The leadership team at the Stowers Institute is dedicated to fulfilling the mission of our founders by making a significant contribution to human health through world-class research.
Head of Science Communications
Head of Media Relations
Senior Manager of Research Development Support
Senior Science Writer
Project Manager, Office of the Executive Director
Director of IT Applications and Development
Stowers Resource Management
B.S., Biology, B.A., Chemistry, University of KansasPh.D., Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Kimberly Bland joined the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 2014. Prior to joining the Institute, she held positions in the areas of academic research, biotechnology, drug discovery research, preclinical drug development, medical writing, and clinical research.
Bland earned a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley. As a predoctoral fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, she performed research in developmental neurobiology under the mentorship of Corey Goodman, Ph.D.
Bland has published 14 peer-reviewed original research publications and holds one patent. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
B.J., Broadcast Journalism, Minors in Political Science and Business, Missouri School of Journalism
Joe Chiodo joined the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in April 2022 as Head of Media Relations and leads the Institute’s digital media team. Prior to joining the Institute, he was an anchor/reporter for the local CBS affiliate in Kansas City, MO.
Chiodo focused his reporting on health and medicine. He was one of the first reporters in the country to interview coronavirus patients who returned to the United States after being quarantined on the Princess Diamond Cruise Ship in early 2020. He also covered the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
Chiodo graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in broadcast journalism and minors in political science and business. He has also worked at the NBC affiliates in Omaha, Nebraska and Columbia, Missouri. His reports have been seen on national platforms as well such as CBS Mornings, NBC Nightly News, and the Weather Channel.
During his time in television news, he earned 4 mid-America Emmy Awards for his reporting on mental health, breaking news, and education. He has been honored with several AP awards and Kansas Broadcast Awards.
B.S., Biochemistry, Colorado State UniversityPh.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Michelle Lewallen, Ph.D., is the Senior Manager of Research Development Support for the Stowers Institute. Michelle oversees the external grants program at the Institute, providing support and expertise from the grant proposal stage through the award management stage. In addition to the administration of external funding, a major focus of the Research Development Support team is on training in proposal preparation and strategic development of grant projects. Michelle has a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Michelle has been with the Institute since 2010.
B.S., Chemistry, University of California, San DiegoM.S., Atmospheric Science, Cornell UniversityPh.D., Atmospheric Science, Cornell University
Rachel Scanza joined the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in March, 2022, as Senior Science Writer. She translates complex science for a broad audience to author press releases, news stories, and features for the Institute.
Scanza earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Cornell University in the lab of Natalie Mahowald, Ph.D., where she focused on global climate modeling of atmospheric aerosols. Her work was primarily concerned with both the direct radiative impacts of aerosols on climate and indirect effects including biogeochemical cycling of trace nutrients. Scanza continued to investigate atmospheric aerosols on climate as a postdoctoral fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Prior to transitioning to science writing in life science, Scanza has published two peer-reviewed first author original research papers, has co-authored a dozen additional publications, and has edited and rewritten many more.
B.S., Physics, Truman State UniversityPh.D., Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center
Sarah E. Smith, Ph.D., is Project Manager for the Office of the Executive Director at the Stowers Institute. In this role, she works with the Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Scientific Director, and the Chief of Staff to implement programs supporting science at the Stowers Institute. A Kansas City native, Smith trained as an artist before earning her B.S. in physics at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. She completed her graduate work in the lab of Rong Li, Ph.D., at the Stowers Institute, studying the biophysics of cell polarization and earning her Ph.D. in molecular and integrative physiology through the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2013. She then transitioned to a role as a Research Specialist in Microscopy, where she worked with laboratory researchers throughout the Stowers Institute to plan, perform, analyze and publish imaging experiments to address a wide range of biological questions. Smith transitioned to her current role in April 2022.
B.S. International Business, University of KansasB.A. French, University of Kansas
Jessica Witt is
the Director of IT Applications and Development at the Stowers Institute
for Medical Research. Jessica has been with the Institute since 2004,
and has participated in most of the institute’s major software
deployment projects. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked as a
Cost Engineer at Black and Veatch.
oversees the development, administration, support, deployment, and
training for the Institute’s enterprise applications, including M365,
ServiceNow, Atlassian Suite, Data Vault, and a custom LIMS.
Additionally, she manages the Help Desk support and IT Operations teams
and leads the Service Now and Atlassian Community User Groups in the
Kansas City Area. Jessica has a B.S. in International Business and B.A.
in French from the University of Kansas.