Symposium Speakers

Bonamici photoSuzanne Bonamici
US House of Representatives

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici has spent her career advocating for consumers, families, and Oregonians.

As a law student at the University of Oregon she worked at Lane County Legal Aid, where she helped families with financial counseling. This experience reinforced her view that people don’t struggle by choice. Suzanne moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Federal Trade Commission on consumer protection issues.

She and her husband, Michael Simon, moved back to Oregon in the 1980s where Suzanne practiced law until her children were born. As a mom, Suzanne was an active volunteer in her community, focusing on the need for stable education funding. She developed a passion for arts education after many programs in her children’s schools were eliminated due to budget cuts.

Her advocacy around education led her to run for office, serving in the Oregon House and Senate. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election in 2012. She represents Oregon’s First Congressional District, which includes the Northwest portion of the state. As a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee she advocates for greater educational opportunities for all.

She is passionate about protecting the environment and, as a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, supports investments in renewable energy and is working on disaster preparedness legislation for the Pacific Northwest.

Suzanne and Michael have two grown children and a cocker spaniel named Charley.

Bryony DuPont
Oregon State University, College of Engineering

Dr. Bryony DuPont is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University (Corvallis, Oregon, USA). Bryony’s research looks at the development of computational design methods for making sustainable solutions more attainable, focusing on renewable energy systems optimization and computational tools for environmentally friendly product development. Originally from northern Maine, Bryony completed her B.S. at Case Western Reserve University (2008), and her M.S. and Ph.D. in the Integrated Design Innovation group at Carnegie Mellon University (2010 and 2013). She is a former ASME Graduate Teaching Fellow, and is currently one of the seven full-time faculty members in Oregon State’s Design Engineering Laboratory.

Ken Olsen
Corvallis-Benton County Library’s Maker’s Club

Ken Olsen is the lead volunteer for the Corvallis-Benton County Library’s after-school Maker’s Club where youth can explore programming, electronics, robotics, and 3D printing. He also conducts workshops for where local high school girls can explore technical careers, as well as workshops for middle school ages in OSU’s Precollege Programs like STEM Academy and Winter Wonderings.  He is a firm believer in interest-based, self-directed, hands-on learning.  He is a former nuclear-trained submariner and has just finished 19 years at HP as a self-taught software technician.  He is currently looking to expand his opportunities in mentoring and teaching STEAM topics and the Maker movement.  He blogs his adventures at

Eric Schulze
Ask Smithsonian
(Photo by Stephen Gosling Photography)

Looking for evidence-based creative content? Good. Eric is your human. Dr. Schulze uses the science of everyday life to help people like you make this world better, whether it be online televisionfoodcommunitybuilding, communication theorywriting, lecturing, (experimental) design, or data analysis. Eric earned his doctorate in genetic, molecular, and cellular biology in 2010, and ever since has put it to good use as a thought-leader and speechwriter for folks at NASA, SpaceX, The Smithsonian, the National Academy of Sciences, many others, and is also the current Science & Creativity Advisor to WNYC’s Peabody-award winner, Studio 360. Dr. Schulze develops creative content for several STEAM communities, including the Emmy-awarding winning television show, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, as well as hosting his own STEM online television show, Ask Smithsonian for The Smithsonian Institute. Eric applies his unique nerdery and communication skills to politicos, fashion designers, artists, and scientists any chance he can get. Have an idea how to make the world better? I am game to hear it!”

Cynthia SpencerCynthia Spencer
The Arts Center

Cynthia Spencer was lucky to have visual arts, music and creative writing in her formative public elementary and middle school years. It gave her creative thinking skills during her years doing administrative work while she got a pottery business off the ground. She successfully marketed her pottery in galleries and at arts markets throughout the United States, while also serving on the boards of the Oregon Potters Association, CALYX feminist press and Corvallis Fall Festival, our town’s largest arts gathering in Central Park. She served as Director of Corvallis Fall Festival for nine years before becoming Director of The Arts Center in 2014. She also currently chairs the Arts & Culture Advisory Board for the City of Corvallis.

Michael Town
Lakeside School

Michael Town is a high school Physics and Engineering teacher at Lakeside School, an independent school in Seattle, WA. He is passionate about teaching students real world skillz by presenting them with real world problems. His career in science and education has taken him all over the globe, from rural Michigan where he helped monitor tropospheric carbon monoxide and ozone, to the East Antarctic Plateau where he monitored the atmospheric greenhouse effect over the South Pole. He has a B.S. in Physics, an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, and Masters in Teaching. He is a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellow. He is very excited to be part of The CO•’s Symposium on Integrating The Arts into STEM education.