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COV-Ed Team

Projects Directors

Ron Michaels

Ron Michaels is the K-12 Science Education Consultant at the Connecticut State Department of Education. His responsibilities include state science standards, curriculum and instructional resources, professional development, and aiding in the development of an assessment system for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Ron has held many distinguished titles from classroom teacher to acting Superintendent of Schools in close to a forty year educational career. Concurrently, he is also an adjunct Professor of Education for teacher and administrator preparation. Ron is certified to teach every science area including Earth Science, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, as well as holding certificates for all administrative levels. His favorite quote from Albert Einstein sums up his belief in the study of science. “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

Polly Painter

Polly Painter is Director of Strategic Relations for Precision Medicine and Population Health at the Yale School of Medicine. She is dedicated to establishing collaborations with other state partners advancing precision medicine and population health through an antiracist lens. In addition to educating people about precision medicine and population health, she is working on the CT Precision Medicine Initiative and developing a new social science center known as Braintown. Previously, she served as a policy researcher and liaison for the Connecticut State Senate where she supported policy development and legislative directives on a multitude of issues affecting education, public health, commerce, and insurance among others. She and her husband Will have two daughters, a joy-filled adopted dog and a mercurial cat. In her free time, she loves running with her dog on the beautiful hiking trails in Connecticut.

Module Leadership

Kelly Marie Blanchat

Kelly Marie Blanchat is a librarian at Yale University Library. She works with undergraduate students to develop their information literacy skills, including information retrieval and critical evaluation skills. Kelly has a Masters of Library and Information Science from Long Island University, a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College, and has studied digital humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY. In her free time she writes proposals to Unicode for new emojis (you can thank her for such emojis as skunk, sloth, ladder, shorts, and briefs) with the goal to make emojis more inclusive, diverse, and global.

Terry Contant, Ed.D.

Terry Contant is a veteran science educator with broad experience in various educational roles: K-8 classrooms science teacher, district science coordinator, inservice and preservice professional developer, curriculum writer, science education university faculty, textbook co-author, planetarium presenter and Peace Corps Volunteer. She is a trained facilitator for NSTA’s Discover the NGSS Workshop, the Next Generation Science Exemplars (NGSX) study groups, and Engineering is Elementary workshops. A co-author of eight Science Methods Textbooks that focus on inquiry, she has also served as a principal investigator on an NSF Triad Grant and two State Math-Science Partnership Grants. Dr. Contant earned her Bachelor’s degree in the Natural Sciences from Case Western Reserve University and a Master’s Degree and Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Houston. She has been an active member of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for more than 40 years, attending and frequently presenting at national or regional conferences nearly every year. She belongs to the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA), serving a term as a District Director. At the state level she was Vice President of the Texas Science Teachers Association (TSTA) and served on the board of the Connecticut Science Teachers Association (CSTA) as a regional Director, Vice President, President, and Past President.

Erica Gerace, Ph.D.

Erica Gerace earned her doctorate in biomedical science from Harvard University studying epigenetics and inheritance and then continued in biomedical research as a postdoctoral fellow investigating novel epigenetic therapies for acute myeloid leukemia and transgenerational inheritance at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The University of Melbourne (Australia), respectively. Upon returning to the US, Erica pivoted into biology education as a teaching professor at Georgetown University and then as a high school science teacher at the Loomis Chaffee School. Interested in pedagogy and curriculum design, Erica recently took a position at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT on the genomics education team and now designs course content for high school and undergraduate classrooms. Erica lives in Windsor, CT with her husband and two daughters and when she has the chance, she enjoys the outdoors, running, and trivia.

Caitlin Meyer

Caitlin Meyer is a librarian at Yale’s Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library. She coordinates the library’s general education program and supports the students and faculty of the School of Medicine’s Physician Associate Program and Physician Assistant Online Program. Caitlin has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from UCLA and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Vanderbilt. Outside of work, Caitlin is an avid hiker, camper, and fan of bluegrass music.

Zorana Ivcevic Pringle, Ph.D.

