Executive Director

Thor Snilsberg


Thor Snilsberg is an educational entrepreneur and parent dedicated to inspiring a generation of urban youth to learn from and improve their environment. Born on a farm and trained as an urban planner, Thor has led economic development, alternative transportation, and education projects with community engagement at their heart. By bringing science to life in their communities, Thor envisions a world where students learn and apply science in their surroundings.

Thor’s engagement in education issues began as an undergraduate when he first volunteered as a mentor, tutoring middle-school students in St Paul, MN. After moving to NY, Thor continued to mentor youth and volunteer for educational organizations. These experiences developed Thor’s commitment to educational equity and his desire to found CityScience.

As the founding Director, Thor draws from his prior work in all three sectors of the economy. He began his career in technology consulting at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and worked as a labor market analyst before enrolling at Cornell University for a Masters in Urban Planning. While at Cornell, Thor conducted and published research on the early childhood economic sector.

To connect with Thor, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or find him on LinkedIn.

Coaches and Assistant Coaches

CityScience Coaches and Assistant Coaches bring teaching experience and in depth scientific knowledge to your educational setting. To learn more about joining the CityScience team, visit our Jobs page.

Eileen Blank

Eileen is a retired New York City public school teacher with over twenty years managing science programs in early childhood, after-school and park settings.  Focusing on teaching and learning from PreK to the fifth grade, Eileen is an experienced trainer and facilitator.  Eileen holds a Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University

Karen Alsen

Karen is an environmental educator with diverse experience teaching science, sustainability, and arts programming to young people.  She has taught and designed curricula for Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Solar 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, Bronx River Alliance, Sustainable Learning, and LeApNYC (Learning thru an Expanded Arts Program). Through these organizations, she has worked with dozens of schools all over NYC, including Title 1 schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Karen loves studying and teaching about plants and has served as coordinator for Community Garden Connections. She currently maintains Brooklyn Children Museum’s educational greenhouse and garden. In addition to her love of science and the natural world, Karen is a musician and has traveled abroad, performing and teaching workshops on songwriting.  Karen holds an MS in Environmental Education from Antioch University in Keene, NH.

Liz Castelli

Liz is a certified middle school science teacher who has been teaching in East Harlem and Washington Heights since 2006.  A true scientist and teacher, she earned her B.S. in Biology and Mineralogy and her M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education from The George Washington University and Columbia University. After working in the research laboratories of the Smithsonian Institution, she became involved with the civil engineering and astrophysics departments at Columbia where she continued doing research and sharing her laboratory experiences with her students. In 2010, she was selected to spend a summer researching algae as an alternate biofuel on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Most recently a master teacher with Equity Project Charter School, she is thrilled to bring her experience mentoring teachers and excitement for field-research to her coaching engagements with CityScience.

Chiara Di Palma

Chiara knows CityScience’s programs inside and out after developing curriculum, teaching and leading professional development programs while she the manager of Urban Education at the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE). Chiara has also developed curriculum and taught environmental education for New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Chiara holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Pratt Institute.

Omena El

Omena is a certified holistic health practitioner and nutritional cook with a gift for facilitating youth wellness workshops. Practicing a holistic approach to health, she is an expert in creating space for student dialogues that explore how all aspects of life connect to nutrition. A Brooklyn native, Omena has led education programs for Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, Delta GEMS and Brooklyn College. Omena’s trained as a health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and holds a BS in Communications and Alternative Education from Norfolk State University. 

Nancy Landau-Gahres

Nancy began her teaching career as a Teaching Fellow and has eleven years classroom experience teaching middle school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at a Title I school. These experiences have developed into Nancy’s passion for making science accessible and exciting to all students, especially students with special needs and English Language Learners. Nancy has a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, a Masters’ in Middle School Education and is currently pursuing an Advanced Certificate in TESOL. Nancy’s commitment to teaching STEM through career and real-world experiences began while participating in the Summer Research Program for Science Teachers at Columbia University where she worked alongside engineers in the Chemical Engineering department and developed engineering activities for her classroom. Sharing her teaching expertise, Nancy has also taught a graduate level course for first year education majors at Brooklyn College.

