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Meet the Team

Meet the people whose hard work brings engaging science to children in Yolo County and beyond!

Explorit is governed by a volunteer board of trustees and operated by a professional staff with the assistance of many loyal volunteers.

Explorit Staff

A word from our new Board President...

My motivation to join the Explorit leadership team arises from my experiences as a UC Davis Professor for 20+ years and my long-standing advocacy for science education. My work at UC Davis, both as a researcher and educator, have led me to rethink and endeavor to transform the way with teach biology at the college level. One of my highest priorities has been to develop more equitable and accessible experiential learning opportunities for our students as a way to connect our biology majors with societally relevant and impactful inquiries. At its essence, my focus is to ensure that our students are “engaged” with the narrative of our shared biology to prepare them to make informed and ethical decisions on the management of all life on our planet. Joining the board of Explorit is a natural extension of this work and I hope to contribute to empowering young minds to ask questions and to find hope that their actions can support the future sustainability of our planet. 

Explorit Staff



Program Director

Emily began her work in the museum world as an education program volunteer 25 years ago. She gained experience as she advanced in the museum field in a variety of rolls, including program educator, animal care, camp coordinator, exhibit design, construction, and education program manager.  Emily received a bachelor's degree in anthropology from UC Davis, with a minor in human development, and a master's degree in anthropology, with an emphasis in historical archaeology, from the College of William and Mary. 

One of her earliest childhood memory goes back to 1979 when her family traveled to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see The Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibit. She remembers circling each exhibit area over and over, as you were not allowed to reenter an area once you exited. Her most deeply held goal is for every visitor to have a similar experience when they come to Explorit Science Center.



Educator, Volunteer Coordinator

Sara Thompson was born and raised in Montana and has always enjoyed science and nature.  She attended Montana State University where she studied Paleontology and Museum Studies.  She came to California in 2012 and began volunteering at Explorit Science Center.  She accepted a part-time paid position at Explorit in 2015 working the Public Hours and weekend science themed Birthday Parties.  Over the years her experience and responsibilities grew, and she is now a Program Educator and the Volunteer Coordinator.  Sara wants to continue working in museums and advocating the importance scientific learning.  Her career goals are to be a Collections Manager of a Paleontology or Earth Science collection at a Natural History Museum.



Office Manager

Anna’s educational background is in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis in Archaeology and the Humanities. She has worked exclusively in the Museum industry for over 25 years in visitor services, gift shop, administrative and office management positions. At Explorit, you can often find her scheduling educational programs, corresponding with teachers, families, and local businesses, and handling the day to day finances. She is excited to offer support to the education staff so they can continue to provide the best science programming in the region.

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Educator: Woodland Regional Park

David has been a science educator for over 35 years.  He works with audiences of all ages, sharing the wonders of the universe and helping people understand that science is for everyone.  With an educational background in biology, he now brings his knowledge of and enthusiasm for areas ranging from astronomy to zoology.  He is excited to be part of the Explorit team, and looks forward to engaging our visitors in lifelong learning.

Board of Director

Board of Trustees

Explorit Board Mission:

Through proper and effective governance and stewardship to enable Explorit to carry out its programmatic mission throughout the area.

Our trustees (members of the Board of Directors) are elected to two year terms. They represent a geographical area that roughly represents our service area and they represent a variety of areas within science, business, and professional expertise. Each trustee is required to make an annual monetary contribution. Officers of the board are elected at the Annual Meeting to one-year terms.

I am proud to be a part of Explorit's important role of supporting and creating tomorrow's scientists.  We ensure access to hands-on, fun learning experiences for families throughout the region."


"I hope to contribute to empowering young minds to ask questions and to find hope that their actions can support the future sustainability of our planet."



Ken Kaplan is a Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at UC Davis and runs a research program focused on understanding how normal cells transition to disease states that contribute to poor health outcomes. As vice chair of teaching for the MCB department, Ken has focused on improving undergraduate education and is an advocate for improving science communication more broadly in our shared communities. Ken received his Bachelor’s degree at Haverford College, his PhD from UCSF and carried out post-doctoral training at M.I.T. before moving to UC Davis.

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I think it is so very important for kids of all ages to have fun with science as they learn about this complex world around us."


