The New Jersey March for Science Speaking Program


Starting at 10:00 am, there will be a short speaking program at the Trenton War Memorial. Following this, we will march to the State House Annex Steps, for our concluding speakers, followed by a science festival and moderated panels at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium. 

Click on each name more learn more about each of the speakers below.

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

On January 3, 2017, Frank Pallone, Jr. was sworn in for his 15th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pallone represents New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District, which covers most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County.

Throughout his career, Pallone has been a leader in protecting the integrity of the Medicare guarantee and Medicaid programs, making the nation’s food system safer, strengthening laws to keep our air and water clean, making health care more affordable and accessible, and supporting initiatives that advance and protect the public health.

Pallone is the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce, and telecommunications.

From 2006 to 2014, Pallone served as the top Democrat on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. As Chairman during the 111th Congress, Pallone played a key role in authoring and passing the Affordable Care Act. The landmark law extends health care coverage to millions of Americans, while driving down health care costs and reigning in abusive tactics used by insurance companies to deny medical treatment.

Frank Pallone, Jr., was born and raised in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he still resides. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, holds a master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and earned his law degree at Rutgers University.

Pallone began his political career in his home city of Long Branch, getting elected to the City Council in 1982 and winning re-election four years later. In 1983, Pallone was elected to the state Senate, representing the Monmouth County coastline. He was re-elected in 1987. During his tenure in the state Legislature, Pallone distinguished himself as an advocate for environmental issues and senior citizen concerns, and prioritized providing constituent services.

Pallone and his wife Sarah have three children; daughters Rose and Celeste, and a son, Frank.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal

Dr. Shereef Elnahal began serving as Commissioner of Health on January 25, 2018.

Prior to leading the Department, Dr. Elnahal worked as a physician executive in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), serving as the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Quality, Safety, and Value in the Veterans Health Administration. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at the Georgetown University Department of Health Policy and Management. In his capacity at the VA, he led efforts to improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery to veterans. In addition, Dr. Elnahal has spearheaded unprecedented efforts around transparency in access and performance, as well as standardizing best practices that prevent opioid dependency, improve women’s healthcare, and enhance access to care for veterans. He has testified to the US Senate Veterans Affairs committee on the VA’s care delivery improvement efforts, and worked with members of congress in the House and Senate to pass key legislation that improves the lives of veterans. He also built a healthcare operations center that facilitated response efforts to facilities in crisis. In addition, Dr. Elnahal worked with facilities across the VA to build The Physician Ambassador Program, which is among the largest physician volunteer programs in the United States, as part of the broader effort to improve access. As the ADUSH, he managed a workforce of over 200 employees and an annual budget of over $180 million.

Dr. Elnahal was first appointed to VA by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow in 2015. In this capacity, he founded the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, the major initiative meeting the organization’s priority of establishing consistency in clinical and administrative operations across the nation—a program that received media attention locally and nationally for the benefits realized to veterans. At Georgetown, Dr. Elnahal taught graduate courses on healthcare quality and performance. He has authored many publications on health care quality, operations management, and patient safety in journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), BMJ, the American Journal of Medical Quality, and the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

In previous work, Dr. Elnahal co-developed a published methodology that doubled clinic efficiency in the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Multidisciplinary Clinic, cutting patient wait times by half. As an operations consultant for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,, he expanded on this work to improve care access for veterans and active duty service members. He also served on committees in the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Chair of the Patient Safety and Quality Council at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Elnahal served on advisory boards for two firms focused on patient education and clinical operations. He also co-founded the Baltimore chapter of The Triple Helix, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that publishes an internationally-circulated journal on science in society. His civic contributions earned him the 2015 National Quality Scholar Award from the American College of Medical Quality. Dr. Elnahal has also served on non-profit boards such as the High Reliability Organization Council and the ADAMS Civic Engagement Committee in Sterling, Virginia.

Dr. Elnahal is a licensed physician, receiving a dual-degree M.D. and M.B.A. with Distinction from Harvard University, and has worked as a physician in training in Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Elnahal is a native of Linwood, NJ and is honored to return to his home state and serve the people of New Jersey.

Dr. Andrew Zwicker

Andrew Zwicker is a lifelong New Jersey resident, a physicist, and Head of Science Education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In his role at the Lab, where researchers are developing an advanced form of energy, he has worked with hundreds of teachers and students, inspiring professionals and the next generation in the promise of technology. He serves as a faculty adviser at Princeton University for freshmen and sophomores. The American Association of Physics Teachers named him as one of the country’s top 75 “Leading Contributors” to physics education.

