SSEP Local Team

SSEP Operation Design Mission Patch opportunity was provided to

273 students in grades K-12.

We had a total of five patches submitted.

SSEP Experimental Design Competition opportunity provided to

101 students in grades 4-12.

We had a total of fourteen notices of intent and a total of nine final proposals submitted.

SSEP Mission Participation

Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration’s participation in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) has been a collaborative effort.  Many contributed to AASCC’s participation in SSEP, including the following:


Amanda Arceo, M.S., M.Ed. is currently Principal at Avicenna Academy in Crown Point, Indiana.  She also serves as the STEM curriculum developer for the school.  Amanda graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a degree in sociology and continued her education at the University of Toledo (Ohio), where she earned her M.S. in biology, with a focus on aquatic ecology.   She now holds a M.Ed. with a focus on curriculum and instruction from Chaminade University of Honolulu.  She is particularly interested in improving young students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills through scientific inquiry at the elementary and secondary education levels.  Amanda also served as Avicenna Academy’s Teacher Facilitator.


Amber Crane’s first academic pursuit was in the nursing field and emergency services.   Amber’s family has always been the most important aspect of her life which prompted her to take on the role of home-school educator which she has now passionately pursued for more than a decade.  Amber pursued her Secondary Education degree from Anderson University and most recently, pursued academic interests in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology.  She is currently a student at Ball State University where she most recently achieved honored recognition of the National Collegiate Scholars Association.  Amber resides in Chesterfield, Indiana with her family and their bevy of various farm animals.  Amber also served as LLC’s Team 3 Facilitator.

Rhonda Gottschammer is Co-administrator to the LLC Science Club SSEP Project. She is happily married and a home-schooling mother to four children. She holds finance and business management degrees and has experience in facilitating projects in a corporate atmosphere.  Rhonda also served as LLC’s Team 2 Parent Facilitator.


Sarah Khan is a recent graduate from Purdue University where she majored in Finance. She was involved in her school newspaper The Exponent, where she helped with advertising and administrative work. Recently, Sarah completed an internship at Edward Jones with a financial advisor this past fall.  She is currently a student at Indiana University Northwest where she is pursuing her MBA/PBCA.  She also serves as Avicenna Academy’s full-time administrative assistant.


Shaun Lee, Ph.D. is currently Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. His lab studies the molecular biology of bacterial pathogens, with the goal of developing new strategies to combat infectious disease. Dr. Lee studied Architecture and Neurobiology at the University of California Berkeley, and obtained his Ph.D. at Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Lee teaches Medical Microbiology at Notre Dame and enjoys teaching lab science and microbiology to students of all ages.

Harold Olivey, Ph.D. is currently Assistant Professor of Biology at Indiana University Northwest where he teaches and researches the molecular basis of embryonic development. Dr. Olivey earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and, prior to his current appointment, worked as a research fellow at the University of Chicago. He is particularly interested in student-focused research activities and wishes to engage students of all ages in laboratory explorations of biology.

Spencer Cortwright, Ph.D. is

…bio coming soon…


Avicenna Team Parent Facilitator-Fayza Suleiman

…bio coming soon…

LLC Team 1 & 2 Parent Facilitator-Davina Martin

Wife, mother of three boys, home educator. Grew up in the Geology Dept. at Ball State University and studied Biology and Art Education there. Loves science and has enjoyed introducing her children to the wonders of God’s creation through literature, exploration and her work at a local greenhouse.

LLC Team 4 Parent Facilitator-Donna Cunningham

For the past ten years, Mrs. Donna Cunningham has home educated her three children.  Prior to this endeavor, she earned an Honors degree in Fine Art and a Masters degree in Special Education with an endorsement in Gifted and Talented Education.  She taught at the high school level for five years before focusing on her children’s education.

LLC Team 5 Parent Facilitator-Andrea Pershing

Andrea Pershing is the parent facilitator for the elementary age kids in SSEP.  She is a happily married woman of 11 years to her wonderful husband Nathan.  She is new to homeschooling as she began homeschooling this year.  She is the Vice President of our local soccer club and very active in Cub Scouts. She has my degree in Accounting and Finance. Alongside her husband, they manage 14 rental properties that they own.   

