systems Research Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, and in the Department of Earth Sciences. She is also the Director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education at the University of New Hampshire.  She received a Bachelor's degree in Geology from Hartwick College in 1991, a Master's Degree in Hydrology in 1993 (UNH) and a Ph.D. in Geochemical Systems in 2000 (UNH).

Robert Eckert

Bob is a Professor of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability. He has co-taught courses in Sustainable Living and Systems Thinking for Sustainable Living for 18 years at UNH.  His interests have included investigating air pollution impacts on forest vegetation, biodiversity in New Hampshire streams, and invasive plant species.  His recent activities are focused on innovative cooperation among farmers at the local scale, and the role of indigenous knowledge in management of national park land.

Sameer Honwad

Sameer Honwad is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on how people learn about environmental sustainability using technology and collaborative learning approaches. His recent research focuses on how learners in different cultures around the world understand ecosystem processes and how do they use this knowledge in their everyday life practices. He works with various communities in the Himalayas (India. Nepal and Bhutan) and with Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest. He has presented and published his work in several national and international venues and has recently completed a National Academy of Education/Spencer post doctoral fellowship.

Erica Jablonski

Erica Jablonski is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. She received a Master's Degree in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Research Methods. She has worked in educational research and evaluation for over 10 years, more than 7 of which were devoted to science education specifically. For the SPIRALS project she conducts research activities, as well as organizing and managing project data.

Marlena Koper

Marlena Koper is a current doctoral student in the Department of Education at the University of New Hampshire. Previously, she worked as a Biology instructor at the college level before deciding to pursue her doctorate in Education. As part of the SPIRALS project Marlena provides general support for many aspects of the SPIRALS program with a specific focus on the SPIRALS curriculum.

Claes Thelemarck — Extension Field Specialist, Youth and Family Program Team — Area of Expertise: Science Literacy

Claes has worked in education for over 25 years and for UNH Cooperative Extension as an Extension Field Specialist since 2009. He provides training to educators, mentors and volunteers to bring Science, Engineering, Technology and Math to youth in NH. Prior to working for UNH Cooperative Extension he has managed a residential environmental education program and taught science to both Middle and High School students.

Catalina Kirsch - Project Assistant, SPIRALS - Area of Expertise: Grant Management

Catalina has worked in community education, public health and youth development for over 25 years.  She holds a Master of Education and is a NH Certified Guidance Counselor and World Language Teacher.  She has led efforts to promote integrated STEAM Education in public schools, after school programs and early childhood education settings.  As a member of the SPIRALS team, she helps coordinate recruitment, training, data collection and technical assistance for NH region teachers participating in the SPIRALS Project.

Hokupili Foundation
Daniel Lipe (Bubba)

Daniel is Western Band Cherokee. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the woods and along the rivers of Oregon. He currently lives with his wife and two kids in Hawaii, where he has continued working as a science educator across many different levels of education. In all, Daniel has worked in STEM education for over 20 years developing programs for underrepresented minorities and educating students and other educators about the need for including diversity, specifically Indigenous Knowledge systems in STEM. When not in the classroom you will find him teaching his children about the outdoors. He is an avid bow hunter and Steelhead fly-fisherman. Daniel received a Bachelor's degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Oregon State University in 1999, a Master's Degree in Forestry and Natural Resource Education in 2005 from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. in Education (Curriculum Studies) in 2013 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.


If you are a teacher, afterschool mentor, or youth group leader located in the Northeast and work in rural communities or with indigenous youth between the ages of 11-14 and think you might like to participate in the SPIRALS program or if you would like to know if there is a SPIRALS program starting near you please please contact Eleanor Abrams at for more information.