Meet our staff

Sue Kezios

Janie McAuliffe

Danice Grkinich

Wes King


UNCW produces a talented pool of undergraduate and graduate students who serve as lead instructors for most of our youth programs. Staff is selected for individual programs based on their content knowledge, specific skills, experience with a particular age range of youth, and positive attitude towards working with youth. Some of the UNCW students also serve as resident life assistants for the residential programs. All of our staff must pass a NC background check; have first aid & CPR training, and when appropriate, be certified in kayak instruction, lifeguarding, diving, or van driving; complete a training workshop where they learn best practices in communicating with youth and managing their behavior; and demonstrate their ability to teach specific program subject matter. Our student staff is supported by faculty mentors from different academic departments. These faculty may develop material for specific programs, serve as guest speakers, or participate in field activities.

Dr. Sue Kezios, Youth Programs Director

Dr. Kezios grew up in rural Maryland surrounded by history, music and the Chesapeake Bay. She earned her Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. After spending the first half of her career conducting research on cell differentiation, Dr. K became concerned about the state of science education in America. This led to collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to create KinderScience, a hands-on science education program for young children. In 1999 Dr. K obtained her North Carolina teaching certification and began working at UNCW. In 2006 she was named Director of Youth Programs.

Janie McAuliffe, MarineQuest Director

Janie is a Wilmington, NC native who received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in marine biology right here at UNCW. Bringing together 7 years of marine science research experience and 12 years of experience working with children she now aids in the development of new research projects and overall growth of MarineQuest programs. Her enthusiasm for all things marine, research, and science is bringing cutting edge original research programs and lessons to MarineQuest participants. When she is not working, you can usually find her at the beach playing volleyball, surfing, or diving.

Danice Grkinich, Youth Programs Business Manager

Danice is a transplant from the Northeast who loves our sunny Wilmington weather. When she isn't busy crunching numbers and keeping our budgets on the money, she enjoys being creative and spending time with her grandchildren.

Wes King, Youth Programs Communications Specialist

Wes is an alumni of University of North Carolina Wilmington who received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He has more than 10 years of experience in management and business & personal development. His professional career includes several management capacities, helping develop small businesses and helping them grow. He has also worked on several political campaigns throughout North Carolina and has worked with nonprofit organizations, both on a national level and in North Carolina. He has applied his experience of managing businesses from open to success to a variety of consultancies ranging from political campaigns and organizations and small to mid-size businesses throughout North Carolina.

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