Our team

Aaron M. Ellison
Founding Principal
Manisha V. Patel
Founding Principal
Aaron bw 1000 Manisha bw 1000k copy
Since 1986, Aaron has been variously a staff scientist and faculty member at liberal-arts colleges and R-1 universities, a curriculum developer, department chair, senior academic administrator, and creator and director of undergraduate research programs. He has a BA in East Asian Studies/Asian Philosophy from Yale University and a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology from Brown University. Aaron was recognized and cited early in his career—in the first class of the US National Science Foundation’s Presidential Faculty Fellows—for “demonstrated excellence and continued promise both in scientific and engineering research and in teaching future generations of students to extend and apply human knowledge.” Throughout his career, he has kept to this promise, crafting and collaboratively implementing a vision for inclusive and far-reaching education in STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Manisha has been working in the academic and non-profit sector for 15 years.  She started out her career as a lab technician and quickly proved herself capable of managing projects and labs.  Throughout her professional career she has built a reputation for defining “the role of a newly founded position”. She brings her talents of organization skills, collaborative techniques,  communication, networking,  and logistics coordination to support science education and research. Manisha received two BSc’s—one in Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources, the other in Animal Science—from Rutgers University and an MSc in Botany (Ecology) from the University of Vermont. In 2019 she became a Certified Ecologist through the Ecological Society of America. Manisha is committed to building and supporting inclusive and diverse communities in science and education.
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When we were co-directors of the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program in Ecology, we were awarded the
2014 Human Diversity Award by the Organization of Biological Field Stations.

We were recognized for providing a strong platform to attract and foster a diversity of summer program participants and mentors by targeting partnerships and outreach methods to diversify the summer research applicant pool, creating an inclusive and nurturing environment for program participants, and a commitment to track program outcomes with the aim to improve program diversity, sensitivity, and effectiveness.



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