Science

Faculty

Email: taston@pausd.org
Tim grew up in the Bay Area and earned his B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Psychology at UCSD. He spent a decade in Southern California working an office job in the film industry while earning his teaching credential. In 2013, he moved back up to the Bay to start his career in teaching. This is his second year at Gunn, and he teaches Biology 1 and Biology 1A. In his spare time, Tim wakes up before dawn to take photos of landscapes, plays tennis with his wife, and plays music.
Email: sborgen@pausd.org
Email: kcatalano@pausd.org
Email: ccohn@pausd.org
Email: bdunbar@pausd.org
Bill Dunbar began teaching in 1988 and has been teaching physics and engineering at Gunn since 1996. He has degrees in engineering from Stanford and in education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Mr. Dunbar founded the Gunn Robotics Team during his first year at Gunn as a haven for students who like to complete projects, and he is known for his theme lectures in physics. He is a National Board certified teacher and he has won the Smart Valley Innovation Award for teaching, the Silicon Valley Woodie Flowers award for engineering mentorship, and the National Teach for Technology Award from the National Science Teachers Association. Mr. Dunbar teaches Physics Honors and AP Physics C.
Email: lheslop@pausd.org
Email: jkompella@pausd.org
Jacintha Kompella completed her doctoral work in Physics at the Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi, specializing in fiber optics. She has worked as an educational consultant for undergraduate science education helping faculty create educational products and integrate technology into the curriculum at UCSD, Loma Linda Medical University and UNC- Chapel Hill. Later she worked as an optoelectronic engineer  in the optical networking industry. For the past 7 years, Dr. Kompella has been teaching high school physical science and math. She obtained her teaching credential from San Jose State University and has taught Conceptual Physics, Physics, Physics Honors and AP Physics. She and her husband have two boys, aged 23 and 17. Family time is spent playing board games, watching football or soccer tournaments or musical shows such as the Voice and The Sing Off.
Email: eledgerwood@pausd.org
Eric has worked at Gunn High School since 2002 and has been teaching since 1997 after earning his teaching credentials at Eastern Michigan University.  Having received a B.S. in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience from UCSD, his teaching experience began as a biology and physical science teacher in Shoreline, Washington where he taught 5 years at Shorecrest High School.  Since coming to Gunn, Eric has taught our no longer offered Science 1 and Science 1AC courses for 9th grade students, Chemistry One (now just Chemistry) as well as Chemistry Honors, and started AP Environmental Science in the 2010-2011 school year.  Prior to education, Eric worked at a biotechnology company as an engineering associate in San Diego as well as shooting commercial and portrait photography in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Eric is married with three children and enjoys time in the outdoors, traveling, gaming, exercising and working on his own creative projects.  Eric served as Instructional Supervisor of the Gunn Science Department from 2009 to 2012. Eric teaches AP Environmental Science and Chemistry. ​
Email: jlee@pausd.org
Jena grew up in Los Angeles and earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from UC San Diego. She then headed up to the Bay Area to complete her Master's degree and teaching credential at UC Berkeley, and fell in love with Northern California. She began her teaching career at Miramonte High School in Orinda, where she taught varying combinations of Biology, Biotechnology, and AP Biology for five years. After taking some time off to spend with her two young children, she joined the Gunn faculty in 2011. In her spare time, Jena enjoys reading, photography, and hanging out with her family and friends. Jena Lee teaches Biology H and AP Biology.
Email: jlittle@pausd.org
Email: amaclean@pausd.org
has degrees in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry from UCSB. With many years of experience in the semiconductor industry, most recently in the safety field, he brings practical knowledge and expertise to the classroom. He loves helping students move from trepidation to self-confidence in their ability to study science and apply it to their lives. A long time girls’ softball coach and umpire, now that his three children are grown he also spends his spare time woodcarving, playing bellows-blown bagpipes, and cultivating bonsai, orchids, and his garden. Alec MacLean teaches Chemistry and Physics.