Juan Nizama

Juan is an undergraduate Biology major at Hunter College with a talent for organic chemistry and the goal of attending medical school. He was one of the first counselors at Steve’s Camp at Horizon Farm, a place that provides an escape for underprivileged New York City youth. He is part of the Community Of Unity family, a non profit organization dedicated to helping youth graduate high school. Juan lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn where his childhood love for science began. Always curious about how the world around him works, he spent hours at the park collecting bugs, climbing tries, and rummaging through the park for weird shaped things. Bringing his understanding of urban life and science expertise to CityScience, Juan seeks to hone his educator skills so he help children develop a passion for science.

Matthew Patrick

Matt_headshotBorn in Staten Island, Matthew is a student at Hunter College, where he is pursuing a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. At Hunter he is very active and serves on both the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee and the Undergraduate Linguistics Association.  An experienced after-school educator, Matthew has eight years of experience in OST settings. Before coming to CityScience completed two Americorps years with City Year New York working at middle schools in the Bronx and leading corporate volunteer events.  He continues to serve with City Year New York as the Alumni Engagement Committee Chair on their Alumni Board. At CityScience Matthew leads after-school programming and additionally supports all programs by coordinating project logistics and purchasing. In his spare time he volunteers for New York Cares, eats exotic foods across the city, and has recently begun to brew his own beer.

Alice Kasten

AliceAlice taught middle school science as well as regents earth science and regents bio in a NYC Middle School for 34 years. One of the original NYS earth science mentors, she has conducted hundreds of hours of professional development workshops. As the science consultant for a major textbook company, she later had the opportunity to edit review material and align them to New York standards, and continue professional development workshops nationwide. Alice is most proud of her relationship with the New York State Science Olympiad. As both a Board member, and the NYC Coordinator for the Middle Level Olympiad, she helps to bring hands-on science to students in middle schools city-wide. Alice also supervises student teachers, and helps in the construction of Earth Science Regents Examinations. She holds a BA in Biology from William Smith College, and a MA in Bio Education from Hunter College.

Alexandra Walker

Originally from New Jersey, Alex is currently a student at St. John’s University, pursuing a Masters in School Counseling. At St. John’s, she is an active member of the counseling honor society, Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) and other school-community programs like St. John’s GEAR UP. After graduating from Seton Hall University with a degree in Special Education, Alex has had experience teaching in various types of classrooms including resource rooms, inclusion based classes, and regular education. In her spare time she loves to volunteer at her local Boys and Girls Club and Care One Stations as well as coaching her very own 4-5th basketball team. Alex considers science to be one of the most important aspects to any curriculum. Science is a way for anyone to become more in tune with themselves and the world around them. She is passionate about many things, but helping others and making a difference in the community is probably the most important.

Danielle Butler

DanielleDanielle Butler is a New York native, born in Harlem and raised in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. Danielle is currently finishing up her B.S. in biology from Stony Brook University. Residing in Harlem for the past ten years she has had the opportunity to have over four years of experience tutoring and working with students ages 5-13 years old. Her goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, science has always been one of her greatest passions. When Danielle is not wrapped up in science related topics, her interests expand into poetry, dance, and craft projects.


Development Associate - Brandon Sherman

Brandon_headshot Brandon is a graduate of New York University with a degree in Environmental Studies. Although Brandon has a profound interest in renewable and sustainable energy, he has had a range of marketing and business development experiences, which he has utilized at CityScience.

Communications Associate - Courteney Palis

CourteneyCourteney is a native of New Jersey and recently received her MFA in fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. As an undergraduate at New York University, she studied journalism, environmental studies, and creative writing while working as a team leader for Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program promoting language, literacy, and social emotional skills in preschool-aged children. Her writing has been featured in such print and online publications as the Galveston Daily News, Scholastic’s MATH and DynaMath Magazines, and The Huffington Post. While she isn’t helping CityScience to spread its message, Courteney is teaching college writing at SUNY Purchase College and working on turning her thesis into a finished novel.

