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Hi I’m Maria Strangas

STEM Education and Mentoring
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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About Me

I am a scientist and educator dedicated to building connections between scientific research and youth education. Motivated by making the field of STEM accessible and inclusive, I prepare youth to pursue the career paths they choose while I engage with educators and science practitioners to create inclusive educational environments. One of my favorite ways to do this is by promoting and teaching strong mentorship in STEM.

I work at the American Museum of Natural History where I am Assistant Director of Science Research Experiences in Youth Initiatives. I currently oversee the Science Research Mentoring Program and the Science Research Mentoring Consortium, a group of 25 sites across NYC providing mentored research opportunities to high schoolers. I also serve as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University where I teach in the Senior Thesis Seminar for Environmental Sciences.

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Recent Work

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Assistant Director, Science Research Experiences

2022 - present

My focus is mentored youth science research experiences at the American Museum of Natural History. I oversee the teams that run the Science Research Mentoring Program and the Science Research Mentoring Consortium,, providing mentored research experiences to over 500 youth every year. 

Senior Manager, Youth Initiatives
American Museum of Natural History

2021 - 2022

As Senior Manager, I led the Museum's two flagship education program: the Science Research Mentoring Program and the Lang Science Program. A key part of my focus was to create systems that allow us to align our actions with our values. I worked on equitable recruitment, build relationships with students and families, guide educators and mentors, and supervise staff, all starting from a foundation of clear values and expectations.

Manager, Science Research Mentoring Program
American Museum of Natural History

High school students work alongside research scientists in this program. I led SRMP with a focus on strengthening the relationships between students and their mentors and creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment.  while leading all aspects of the program: student and mentor recruitment, overseeing curriculum, professional development for mentors, budget management, and building partnerships across departments and institutions.


Adjunct Assistant Professor
Columbia University

2021 - present

Through lectures, interactive lessons, and one-on-one feedback, I guide students from Columbia University and Barnard College through the process of generating a senior thesis writing. My students work on projects across the environmental sciences: ecology, evolution, geology, environmental health, sustainable development, and more.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
City College of New York

What is ecology? What is evolution? How do they impact each other? I reformatted and taught this upper level Ecology and  Evolutionary Biology course in a flipped-classroom format, with recorded lectures and interactive class activities.


Academic Experience

Doctor of Philosophy; 
Graduate Center City University Of New York

I combined phylogeographic and landscape genetic data, thermophysiology, morphology, remote sensing and microhabitat temperature data to understand how the environment in the past has influenced the genetic and functional patterns we see today, focusing on Gymnopthalminae lizards in Brazil.


Bachelors of Science;
University of Rochester

At U of R, I majored in Ecology and Evolution and minored in Cultural Anthropology. I also completed a "cluster" in Philosophy.


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