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Dr. Julia Sheldon P'20, '23

Science Faculty

Dr. Julia Sheldon P'20, '23

 860-408-4335

B.S., University of California at San Diego
M.S., Yale University
Ph.D., Yale University

Dr. Julia Sheldon P’20, ’23 began teaching science at Walker’s in 1998. Her childhood fascination with the natural world led her to love science and eventually to pursue a degree in chemistry at the University of California at San Diego. During her time at UCSD, Julia became a certified SCUBA diver and worked in a research lab studying fish physiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Julia also discovered a passion for teaching through serving as a teaching assistant and mentoring low income, first-generation college students in the Ronald McNair program at UCSD. After college, Julia continued her research and teaching at Yale University, where she earned a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry while studying the interactions between DNA and the proteins that begin the cellular process of transcription.

At Walker’s, Julia is passionate about engaging girls in science by encouraging them to observe the environment around them and to explore how science can help them understand and improve their world. A highlight of her career was being named a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, which allowed her to travel on an expedition to the Arctic and develop and teach an interdisciplinary elective course in Arctic Studies at Walker’s. Julia also co-developed and now co-teaches Honors Biochemistry, Walker’s research-based science course that allows girls to search for new antibiotics in response to the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis. Julia has also held several administrative roles at Walker’s including science department chair and co-dean of faculty, and she currently serves as dean of studies.

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Sandra Quinlan P'16

Chemistry Faculty

Sandra Quinlan P'16

 860-408-4338

B.A., SUNY
M.A., Syracuse University

Dr. Suzanne Piela P’22, '28

Science Faculty

Dr. Suzanne Piela P’22, '28

 860-408-4336

B.S., University of Notre Dame
D.V.M., University of Minnesota

Suzanne joined The Ethel Walker School in the fall of 2007 and since then has taught AP Biology, Advanced Biology, Honors Biology, General Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Honors Biochemistry, Equine Science, and an independent study in Microbiology. Suzanne earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of Notre Dame and her D.V.M. at the University of Minnesota. She also did a small animal internship in medicine, surgery, and emergency medicine at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital in Springfield, MA.

Suzanne practiced as a small animal veterinarian for 10 years before transitioning to teaching. Prior to her role at Walker’s, she worked as a park naturalist and taught ecology at the elementary level, and worked as a middle and high school science and math tutor.

Suzanne is currently the Science Department Chair, coaches JV Tennis, and loves to ride at Walker’s barn when she has time.

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Dr. Emma Mitchell

Chair, Science Department and Physics Faculty

Dr. Emma Mitchell

 860-408-4334

B.A., Vassar College
Ph.D., University of Virginia

Emma received her Bachelor’s degree in physics from Vassar College in 2009, where she also was senior editor of the college newspaper. She taught physics and chemistry at her alma mater, Emma Willard School, before earning a Ph.D. in applied physics at the University of Virginia in 2016. Her Ph.D. research was in laboratory astrophysics and astrochemistry, focusing on thermal and radiation processing of frozen water in astronomical environments. As a graduate student, she was awarded fellowships by both the NASA Earth and Space Science Program and the NASA Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Emma lives with her rescue border collie, Davy.

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Mary Beth Conley

Psychology Faculty, Academic Support Coordinator

Mary Beth Conley

 860-408-4283

B.A., Holy Cross College
M.A., Pepperdine University

Mary Beth joined The Ethel Walker School in the fall of 2007. During this time she has taught Psychology, AP Psychology, and Advanced Psychology and has also partnered with the school counselor to teach the Wellness section of the 9th Grade Seminar. Since the fall of 2011, Mary Beth has served as the academic support coordinator which has enabled her to combine her background in counseling psychology with her understanding of brain-based learning strategies.

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Dr. Melissa Bernardo

Science Faculty

Dr. Melissa Bernardo

 860-408-4328

B.A., Eastern Connecticut State University
Ph.D., Wesleyan University

Melissa joined Walker’s in 2017 after completing her Ph.D. in Biology from Wesleyan University. Her dissertation dealt with nutrient-mediated manipulation of host-feeding behavior by a parasitoid. Melissa has taught a range of topics at the university level and brings her knowledge and enthusiasm to Walker’s chemistry, biology and environmental science classes. She also coaches volleyball and softball.

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