Email: hmellows@pausd.org
Heather Mellows is a Palo Alto native, a graduate of Fairmeadow, JLS and Paly.  She studied chemistry and astrophysics at UC Berkeley and earned a PhD in inorganic chemistry at the University of Washington.  She earned her masters in education and teaching credential at Stanford.  She has wanted to be a teacher since the second grade; first she wanted to teach 5th grade, then math, but when she met chemistry she fell in love and has never looked back.  She has been teaching chemistry, honors chemistry and AP chemistry at Gunn since 2005 with a two year leave of absence to teach high school chemistry in English at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey.  She loves to travel and collects periodic tables from all over the world. 
Email: amerchant@pausd.org
grew up in a large family in small town in central Illinois. She graduated from University of Illinois - Urbana with a Bachelor's degree in Biology, followed by several years working in academic labs in Boston and Chicago. She received her Masters degree in Education from Northwestern University, after which she taught for two years in Chicago Public Schools before her husband's career brought her to California in 2001. Angela considers herself lucky to have been part of the Titan family since then. Angela also received her National Board Certification with emphasis in biology. During her free time, Angela enjoys reading, cooking, running and hanging out with her husband and 2 sons.Angela Merchant teaches Biology 1AC and Biotechnology.
Email: coconnell@pausd.org
Casey O'Connell was born on a military base and spent his early years overseas in Sardinia. His middle childhood was spent in Charleston, SC. Casey then attended high school, college and graduate school in the northeast. He briefly taught on the college level and worked as a environmental technician and research neuroscientist. He lived in New York and Washington DC before moving to California. Casey lives in San Francisco and enjoys photography, traveling, and any activity that involves being outdoors. Casey O'Connell teaches Chemistry Honors.
Email: lpennington@pausd.org
Laurie Pennington is a Bay Area native who has come full circle in her geographic location. She grew up in Pacifica, attended Terra Nova High School, got her Bachelor’s at UC Davis, earned her teaching credential at CSU Sacramento, moved to Berkeley and then Oakland while teaching in Hayward (Sunset High School, then Mount Eden High School), and finally landed in Palo Alto at Gunn High School in 1993. After one year she moved to Paly, where she taught until 2004. During times off from school to take care of her two boys, Laurie supervised teacher candidates in the Stanford Teacher Education Program. Upon her return to the District in 2007, she landed back at Gunn where she currently switches between teaching chemistry and physics. Laurie has coached both springboard diving (Paly & Gunn) and JV volleyball (Paly) and loves to participate in the Choir-Staff Musical every year. Outside of school Laurie enjoys spending time with her family, attending sporting events, and travelling.
Email: mpowell@pausd.org
Maria Powell has taught at Gunn since 2006. Prior to that she taught biology and earth science for two years in Los Baños, California. She has a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Genetics and a minor in Chemistry. Mrs. Powell earned her teaching credential from CSU Stanislaus in 2005 and National Board Certification in 2010. Here at Gunn, she has taught environmental science, chemistry 1, biology 1, and biology 1AC. She and her husband have three children. Their oldest son is a 2008 graduate of Palo Alto High School and their two daughters graduated from Gunn in 2010 and 2011. Maria Powell teaches Biology 1AC and Chemistry 1.
Email: cwoznicki@pausd.org
Email: ezizmor@pausd.org
Elana Zizmor holds a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry/Chemistry from UC San Diego and a Masters Degree in Education from UC Davis. During her education at UC San Diego she worked in research labs including SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography and the SALK Institute. Her education at UC Davis was greatly influenced by her exposure to a dynamic classroom teacher who valued hands on experiences, and she has continued to focus on classroom strategies that employ such techniques. Having taught Chemistry for 5 years, and AP Chemistry for 2, she has come to Gunn with a not only experience, but a dynamic personality and charm. Mrs. Zizmor is married with 2 children, and sings in an acapella group called "Rapid Transit". Elana Zizmor teaches Chemistry 1 and AP Chemistry.