Andrew was born in New York City. Raised in Englewood, NJ, where he graduated from Dwight Morrow High School, he went on to receive his B.A. in physics from Bard College, and his M.A. and Ph.D., both also in physics, from Johns Hopkins University. His post-doctoral work focused on fusion energy research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and internationally. Besides his role as the Head of Science Education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Andrew is also an academic advisor at Princeton University, an academic-athletic fellow for the women's soccer team, a part-time lecturer in the Princeton University Writing Program, and the President of the Princeton Chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Additionally, he is the Editor for the newsletter, Physics and Society, a publication from the American Physical Society where he is also a Fellow.

Andrew lives in Kingston, New Jersey with his wife, Barbara Golden, an elementary school educator in Hillsborough Township, along with their family, and their dog, Rocky.

Christianah Akinsanmi

Christianah Akinsanmi is a 17 year old senior at Howell High School in NJ. She is looking forward to getting a BA in college and pursing a career in theatre. Christianah is a unique, open-minded, and informed individual whose goal is to help share how people are more alike than different. She believes sharing her voice is the most impactful way to affect change and enlighten people. She is grateful for the opportunity to speak, and share her perspective as a student in today's society.

Laureen Boles

Laureen Boles is the director of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. She has been a member of the EPA National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology, the National Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change. In 2014, she presented comments at the White House on President Obama’s Climate Change Plan with respect to clean energy and environmental justice. Taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Cheyney University. Consulted with the American Institute of Architects on neighborhood plans for New Orleans, LA and Augusta, GA. Bachelors, Civil Engineering, Howard University. Masters, City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania. Research Associate, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware.

Prof. Matthew Buckley (co-Founder)

Matthew Buckley is the co-founder and co-organizer of the New Jersey March for Science. He is an assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, studying the particle physics and astrophysics of dark matter — the mysterious material that gravitationally binds galaxies together. He grew up in Manchester, VT and went to Kenyon College in Ohio. He obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and did post-graduate work at the California Institute of Technology and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He was hired at Rutgers as research faculty in 2013, and became an assistant professor in 2015. He writes and tweets about physics at and @physicsmatt.

Alana Cueto

Alana has spent her professional career improving the health and well-being of vulnerable children and families living in distressed, urban neighborhoods through service, scholarship, and education. Alana is a registered professional nurse and veteran health care administrator having dedicated over two decades to the healthcare delivery system. That time has been divided between hospital administration, dental and medical consulting, nursing and higher education. These experiences have helped shape her leadership skills and have allowed her to understand the nuances that entail moving an organization forward while seamlessly shifting roles from team leader to team member. Alana was President and CEO of ac2 Healthcare Consulting & Management Services, LLC a dental and medical consulting company serving the tri-state area and recognized by the American Dental Association® as a premier consulting firm. She was an active contributing writer to Dental Economics Magazine and hosted a regular column in Doctor of Dentistry: A Business and Lifestyle Magazine for Dentists. Alana successfully wrote the proposal for establishing the Academy for Advanced Dental Education (AADE) located in Hoboken NJ, and the first Dual Language Immersion Model (English/Spanish) BSN nursing program in Texas.

As an executive nurse leader, Alana combined purpose and passion as Founding President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Garden State Chapter where she confidently led the chapter in an effort to cultivate healthier communities for all residents in the state of New Jersey. During her tenure, the Garden State chapter received national recognition. They received the NJSNA/Institute for Nursing "EPIC” Exceptional People Impacting Our Communities Award, American Diabetes Association Mission Volunteer Award, and the 2016 NAHN National Association of Hispanic Nurses “Viajero” Award. Through her leadership and service, Alana helped shape policy and practice that has directly influenced the well-being and social determinants of health of vulnerable populations living in distressed communities. As a nurse member of Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH) she contributed to the survey for the development of the Sustainable Development Goals used at the United Nations.

Alana has been honored for her leadership, health advocacy, and volunteerism. Recognitions include being nominated as a Public Health Hero by NJ Biz (2017) and March of Dimes Nurse of the Year (2017). She is the recipient of the NAHN National Henrietta Villaescusa Community Service Award (2016), NAHN Ambassador Award (2016), Seton Hall University College of Nursing Elizabeth Ann Seton Young Alumni Award (2015), and the Hispanic Leadership of New Jersey Health Advocate Award (2015)--this is a three part award that includes Special Recognition from both the United States Congress, and the Joint Legislature of New Jersey. Alana is currently working towards completing her Ph.D. in nursing doctorate degree. She is a Nurse Fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine, and a candidate for Fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Prof. Karina Schafer

Karina Schafer is a professor of ecology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, researching global change and its effects on terrestrial ecosystems. Prof. Schafer studied at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, before obtaining her Ph.D. at Duke University in 2002. She is also a member of the executive committee of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union.

