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Course Instructors

Marin Pilloud, PhD
Associate Professor, Anthropology

Marin Pilloud has been with the anthropology department at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2014.  Prior to this position, she was a forensic anthropologist with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  She is a board-certified forensic anthropologist and a registered professional archaeologist.  As a biological anthropologist, Dr. Pilloud’s research focuses on studying human skeletal remains in both archaeological and forensic contexts.  In addition to Introduction to Biological Anthropology, she teaches courses in Forensic Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Human Osteology, Gross Anatomy and Embryology, and Diseases in Antiquity.  Dr. Pilloud loves public outreach and has been in an episode of Expedition Unknown and The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer.  She has numerous published journal articles, book chapters, an edited volume, and co-authored the book Ethics and professionalism in Forensic Anthropology.

Edward Schoolman, PhD
Associate Professor, History

Dr. Schoolman is associate professor in the history department at the University of Nevada, Reno with a background in archaeology and training as a medieval historian. While his past research has focused on religious practices and aristocracy in Italy, his two current projects have moved in new directions: one on integrating paleoecology and history to understand the intersections of past climate, environment, and societies, and the other on migration and Greek identity before the year 1000.  He has been a visiting researcher at the Universities of Poitiers (France) and Padova (Italy) and held fellowships at the University of Tübingen (Germany), the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and during 2022-23, the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies.

Elizabeth Walenta
Instructor, Chemistry

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.

Jia Feng, PhD
Assistant Professor, Geography

Jia Feng, Ph.D. is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Geography at UNR. He came to the program during the pandemic in 2020, and this is the second time he teaches for the THINK Summer Institute at Davidson Academy. As a human geographer, Jia’s research focuses on migration, marginality issues, urban enclaves, and recycling while he has a teaching interest in geospatial technology and GIS applications. After coming to Reno, he enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities around the Sierra Nevada, exploring food from different countries in the world and walking the city on foot.

Darren Ripley, PhD
Instructor, Mathematics

A Reno native who’s been working in the educational field for over 27 years, Dr. Ripley enjoys outdoor activities with his friends and his 18-year-old son. He has taught math at all levels of secondary education and all introductory levels of higher education, both at the community college and the university level. This is his eighteenth year at Davidson THINK Summer Institute; he also teaches at the Davidson Academy. His hobbies include, but aren’t limited to, mountain and road biking, snowboarding, playing the banjo and the piano, chess, and gardening. He teaches mathematics because it is the language of science, and feels that science will save the world.