Museum staff are passionate about STEM and about helping our community discover their world. Some staff have taken that passion to another level to become subject matter experts in specific areas. Like crush-it-on-Jeopardy-level knowledge.

If you're looking for someone to talk about just about any area of science, technology, engineering and math, contact us and we'll see which of our experts might fit the bill.

Justin Bartel

Justin turned a lifelong interest in space into a professional immersion. After earning an astronomy degree from the University of Arizona, he worked at museums in Kansas and Florida before coming to the Science Museum of Virginia. Justin manages the Museum’s Dome, utilizing the Digistar system to create unique astronomical visualizations for in-person and online audiences. Museum-produced planetarium content has been shared with colleagues around the world and recognized with multiple awards. Justin has served as president of the Digistar Users Group, and is a member of multiple planetarium associations and the American Astronomical Society. Whether it’s astronomy, planetary science, space exploration or planetariums, Justin’s expertise is out of this world.

Rose Basom

Why are humans the way we are? Rose Basom can tell you! She’s deeply invested in helping people understand human history and how we got where we are today. Rose joined the Science Museum in October 2023 as the David and Jane Cohn Scientist. She oversees the science content, ensuring it’s accurate, compelling and reaches all audiences. She brings with her a wealth of experience working at museums in Tennessee, Michigan and Texas, plus extensive educational training in biological anthropology and biomedical sciences. Once a death investigator and gross anatomy instructor, Rose is a subject matter expert on a variety of topics such as human development and evolution, primates, bones, biomedical research, archaeology and forensic anthropology.

Elli Bosch

Elli joined the Science Museum of Virginia education team in May 2017 while completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with minors in Urban Planning and Biology. She has since completed a master's degree in Environmental Studies. At the Science Museum, Elli is responsible for scientific research and content development for new exhibits, as well as collections management. As a Virginia Master Naturalist, Elli has a passion for and expertise in Virginia's natural systems, including but not limited to topics such as geology, mycology, aquatic systems, ecology and ornithology.

Richard Conti

Appointed director in January 2008, Rich is only the third person to serve in that role since the Science Museum of Virginia opened in January 1977. As Chief Wonder Officer, he oversees a 223,000-square-foot building that houses four floors of interactive experiences, a 33-acre campus and two satellite locations. In addition to facilitating new exhibits and major infrastructure upgrades to enhance the guest experience, Rich orchestrated a master planning and fundraising effort, which generated more than $50 million in capital investment and led to the building of a new multipurpose space. Before coming to Richmond, Rich was the Executive Director of Nauticus and an Assistant to the City Manager in the City of Norfolk. Rich has degrees in business management from Tulane University and public administration from the University of Southern California, and is a graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TopGun). As a U.S. Naval Aviator, he amassed 1,000 flight hours and 250 carrier-arrested landings as a backseater (RIO) in the F-14 Tomcat. If it’s aviation technology, museum management, strategic planning, the importance of STEM in everyone’s life or pop culture puns you want to discuss, Rich is your guy.

Tyler Holtzman

Tyler joined the Science Museum in January 2022 as the organization’s first in-house horticulturist. He uses his passion for sustainable landscape design to support and maintain greenspace on campus. Tyler has nearly twenty years of experience in the landscape industry, including as a gardener for the City of Richmond, as the native plant gardener at Monticello and as owner of a landscape business. In addition to holding a degree from the University of Mary Washington, Tyler’s a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society, a certified Virginia landscape designer, a level one Chesapeake Bay landscape professional and a certified Virginia horticulturist. Tyler believes in the power of people to create and maintain landscapes that are thoughtful, beautiful, functional and ecologically beneficial for all living things.

Laura Kramer

After earning her biology degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Laura joined the Museum’s education team in 2005. She has enjoyed training rats to play basketball, cooking in the "Boost!" kitchen, feeding snakes in the Animal Lab and freezing racquetballs in liquid nitrogen so much that she’s never left! Laura is now manager of gallery programming, overseeing the Museum’s talented team of educators who conduct demos and lead activities. Whether it’s biology, chemistry or general science topics, Laura is passionate about sharing her knowledge to help connect people to STEM in the world around them.

Timshel Purdum

Timshel joined the Science Museum of Virginia in September 2018, and became Virginia C. Ellett Deputy Director of Education in 2022. She leads a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who help audiences of all ages discover and nurture their inner scientist. Timshel has been active in the museum community for more than 20 years, serving as Assistant Vice President of Public Experience at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and Vice President of the Museum Council of Philadelphia. She is a peer reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is a Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute board member. Timshel has a B.S. in biology from the College of William & Mary and a M.A. in Environmental Education from the New Jersey School of Conservation, Montclair State University. While she's a subject matter expert on a number of life and biological sciences topics, such as animals, plants, fungus and arthropods, Timshel’s passion lies in all things related to paleontology and cephalopods.