Faculty

Ibrahim Albayrak

PhD: Experimental Nuclear Physics, Hampton University, Jefferson Lab

BS: Physics, Yildiz Technical University

After getting his PhD, he spent nearly 8 years of conducting experimental nuclear research at Jefferson Lab, Catholic University of America, Hampton University, Akdeniz University and TUBITAK. He served as an assistant professor at International Antalya University in the Electronics department. Currently, in addition to his duties at GSST as an engineering/physics instructor, he is also involved in experimental nuclear research at Jefferson Lab.

Islam Bedir

PhD. Theoretical Physics, Old Dominion University

MS. Theoretical Physics, Old Dominion University

BS. Theoretical Physics, Bosphorus University

Jennifer Clarke

M.S. Chemistry, University of South Carolina

M.A.T. Chemistry, University of South Carolina

B.S. Chemistry, Radford University 

Mrs. Clarke has been teaching Advanced Chemical Analysis since 1996 at the Governor’s School.  This is her 30th year of teaching chemistry.

Rimma Feygelson

MBA, Capella University, 2021

M.S., St. Petersburg Institute of Economics, 1992

Ms. Feygelson has experience teaching at both Thomas Nelson Community College STEM, William & Mary SEP, as well as The Governors School.

Ellen Fithian

Ph.D. Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership, College of William and Mary

NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Columbia University

M.D. Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons

B.A. Wellesley College

Dr. Fithian began her professional life as a dermatologist before discovering her passion for education. Over the past twelve years, she has worked with Ms. Wismer on a range of initiatives focused on expanding the representation of students from underrepresented communities at the school, promoting success for all students at GSST and beyond, and helping to forge collaborations with universities to enrich GSST curricula with content and skills from emerging STEM fields.

Mara Flath

B.A. Biology, Hollins University 

Ms. Flath started at The Governor’s School in 2021. Prior to working at GSST, she worked in Skin of Color Research at Hampton University. 

In her spare time, Ms. Flath enjoys spending time with her family, riding horses, and being outdoors.

Jiashi Hou

Ph.D. Mathematics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

M.S. Applied Mathematics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

B.S. Mathematics, Shanghai University of Science and Technology

Dr. Hou has taught college mathematics in the Tidewater area for more than two decades.  These courses range from calculus, discrete mathematics, linear algebra, differential equations to statistics.  Dr. Hou has also mentored and advised many college students’ research projects.

Elizabeth Jesseman

M.S. Computer Science, Old Dominion University

B.S. Applied Mathematics, the College of William and Mary

After graduating from The College of William and Mary in 2018, Elizabeth wanted to apply her mathematic skills for real-world use. An avid gamer with a love for learning, she enrolled in Old Dominion University’s Graduate Program in Computer Science. Later in her studies, she was employed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for an introductory computer science course where she was tasked with grading assignments and lecturing labs and recitations. It was there that she found her passion for teaching.

Mary Patterson

Ph.D. Pathobiology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

B.S. Genetics and Development, University of Illinois

Dr. Mary Chelberg Patterson graduated with distinction from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, having earned her B.S. degree in Genetics and Development. Her Ph.D. in Pathobiology, with a minor in Genetics, was earned at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. Her post-doctoral fellowship was at the University of Minnesota, in the Departments of Biochemistry and Orthopedic Surgery. Prior to dedicating her energies to teaching, she had published research in the journals Cancer Research, J. Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and J. Anatomy.

Dr. Patterson has been teaching Advanced Biological Analysis since 2014 at the Governor’s School. She previously spent three years as the instructor for Research Methodology and Ethics.

Amy Schmidt

Ph.D. Mathematics, George Mason University 

M.S. Applied and Computational Mathematics, University of Minnesota Duluth

B.S. Mathematics, University of Minnesota Duluth

Since graduating in 2015, Dr. Schmidt has taught at Hampton University, Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, and Thomas Nelson Community College. Dr. Schmidt started at The Governor’s School for Science and Technology in 2021. Dr. Schmidt loves teaching. When she’s not working, she enjoys gardening, birdwatching, and powerlifting

Kristin Spires

MEd -Secondary Education,  University of Florida

Gifted Education Endorsement – Ball State University

B.A. – English, University of Florida

A veteran teacher, Mrs. Spires has taught at the secondary level since 1995.  After receiving her endorsement in gifted education, she has spent the last thirteen years as the secondary gifted resource teacher for York County School Division.  In her spare time, Mrs. Spires likes to try new recipes and be on or around the water. 

