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Staff Biographies

UWT Staff

Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio, PhD
Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry
Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio has been a member of the UWT Environmental Program faculty since 2007.  She received a B.S. degree in Human Biology in 2000, an M.S. degree in Chemistry in 2002 and in 2008 received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on understanding the fate and transport of emerging organic contaminants in the environment and evaluating the impact of urban inputs to environmental pollution.  She is also interested in the improvement of K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

Lia Wetzstein, M.S.
UWT Instructional Supervisor
Lia Wetzstein has been a member of the Environmental Program within Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Tacoma program since 2000. She received a B.A. degree in Biology from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1990 and an M.S. degree in Zoology from Washington State University in 1993. She has also received her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences vs. Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington Seattle. Her research area of interest is understanding how to increase the access of underrepresented students to higher education and interest in STEM fields.
Jessica Asplund, B.S.
UWT Instructional Lab Coordinator
Jessica Asplund graduated from the University of Washington-Tacoma with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science in 2006. She was an Americorps volunteer for the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) for 1 year and then a supervisor for WCC for 3 years. While with WCC she worked as a forestry technician performing riparian habitat restoration. In 2011 she returned to the University of Washington Tacoma as the Instructional Lab Coordinator. She coordinates the day-to-day instructional lab activities for UW Tacoma’s Environmental Program, and also assists in a variety of student research projects.

Austin Jennings
First Creek Student Coordinator
Austin Jennings is in his senior year as an Environmental Science major at UW-Tacoma.  He also has an A.A. from Green River Community College, where he graduated with highest honors.  As student coordinator, he attends First Creek Middle School Environmental Science Club meetings weekly, helps with several annual community outreach events, and collects monthly water samples from First Creek.  He is still undecided about what to do after his graduation next spring, but is currently considering a M.Ed. with a focus on Secondary Math and Science Certification or an M.S. in Environmental Science.  He feels very fortunate to be a part of the First Creek Stewards partnership because it provides an opportunity to experience both fields while allowing him to serve his community and build relationships with students at First Creek.

First Creek Middle School Staff

Donna Chang
7th Grade Science Teacher

After 25 plus years in healthcare, Donna decided she wanted something new in her life.  Both children off to college, she clearly needed some loaners! With degrees in nursing and administration Ms. Chang was looking for a way to be of service to Tacoma’s children. A graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma Teacher Certification Program, Ms. Chang started teaching math and science at Gault Middle School in 2002. With the opening of First Creek Middle School in 2009 Ms. Chang was excited to focus her instruction in science. Along with Deb Sanford, she organized the school’s first Environmental Science Club.  Ms. Chang has felt blessed to receive grant funding to support Environmental Science service learning projects focused in the First Creek Watershed. A strong proponent of helping students fulfill their full academic, personal, and citizenship goals, the service learning approach helps students learn science, engage in service to their communities, and become caring citizens.

Debra Sanford
6th Grade Science Teacher

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