LLC Team 5 Parent Facilitator-Amy Morey

Amy Morey has been homeschooling for eleven years. She obtained a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and is currently pursuing a teaching certification.  Proud mother to 5 boys, 2 girls and loving wife to her husband,  Amy brings to the science club a love of teaching and desire to cultivate minds in different atmospheres allowing for growth in all areas of learning.


Jeanie Krise is the art teacher for the home school co-op.  She previously worked as a medical dosimetrist at St. John’s Cancer Center for twenty-years where she taught IU students rotating through.  She has degrees in x-ray technology, radiation therapy and education from the IU School of Medicine.  She has assisted her daughter with home schooling her grandchildren for the past ten years.


Tom Lumbis is a Graphic Designer living in Vermont. Tom completed the Silicon Village Web Academy program  as he finished high school and was chosen for an internship at HARDWARE, the Mass Museum of Contemporary Art store.  He received a grant for excellence in a scientific or technical field, which he applied toward his degree in Communication Design.  He spent several years designing ads for The Advocate Newsweekly out of North Adams, Massachusetts and has designed several poster, newspaper ad, and web designs for the Readsboro Independence Day Committee.  Tom has also designed logos and business cards for a number of organizations and in his spare time, he travels the world.  He is an avid reader and is currently pursuing his passion for photography.


Avicenna Academy: Located in Northwest Indiana, with a total student population of 66.  Our mission is driven by our belief that the whole child will be developed through instilling faith, character and scholarship.  We pride ourselves in offering “excellent education in an Islamic environment”.

Life Learning Cooperative (LLC): A group of East Central Indiana families who gather for co-op classes weekly, in Anderson, Indiana.


Indiana Space Grant Consortium
INSGC is the premier source of coordination, information, and inspiration for the NASA-related education, outreach, and workforce needs of the State of Indiana.

Dr. Amjad Bahnasi & Family

Dr. Basil Hajjar & Family

Dr. Arshad Malik & Family

Dr. M. Hytham Rifai & Family


Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Food Science at Kansas State University. Aramouni is an expert on food product development and food safety. He also developed a “light” caramel popcorn with half the calories of regular caramel corn. He has been responsible for assisting small companies with nutrition labeling and chemical food analysis.

Carol Boggs, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Biology at Stanford University and Bing Director of the Program in Human Biology.  She teaches ecology, evolution and conservation biology and her research focuses on insect responses from the physiological to the community level to environmental perturbations. Dr. Boggs earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin.  She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary teaching as well as mentoring student research activities in biology.

Robert K. Ho, Ph.D. is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago.  Dr. Ho was an undergraduate at Stanford University and earned his Ph.D. From the University of California at Berkeley.  His research focus is in developmental biology.

Susan L Forsburg, Ph.D. is currently a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California.  Forsburg is a molecular geneticist and cell biologist who uses fission yeast as a model to study mechanisms of chromosome dynamics and cell division in cancer.  She is an active advocate for women’s participation in science, and public engagement in science.

Mike Ganger, Ph.D., is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at Gannon University and a Research Associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  Dr. Ganger teaches Botany, Plant Ecology, and Plant Physiology.  His research interests concern the reproductive ecology of vascular plants and the flora of northwestern Pennsylvania.

Thomas MacRae, Ph.D., is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He teaches cell biology and does molecular/biochemical research on the role of molecular chaperones during diapause in the crustacean Artemia franciscana. Diapause in Artemia is a physiological state of dormancy characterized by greatly reduced metabolism and extreme stress tolerance. Dr. MacRae earned his Ph.D. from the University of Windsor and assumed a position at Dalhousie after obtaining additional experience as a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. MacRae has been an active teacher at all levels of university instruction and his efforts have been recognized by several teaching awards, including the national 3M Teaching Fellowship.


We would like to also thank the following individuals or institutions for providing assistance to us in some way:

Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana)

George Isley (Carolina Biological Supply)

Magic Wings (South Deerfield, MA)

Mulberry Farms (Fallbrook, CA)

Pet Haven Pet Shop (Valparaiso, IN)

Randy Smith (Jackson Laboratory, ME)

Dr. N. Umrani

Dr. M. Zubair

and of course…

Dr. Jeff Goldstein and Dr. Harri Vanhala of NCESSE

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