What is STE[+a]M Connect?

STE[+a]M Connect provides a forum for community collaboration and a collection of resources to bring a diverse group of stakeholders (non-profits, education, business, policymakers and our communities) together to address common objectives that include:

  • Broaden the utility of STE[+a]M through cross-discipline collaborations
  • Increase community awareness of and investment in STE[+a]M
  • Affect systemic change in our academic institutions to better prepare our future workforce for the new challenges they will inevitably face

We are harnessing the energy building in STE[+a]M as the first member organization and clearinghouse for STE[+a]M – a central reference point for initiatives and resources in San Diego and southern California to start, with a growing national presence over time.


“We are bridging arts, science, education and the community”


UC San Diego STE[+a]M Team

Edward Abeyta, Ph.D.
Director Pre-Collegiate and Career Preparation Programs and Associate Dean for Community Engagement,
The University of California, San Diego, Extension

Edward L. Abeyta, Ph.D. is Director Pre Collegiate and Career Preparation Programs & Associate Dean for Community Engagement at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension. Prior to joining UCSD Extension in 1995, Edward began his service at UCSD as a counselor for the Early Academic Outreach Program serving underrepresented students in San Diego high schools and later assumed the role of Registrar and Director of Academic Services at UC San Diego Extension. In 2010 he established the UCSD Extension K-16 Programs & Outreach division where he currently serves at the Director.

Dr. Abeyta has a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, M.A. from the University of San Diego and his Ph.D. in Post Secondary Adult Education from Capella University. Edward has been recognized from UCSD and the UC Office of the President for his involvement in staff diversity and development initiatives. In 2008 Edward was selected to a two-year term as the Staff Advisor to The Regents where has served on the UC Diversity Commission, Post-retirement Task Force, and The Regents UC Commission on the Future.

He is an active member of the San Diego community as a member of LEAD San Diego and board of the San Diego Youth Symphony, San Diego Youth Council, and Herb Klein Leadership Roundtable. Edward is also a founding board member of the San Diego Urban Discovery Charter School and is deeply involved in programs servicing foster youth, veterans, and other youth development programs.

Dr. Debi Kilb

Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography Games

Dr. Debi Kilb is a seismologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). She also is the director of the SIO Games Group, which develops educational video games to promote Scripps science. Debi’s primary research interest is in mainshock/aftershock sequences, with a focus on earthquake source physics and earthquake triggering processes. Debi plays an active role in education and outreach at Scripps, participating in more than 20 events each year. She co-founded the annual Scripps Graduate Student Visualization contest and founded the annual Teacher Earthquake Education workshop (now in its 12th year). When media outlets request information about noteworthy earthquakes locally or globally, Debi is often the responding Scripps scientist.

Born in Schenectady, New York, Debi received a B.A. in mathematics and computer science, with a minor in music, from UC San Diego. She received a master’s degree in applied mathematics from UCLA and a Ph.D. from the University of Memphis, studying at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) and specializing in seismology. She served as a graduate intern at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University before joining Scripps, initially as a postdoctoral fellow.

Before attending graduate school, Debi worked as a software engineer at corporations such as Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Mission Research Corporation, and Santa Barbara Research Center. Throughout her career, she has tutored mathematics students from grade school through graduate school.

Dr. Karen Flammer
Co-founder, Sally Ride Science, Director of Education, Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego

Dr. Karen Flammer holds a dual appointment as director of education for Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego and director of education, outreach and training at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego.

Karen is a third-generation physicist. She earned her B.S. in applied physics and Ph.D. in space physics at UC San Diego. While doing research in space and planetary physics, Karen became passionate about educational outreach and increasing girls’ and minorities’ participation in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) fields. In 2001, she co-founded Sally Ride Science with the goal of narrowing the gender gap in STEAM.

