Thomas L. Deits, Ph.D.

Project Director

Tom Deits has been active in K-20 education, informal education and workforce development for his entire career.  In education he has served as Chair of the Science Department at LCC and as program manager for the NSF  Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education, Nano-Link.  His accomplishments include the establishment and ongoing funding of NanoDay at Impression 5 Science Center for the past 8 years. His workforce development activities including work to establish and fund the Michigan BioAlliance.  His business background includes 7 years in technology commercialization as Director of Molecular Biology at MBI International.

Katherine LaCommare, Ph.D

Lead Student Facilitator

Katie LaCommare has 15 years experience as a science educator and program director.  Her teaching experience bridges the informal and formal educational arenas.  As an educator, she has mentored high school, college and graduate students in science career decisions.  As program director, she has planned, developed, and funded conservation programs and community college STEM curriculum.

Erik Larson

Executive Director

Impression 5 Science Center

Erik Larson has worked in the informal education environment for over 20 years serving as an educator, facilitator, and now as an administrator.  Erik has become well versed in strategic planning, development and partnerships. His experience and skill within these areas will provide the Innovation 5 team with a broad network of potential funders/partners, as well as ensure the validity of the project as it relates to current STEM educational trends.

Micaela Balzer


Innovation and Learning

Impression 5 Science Center

Micaela Balzer has been a contributor to the success of Impression 5 since she began volunteering there at the age of 15.  She advanced through the organization, acquiring a bachelor’s degree in education from MSU along the way and is presently Director of Innovation and Learning at Impression 5 Science Center, her position for the past 10 years.  She has great breadth and depth of experience working with students in informal education and creating new and innovative programs to enrich the Impression 5 experience.

Our Student Project Planning Team

Mark Halsted

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Being 46 and a non-traditional student, the opportunity to utilize my life skills in the development of Innovation 5 is a total thrill! I am also excited to give back to the Lansing community since I am a long time resident.

Kelsey Morris

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I graduated from Michigan State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, specializing in Social Studies with additional endorsements in History and English.  This upcoming school year I will be completing my certification in Early Childhood Education at Michigan State University.  I fully believe that exploring through interactive play is the best way for all children to learn, and I look forward to working with the Impression 5 Science Center, which fully supports this idea through hands-on exhibits and activities.

Melanie Mullett


I am a mechanical engineering junior at Michigan State University. I love engineering and involving myself in different organizations. I am in Phi Sigma Rho (Engineering Sorority) and WIE (Women in Engineering). I also have always had an interest in traveling and meeting new people, I am a mentor in the American Semester Program at MSU and will be traveling abroad to Turkey this summer

Lauren Nelson


I am attending classes at both MSU and LCC. My major is Professional Writing with a minor in Media Arts/Communications. I love assisting with others in need, adore nature and am passionate about finding ways to better our society with science and media. My favorite part of science: Discovering new and exciting facts about animals.

Megan Podschlne


I am a senior at Michigan State University, pursing a bachelor's degree in communications with a specialization of public relations. I enjoys photography and listening to local bands and artists.  I also spend time working as a Service Center Representative and Neighborhood Tour Guide.

Melody Teodoro-Kurtis


I am a quintuple major in Information Technologies at Lansing Community College.  I also work in film production and am active in my community.  I'm a member of the board of the Lansing Downtown Neighborhood Association and I am excited about the opportunities that Innovation 5 can open up for our community. 

Celeste Stachurski

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Celeste Stachurski is a Graduate Student in the Technology Studies program in the College of Technology at Eastern Michigan University and is a member of the Office of Research Development Team working on The Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE) grant. Celeste has over 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship intrapreneurship, venture start up, strategic planning, branding, program management, engineering and technology management, team development and consulting. In addition, she has served as a Mentor for multiple start up programs including technology transfer coordination, patent application reviews, licensing agreement negotiations and contract negotiations. Over fifteen years of experience as a volunteer teacher in STEM education programs that span K - 12 to college level student. A member of the Association of University Technology Managers. Graduate research is focused on student entrepreneurship incubation, technology transfer and student led venture capital fund modeling.