IRIS 
Science 
Academy

Imagination Reasoning Inquiry-based Science

Meet the Senior Scientists!

Our staff have diverse qualifications including backgrounds in marine science, agriculture, bioengineering, chemical engineering, electical engineering, chemistry, and physics, K-8 and university education, ornithological field work, and many more interesting experiences. Most members of our staff are CPR certified and devoted to the wellbeing of your child. The creative and analytical growth of young scientists is a priority of our staff; their ability to help your child is based on the close relationships built between themselves and the students.


Administrator and Founder: Dr. Sue Carter
[email protected]

Sue Carter is a full professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she has worked for the last 17 years.  She graduated in the top 1% of her high school class in 1984.  Supported on a full-academic scholarship, she received a B.S. in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, the 1st student from the college to have successfully triple-majored in STEM areas. She was recognized as one of Michigan's top 5 women graduates in Science and Engineering in 1988.  She received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, while doing research in condensed matter physics, from the University of Chicago in 1993.  She did her postdoctoral work at what was then Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ and started as an Assistant Professor position in the Physics Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1995.  As an assistant professor at UCSC, Carter was awarded a 1996 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, given to the top 20 young scientists in science and engineering around the U.S. each year, and was also a visiting researcher at IBM Almaden Research Center. 


Over the last 18 years, Carter's laboratory has conducted research in organic electronics, solid state lighting, biophysics, and photovoltaics.  She has mentored and supported 28 PhD students, 3 MS students, 5 postdoctoral researchers and dozens of undergraduate research assistants. Over this time period, Carter has been actively involved in science outreach programs, including COSMOS, Expanding Your Horizons, and SACNAS.  Carter is also a regular consultant to industry and has played a key role in the initial technology development of three companies, Soliculture, Solexant and Add-vision.  She lives with Glenn Alers and their two daughters, Lyra and Rianna, in their active/passive solar home in the mountains above Scotts Valley, California. Her family serves as her inspiration to start the IRIS Science Academy.


Director & Educator: Emily Green

Emily hails from northern Wisconsin, where she began her college education as a Geographer.  After realizing her true passion was in Anthropology, she transferred to UC-San Diego and received a B.A. in Biological Anthropology with Provost’s Honors.  During this time she helped excavate an archaeological cemetery site in Moquegua, Peru that had been occupied by the Tiwanaku, ancestors of the Incas.  She then moved to Santa Cruz and attended San José State where she earned her Master’s degree in Applied Anthropology.  Her focus was the civic and cultural potential of public spaces, and her research site was the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy in San Jose.  One of the positions she held as she researched the Conservancy was Guadalupe Guide, where she taught elementary environmental education.  The focus was on trout and salmon education, but they covered topics from historic San José to pollinators, using the park and orchard as their classroom.  She will still occasionally help out with a field trip course when the Conservancy needs help, especially if it means putting on waders and getting in the river!  She is very excited at the opportunity to be able to tie in anthropological concepts with Iris’s traditional scientific curriculum and share her love of the social sciences.  Emily loves to go camping, hiking, kayaking, and, of course, traveling. 

Educator: Clifton Herrmann


Clifton grew up in Sacramento, California, where he developed a love for all things science through a passion for backyard experiments. Feeling particularly drawn to the sea, he obtained a B.S. in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz with a focus in marine invertebrate ecology. This education inspired him to practice SCUBA diving, and to this day he volunteers as a certified scientific diver. His adventurous years following graduation found him conducting organic farm work on the Big Island of Hawaii and building backcountry trails in the Sierra Nevada. Clifton recently spent two years working in Seattle, where he studied the taxonomy and food web structure of both marine and terrestrial Puget Sound bugs, while teaching outdoor education curricula for marine science field trips. Washington’s beautiful expanses inspired him to fully realize his passion for outdoor recreation, where he discovered a particular love for backpacking. He is currently pursuing an M.S. in Applied Marine Science at CSU Monterey Bay and works part-time in a plant pathology lab, where he develops methods to rapidly test for agricultural diseases. With a history of impassioned tutoring and aquarium volunteerism, Clifton is excited to teach and learn alongside IRIS’s vibrant student body and hopes to share with them his love for the natural world.