Our Team

Team SciTech

Festival Director, Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D.

Jeremy Babendure

Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., coordinates logistics related to the Festival’s signature events, hub and in-field science confirmations, year-round science coordination and communications. Babendure attributes his enthusiasm for directing the first annual Arizona SciTech Festival to the fact that through the festival format comes an opportunity to position Arizona as an emerging world leader in science, technology and innovation. Additionally, Babendure sees the four-week festival as a chance to offer a highly visible platform to pull together academia, businesses and the K-12 educational system to collectively work towards growing a competitive workforce and strengthening Arizona’s economic future.

Growing up in the City of Scottsdale, Arizona, Babendure is a product of the Arizona state school system and received a Flinn Scholarship to continue his studies at Arizona State University, where he developed molecular sensors for the binding of histone proteins to DNA in the lab of Dr. Neal Woodbury. This experience inspired Babendure to continue research at University of California San Diego, CA., in the lab of recent Nobel Laureate, Dr. Roger Tsien, developing molecular sensors for the detection of RNAs in cells and earning his doctorate in Biomedical Sciences. After graduation, Tsien and Babendure collaboratively launched the ScienceBridge program as a mechanism to bring current science to students, teachers and the general public. In just over four years, Babendure lead the development of ScienceBridge from a one-person concept into one of the strongest educational outreach operations in San Diego with a team of 40, impacting over 200 teachers, 20,000 students, and 60,000 members of the general public annually.

Contact Jeremy Babendure at Jbabendure@aztechcouncil.org 

Don Ruedy, Executive Emeritus - Southern Arizona

Don Ruedy serves as executive emeritus- Southern Arizona, with the Arizona Technology Council and assists with the coordination of Festival events in Tucson.

He is a retired engineering executive from Raytheon (Hughes) where he served for 37 years in many management positions including Founding Director of the Knowledge Center Southwest. He continues to serve on many advisory boards and councils that value education, team building and STEM initiatives. Don earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University, his master’s degree in structural engineering from UCLA and executive MBA from the University of Arizona.

Charlotte Hodel, IOM, Communications & Development Advisor

Throughout Hodel’s 30 years of professional experience, she has successfully served 26 years in metropolitan Phoenix. With her degrees in Communications and Performance, she has become known for her enthusiastic, creative and effective positions in Business, Community Development and Public Affairs. Her career includes serving as a top producer in corporate business and program development for three chambers of commerce, including Phoenix and Chandler; a non-profit small business association, and a respected executive in publishing. Hodel is recognized as an award winning community campaign director, and pioneer of innovative business programming.

Contact Charlotte Hodel at chodel@aztechcouncil.org

Robin McNulty, Volunteer Coordinator

A former high school teacher, Robin has a wide-ranging background in media, technology and community outreach. She is noted for forging partnerships between education, community and industry professionals. Skills that serve her well in coordinating events, large and small, in such diverse communities as Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston and Arizona.

Contact Robin at rmcnulty@aztechcouncil.org

Management Board

Steven G. Zylstra Sc.D. (Hon.), President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council  

Steven G. Zylstra Sc.D. (Hon.) serves as president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, a role he assumed in December of 2007. He is responsible for strategy, development, operations and accomplishment of policy development, business goals and objectives and all financial matters related to the Council. Zylstra is a vocal spokesman for the value technology can provide in raising social and economic standards in Arizona. He has served in numerous technology leadership and advisory roles to the Governor and currently serves on several association, industry and community boards. Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology from Western Michigan University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Technology from the University of Advancing Technology.

Dr. William Petuskey, Associate Vice President and Professor, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, Arizona State University

William Petuskey's research group focuses on the physical chemistry of ceramics, glasses and wide band-gap semiconductors. They seek to find new compounds, or modifications of known materials, with special properties suitable for electronic, optic, electrochemical and mechanical applications. The approach is to design new materials by manipulating both crystal chemistry and microstructure of solids. A wide variety of synthetic techniques are employed, ranging from the soft chemical approaches of solution and vapor chemistry to the hard chemical approaches of extreme temperatures and pressures. The manipulation of microstructures implies the introduction and control of grain boundaries and phase boundaries, which often impart radically different physical properties to solids than would have been expected of single crystals. Taken to the extreme of nanoscaled organization, they are developing "soft-ceramics" that combine high temperature stability in oxidizing and corrosive environments with mechanical toughness. To achieve this, one project investigates the crystal chemical alteration of layered perovskites to produce mica-like materials that are stable to greater than 1500 C, but yet can be easily machined into complex shapes.

Chevy Humphrey, CEO Arizona Science Center

When Ms. Humphrey assumed the President & CEO role, she accelerated the strategic growth both financially and through high impact science programming. In her tenure of six years as President & CEO she has grown the Center’s assets from $3M to more than $21M. She provided the leadership for the planning, design, fundraising and implementation of the Arizona Science Center’s master plan which transformed the Arizona Science Center’s second phase of growth. Under her leadership, the Center has received numerous national competitive and prestigious grants from the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. In addition, the Themed Entertainment Association awarded the Center a THEA award which represents the highest standards of excellence and achievement associated with the arts and science of themed entertainment for its Forces of Nature gallery, which is located in the Sybil B. Harrington galleries.

Humphrey serves on the executive committee as Secretary-Treasurer of the Association of Science-Technology Centers and serves on the boards of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Arizona College Scholarship Foundation and Phoenix Country Day School. She has previously served as a board member and on the executive committee as Treasurer for Charter 100 and as a commissioner of the City of Phoenix’s Cultural Affairs Commission. In 2011, Ms. Humphrey was honored by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of its Most Admired CEO’s and in 2008 Humphrey was recognized as one of 10 Women Who Move the Valley from Arizona Foothills Magazine. Humphrey was also selected in 2001, the first year class, of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Piper Fellows program.

David Drennon, Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives, Arizona Commerce Authority

Following 15 years of producing and managing award winning television news, David Drennon joined the Arizona Department of Commerce in May 2005 to lead the agency’s communication and public outreach activities. Currently, as the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for the Arizona Commerce Authority, he continues his efforts to promote the state of Arizona and its leadership in statewide business and economic development through targeted national and international missions marketing Arizona’s vibrant climate and global competitiveness.

Through his role and unique contacts across the state and nation, Mr. Drennon serves as a convener and connector for businesses and government. He has championed outreach efforts to Arizona’s rural communities through various workshops, listening sessions, community town halls and the annual Governor’s Statewide (previously Rural and Regional) Development Conference. Mr. Drennon has been a contributor to TechConnect magazine and served as interim-editor in 2006. In addition, he has provided countless articles for statewide and national newsletters and publications promoting economic development in Arizona.

Dr. Elliot Cheu, Associate Dean and Professor of Physics, The University of Arizona

Dr Cheu's research focuses on searches for Supersymmetry and new phenomena at the Large Hadron Collider. He was one of the leaders of the team that established the existence of direct CP violation, which is one of the components required to explain the observed matter/anti-matter asymmetry in the Universe. He has served on national review committees for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Prior to joining the UA Physics faculty in 1996, Dr. Cheu received a prestigious Robert R. McCormick Fellowship from the University of Chicago. He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Physics Department from 2006-2008 where he was active in improving the department's teaching mission and was awarded a College of Science Teaching Innovation Award. He joined the College of Science as Associate Dean in 2008.

Dr. Cheu is committed to improving undergraduate and graduate education in the College of Science. He is striving to increase student academic performance that will in turn lead to improved retention and graduation rates. Increasing and enhancing undergraduate involvement in research is another top goal for Dr. Cheu.