PI Team - Magnitude.io
ExoLab PI
This team brings fun, energy, depth, and creativity into the process of learning Science



Magnitude PI (Principal Investigator) was formed in May of 2019. This rotating team is made of passionate educators from multiple countries. The team has special “behind-the-scenes” access to creating a Space experiment on the International Space Station. Not only do they help decide the future experiment, the PIs also breakdown the Science, Biology, Data Science and Space into learning experiences for students around the world.

Michael Wilkinson

Director of Education & Lead PI

Michael has been a math and science teacher for the past 30 years. In that time, He has developed a curricula in math and science for upper elementary and middle school that provides students with the opportunity to engage in the content in authentic ways. His students are mathematicians and scientists, engaged in inquiry and investigation. He currently teaches 4th and 5th grade maths and science at the Fieldston Lower School in the Bronx.

A lifelong space geek, Michael is a NASA Airborne Sciences Master Teacher and a NASA Earth SySTEM Ambassador, a member of the Space Center Houston Space Exploration Educator Crew and Global Math Ambassador. Michael infuses space exploration themes into his curriculum and utilizes a variety of technologies as tools to support exploration and original research.

As a curriculum and professional developer, Michael has worked with a wide variety of schools across the United States, Brazil, Belize, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

Michael is an amateur astronomer, photographer and the father of three 19 year olds.

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Clover

Lauren Parker

7th and 8th grade Science, Fort Worth Academy, Fort Worth, Texas

Lauren Parker earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education from Texas Christian University. Lauren currently teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science at Fort Worth Academy in Fort Worth, Texas. She has earned many recognitions in her teaching career including being named District Teacher of the Year. She was also selected to present with her students at the NASA/Sally Ride Science GRAIL MoonKam Teacher Expo in Washington, D.C. to share how the mission was incorporated in the classroom. She is a frequent presenter at both local and national conferences and also serves as a member of the Space Exploration Educator Crew program at Space Center Houston; a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, and a Space Station Ambassador with CASIS.   

Leguminaut Challenger | Team Chickpea
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Mary Vaughn

Grade 6 Gifted Science, Randall Middle School, Tampa, Florida

Vaughn has been a science teacher for over 30 years.  She has been a teacher of Gifted Science for the past 25 years along with being a Science Academic Coach in Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL.  She continues to write curriculum for upper elementary and middle school that provides teachers and students ways to engage with concepts in Earth and Space Science.  Mary has led 3 student teams with microgravity experiments to the space station and has been the Community Program Director with her district for 7 years with leading experiments to the station.  Vaughn has also been a Solar System Ambassador (SSA) for 11 years, is a member of the Space Educator Expedition Crew (SEEC) out of Space Center Houston, and most recently selected as a Ray Lien Aerospace Educator from Florida Sun n Fun. She  has also been Teacher of the Year and selected twice to attend the Honeywell Space Camp in Huntsville, AL in 2008 and advanced in 2010. Her true passion in engaging our next generation with real world science!

SSEP Community Program Director
Hillsborough County Public Schools

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Mungbean
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Dianea Phillips

Aerospace Educator, Quebec, Canada

Dianea is one of four founding members of the Montreal Storytellers’ Guild (est. 1985), an entrepreneur owning Enchanting Tales Storytelling for schools and libraries, Science Yourself! No G’s About It! -STEM AND STEAM programs for children.  In fall 2020, she is launching the first Space School on the West Island of Montreal as well as, “Science Herself!”- STEM to STEAM programs for girls. Dianea also helps provide lower income schools with basic school supplies through her Teachers for Teachers – Canadian Classrooms Care donor program. 

With 25 plus years in the education field she has been a game changer in classrooms and whole school progress. She has been a leader in the field of space/technology with her teaching/modeling role with the Center for Educational Excellence (LBPSB) and has worked in many roles from classroom teacher to Educational Services Consultant as well as a, mentor and teacher model. She is the vice-president of DKG Quebec, Canada and is a DKG International Speaker. Her educational experiences have taken her to Korea, Thailand, and for over 12 years, she taught both students and teachers from England, Spain, Japan and Brazil with the International Studies Program at Lester B. Pearson School Board. She has led whole school change projects with three elementary schools within the Lester B. Pearson School Board. She holds a volunteer position at the Montreal Aviation Museum and is chair of the education team and sits on the Operatives Committee. She recently partnered with Magnitude i.o ExoLab – experiments on the International Space Station to create project based experiences with her students, home school children and elementary schools.

Background: B.Ed. McGill University, Certified Aerospace Educator/ Alumni of the Space and Rocketry Center, Huntsville Alabama and NASA-SEEC Space Exploration Educators Conference – Johnson Space Center Houston Texas, TX. Certified Adventures In Wisdom Youth Coach –Austin Texas and PPCC Concordia University, certified Professional/Personal Adult Life Coach.

