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UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) --- Research and Outreach
Home > Teachers & Administrators > C-STEM Conference > 2019 > Keynote and Plenary Speakers’ Biographies

Keynote and Plenary Speakers’ Biographies

Keynote Speech: The Impact of Creative Problem Solving with Robotics on K-12 STEM Education

Dr. Barbara Nemko, Napa County Superintendent of Schools

Selected by the Center for Digital Education as one of the “Top 40 Innovators in Education”, Dr. Nemko describes herself as passionate about ed tech, even though she bravely admits to sometimes struggling with her own technology devices. She is a strong advocate of curriculum materials with embedded media that engages and motivates learners and content that can be instantly updated. Two “ed tech” programs of which Dr. Nemko is particularly proud are the “Footsteps2Brilliance” early learning for preschoolers (especially helpful for ESL learners and their parents) and tech tutoring where Court and Community School students teach residents of the Senior Center how to use their mobile devices.

Working in education her entire life, Dr. Nemko started as a teacher in New York City, then took a position at U.C. Davis evaluating California Department of Education programs. Later, when Dr. Nemko was Curriculum Director at Napa County Office of Education, she was appointed Interim Superintendent when the Superintendent retired. Now in her sixth elected term, Dr. Nemko continues to use her ed tech enthusiasm to promote positive programs for over 21,000 students at five districts within Napa County. Her favorite role, however, may be the one she has with her two granddaughters, ages 8 and 10.

Lunch Keynote: Robotics Research and Its Applications

Professor Bahram Ravani, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UC Davis

Bahram Ravani is a distinguished professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at UC Davis and co-director of the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center, a collaborative effort with the California Department of Transportation. This center applies robotics, automation and information science in engineering to the civil infrastructure including the highway system. Ravani also initiated an international research training group in Germany to train Ph.D. students in manufacturing. During his 31-year career at UC Davis, Ravani has led research in the areas of design and manufacturing, automation, robotics, highway safety, mechatronics and informatics, intelligent transportation systems, dynamics and biomechanics resulting in over 140 technical publications and a graduate-level textbook. He is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a past recipient of several achievement awards including the Machine Design Award, Design Automation Award, Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications (MESA) Achievement Award and the ASME Gustus Larson Memorial Award.

Plenary Address: Hands-on STEM with Robotics from the Perspective of Teachers, Schools, and Districts

Moderator: Merry Kim, Associate Dean, CTE, Coastline College


  • Dr. Judy Fancher, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District

Judy A. Fancher, Ed.D. currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, PreK-12 in Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in Los Angeles County. Dr. Fancher has 32 years of educational experience including 19 years as an administrator and 13 years as a high school English Teacher. Her commitment to the implementation of STEAM based classes began during her principalship at Sunny Hills HS (Fullerton Joint Union HS District) with the development of the engineering program and continues with the expansion of STEAM, Coding, and CSTEM in HLPUSD.

  • Mr. Allen Thoe, Computer Science Teacher, Citrus Valley High

Allen Thoe graduated from UC Davis in 2001 with a B.S. in Physics.  He taught math for 11 years at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA before moving to Redlands where he has taught for 6 years (computer science and math).  Aside from teaching, he is also the girls soccer coach and avid aviation pilot (Paragliding, hang gliding and Single Engine land airplanes).  He has two daughters (ages 19 and 14) with his oldest being a Computer Science Major at UC Santa Cruz.  One of the reasons he switched to teaching computer science was because his daughter wanted to take the class but it was not offered at his school.

  • Dr. Roy Rogers, Principal, Southridge Middle School

Rogers has earned a Master of Arts degree in Education, with an emphasis in Instruction and Curriculum, a Master of Science degree in Education with an emphasis in Administrative Leadership, and a Doctorate degree in Education, with emphasis in K-12 Education. He began his teaching career in San Bernardino City Unified School District and has served as a WASC Coordinator, English Department Chair, Academic Coach, and Behavior Support Provider. For the past three years, Dr. Rogers has served as the Principal of Southridge Tech. Dr. Rogers has been at Southridge Tech Middle School since 2017, where they are developing a STEM program that includes Microsoft Education,C-Stem, and Discovery Education.

  • Ms. Julie Lovie, Math Teacher, Valley Oaks High School

Julie Lovie has been teaching Math and Science at Valley Oak Continuation High School in Napa for over 26 years. In 2015, she was recognized as Napa County Teacher of the Year. In 2019 she was honored as the C-STEM Teacher of the Year. In July she completed her Masters in Education from Touro University. The focus of her Thesis being “How does Coding and Robotics support struggling Math learners.” This is her third year teaching the C-STEM curriculum, and claims the growth seen in her students are inspiring!

  • Ms. Melissa Hale, STEM Teacher, Cosumnes Oaks High School

Melissa Hale is a graduate of Cornell University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics and Management.  After earning a master’s in Education, she began teaching High School Mathematics at Cosumnes Oaks High School.  Since getting involved in the C-STEM Center with UC Davis, she has created a Coding and Robotics CTE Pathway at Cosumnes Oaks High school, earned a credential in ICT, and has been awarded C-STEM Teacher of the year.  Melissa continues to grow the program with after school clubs such as VEX robotics, Autonomous Circuits Racing Team, Girls Who Code, and Cyber Security.