Wednesday, March 7, 2018

For Immediate Release

Nan Waksman Schanbacher and Karen Worth
Appointed MITS Board of Directors Co-chairs

The Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS, Inc.) is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Nan Waksman Schanbacher and Karen Worth as Board of Directors Co-chairs. Nan and Karen have been longtime champions of the MITS mission, each having served on the board for over thirteen years.

Nan Waksman Schanbacher

Nan was first attracted by MITS’s successful linking of formal and informal science education. She expressed her interest in joining the Board to MITS founder Emily “Paddy” Wade in 2005 and has found it to be a perfect fit ever since.

Nan Waksman Schanbacher was born into the family legacy of Selman A. Waksman, the world-renowned microbiologist who used royalties from his streptomycin (tuberculosis treatment) patent to establish the Institute for Microbiology at Rutgers University through the creation of the Foundation for Microbiology. Following in her grandfather’s and her father’s footsteps, Nan served as Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology for over 31 years.

She spearheaded science education initiatives and carried out the foundation’s mission to improve K-12 science education and scientific literacy by supporting projects that helped teachers better understand microbiology. The foundation’s projects included the development of American Society for Microbiology’s lectureships, teacher workshops, teen science leadership programs, and multimedia public resources, science journalism training, as well as Marine Biological Laboratory’s (MBL) microbiology courses. Through the foundation, Nan also supported the National Academy of Sciences Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology and the Society for Industrial Microbiology Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award.

As part of her interest in science education in America, Nan served on the Board of the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology (Washington, D.C.) from 1998 to 2005 and the Board of the Children’s School of Science (Woods Hole, MA) from 1996 to 1999.

Nan has also served as Clerk of MITS for 5 years as well as assisted with grant writing and recruitment of new Board members.

Karen Worth

A science educator at heart, Karen Worth has been a faculty member in the Special and Elementary Education Department at Wheelock College for 40 years and a MITS Board member for 15. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Radcliffe College (Cambridge, MA) and a Master of Science from Bank Street College of Education (New York City).  At Wheelock, Karen teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in elementary education and science education for both pre-service and in-service teachers, and she coordinates the Master of Science in Integrated Elementary and Special Education (IESE) program.She supports teachers’ use of language in science as a critical tool for scientific reasoning. She also works closely with the Mathematics and Science Department.

Prior to becoming a professor at Wheelock, Karen worked as a senior research scientist at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)  for over 25 years. There, she led a range of programs focused on science curriculum development, professional development, and systemic reform. Over the years, many national and international museums, school districts, public television stations, and community organizations have called on Karen’s expertise.

Her work has included large-scale national projects and authorship. She served as a principal investigator on multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, developed and published science curriculum materials and supported the implementation of inquiry-based science programs in schools. Her involvement with NSF extended to chairing a Working Group on Science Teaching Standards, as part of the development team for the establishment of National Science Education Standards in 1995. In 2006, she co-authored the paper, “Linking Science and Literacy in the K-8 Classroom”, published through the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Press. More recently, Karen served as a pre-kindergarten developer of the 2016 revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks.

Karen’s commitment to science education has been recognized with multiple awards, including the international Le Prix puRkwa for “improving the scientific literacy of the children of the planet” in 2006.

MITS Board of Directors Co-Chairs

As co-chairs, Nan and Karen facilitate Board initiatives by focusing members on responsibilities and maintaining task agendas. They serve as liaisons between the staff and the Board, and also represent the Board in meetings, with potential donors, sponsors and service providers. Co-chairs work closely with the President of the Board and MITS Founder, Emily “Paddy” Wade, and the Executive Director, Sandi Ryack-Bell, supporting organizational longevity, recruiting new board members, and advancing MITS’s mission.


The Museum Institute for Teaching Science specializes in providing hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based STEM professional development for formal and informal educators.  For more information, visit or call 617-328-1515.