Zorana Ivcevic Pringle, Ph.D., studies the role of emotion and emotion skills in creativity and well-being at school and at work. She is Associate Editor of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, and the International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving. She published her research in journals such as Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Personality, Applied Cognitive Psychology, Creativity Research Journal, Journal of Creative Behavior, Social Psychology of Education and others. Dr. Ivcevic received the Award for Excellence in Research from the Mensa Education and Research Foundation and the Berlyne Award for Outstanding Early Career Achievement in psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts from the American Psychological Association.

Peter Takizawa, Ph.D.

Peter Takizawa is an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine. He is also Co-Director of the Pre-Clerkship Curriculum at Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Teaching and Learning Center. He has led the effort to incorporate team-based learning in medical education at Yale through the creation of a website and training faculty. He has also created an online histology website that is open to the world. He teaches medical students at Yale and is course director of Scientific Foundations and leader of the Cell Biology thread.

Jaideep Talwalkar, MD.

Jaideep Talwalkar is a physician and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. He provides primary care for patients of all ages as well as specialty care for adults with cystic fibrosis. He has been involved in Yale’s administrative and educational response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as frontline care on the COVID-19 wards at Yale-New Haven Hospital. In addition to seeing patients, he teaches medical students and residents at Yale and develops curricula for medical education. As Director of Clinical Skills, he oversees the teaching of fundamental bedside skills to Yale medical students. He also edits and administers the Yale Primary Care Pediatrics Curriculum (, a guide for pediatric teaching used by pediatricians nationwide. When not at work, he chases his three active kids, coaches youth soccer, and seeks any opportunity for long-distance running and ultimate frisbee.)

Charlene Woodland

Charlene Woodland is a high school science educator with the New Haven Public Schools. Over her 15 year tenure she has taught Physical Science, Forensic Science, and Environmental Science. Charlene has a Master’s in Environmental Education from Southern Connecticut State University and a sixth year in Educational Leadership from Sacred Heart University. Charlene’s curriculum writing experience includes co-authoring NHPS’s freshman science curriculum and multiple curriculum units as a fellow with the Yale New Haven Teachers’ Institute.

Consulting Partners

Tyra Pendergrass Boomer

Tyra Pendergrass Boomer is Associate Director for the play2PREVENT Lab, where they create videogames to teach adolescents about making good decisions around health behaviors. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Howard University and her Masters of Environmental Management from Yale University. She has almost a decade of experience in building and maintaining community partnerships and running large scale randomized controlled trials. Tyra was a 2013 Connecticut Health Foundation Health Leader Fellow. She was also a 2018-2019 Advanced Health Science Research Fellow with the Yale School of Medicine.

Lynn E. Fiellin, MD

Lynn E. Fiellin, MD is a Professor of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Child Study Center. With NIH and foundation funding, she founded the play2PREVENT Lab at Yale and subsequently founded and now directs the Lab and the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games. Her team focuses on the development and evaluation of videogame interventions targeting a range of outcomes including HIV prevention, promotion of HIV/STI testing, and substance use prevention including opioids, tobacco, electronic cigarettes, vaping, and marijuana. Her team forges successful collaborations and partnerships between scientists, educators, videogame designers/developers, community-based organizations and others. They use principles of character education and components of social emotional learning to develop innovative targeted digital interventions for health promotion, risk reduction and prevention in youth and young adults.


Jordan Zajac

Jordan Zajac (Intern) is a Colby College junior pursuing a Biology major with a concentration in Neuroscience, as well as a pre-medical student looking to continue his education by enrolling in medical school following his graduation from college. Following his graduation from high school, Jordan served as a research assistant at Connecticut Children's Medical Center for both the Pediatric Surgical Unit and for the Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinical Trials Unit. In college, Jordan has continued his work as an EMT, working for the Colby Emergency Response program, as well as working as the lead student curator of the Colby Natural History Wet Collection, and as a laboratory teaching assistant. In his free time, Jordan enjoys fishing, skiing, scuba diving, blacksmithing, and timbersports.

Noah Sapire

Noah Sapire worked as an Intern for the play2PREVENT Lab at Yale during August 2020.

Site Build

Mohamed Kane

Mohamed Kane is a recent graduate of Dickinson College, where he received a bachelors degree in International Business & Management. As a web editor for the Yale Office of Communications which works with the Yale School of Medicine, Mohamed was a vital part in the creation and development of the COV-Ed site.