Vice President

Since earning her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in 1988,  Phyllis's primary research focus has been the discovery and development of disease resistance in vegetable crops. She has 29 years of experience in plant-disease research, research leadership, product discovery, and development in the vegetable seed industry. For the past five years, Phyllis has been based at the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center to lead the vegetable seed industry funded Collaboration for the Identification of Plant Pathogen Strains (CPPSI).


"As a former Explorit educator as well as current Board member, one of the most exciting and rewarding things I know is watching a kid’s face when they use science to discover something for themselves about the world around them."



Bob Tyzzer grew up in San Diego, has a PhD in Anthropology, and enjoys science-fiction, sailing, and working on (and driving!) his two 1960s vintage MG automobiles.  In addition to being the Explorit Board secretary, he is also secretary of the board of CONTACT – Cultures of the Imagination, a California non-profit educational corporation that deals with cultural futures and the “active anticipation of the future” through anthropology and other social sciences, science-fiction, and art. 


" Explorit provides a wonderful opportunity for hands-on science and exploration for the whole family."

Explorit provides a wonderful opportunity for hands-on science and exploration for the whole family."


Board Member

Julie Langston is excited to be a board member with Explorit. She works with the board and staff to ensure Explorit remains solvent in order to continue providing educational opportunities to our community. She also enjoys maintaining Explorit's outdoor areas to be both visually appealing and educational, working on projects such as our new pollinator garden with both hands-on and remote learning. Julia works in the healthcare field and is looking forward to our programs that connect individual health with our plant’s health.

I am proud to be a part of Explorit's important role of supporting and creating tomorrow's scientists.  We ensure access to hands-on, fun learning experiences for families throughout the region."


"I am excited to be a part of Explorit's board to further their mission of encouraging people of all ages to take interest in science and the world around them. Hands-on experiences with science can have lifelong impacts on students, motivating them to pursue careers in STEM."


Board Member

Diedre Reitz received her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Chicago in 2019, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis. Her research is focused on the relationship between DNA damage, genome rearrangements, and cancer. She has been engaged in non-profit science outreach work since 2016, motivated by her passion for molecular biology and the excellent mentors and science teachers that she had throughout her life. 

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As a former park ranger, I can attest to the value of Explorit's hands-on learning and am excited to be a part of it all."

I am excited to be on the board to help further science education to the youth of our community."

"I am excited to be on the board to help further science education to the youth of our community."


Board Member

John Horn is an electrical engineering manager, working for Intel Corp for the past 35 years.  In addition to creating world-changing technology, John enjoys teaching & enabling STEM-related growth to people of all ages.  He has been particularly involved in school-related nonprofits for 20+ years and has been a member of Explorit Science Center's Board of Trustees for the past 2 years.


"Explorit has and will continue to lead the way in a broad array of hands-on science education for families in the Davis community. I am excited to be part of this mission!"


Board Member

Ben Ratner is an avid consumer of science literature and programming, especially around astronomy and astrophysics, and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm with others. After a number of years in management consulting with McKinsey & Company and financial services with large banks, Ben now drives people strategy and analytics at a technology company. He has an MBA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester.

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"I have organized numerous science-based camps for children to spark and sustain the same passion for science that I have always had. Serving on Explorit's board is both a privilege and honor."


Board Member

Since moving to Davis in 1993, I have volunteered for local youth, cultural, educational, and charitable organizations. I have been the coordinator and presenter of the Davis Astronomy Club at the Explorit Science Center for about two decades, where I have shared my love of science in general and astronomy in particular with local enthusiasts of all ages. 

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Karl Mohr recently retired after a career in community planning, municipal finance, and higher education administration. As a strong believer in the power of education to transform individuals, communities, and the world, Karl is thrilled to offer his support and energy to advance Explorit’s mission. As Treasurer of the Board, he is committed to ensuring that Explorit has the resources and support to
continue providing outstanding science education programs in the Davis community and beyond. Karl received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Economics from the University of Oregon and taught economics at Cal Poly SLO and Sacramento City College.

Board Info

Board Info

The overall Board responsibilities are Fund Development, Ambassadorship, Fiscal Oversight, Policy Making, Board Development, and Planning. The board meets at least quarterly and may meet monthly as needed. Board members are elected or re-elected to two-year terms at the Annual meeting in October. Officers are elected or re-elected to one-year terms at the same meeting. 

We are currently looking for board members! To apply, please fill out the application below and send to us via email at

More information...

Other ways to support Explorit...

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