Karen has more than 20 years of experience directing large-scale STEAM outreach and professional development programs, most notably Sally Ride EarthKAM and the Sally Ride Science Academy. Sally Ride EarthKAM engaged more than 600,000 K-12 students from 80 countries in STEM by allowing them to photograph Earth with a digital camera on board the International Space Station. The Sally Ride Science Academy, a robust train-the-trainer professional development program, has reached more than 30,000 educators, giving them strategies and resources to encourage students’ interest in STEAM.

Dr. Ellen Potter
Director of Education Outreach, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences

Ellen Potter has served as the liaison between the Salk Institute scientists and San Diego County educational community for the past 20 years. She is a neurobiologist by training, educator, and founder of the Salk Mobile Science Laboratory (MSL).  She played a key role in the development of this award-winning three-day science curriculum. The Salk Mobile Lab is a unique, interactive mobile science program that brings researchers, teachers, faculty, community, and Salk volunteers into middle school classrooms all around San Diego County. In addition, she oversees all educational outreach programs offered by the Salk Institute that include Salk MSL, High School Scholars Program and March of Dimes High School Science Day.  Ellen has served on advisory panels for HHMI Educational Initiatives at the Dolan DNA Learning Center and is a scientific advisor to Reuben H Fleet Science Center. Over the years Dr. Potter has fostered many collaborations with other local institutions throughout San Diego, such as UCSD Biobridge, The Scripps Research Institute, Birch Aquarium and SDCOE. She serves on the Educational Steering Committee for BIOCOM (life science industry association representing more than 500 members) and was honored by San Diego Science Alliance with a Partnership Award for Sustainable Programs in recognition of the Salk MSL.

Dr. Nan Renner
Research Associate, UCSD CREATE

Learning—an engine for change—fascinates Nan Renner and motivates her work in design and research. Renner’s BA in Visual Art, Theory and Practice from Northwestern University and Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California San Diego reflect her abiding interest in perception, representation, and meaning-making. She worked in museums for twenty years, as San Diego Museum of Art graphic designer, San Diego Natural History Museum exhibit developer, and Bilingual Exhibits Research Initiative co-principal investigator. She directed the San Diego Incubator for Innovation (Art of Science Learning/Balboa Park Cultural Partnership), fostering creativity and community-driven innovation with an emphasis on science and technology. She presently conducts research with UCSD CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence), contributes to the InforMath Collaborative, exploring ways to integrate mathematics with art and science in informal learning environments, and advises the California Networks for Collaboration, a program of the California Association of Museum


Shannon Bradley
Executive Producer of UCTV broadcast and online television network of the University of California.

She has been with the university for many years, starting as the public affairs producer for UCSD-TV in San Diego. Prior to that, she covered national politics for Roll Call newspaper on Capitol Hill and later, for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. She has a B.A. in communications/sociology from UC San Diego and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism and public affairs from American University in Washington,


Dalouge Smith
President & CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony

Dalouge Smith is in his 10th season leading San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. He has overseen development of SDYS’ vision to “make music education accessible and affordable for all students.” In pursuit of this vision, Dalouge has transformed SDYS into a community instigator for restoring and strengthening music education in schools. SDYS has expanded its work beyond music programs to include measurement, partnerships, community awareness, and community action.

Dalouge has served as a national leader in the U.S. El Sistema movement since co-founding the National El Sistema Network in December 2010 and convening the first summit of El Sistema inspired programs in 2011. He has been a featured speaker at the LA Phil’s past three El Sistema conferences, writes annually for The Ensemble, the U.S. El Sistema newsletter, and serves on the Advisory Board of Sistema Global. SDYS’ Community Opus Project is the first El Sistema project to be featured in Grantmakers for the Arts “Reader.”

Additionally, Dalouge is highly regarded as an arts advocacy leader. Dalouge serves on the board of California Arts Advocates and was founding President of Californians for the Arts. He was Chairman of the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition for eight years until the end of 2010. Dalouge speaks regularly on the community impact of the arts and importance of arts education at local events as well as state and national conferences. His guest editorials and radio appearances highlight the importance of the arts, as does his arts advocacy blog “Dog Days” at the national website artsjournal.com.

