Eric Kessler is an instructor for both Molecular Medicine and Bioengineering, and Environmental Science and Animal Health, who is completing his 31st year with district. He holds undergraduate degrees in Zoology and Psychology from the University of Texas, and in Education from UMKC. He is Nationally Board Certified and has a Masters degree in Biology from Emporia State University where he completed herpetological research. He has received individual awards in association with his teaching and volunteer work including the Blue Valley School District’s Secondary Teacher of the Year (2001), RadioShack National Teacher (2002), Milken Foundation National Educator (2007), and Kansas Outstanding Biology Teacher (2009), and the Bronze Salamander Award (2011). He was the AP Biology instructor in the BVN science department when they were recognized by the AP College Board, and a faculty member there when BVN was recognized with Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence in Education. He has been awarded numerous grants from the Blue Valley Education Foundation, and continues to participate in professional development opportunities in an effort to continually enhance his knowledge and skills in the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological biosciences.
Joe Whalen is the instructor for Global Food Technologies and Bioscience Research and Internship. He was inspired to pursue science as a career while commercial fishing in Alaska during the mid-1990’s. Harvesting the bounty of the ocean impressed upon him the importance of maintaining the health of the world’s water bodies. This realization led to him to join the Environmental Studies program at the University of Kansas, focusing on water quality. During this time, he worked in an aquatic ecology lab, researching the relationships between the biological and chemical components of reservoirs in eastern and central Kansas. While finishing his Bachelor’s, he was awarded a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellowship. This program paired college students in science and mathematics programs with teachers of these subjects in the Kansas City, Kansas Unified School District. Over the course of the next three and a half years, Joe held the positions of classroom fellow, technology coordinator, and project manager. More importantly, it was while having this experience that a passion for teaching emerged. The time he spent with the students in Kansas City prompted him to earn my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Kansas. The capstone experience for this degree was student teaching at Blue Valley High School. He was hired full time at BVHS the following school year. For the next three years, he taught a variety of classes including Advanced Placement biology, general biology, zoology, astronomy, and Earth – space science. In December 2009, Joe completed a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology at Oregon State University in Corvallis Oregon. During the two years at OSU he worked in a biochemistry lab researching mechanisms of genome defense in the fungal plant pathogen, Fusarium graminearum. Joe is tremendously excited to offer this same type of cutting-edge research with students in the CAPS program.
Kelley Tuel is the CAPS Veterinary Medicine instructor. Kelley received a MS Degree in Biology at Emporia State University. Her thesis described the molecular genetics of Halobacterium sp. NRC-1, a salt-loving Archaea microbe, and its instructional use in high school classrooms. For her research, she isolated and named two previously undescribed mutant strains of the halophile, each with a novel gene transposon. Kelley’s Halobacterium laboratory materials have been published and marketed by Carolina Bioglogical Supply Company as a teaching kit, The Genotype-Phenotype Connection. Kelley holds undergraduate degrees in both Biology and Education from Kansas State University, and has taught high school Biology and AP Biology. She attributes her animal experiences to being a life-long 4-Her where she was active in dog obedience, breeding Zebra Finches, and the sheep project.