About the Creators

Coastal Eco Explorer began as a seed of an idea in the minds of Dr. Dennis Kubasko and Dr. Amy Taylor, instructors of the Island Ecology for Educators course. Ten years later, the Coastal Eco Explorer mobile application has successfully been crafted through a partnership with computer science professor and researcher, Dr. Lucas Layman. Kinsley Sigmund, a master's computer science student at UNCW, assisted Dr. Layman in coding and formatting the application. Avery Owen, an undergraduate environmental conservation science student at UNCW, assisted Dr. Kubasko and Dr. Taylor in writing and curating the application's content.

Dr. Dennis Kubasko

 Headshot of Dr. Dennis Kubasko

Dr. Dennis S. Kubasko, Jr. is an associate professor of science education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). After almost 20 years with the university, he has taught a variety of STEM infused courses in the Watson College of Education such as STEM Leadership in Schools, Island Ecology for Educators and the Secondary Science Methods course. He emphasizes strategies grounded in inquiry based science instruction, problem based learning, and relevant place-based practice. Dr. Kubasko is best known for building sustainable and healthy working relationships with colleagues across UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences, Wilmington’s local informal science settings (i.e. parks, museums), state agencies and regional corporate/business partners and the PDS system public, charter and private schools.  Using Carolina Beach State Park as a classroom, Dr. Kubasko pairs College of Education teacher candidates with Environmental Studies students for an innovative and unique ‘Island Ecology for Educators’ course every summer.  Dr. Kubasko directed UNCW’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CESTEM) from 2011 - 2016.  He co-directs the UNC Wilmington’s Regional Science Olympiad providing STEM infused activities for close to 1000 children from across Southeastern North Carolina. He coordinated and led international field experiences to Belize, Central America (2008-2015) providing an engaged study abroad experience for over 100 university undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Kubasko taught middle school science and high school Biology in the suburban Philadelphia public schools for 7 years.

Dr. Amy Taylor

Headshot of Dr. Amy Taylor

Dr. Amy Taylor is a full professor of science education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). She received her PhD in Science Education from North Carolina State University.  For over a decade, she has taught undergraduate and graduate science methods courses in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy, and Special Education. As a K-12 certified science educator, she works with local teachers in many different schools across Watson College's PDS System to mentor pre-service teachers. In addition to the Island Ecology for Educator's Course, Dr. Taylor also teaches elective courses for the Environmental Studies Program. She is an advocate of outdoor education, citizen science, and environmental stewardship and just recently completed the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification process.  She is a member of the Executive Board of the Friends of Pleasure Island State Parks where she also fulfills the role of secretary.  

Dr. Lucas Layman

 Headshot of Dr. Lucas Layman

Dr. Lucas Layman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UNCW where he frequently teaches the Mobile Applications Development course. He studies human factors in software engineering and security, and has mentored a number of student software projects. Prior to joining UNCW, he was an applied research scientist at Fraunhofer USA, where he conducted software engineering research for organizations including NASA, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company, Cisco, and the US Department of Defense.

Kinsley Sigmund

 Headshot of Kinsley Sigmund

Kinsley Sigmund is currently a Master's student at UNCW. She was a major contributor to Coastal Eco Explorer's design and development while completing Bachelor's degree in Computer Science at UNCW in 2019. She is a regular visitor to Carolina Beach State Park while not working full-time at nCino, Inc. as a software developer.

Avery Owen

Headshot of Avery Owen

Avery Owen is an undergraduate student in the class of 2021 studying environmental science (conservation) and geospatial technologies at UNCW. Avery works as a Peer Educator at UNCW Sustainability, serving as the Marketing Lead and Liaison of Waste Diversion. She serves as Vice President and Community Outreach Coordinator for UNCW Plastic Ocean Project. She is also the student liaison for Cape Fear's Ocean Friendly Establishment Coalition. Upon graduation, Avery will seek an interdisciplinary career in sustainable land management and forestry that may incorporate GIS, fieldwork, and applications of prescribed fire.