Jeff Tittel

Jeff Tittel has served as Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club for over 18 years. Jeff has been an environmental advocate since he was a child and helped organize a river clean up for the first Earth Day in Hillside in Junior High. His advocacy has advanced environmental protections in New Jersey and his visibility in New Jersey media is unparalleled. Jeff has been involved in every major environmental legislation passing in New Jersey for close to two decades.

Just some of his legislative and regulatory lobbying achievements include passage of the California Car Law, the Highlands Act, New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, New Jersey’s Fertilizer Law, and New Jersey’s Electronic Waste Recycling Law. Jeff also helped the passage of the private well testing law, passage of the bear feeding ban law; and acquired funding from NJ Governor Whitman for NY acquisition of Sterling Forest. On the regulatory side, he helped the write and design of Category 1 surface water rules, including unprecedented 300 foot buffers for Category 1 surface waters, and NJDEP's Stormwater Rules in addition to stopping a mega rule weakening water protection. Jeff also helped pass a Constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of corporate business tax for cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields.

Prior to directing the New Jersey Chapter, Jeff founded numerous other grassroots environmental organizations in New Jersey, including the Highlands Coalition, and he still serves on many other Boards, such as the Work Environment Council of New Jersey and New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Prior to working at the Sierra Club, he chaired two environmental commissions and was a member on two local planning boards. Despite his heavy workload with both the legislature and NJDEP, Jeff continues to fully support all 11 groups of the New Jersey Chapter, often taking part in fund-raising functions and testimony before municipalities and NJDEP on behalf of group issues.

Jeff won the Sierra Club’s National Environmental Achievement Award, the highest award for staff in 2004. Former Governor McGreevey recognized Jeff as such an environmental leader, that Jeff headed the Budget and Management Committee of the Governor's NJDEP Transition Team. He also served on the transition team of Governor Corzine. Jeff also receives tremendous recognition throughout New Jersey as an environmental leader including the New Jersey Friends of Clearwater, Conservationist of the Year Award from the New Jersey Audubon Society, and Toshi & Pete Seeger Wetlands Award for Protecting the Meadowlands.

President Obama appointed Jeff to the NJ Sandy HUD Taskforce Advisory Committee and he was appointed to the FEMA Sandy Natural Resources Committee. NJ Monthly has consistently rated Jeff the top most influential political leaders in the state. He was named by the Star Ledger as Most Influential People in New Jersey and also was listed on the New Jersey Politics Power List, the only environmentalist to do so. Jeff is truly an inspiration to all environmentalists throughout New Jersey.

Prof. Sam Wang

Sam Wang is professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton University. His work focuses on the neurobiology of learning, at levels ranging from single synapses to the whole brain. Dr. Wang’s research places special emphasis on the cerebellum, a brain region generally associated with the coordination of muscle movements. He is particularly curious about the cerebellum’s role in cognition and social thought processes, and he is using neural imaging of this part of the brain to search for clues to the causes of autism, a major concern of his laboratory.

An alumnus of the California Institute of Technology, where he received a B.S. with honor in physics, Dr. Wang went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1994. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and then Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. In the mid-1990s, he also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Dr. Wang joined the Princeton University faculty in 2000.

The recipient of a 2004 National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, Dr. Wang has also been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a W.M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Investigator. Last year, he received a McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award.

Dr. Wang is also noted for developing statistical methods to analyze U.S. presidential election polls with unusually high accuracy. His research has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.

Dr. Wang’s first book, Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life, published in 2008, was named Young Adult Science Book of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011, he published Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College, which is available in 15 international translations.

Marilyn Weeks Ryan

Marilyn Weeks Ryan is a science teacher at East Brunswick High School in East Brunswick, NJ. She serves on the New Jersey Education Association Executive Committee and the National Education Association Board of Directors in Washington, DC. Marilyn’s passion for both science and education was fueled by amazing opportunities as a student at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. As a teaching assistant in the Biology department, she was involved in glacial geology research and, as an undergrad, presented her work at a USGS conference as one of the speakers. She relates the experience of her research to her current students – something that was only an idea at the time based on materials deposited 10,000 years ago is now being evidenced in loss of continental glaciers due to global climate change.

Not a native of New Jersey, Marilyn was born in South Dakota and grew up moving around the United States. She credits the amazing educators who guided her for her success. With caring and dedicated professionals to help her transition from school to school and state to state, she was able not to just survive but thrive. After the loss of her single mom when she was 15, it was her educators who encouraged her to continue her education at the university level. Her professors inspired her to become a science educator. Her amazing colleagues urged her to become active in her union and achieve her Master’s degree from Rutgers University. One of her favorite hobbies has been as a colonial re-enactor on the artillery crew at Washington’s Crossing Park. After all, how many job opportunities let you fire a muzzle-loading cannon?