KEYNOTE Dr. Pamela Gay - Professor at SIUE & podcast co-host of Astronomy Cast

She is the Director of Technology and Citizen Science at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She is also an astronomer, writer, and podcaster focused on using new media to engage people in science and technology. Through, she works to engage people in both learning and doing science. You can join her as we map our Solar System in unprecedented detail through our citizen science projects, and learn astronomy through media productions like Astronomy Cast. Through this weekly podcast, Fraser Cain and Dr Gay take you on a facts-based journey through our Cosmos, exploring not only what we know, but how we know it.

To find out more about Dr Gay
Twitter: @starstryder
Facebook: @PamelaLGay


Crystal Quade - Missouri House of Representatives

She is the Missouri House Representative (D) for Greene County’s District 132. She was elected to her first term in office in November 2016. Quade is director of chapter services at Care to Learn, a nonprofit organization that addresses the health, hunger and hygiene needs of economically disadvantaged children in several school districts across Missouri. She previously worked as a field representative for Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, as regional field director for Organizing for America and as a U.S. Senate constituent services representative. While earning her Bachelor of Social Work degree at Missouri State University, Crystal was a legislative intern to four-term Representative of the 132nd, Charlie Norr. Quade currently serves as a Greene County Democratic Committeewoman and is a member of the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri, board member of the Midtown Neighborhood Association and The Kitchen, Inc. She has also worked with the Springfield, MO Community Focus Report, Civic Engagement Team.

To find out more about Mrs Quade
Twitter: @crystal_quade
Facebook: @crystalquadeHD132


Jennifer Conner - Sierra Club
She is the Ozarks Conservation Program Coordinator with the Missouri Sierra Club. In this capacity, she facilitates grassroots involvement in conservation issues affecting Missourians and advocates on proposed legislation involving conservation programs. She has a degree in conservation and wildlife management and previously worked as an environmental specialist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in both hazardous waste enforcement and soil and water conservation. She has volunteered with the Missouri Black Bear Foundation, serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity, and serves on the Main Street Board in her hometown, Monett, where she assisted in establishing a successful farmers market now in its 3rd year.
One of her many passions is exploring and protecting public lands and wild places. Her most cherished adventures include cycling the Katy Trail in its entirety, kayaking 100 miles down the Buffalo River, touching a Missouri Black Bear, and hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim. Public lands are our collective legacy and she believes that we are all stewards charged with protecting this sacred treasure for future generations. She encourages anyone who wants to make a difference by protecting our environment and public lands to join the Sierra Club.


Justin Thomas - NatureCITE

He is the Director of the Institute of Botanical Training and Science Director for NatureCITE. In both positions he conducts botanical and ecological research and instructs plant identification workshops. He has twenty years of professional experience, a Master of Science degree in Botany from Miami University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Justin also teaches botany at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is the junior author of the Ecological Checklist of the Missouri Flora, holds a research associateship at Missouri Botanical Garden and serves as a scientific advisor to several conservation groups.

To find out more about Mr Thomas
Facebook: NatureCITE
Facebook: Institute of Botanical Training


Robert Powers - Professor Powers Science Symposium

Robert Powers first found his love for science while brewing beer and working at The Home Brewery in Ozark. Fascinated with the chemistry involved, he realized that there was something lacking in the science classes he’d attended, and decided to do something about it. He obtained his BS in Chemistry Education from MSU and an M.Ed in STEM Education from Concordia University and has been teaching chemistry and physics to high school and middle school students for over 7 years, currently at The Summit Preparatory School. In 2014, he and his wife started Professor Powers Science Symposium, a nonprofit organization offering hands on lab-based science education opportunities for kids and adults. Classes are on evenings, weekends and week long summertime camps. He firmly stands up for putting evidence ahead of bias as well as the importance of challenging our own opinions if the science behind them does not hold up. When he’s not completely immersed in sharing his passion for science with everyone around him, he plays guitar and sings in various local bands, brews beer and spends time with his wonderful wife and their three boys.

