John founded Seeds of Change in 2010 with support from Dr. Cameron Currie and his former graduate student, Dr. Adrian Pinto. Together they conceived of the experiential learning concept for high school students that linked basic research and solutions to real-life problems (like antimicrobial resistance). The idea was to develop science research immersion programs to accelerate their science learning and to create motivation for science careers.
Doleman is furthering the development of this program to include a tropical rainforest research site in the Costa Rican dedicated to high school STEM learning. His vision is to utilize high school students to make discoveries of value to mankind.
Founder & Executive Director
James was the leader of the very first Seeds of Change program in 2010 and has been involved every year assistant teacher, lead teacher, and SOC On-Ste Coordinator. James is a lifelong learner and believes that the SOC programs impact students for life. In his free time, he works with the Minnesota master naturalist volunteer program sharing my time and knowledge with local nature centers that are understaffed and underfunded.
Lead Tropical Field Biology Scientist
Andy’s connection to Seeds of Change comes from his longtime friendship with Dr. Adrian Pinto, whom he met in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He has been a lead instructor for the Tropical Field Biology program since 2013.
Andy has conducted field research in Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and has received several honors for excellence in research and teaching, including the George C. Eickwort Award for his thesis on social insect biology, and the WHICH Cooperative For Educational Technologies (WCET) Outstanding Work (WOW) Award for his teaching.
Beth brought her first group of students to Costa Rica with Seeds of Change in 2015: three days into the program, she suggested the founder of Seeds of Change, John Doleman, contact her when he was ready for some help running the non-profit. Three years and 12 SOC groups later, Beth became the Assistant Director.
Beth brings nearly 20 years of teaching experience to Seeds of Change. Early on she recognized that students engage more deeply and passionately when given time to investigate a topic of their choice for class projects. This led her to work with colleagues to pioneer an advanced science research class at St Paul Academy and Summit school, a top private school in the Twin Cities.
Cindy has collaborated with Seeds of Change since 2016 as an On-site Coordinator and is an expert in butterfly care for the recent construction of the UCR Butterfly Research Lab (Mariposario) in Colonia Libertad, Costa Rica.
Petersen has spent her summers raising thousands of monarch butterflies while doing research at the University of Minnesota. She also mentored St. Hubert middle school students interested in nature and ecology. For the past 13 years, Petersen took a group of St. Hubert students to observe the migration of the monarch in Mexico, the Galapagos Islands and Costa Rica.
Dr. Gabriel Vargas
Gabriel has been the Lead Scientist for the Seeds of Change Bioinformatics program since its inception in 2014. This program teaches students how to run comparative analysis of genome and metagenome sequence data related to their unique research questions using the Integrated Microbial Genomes and Metagenomes database (IMG) and related tools.
Recently he helped launch the Insect-Microbiome Bioprospecting Lab program by leading the pilot teacher training and helping develop the teacher training manual for the program.
Lead Bioinformatics Scientist
Dr. Adrian Pinto
As our Chief Scientist, Dr Pinto is responsible for developing the Seeds of Change leafcutter ant tropical field biology and bioinformatics curriculum, directing instruction, and establishing ant colony management for student researchers.
Dr. Pinto played a key role in the discovery of Selvamicin (2016), an antibiotic isolated from a bacteria obtained from a fungus-growing ant colony – forming a direct connection between Seeds of Change curriculum and solutions to the global issue of antimicrobial resistance.
Dr. Cameron Currie
Dr. Currie became a world reknowned scientist early in his career while working on his PhD studying leaf cutter ants. He discovered that the leafcutters utilize antibiotic producing bacteria to help treat virulent pathogens of their fungus gardens. Dr Currie has received numerous awards in his career including the Presidential Early Career Award for young scientists from President Obama.
Cameron was the inspiration for the creation of Seeds of Change providing support from his lab and with his PhD students, one of whom ultimately became the chief scientist of Seeds of Change.
Cameron’s lab continues to make discoveries that will shape our future while he supports our endeavors. His talks and his lab scientists provide inspirational sessions and career guidance for our students who are learning about the wonder of these ants and the possibilities of pursuing science in their future careers.
Dr. Heidi Horn
Heidi came to Seeds of Change through the Currie Lab at UW-Madison. As a researcher in Costa Rica, she collected ant colonies at nearby Selva lab and successfully isolated Selvamicin, an antibiotic – forming a direct connection between Seeds of Change curriculum and solutions to the global issue of antimicrobial resistance.
Lead Tropical Field Biology Scientist
Dr. Jennifer Powers
Dr. Powers and her research team have recently begun collaborating with SOC on an ecology research activity and ongoing quadrat data collection effort by SOC students that mirrors some of her research efforts at Horizontes.
Dr. Powers has been conducting research in tropical dry forests since 2011 and her research funding maintains a permanent facility at Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station.
Dr. Pilar Santidrian
Bibi has collaborated with Seeds of Change since 2011 at Playa Cabuyal where she leads a sea turtle nesting research study. She has allowed SOC students to work alongside her research team installing sea turtle satellite transmitters, collecting sea turtle nesting data and using drones to assist in sea turtle observation.
Veronica has collaborated with Seeds of Change since 2017 primarily as a sea turtle expert that educates students about sea turtle nesting research conducted by the Leatherback Trust at Playa Cabuyal and now her own research on the habitat and movements of sea turtles in Santa Helena Bay.
Maike has collaborated with Seeds of Change students to collect research data since 2017. With more than 12 years of experience in sea turtle research, she currently focuses on the population connectivity and migratory routes of green and hawksbill turtles, using stable isotope and genetic analysis.
Her main project resides at El Jobo, Guanacaste, where she founded and is president of a local NGO (Equipo Tora Carey), composed by fishermen, local tourism operators and biologists to pursue their common goal of a sustainable development of marine resources through science, community empowerment and education.