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.

Ranalda Tsosie

(STEM Academy Research Coordinator)

Ranalda is the STEM Academy Research Coordinator at Salish Kootenai College. She grew up in northeastern AZ on the Diné reservation. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a minor in Navajo Linguistics from the University of New Mexico. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she completed a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Montana. Her areas of emphasis for her doctoral degree is in Chemistry, Geosciences and Environmental Science/Studies.
Ranalda’s graduate research brought together Diné and western scientific perspectives to address water contamination in her home community of Tółikan, Az and the surrounding communities. She has experience working within Indigenous communities, implementing and practicing Indigenous Research Methodologies. In her free time, she enjoys beading, sewing, practicing traditional Diné arts and baking.

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.