Gaelan Venturi

M.S. Computer Science, Old Dominion University

B.S. Mathematics with a concentration in Applied Mathematics, Old Dominion University 

B.S. Mathematics with a concentration in Statistics/Biostatistics, Old Dominion University 

Laura Vobrak

EdS Educational Leadership and Administration, The George Washington University

M.S.  Curriculum & Instruction, Old Dominion University

B.A.  English, California State University, Chico

Ms. Vobrak began her teaching career as an English teacher in Korea. Her passion is teaching composition and research courses at both the high school and college level.  Outside of work, she enjoys traveling and reading.

Steven Walk

MSEE, University of Pittsburgh

BSEET, summa cum laude, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Graduate Study: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Drexel University

Mr. Walk, in his most recent of three professional ‘careers’, has been teaching and tutoring high school physics, including AP physics and Modern Physics, for more than nine years.  His second career included teaching engineering and conducting research at several US colleges and universities. In his first career he worked as a research engineer in new product development and as a technical product manager.

Dennis Weygand

Ph.D. High Energy Particle Physics, Syracuse University, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY

B.S. Physics and Mathematics, Hofstra University, Uniondale NY

Dr. Weygand spent 20 years at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, NY conducting experiments at the Brookhaven Alternating Gradient Synchrotron and also at the CERN Intersecting Storage Ring collider (ISR) in Geneva, Switzerland. After leaving BNL he moved to Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, VA where he performed experiments at the Cebaf Large Angle Spectrometer (CLAS). During his tenure at national labs he also held adjunct positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Florida State University, the University of Massachusetts, Vanderbilt University, and the University of South Carolina advising graduate students. He has taught physics as an adjunct professor at Thomas Nelson Community College, and has held teaching positions at Christopher Newport University and Old Dominion University.

Kenya Whitney

M.A. in Math Education, Radford University

B.A in Applied Mathematics, Old Dominion University

Ms. Whitney has been an educator for 8 years. During which, she has taught at Tidewater Community College, Hampton High School, and Thomas Nelson Community College. She is very passionate about student success and communicating math effectively. When she’s not teaching she is working in her garden, playing with her Labradoodle puppy, or enjoying time with her family.

Vikki Wismer

M.S. Elementary Education specializing in Montessori Studies: Loyola College

B.A. Public Affairs/Administrative Justice: American University

Advance Professional Certificate Administration/Supervision: Trinity College

 

Professional Background

  • 2008- 2020 Director New Horizons Governor’s School for Science & Technology (GSST)
  • 30 years of experience in the field of education with a diverse background in business
  • Principal/Change Agent for two magnet secondary/elementary public schools in Maryland Professional Background (cont’d.)
  • Governor’s Citation: Recognized for impressive dedication to instructional leadership in Maryland Public Schools (2 years)
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Teacher Advisory Committee
  • Collaborated with the History Channel to publish Save Our History – The Star-Spangled Banner Project: distributed to 80,000 elementary school teachers nationwide
  • Currently, Ms. Wismer serves as Vice/Past President of the Virginia Consortium of Gifted Education Administrators, Student Recruitment
  • Chair for ODU Computer Science Advisory Board, founding partner of the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative and member of National
  • Consortium of Specialized STEM Schools (NCSSS)

Deidre Yee

M.A. in Mathematics from SUNY Brockport (NY, 2012)

Certificate in Gifted Education from James Madison University (2020)

Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration from George Washington University (2021)

B.A. in Adolescent Mathematics Education from Keuka College (NY, 2007)

Mrs Yee has been teaching at the Governor’s School since 2013 and has previously taught PreCalculus, Applied Calculus, and Calculus.