Meet the Team
Creator and Founder, Colleen Kelley
When it comes to chemistry geeks, I’m at the top of the list. Even my name is alliteration with chemistry – Colleen Kelley, Chemist. I dashed through graduate school receiving my Ph.D. from Penn State University at the age of 24, and then headed to Strasbourg, France to conduct my postdoctoral research with a Nobel Prize winner.
Fast forward 30 years later, and I am still in love with chemistry. I’ve been a tenured faculty at Northern Arizona University, faculty at Pima Community College, and am currently at the University of Arizona. My research is in the area of Chemical Education and is fueled by the burning question, “Why do my students think chemistry is hard?” I’ve spent my career exploring this question. My approach to making chemistry accessible to students ages 9 – 59 is to tell stories. I have published articles and books for higher education about the impact of stories and student learning of chemistry. In higher education, these stories are called Case Studies, and I am a leader in the field of teaching and learning with Case Studies and Storytelling.
Mackenzie Reagan, Lead Character Designer
Mackenzie has had a fascination with the sciences, arts and storytelling ever since she was little, so much so that when it came time to go to college, those were the fields she desired to explore the most. She is currently a student working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design and spends most of her waking hours developing characters, environments, illustrations and other artworks for animation, children’s books, comic books and more.
Prior to attending college, Mackenzie went to high school in Tucson, Arizona where she was introduced to the subject of chemistry by Colleen Kelley herself! From there, the two have been collaborating and creating together ever since! She loves what the creation of “Poppi ‘n Ray” stands for and the bridge that it creates where science, art and storytelling can all meet!
Aidan Kastner, Contributing Author
Aidan was one of the first elementary school students to learn about the adventures of Poppi and Ray. He fell in love with the stories because they opened his mind to a new and invisible world. He believes that learning chemistry concepts has “been awesome” because it explains so much about the natural world around us.
Aidan attends a public Spanish immersion school. He won his school’s fifth grade science fair by designing a project that showed how to break down plastic bags using a simple chemical reaction. Aidan enjoys teaching, and he wants to inspire an appreciation for chemistry in other kids. When he is not in school, Aidan enjoys swimming, practicing his cello, playing with his dogs and hanging with his frien
José Veleta, Entrepreneurial Lead and CEO of Spanish Operations
José discovered his passion for science in middle school by participating in science fairs doing chemistry demonstrations. Since then, his passion for chemistry has grown, leading him to the University of Arizona, where he currently is a Ph.D. candidate in Inorganic chemistry.
Growing up in the border cities of El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, MX, José was exposed at an early age to the educational and socio-economic disparities between México and the U.S. This inspired him to volunteer teaching basic science to kids living the periphery of Ciudad Juárez, and later to promote science education to minority groups in the U.S. José’s goal and passion is to increase science literacy in Spanish, focusing on kids from all ages (4-99).
Holly Sofka, Entrepreneurial Lead and CEO
Holly has taught and tutored all flavors of chemistry. She has found each class rewarding in its own way, and her favorite teaching moments are always when students have their “Aha!” moments. She’s a firm believer that the way science topics are presented changes how people respond to them, and her goal is to make learning science fun and rewarding for all!