New QUBES Community Engagement Specialist - Elia Crisucci

What is your role in QUBES and what do you do?

I joined the QUBES team in October and am excited to be focusing on community engagement.  My primary goal is to help QUBES Partner Projects get the most out of the QUBES infrastructure.  I work closely with Sam Donovan and Hayley Orndorf at the University of Pittsburgh.  Most recently, we worked to launch the QUBES Support Community for Partner Projects.  This is a place where we hope to... 

  • Share information about what is new at QUBES
  • Highlight how QUBESHub is being used by different Partner Projects
  • Offer tips and tricks for managing your group site
  • Engage partner liaisons in different (quick and easy) activities to help them achieve their project’s goals
  • Answer questions and address problems that partner liaisons are experiencing

If you are a QUBES Partner or someone looking to build community around your project, I hope you’ll take a look around the QUBES Support Community for Partner Projects and join the group.  Also, feel free to contact me ( if you have questions/suggestions related to ways we can better support your project or if you have news to share with the community.

Why where you interested in this opportunity and how did you come to be a part of QUBES?

I am so excited about this opportunity because I LOVE science and science education.  Although it has been about 20 years since I was a student in Mr. Muresan’s high school anatomy class, I still remember all the bones in the human wrist. (OK, MOST of the bones in the wrist.  C’mon!  It’s been 20 years!)  That is because Mr. Muresan creatively taught our class the names of the bones by weaving them into a story about a guy named Joe who hit Pete on the head with a hammer: “Joe took a hamate and hit Pete on the capitate, breaking it into a greater and lesser multangular.  He did it because he was pisiform…”  Mr. Muresan made his class so fun and engaging that I developed a passion for biology and science education.  Mr. Muresan was my biggest teaching inspiration as I worked as a peer tutor while pursuing my B.S. in Biology at Youngstown State University and as I completed a Teaching Minor during my graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

After graduating, I was lucky enough to have several inspirational experiences while serving as a member of the course oversight team for the large-enrollment introductory biology lab courses at the University of Pittsburgh, including participation in the Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: Chronicling the Changes Conference and ASM’s Biology Scholars Assessment Residency.  These experiences have driven my choices as a science educator and continue to inspire me to work toward quality, evidence-based education for all students.  At Pitt, I worked to implement inquiry-based labs, including modules developed by Jean Heitz, and authentic research labs, including Jo Handelsman’s Small World Initiative course and Clare O’Connor’s Pathways Over Time course, all of which had an emphasis on the development of quantitative skills.  Now, I am excited to do my part to encourage science education reform and promote quantitative biology education as part of the QUBES team.      

What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m not working, I spend time with my husband and young daughter.  I love taking my daughter to the park and I love giving her lots of hugs and kisses while she’ll still let me.  After she goes to bed, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that the surprisingly tiny sliver of time between when my daughter falls asleep and when I doze off is usually spent catching up on my favorite fashion bloggers that I collect on Feedly and getting lost in a Pinterest rabbit hole searching for outfit inspo and home decor ideas.  My guilty pleasures!           

Do you have a pet? 

I am very much a dog person, but I can barely keep a plant alive.  (But don’t worry, my tiny human is doing just fine!)  So instead, my “pet” is a culture of bioluminescent dinoflagellates!  Dinos are easy to care for.  You expose them to light during the day and keep them in the dark at night, where they’ll glow if you give the culture a little shake.  How cool is that?!?   

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