Meet the Biology Institute Leadership

Katherine Hernandez, Institute Director
Phillips Exeter Academy

Kate Hernandez’s passion for Harkness instruction is rooted in the challenges and opportunities afforded by building a collaborative and intentional learning community around the Harkness table. Kate earned her B.A. in Biology from Mount Holyoke College and her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She brings over a decade of experience as a biology and chemistry teacher in independent schools. Appointed as an Instructor in Science at Phillips Exeter Academy in 2015, Kate’s instructional approach elevates the student voice, encourages metacognitive development, and places science learning within a larger social and cultural context. In Kate’s classrooms, students are encouraged to leverage the diversity of experiences and perspectives in the room while actively attending to classroom agreements (norms), which seek to honor the fullness of self in each student. Outside of the classroom, Kate has supported the growth of her colleagues at PEA and elsewhere on topics such as developing a Mentoring Mindset among teaching teams, centering justice, equity, and inclusion in science curricula, and supporting educators in taking the Harkness approach back to their classrooms. It is with great enthusiasm that she looks forward to welcoming the Summer Biology Institute participants to campus this June!

Summer Morrill, Leader
Phillips Exeter Academy

Summer Morrill earned a B.S. in biology from Tufts University and went on to complete her PhD in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this time, she conducted research in genetics at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Currently, Summer teaches introductory biology and genetics at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. She focuses on building curriculum that will engage students at all levels with scientific thinking and creativity, which has included introducing yeast as a model organism for student learning and research and starting a new course on the Genetic Basis of Cancer. She enjoys collaborating with others in the Science department to develop and carry out projects that promote creativity and streamline best teaching practices. Previously, she worked as a Teaching Development Fellow and an Instructor of TA training and Curriculum Development at MIT.

Tina Grotzer, Principal Research Scientist
Harvard University

Tina Grotzer is a principal research scientist, a member of the faculty of education, and a senior researcher at Project Zero. She is an expert in the learning sciences and cognitive sciences. She has been working in grounded, informal and formal contexts for applying cognitive science findings for three decades. She teaches courses in sustainability, complexity, and climate change as well as cognition and learning, and its applications to learner behaviors, pedagogy, instruction and school design. Her work considers what it means to be an expert learner and how to leverage research towards supporting students in developing adaptive expertise to help them learn how to learn about and navigate challenges of the future. Grotzer is the faculty director of the Next Level Lab (NLL) funded by Accenture Corporate Citizenship. The NLL focuses on the future of work in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Her work with NLL seeks to redefine visions of optimal learning and work performance with project strands focused on what it means to be an expert learner and on preparing for green jobs for the future.