Triangle Team

Kaitlyn Fouke

Duke University

Kaitlyn is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University. She is currently studying how visual information is processed into motor output in larval zebrafish to understand vertebrate sensorimotor transformations. Outside of lab, she has enjoyed working with younger students and teaching neuroscience. Kaitlyn has been involved in SciREN since 2021 and serves as the logistics coordinator for this year.

Megan Davis, Coordinator of Teacher Education

NC Museum of Natural Sciences

As Coordinator of Teacher Education at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Megan leads professional development workshops and field experiences for educators (and sometimes students) across the state. She has been working with the SciREN Triangle team from the very beginning (2013!). Megan is passionate about spending time outdoors and inspiring others to explore their connections to the natural world. She believes in the power of optimism, curiosity, and hands-on- experiences — at each opportunity, helping to ignite the spark of curiosity and the sense of wonder for teachers, students, parents, and members of the public.

When not working, Megan enjoys exploring with her family along local greenways and trails, visiting farmers markets and eating local ice cream, cooking and baking, and digging in the dirt in her garden. She never has enough time to explore — there are so many places to go!

Garrett Braniecki

UNC at Chapel Hill

Garrett is a Ph.D. student in the Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences department studying seasonal climate variability during the Plio-Pleistocene using isotope geochemistry in fossil clam shells. He got his Masters degree from the UNC Chapel Hill in 2022 and aims to finish his Ph.D. in May of 2026. During his free time, Garrett enjoys spending time outdoors fishing and golfing.

Leah Nelson

UNC at Chapel Hill

Leah Nelson is a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program (E3P), where she studies the ecological impacts of invasive macroalgal species. She is passionate about environmental resiliency and the effects of anthropogenic change on aquatic ecosystems. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, baking, and reading. Leah was previously a member of SciREN Coast in 2022 and has been a member of SciREN Triangle since 2023.


Jacob D. Thompson

NC State University

Jacob D. Thompson is a PhD student at North Carolina State University in the Joint UNC & NCSU Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is currently working on understanding differences between distinct bundles of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), specifically looking at the role of sex hormones in modifying ligament structure and function. Before coming to North Carolina, Jacob participated in local outreach programs through the Biomedical Engineering Student Society at the University of Iowa. Jacob is excited to join the SciREN team in 2021 after participating in the 2020 Virtual SciREN Networking Event.


Elise Paietta

Duke University

Elise is a PhD candidate in the Biology Department at Duke University. She studies the overlap between anthropogenic change and infectious disease in primates with a focus on virus discovery across nonhuman primates, rodents, and people in Madagascar. Elise graduated from the University of Notre Dame in Spring 2020 where she majored in Biological Sciences and was an undergraduate researcher with the Amboseli Baboon Research Project. Elise joined the SciREN team in Spring 2021.

Lauren Grimley

UNC at Chapel Hill

Lauren is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences (EMES) at UNC Chapel Hill. Her  research focuses on improving estimates of hurricane flood hazards and risks across the Carolinas and how they might change in the future. She enjoys kayaking, beach volleyball, and any outdoor activity. Lauren has been involved in SciREN since 2023 and serves as the follow-up coordinator for this year.

Lauren Jenkins

Duke University

Lauren is a Duke Ecology PhD student, studying paleoecology and forest biodiversity! She loves trees and finding funky acorns and pinecones. After attending SciREN Triangle as a researcher last year, this is her first year on the team and she is excited about bridging the connection between researchers and the classroom!

Hannah Kania

Duke University


Melanie Cohn

UNC at Chapel Hill

Melanie is a Ph.D. student at UNC in the Department of Earth Marine and Environmental Science. She is a member of the Gifford Lab for Marine Microbiology. Melanie studies how microbes such as bacteria and algae influence the carbon cycle. She brings organisms from the Neuse River Estuary in coastal NC back to the lab where she sequences DNA and RNA to understand who is there, what nutrients the microbes are using, and how they respond metabolically to changes in the estuary. Melanie loves talking to classrooms about science and sharing her passion with young minds!

Triangle Team Alumni

Jason Dinh (Duke)
Jacob Harrison (Duke)
Stephanie Teeter (NCSU)
Josh Reding (UNC)
Justin Jorge (Duke)
Anna Kudla (Duke)
Jake Nash (Duke)
Zachary Davis (NCSU)
Anne Smiley (UNC)
Clara Howell (Duke)
Kyla Bosh (NCSU)
Aliyah Griffith (UNC)
Gary Wright (NCSU)
Sarah Reifeis (UNC)
Kate Augustine (UNC)
Eleanor Caves (Duke)
Patrick Green (Duke)
Kristen Hopperstad (NCSU)
Rebecca Lauzon (Duke)
Lindsay Maudlin (NCSU)
Doreen McVeigh (NCSU)
Seth Theuerkauf (NCSU)
Justin Baumann (UNC)
Casey Berger (UNC)