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Soy Bean
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Steve Jones

STEM/Science Enrichment, Hopewell Middle School, Milton, Georgia

Steve has been in education for 16 years. He earned his BA in Psychology from Berea College, and an MA in Teaching from Brenau University.  He has taught students from 3 years old up to 8th grade. He is currently teaching STEM/Science Enrichment at Hopewell Middle School in Milton, GA. In 2012 Steve was awarded the Teacher of the Year award for Abbotts Hill Elementary. In addition to inspiring kids in the classroom, he is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, and brings his love of science to the community.

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Lentil
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Renée Gamba

Director, Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, Providence, Rhode Island

Renée Gamba is the Director of the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium in Providence RI. For over 20 years she has developed and facilitated education programming, including planetarium shows, for diverse populations to excite them about science and learning. Working with the NASA RI Space Grant Consortium and NASA Northeast Planetary Data Center she has curated exhibitions highlighting NASA Missions. For over 10 years Gamba has partnered with the Krupowicz Planetarium in Gaudet School in Middletown RI to lead programming for students and the community. 

Gamba is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador (SSA), a member of the Space Center Houston Space Educator Expedition Crew (SEEC), Space Station Ambassador, and was most recently selected to be a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. In the summer of 2019 she was invited to be the Chair for Kids Reading Across Rhode Island and facilitated programming at libraries all over Rhode Island celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11.

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Alfalfa
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Gil Cauthorn

Head of Science and AIRI Development Director in Osaka, Japan

Gil Cauthorn is currently an astrobotany research and education program coordinator, head of science, and AIRI (Astrobiology International Research Initiative) development director in Osaka, Japan.

In the past, he was part of the central governance and development team for an international baccalaureate world school in Kobe, Japan as an Executive Head Teacher and Head of Science. Most recently, Gil has been part of the development of a new international baccalaureate world school in Osaka, Japan in which, as the head of the science department, he is responsible for all science curricular development, management of multiple laboratory spaces, and curricular coordination between the Japanese National Curricular Program, International Baccalaureate and NGSS as well as management of all astrobotany research and education programs. Alongside teaching astrobotany, Gil teaches biology in the international baccalaureate diploma program as well as general biology.

Gil earned his Master’s of Science degree from Clemson University in Biological Sciences. His current research includes; gravitropic studies of plants in microgravity, plant life support systems development, epigenetic multigenerational survey of plants grown in microgravity, educational application of astrobiological research, and sustainable integration of novel bioregenerative agricultural systems. He holds an educational licensure in Biological Education from the Florida State Board of Education, as well as the first international educator to hold a National Specialist in Sciences and Education licensure in Japan. His focus is on the development and application of astrobotany research and education programs in order to develop plant life support systems that are able to produce high-quality yields for future space missions as well as their application to alleviate world hunger and the environmental impact of current agricultural practices.

Leguminaut Challenge | Team Adzuki
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Javier Montiel M.Ed.

Bilingual Teacher, Freeport Texas

Javier Montiel M.Ed. studied at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Cuernavaca and his Masters at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. He emigrated to the Houston Texas area where he works as a bilingual teacher in Freeport Texas.

International education projects with public and private schools are one way to describe Professor Montiel’s work. He has been responsible for linking Tecnológico de Monterrey students and teachers with NASA. He has collaborated with staff and students at Shimane University in Japan and the Education Department of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). He has taught conferences on education and technology at the Space Exploration Educators Conference at Space Center Houston for 10 consecutive years and has given official NASA courses and training to teachers and students within the Johnson Space Center facilities.

He was selected in 2017 to work as a teacher advisor in the Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms initiative in conjunction with NASA and the WGBH to test and review official NASA educational materials representing the State of Texas.

Professor Montiel enjoys the feeling of motivating students to find their life passions through education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and as an innovative educator, collaborates with students and fellow educators to redesign 21st-century education.

Lori Waters

Magnitude.io Director of Communications

As the Magnitude.io Director of Communications and ExoLab-8 co-investigator, Lori Waters is actively engaged in scientific research, mentoring teachers, and developing content for the Magnitude Classroom, website, and social media channels.

Waters is a current homeschool educator and former educator in charter and private schools as well as the Orlando Science Center. She has taught general education subjects, Earth and Space Science, Biology, and AP Environmental Science. Her students engaged in project-based learning with the Leguminaut Challenge, Tomatosphere, Space Chile Pepper Challenge, and Johnson Space Center Lunar and Meteorite sample disk program. In 2019, she received the Foundation Academy Principal’s Award for her innovative inquiry-based science instruction. Waters holds Florida Professional Educator Certification in four core subject areas. She is a graduate of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Space Academy for Educators and Space Center Houston’s Space University for Educators. As a former local elected official and public relations director prior to entering the classroom, Waters brings twenty years of experience to the Magnitude.io team across the fields of education, public relations, government relations, and space science.

She received her BA in Political Science from Furman University, MBA from the University of Phoenix, and Science Teaching Graduate Certificate from the University of Florida. She is currently enrolled in the University of North Dakota Space Studies Masters of Science program. In summer 2020, she completed a Teacher in Training internship with the NASA Ames GeneLab for High Schools program. In Fall 2020, she completed a graduate research fellowship through the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium. When not growing plants, you can find her running and cycling on the trails in Central Florida.