CityScience Interns

CityScience believes in creating meaningful internships for high school students with a passion for science while also supplementing a wide range of professional experiences for graduate and undergraduate students.  To learn more about CityScience internships, visit our jobs page.

Xinze Yao

XinzeXinze holds Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Law, and she’s currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Economic and Financial Policy at Cornell University. She is particularly interested in public-private partnership, and has work experience in both public and private sectors. During her undergraduate studies, she spent 6 months with China Red Cross, volunteered at hospitals to provide psychological counseling for Tibetian children who had congenital heart disease, and interviewed patients who lived below poverty line and suffered critical illness to provide financial aid. She also participated in the Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team (SMART) Project and traveled to Indonesia to study the development and transforming role of SMEs in Indonesia. Xinze has been to or lived in China, Japan, India, Pacific Asia, Oceania and Jamaica. In her spare time, Xinze is always on her way to explore another culture.

Maria Tan

Maria received her B.A. in Chemistry from Rutgers University and has worked in the flavor and fragrance industry performing quality control for the past two years. There, she used theoretical knowledge and laboratory skills and often trains interns in quality testing. As a proponent of clean energy, she participated in the Department of Energy’s Better Building Case Competition with a team of classmates to develop a solar energy program for Trenton, NJ.  As a nature advocate, her other projects include the preservation of historic land and its promotion for recreational and educational use in Bethlehem, PA Recently, Maria has sparked an interest in teaching when she recognized the importance of youth involvement in science because of the critical role it plays in our everyday lives. She volunteers at CityScience because she has a desire to help those students in high-need areas that deserve teachers who are passionate and an equal opportunity education. She dedicated her last semester to interning at our office doing research on the topic of her choice, ocean acidification, and compiled resources that can be used for future curricula.  Maria hopes to inspire students to be confident in themselves when learning science.

Robens Bien-Aimé

Robens_headshotRobins is a mechanical engineering student at the City College of New York. He was raised in Haiti until the age of 18. In middle school, a classmate of Robins demonstrated some electricity concepts using a light bulb and a battery. It is one of the reason he decided to learn engineering. In addition to his studies, Robins runs on the track team and is working as a tutor for the Academic Support Center of the College Discovery program at Queensborough Community College.

Su Hyun Hong

Born in South Korea, Su Hyun Hong is a graduate of SungShine Women’s University with a major in Psychology. Her interests in education started when she volunteered as an art therapist for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and when she was a field trip manager of Aplus Academy in the Philippines. She grew up in the city of Seoul, but has been active in simple farming and environmental stewardship as taught by her grandparents. With CityScience, Su Hyun wants to learn and share the knowledge of the environment and science and help take care of the health of students’ mind by improving education and the natural environment.

Bernice Afram

Bernice is a recent graduate from Herbert H. Lehman High School. She desires to major in Occupational Therapy, and also would like to visit her home country Ghana, to help dysfunctional families and rebuild the country.

Danielle Augustus

Danielle is a recent graduate from Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. She will be attending Dutchess Community College this fall, where she is interested in becoming a doctor, nurse, teacher, or lawyer. She will be the first of her siblings to attend college. In her free time, she enjoys going to the movies, getting her nails done, shopping, and hanging out with family and friends. She is very excited to be a part of CityScience because her experiences here would correspond to what she would like to do in her future careers.

Marlene Braha

Marlene was born and raised in Brooklyn, and is currently a student at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Marlene enjoys tutoring high school students and helping them see their potential in science and math. Her favorite subjects are math, physics, and chemistry. In her free time, she enjoys bike rides, solving Rubik’s cubes, and playing Sudoku. In the future, Marlene wants to become a process engineer for a pharmaceutical company.