To find out more about Prof Powers
Facebook: @professorpowers


Vicke Kepling - Peace Network of the Ozarks

Vicke Kepling is a community organizer and a progressive activist who fights for human rights and environmental issues. Kepling was involved in the disability field until 2011 when her perspective broadened with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

While attending school at Missouri State University, Kepling was involved with the MSU Students for a Sustainable Future and helped with their annual Earth Day event–Ecopalooza. Kepling and members advocated against a marketing project that promoted fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline. She spoke at the MO LOVE environmental event and was a co-writer for the solar tables on campus.

After graduating with two master’s degrees, Kepling has taught writing classes at Missouri State using sustainability as a focus. In her Writing for Social Change class, she required students to keep a sustainability journal. Some students wrote that they had never really considered environmental issues and their relationship with the planet before the exercise.

As a grassroots activist, Kepling has organized four March against Monsanto events and seven No Dakota Access Pipeline actions requesting that banks divest from fossil fuels. She organized a group trip to Standing Rock in North Dakota and raised $1,350 plus supplies for the campers. Kepling and others were at the bridge on November 20 when tear gas, water hoses, and concussion grenades were used against peaceful protesters.

Kepling is one of the organizers of the Greater Springfield Missouri Green Party, supporting the party’s focus on environmental issues. The group has created over 1,000 wildflower seed bombs in hope of educating children and increasing pollinating insects. Kepling is a member of the Sierra Club and has lobbied with the group at the state capitol building in Jefferson City. She maintains a small garden in front of her house.

To find out more about Vicke
Facebook: Peace Network of the Ozarks


Brandon Bond - People's Climate Movement

He is a librarian and author who has been a lifelong advocate for Civil Rights and an environmental activist. He is a member of The People’s Climate Movement and serves as a liaison between the grassroots movements and the scientific community. He was on the front lines at Standing Rock, and did humanitarian work in Ghana. An ordained minister, he now dedicates himself to protecting the rights of all humanity, and preserving the fragile environment. Brandon works primarily with young adults, and does all he can to bring these passions to the next generation.

To find out more about Mr Bond
Twitter: @peoples_climate
Facebook: @peoplesclimate


Dr. Waafa Kaf MD, MSc, PhD - Communication Sciences and Disorders Department, Missouri State University
She a native of Egypt and currently a professor of audiology at the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at Missouri State University. She received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, in 2003. Dr. Kaf influences in research have been shaped by several education and training experiences. Her main research is on the area of early auditory evoked potentials to assess hearing function in healthy and special need population. She also conducts research to early diagnose Meniere’s disease and assess the auditory efferent function in children with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, she studies middle ear function using wideband tympanometry in normal and abnormal middle ear conditions.

Dr. Kaf is recognized globally for her teaching and research expertise. She has an active record of publications, presentations, and workshops at both national and international conferences. Dr. Kaf is an active member of several professional organizations such as the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association and the American Academy of Audiology and is currently the president of the Missouri Academy of Audiology. She is also an expert reviewer to several professional journals. In addition, she has been featured locally on the MSU website and nationally including the Hearing Health Magazine for her innovative research on Meniere’s disease.

Dr. Kaf’s Awards and Honors:

2017 Foundation Award for Excellence in Research, Missouri State University
2016 2016 Director’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Research, Honors College, Missouri State University
2013 Excellence in Community Service Awards, Missouri State University
2013 ASHA’s Research Mentoring-Pair Travel Award (RMPTA)
2009 Margo Skinner Award for Outstanding Audiologist in Missouri
2009 Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, Missouri State Foundation

She is currently in need of study participants who have been diagnosed with Endolymphatic Hydrops (Meniere’s disease). If you are interested in learning about participating, download the flier to learn more: PDF

To contact Dr Kaf:
Phone: 417-836- 4456