Ed Hidalgo
Sr. Director Government Affairs at Qualcomm

Ed Hidalgo serves as senior director of staffing for Qualcomm Incorporated, where he is responsible for the global contingent workforce, immigration and relocation. Hidalgo is also the co-founder of a Qualcomm program called Career Explorations, which provides career counseling and coaching to Qualcomm employees. Through this program he spearheaded the launch of a new initiative called the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, which works to introduce San Diego middle school youth to technology and engineering careers, while also providing on-site volunteer opportunities for Qualcomm employees. He also serves as the executive sponsor for Qualcomm’s Workforce Development Labs, where he works to promote youth and veteran engagement in workforce development and lifelong learning through hands-on internships.

Hidalgo’s background includes more than 15 years of staffing experience. Prior to his role at Qualcomm, he worked as an area manager for Manpower where he was responsible for technical recruiting and site-management operations, contributing to the employment of thousands of workers throughout San Diego County.

Ed is a co-founder of the Manpower High Tech High Academic Internship Program, which created more than 650 internships in more than 200 community businesses and agencies. He also serves on the boards of San Diego Workforce Partnership and San Diego Second Chance Program. He graduated from the University of Miami in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Dr. Steve Snyder
CEO, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Steven Snyder, Ph.D. comes to the Fleet from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where he served as Vice President of Exhibit and Program Development. There he was responsible for redefining the direction and processes for the development and implementation of all exhibit, theater and public programs for a 180+-year-old institution and in so doing transforming the existing museum into a more dynamic, relevant, educational experience. As a member of senior leadership, he helped to shape the strategic direction and chart a new course for the organization. Dr. Snyder conceived of and led the

development of a new educational direction for the organization that will drive the future direction of conceptualization and implementation of all exhibit, program and theatrical offerings. He managed an extensive staff, including designers, developers, interpreters, evaluators, and scientists, while directing over $5M in annual operations and $2M in annual capital projects. Dr. Snyder developed new experiences and products to increase attendance and revenue while maintaining the integrity of the organization’s educational mission, including over 80,000 square feet of new exhibitions and programs, and served as a key public spokesperson for the organization.

At Science City/The Kansas City Museum in Kansas City, MO, Dr. Snyder served as Director of Science, then Director of Attraction Development, and played a key role in helping a small regional history museum expand to encompass a new science center located in a restored 850,000-square-foot train station, an existing regional historic site. Through careful management, he changed staff perceptions about roles and possibilities for the organization, its reach, and mission. He led the development of all exhibits, programs, and theatrical offerings, and managed a highly diverse team with backgrounds in education, science, history, collections, entertainment/theater and graphic design. While overseeing the development and management of budgets and strategic planning, he also developed new techniques to attract new (and retain old) audiences and developed relations (professional, sponsorship and donor) with community and business leaders.

John M. Eger, Ph.D.
Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy
and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, School of Journalism and Media Studies,
at San Diego State University

John M. Eger, author and lecturer on the subjects of creativity and innovation, education and economic development, is the Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, School of Journalism and Media Studies, at San Diego State University.

A former Advisor to two Presidents and Director of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy he helped spearhead the restructuring of America’s telecom Industry and was Senior Vice President of CBS responsible for worldwide enterprises, which opened China to commercial television.

More recently he served as Chair of California Governor’s first Commission on Information Technology; Chair of the Governors Committee on Education and Technology; and Chair of San Diego Mayor’s “City of the Future” Commission.

He is the author of over 100 articles, books, and book chapters. More recently he authored the seminal “Guidebook for Smart Communities”, a “how to” for communities struggling to compete in the age of the Internet; and “The Creative Community: Linking Art, Culture, Commerce and Community”, a call to action to reinvent our communities for the Creative Age.