Cynthia Cheng

Cynthia is a student at Stuyvesant High School, where she is a part of StuySquad and Red Cross. She was also in Model UN for three years, where she participated in three national conferences. Cynthia helps her teachers after school with labs and tutors kids K-8 in algebra. She is currently in a summer workshop CodeNow, learning to code on the weekends. This is her first year at CityScience, and is excited to immerse herself in the program this summer. Cynthia hopes to one day create her own app.

Jahnisha Ebanks

Jahnisha is a graduate from Edward R. Murrow High School. She is a mix of Jamaican, Costa Rican, Indian and Trinidadian. She was a part of the Badminton team at her school, and enjoys being organized. She is the oldest of her five siblings and loves spending time with her family.

Tarika Giscombe

Tarika is a Nursing student at New York City College of Technology. Her interests include Biology, reading, bike riding and zip lining. She is very interested in science, and her wish is to help the needy and sick. She hopes to obtain a Doctor Nurse Practitioner (DNP) after attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Her degree in nursing will help fulfill her wish.

Julissa Hernandez

Julissa is a junior at Clara Barton High School, and recently got accepted to her major, which is Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). She is a mix of Dominican and Black, and can speak two languages. She is also an intern at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and hopes to one day be a pediatrician.

Ashana Hutton

Ashana is a sophomore at New York City College of Technology, where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Her interests include volunteering, swimming, shopping, and spending time with friends. She also likes traveling to her home country Jamaica where she enjoys the beaches and warm climate.

Uria Polidore

Uria is a recent graduate from Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women, and attending Champlain College this fall. She plans on studying International Business or Veterinarian Technician. She participated in Robotics club freshman year, where she attended a competition at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, and took college courses for Precalculus. She was a teacher’s assistant for living environment, guiding freshmen with labs and coursework. In her free time Uria enjoys to skateboard, going to Punk Rock concerts, and studying different languages and cultures.

Sinthema Roy

Sinthema is a sophomore at the University of Masachusettes-Amherst. She is working toward majoring in biology on both the pre-medical and neuroscience track. She has a strong interest in research and neuroscience. She aspires to join the medical field as a neurologist in the future. She is currently a STEM Education Research Intern at City Science though the Ladders for Leaders Program. In the past, she has worked closely with children at Kelly Full Service community school located in Holyoke, MA to enrich the children’s knowledge and interest in the STEM field as a STEM Ambassador. She achieved this by introducing fun and exciting experiments to the children. She hopes to carry on ways to help children get involved in the STEM fields by developing and introducing fascinating STEM projects to intrigue students.

Jeremy Zayas

Jeremy is a recent graduate from the High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology. He will be attending New York City College of Technology in the fall, majoring in Computer Information Systems. He has recently completed the Cisco Certified Entry Level Technician (CCENT) Certificate program from Cisco Systems, inc. His dream job is to be the Network Administrator of a backbone network, and is working toward that dream with the degree and certifications he is earning.

Kijung Stephanie Sim

Kijung is a student of Sungshin Women’s University with a major in history and double major in psychology. She has lots of interest in psychology and education. She wanted to teach others and assist their internal growth since she was young, So she volunteered in elementary schools for 2 years teaching students math and teaching English to mentally challenged students. She likes to listen to others and sympathize with them. She eventually wants to be a counselor who cures people’s hearts and souls, and make them have the energy to live their lives to the fullest. She is a good challenger. She likes helping others, traveling, and reading books. With CityScience, Kijung wants to assist students’ learning not in a passive way but in an active way and assist their internal growth by the natural environment.

Minhee Lee

Minhee is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Business at Sangmyung University in South Korea. Minhee is interested in environmental contamination and ecosystem protection, and she has participated in the environmental movements in Canada and South Korea. Also, Minhee loves to travel to the world and to experience various cultures. She has been to Europe, Southeast asia and North America. Now, Minhee is exploring New York.

Check out these past volunteers to see how you could help at CityScience!

I know for me, learning science in the summertime was important. Marqueesha G. 18