Science Iowa Leaders

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Kaitlin Higgins is currently pursuing a PhD in Genetics and Genomics, specializing in Plant Predictive Phenomics at Iowa State University. She is a lifelong resident of Iowa, and co-founded Science Iowa. She is passionate about science policy and hopes to help legislators be more informed.


Thomas R. O'Donnell is science media editor for a nonprofit in Ames, Iowa that manages programs for the U.S. Department of Energy. He previously worked for several newspapers in Iowa, including nearly 16 years at the Des Moines Register, the state's largest daily. His last position there was medicine and science reporter. He later freelanced for a number of clients, including the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University and the Iowa Biotechnology Association. He is coauthor with Bryan Berg of the 2003 book "Stacking the Deck" from Fireside Books. O'Donnell is an ISU graduate and was a newspaper management fellow at the Modern Media Institute, now the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.


Ruth Henderson began her science journey at Iowa State University with a BS in Biology followed by a Masters in Education. Over the 41 years of her teaching career, she taught junior high and high school students both physical and life science. Outside of the classroom, Ruth worked with young people in Girl Scouts, STEM clubs, Physics Olympics, and Science Bowl Competitions.

As a leader with Science Iowa, Ruth was able to organize the Rally for the Paris Climate Accords at the State Capitol in 2017, The Science Festival Trail in 2019 and help with the March for Science Iowa marches in 2017 and 2018.  Her hope is to continue promoting science literacy, conservation, and volunteerism through involvement with Science Iowa.