top of page
Sign Up
for a Mission

Our Team


     One of the greatest strengths of NDH is the strong record in scientific research and educational innovation of the entire team.


Principal Investigator Charles Wood has conducted science research and education for decades and has extensive STEM education experience including working with Christa McCullough and the Space Shuttle Challenger crew to create educational modules to be taught from orbit. Wood initiated, an online M.S. program in 1996, created one of the first highly successful science websites (VolcanoWorld), led the development of a Second Life world with roaming student avatars, was the science lead for Selene, an award-winning, NSF-funded videogame, and contributed to the iPad app BioBlast. He was P.I. for the Cyber-Surgeons and Pandem-Sim SEPA projects, and for West Virginia Storm, an extreme-weather role-playing activity for middle schoolers funded by NOAA. Wood has published more than 200 scientific and educational articles (including ones on volcanic eruptions, changing climate, Ethiopian droughts and STEM education). He has survived volcanic eruptions, an earthquake, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, droughts and one revolution.


Manetta Calinger is the curriculum writer and project manager for NDH, a position she also expertly filled for CyberSurgeons and Pandem-Sim. Calinger has analyzed clinical trial data in a hospital lab, and taught high school science for 16 years at a premier girl’s school. Her students routinely won statewide science fairs, successfully engaged in national science fair competitions, and a number went on to doctorate degrees in science. Calinger is a creative science educator who quickly understands new content areas and how to connect with students. She leads creation of NDH professional development, supporting curricula, and will be strongly involved in the live sim development. Calinger has also led the development of two extreme weather live simulations funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was lead curriculum writer for NASA-funded live simulations and a NASA-funded problem-based learning curriculum package which explored global climate change through data analysis and interpretation. She also wrote educational resources for a community alert program that focused on providing the public information on natural disasters and hazards, and she developed a scenario for a functional exercise funded by the Army Corps of Engineers for a severe weather-related event.

Dr. Debra Crawfordbpiecka Tyrrell is an educational researcher and evaluator at CET. Her NDH role is similar to her responsibilities for the CyberSurgeons and Pandem-Sim SEPA projects where she was educational researcher and evaluator. For NDH she is: 1) conducting the process evaluation; 2) formatively reviewing the pre-mission curriculum; 3) coordinateing with the external evaluator; 4) obtaining IRB approval for the project including selection of reliable and valid instruments and coordination and development of the content instrument and critical thinking survey and observation form; 5) examining the effect of the simulation; and 6) performing research related to the socioscientific approach. Dr. Tyrrell evaluated tabletop exercises for the Army Corps of Engineers using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program standards. In addition to her evaluation services, she teachers evaluative research methods with her PhD students.

Jackie Shia is the Director of the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University and a member of the National Challenger Board. She has been the P.I. for numerous science education grants from foundations and agencies, led development of a number of live sims, and contributed to CyberSurgeons and Pandem-Sim, ensuring that they had the pace and elements of surprise needed to maintain student involvement. In addition to helping guide the design of the NDH sim, Shia will recruit teachers for inputs to the development of NDH and for its pilot and field testing. She and Challenger Assistant Director Lori Kudlak (a former middle school teacher) and Laura Ondeck, Chief Flight Director, will work to ensure that our diversity goal is achieved, as well as to train Challenger’s STEM educators to lead the NDH missions, and will help create the teacher training materials necessary for classrooms of students to successfully complete NDH missions.

Another important component of our team is our Challenger Learning Center flight directors – educators who guide a variety of online and onsite simulations and will be Chief Medical Officers for NDH. Two flight directors were former middle school teachers, one was a high school science teacher, and a fourth worked as a middle school curriculum writer. Some of these experienced educators are part of the Teacher Panel that will provide our team with practical insights to the development and testing of NDH.

Our contractors have critical roles. Dr. Kristine Chadwick is the independent evaluator for NDH. She was external evaluator for Pandem-Sim, and has 25 years experience as an educational evaluator. Her Ph.D. is in experimental psychology and she has received training in advanced evaluation methods. Dr. Chadwick has evaluated major projects for NSF, the US Department of Education, and the West Virginia and Kentucky departments of education.


Our other critical contractor is CodeReal, LLC, which is developing the software and coding of NDH. CodeReal is co-led by Dr. Diane Bowser, who has a doctorate in philosophy and taught that subject for more than 20 years. Through use of a learning management system in teaching she became involved in all aspects of educational software design and coding. CodeReal's other co-leader is Erron Flaherty, a coding and visualization expert who codes the NDH application.

© Wheeling University, 2023. All rights reserved.

NDH logo.jpg
bottom of page