United States of America
Years in the field:
16 – 20 Years
Areas of Expertise
Camp Programs, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion + Access, Education, Explainer/guide, Senior Leadership, Outreach and Public Engagement, Partnerships, Project Management, Professional Development, Youth/Teen Programs, Other
Cassie Byrd has a background in clinical laboratory science, beginning with her work as a molecular biologist for the United States Air Force (USAF). She was part of the Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance network where she identified emerging respiratory pathogens and collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in determining the annual components of the seasonal influenza vaccine. As a result of a USAF directive to create a rapid biological response team, she created a novel training program for USAF laboratory technicians in the rapid identification of biological pathogens utilizing molecular biology techniques. The program grew to serve three branches of the US military.
She then earned a teaching credential in secondary life science and began a decade-long career at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The Exploratorium is a global learning laboratory that empowers individuals to become active explorers – exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. As an informal science educator and director of multiple educational programs at the Exploratorium, she created revenue-generating programs that advanced the mission of the institution, pioneered academic and STEM-enrichment programming specifically designed for the Exploratorium’s core audiences, and built online professional development resources to support informal educators. She leveraged thought-provoking scientific inquiry to create meaningful learning experiences across the age-spectrum of learning audiences. As a creator and director of educational initiatives, she managed teams of Exploratorium educators and volunteers who impacted the lives of students, parents, and STEM professionals across Northern California.
As an Academic Program Officer Associate and Program Manager at the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), she developed the CECS K12 Outreach Mission and Vision; established an outreach training program for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to engage in K12 / community outreach; and spearheaded collaboration between the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Education to provide professional development for area teachers. In her role at UM-Dearborn, she established a rich network of formal and informal education partners: directors of afterschool and community programs, leaders at the intermediate school district level, superintendents of schools, teachers, STEM professionals, and leaders of other science centers.
Cassie's most recent position was Chief Learning Officer at the Michigan Science Center. She believes that building collaborative networks and sharing knowledge is the key to having the greatest impact on public education and advancing equity in and through STEM careers – and that informal learning environments, such as Michigan Science Center, are poised to be the conveners and arbiters of equity-advancing knowledge in STEM.