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Instructors

Martin Braik

Martin Braik has been a biology instructor at the Davidson Academy for the past 11 years.  He loves all aspects of biology but is especially interested in the interplay between form and function at all levels of organization (from protein structure to the hydrodynamics of penguins). After college (B.S. Biology, M.Ed. Science Education), he and his wife joined the Peace Corps where he taught and wrote science curricula in the Solomon Islands and the Kingdom of Tonga.  Since then, he is an avid traveler, runner (not so much lately), hiker, and he’s always trying to get better at bouldering.  At home, Mr. Braik enjoys relaxing with his menagerie that includes two children, two cats, two dogs, four hens, and a tarantula named Tinkerbelle. 

Jon Lawhead

Jon Lawhead is a philosopher with wide-ranging interests in the intersection of philosophy and the natural sciences. He earned a BA in philosophy and a BA in peace and conflict studies from UC Berkeley in 2007. Jon then attended graduate school at Columbia University, where he earned an MA (2010), MPhil (2012), and PhD (2014) in philosophy, with a focus on the foundations of climate science and complex systems theories. After completing his doctorate, he spent two years in a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California working in an interdisciplinary role between the philosophy and earth science departments and doing research bridging the gap between those two disciplines, with a special emphasis on geoengineering and climate model analysis. He has taught at the Davidson Academy since January of 2017, offering courses on a variety of topics, including climate science, complex systems and chaos theory, philosophy, science writing, digital culture, philosophy of science, and post-apocalyptic literature. 

Elizabeth Walenta

Elizabeth Walenta is a science instructor at the Davidson Academy. Her love of science comes from a background in biochemistry from the University of Texas Austin (B.S.). Her love of education comes from the University of North Texas (Ed) and University of Nevada (M.S.). During her lifetime, she has also enjoyed doing research periodically in the lab and in nature through various venues such as STARS with Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and NERDS with the University of Nevada. Currently, Ms. Walenta enjoys nurturing new academic opportunities for her students and cultivating in them the skill necessary to use science as a tool to satisfy their thirst for knowledge.