Academy Staff


Mary Larson

(STEM Academy Director)

Mary Larson earned a Bachelor Degree in Science Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and has taught in Idaho and on the Flathead Indian Reservation for almost four decades. She received a Master of Science Education degree from Montana State University, in 2012 with an emphasis on reading and writing in science. Mary has taken advantage of many opportunities afforded by grants through Salish Kootenai College to extend her knowledge in science leadership skills and Native cultural traditions. She also mentored a group of young Native girls for many years, with the encouragement to pursue STEM careers in college. In 2004-2005 she received Salish Kootenai Tribal Teacher of the Year award and again in 2005-2006, she was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Tribal District Teacher of the Year.

Taylir Schrock

(STEM Academy Research Coordinator)

Taylir has been the STEM Academy Science Research Coordinator at Salish Kootenai College since September, 2018. She grew up in Ronan, Montana, where she learned the value of the nature and culture of the Treasure State and the Flathead Reservation. In 2012, Taylir left Montana to pursue a B.S. in Biology at Walla Walla University in Washington State. During her education in biology, she participated in a variety of research opportunities including studying the most elegant of all organisms, the octopus, as well as other marine organisms including sea cucumbers, scallops, and squid. Taylir spent a quarter abroad living in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental in the Philippines, where she studied the tropical biology encompassing the sea cucumber, Pearsonothuria graeffei, in relation to coral conservation and coral health. In 2016 Taylir began her M.S. degree at Walla Walla University studying the physiology and responses of Octopus rubescens to environmental cues. She later presented her research at the Society of Integrated and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA. After six years pursuing higher education, she returned back home to Montana to share her enthusiasm of science with the young scientists in the Mission Valley and to encourage them to pursue their dreams and ambitions. She now spends her days as an ambitious Phage Hunter along with her STEM Academy students in their SEA-PHAGES Science Research class.

Andrea Panagakis

(Program Coordinator/Student Advisor/Science Instructor)

Andrea is the STEM Academy Program Coordinator at Salish Kootenai College, and began working for the college as a biology instructor in the fall of 2016. Raised in upstate New York, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a concentration in genetics from Cornell University. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she lived abroad in France then returned to the U.S. to complete a Master’s degree in secondary science education at Columbia University. She taught high school biology for over twenty years in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey before embarking on a second Master’s degree at Université Laval in Québec, researching the life history of mountain goats, for which she earned an MSc in biology. She has conducted fieldwork in the alpine regions of Montana and Alberta and chaperoned high school students to Honduras and Mexico to conduct biodiversity surveys and study reef ecology. She is a member of the Center for Northern Studies and The Wildlife Society, a recipient of the Université Laval Leadership and Sustainable Development scholarship, and a past University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics Fellow as well as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics.