Jeremy Benson
Camp Director
Program Specialist
Meet Jeremy. Jeremy Benson is director of NIU STEAM summer camps. Jeremy has experience as assistant director, lead instructor and overnight supervisor of NIU STEAM camps. During the academic year, he also presents our STEM demonstrations, and hands-on exploration programs to students all over northern Illinois. He's a certified physics teacher in the state of Illinois and has been a full-time STEM Educator with NIU since 2011. He’s a master of designing fun and content-rich camp programs and loves to build things, especially if they include some electronics or rocket motors.
Dr. Kristin Brynteson
NIU STEAM Director
Meet Kristin. Kristin Brynteson, Ed.D. is the director of NIU STEAM where she leads efforts to support interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education and technology integration through regional and statewide professional development programs. Kristin has been working with K-12 teachers for over 20 years including ten years as an adjunct instructor for the NIU Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in technology integration and visual literacy. She has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and an M.S. and an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology from Northern Illinois University.
Kerri Sosnowski
STEAM Educator
Kerri is a licensed K-9 teacher who has worked in schools for the past 21 years in many capacities. She is currently a STEAM Educator who is part of a team that writes STEAM and Project/Problem Based Learning curricular resources for NIU STEAM’s STEM Read, STEM Outreach and STEAMing It Up, as well as for the Migrant Program of Illinois and international clients. She helps to provide professional development to teachers throughout Illinois and helps lead literacy and STEAM based activities and programs for students.
K.C. Sauer
STEM Educator
Meet K.C. K.C. Sauer has a life-long passion for all earth sciences, especially weather, climate and geography. Education has also been part of K.C.’s life since he was 12 and began coaching bowling to other youth bowlers. It was only natural for him to combine science and education when choosing a career. K.C. has spent his time in various aspects of education, including middle school science, special education and advocacy for students receiving special education services. He is very excited to be part of a fantastic group of NIU STEM professionals, and he’s looking forward to helping the program reach more learners.
Ann Shult
STEM Educator
Meet Ann. For Ann, nature is more than her job, it’s her passion. When not designing lesson plans, you can find her outdoors bird watching, hiking, camping, taking pictures of flowers and insects, gardening or reading about science. After 26 years in the classroom teaching biology and human anatomy & physiology, Ann joined NIU STEM Outreach in 2020. She earned her MS Ed. from Northern Illinois University in outdoor teacher education and her MAT from Miami (OH) University in biological sciences. Her emphasis is developing lessons involving inquiry-based learning.
Gillian King-Cargile
STEAM Educator
STEM Read Camp
Gillian King-Cargile is the founder and director of Northern Illinois University’s STEM Read (, which introduces readers to the science behind popular fiction. She is also the author of several books and stories for adults and children, including the Stuffed Bunny Science Adventure Series (The Toy and the Twister, The Toy and the Tide Pool, The Toy and the Test Drive). Her books tell fun, fast-paced stories that incorporate STEM concepts aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. If she’s not preparing one of our amazing STEM Read field trips or camp experiences you may find her interviewing creative authors and STEM professionals as the host of the STEM Read Podcast on NPR.
Becky Griffith
STEAM Educator
Video Game Design, Coding and Esports Camps
Meet Becky. Becky Griffith has taught video game design camps and workshops for the past eight years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s in fine arts from NIU, where she focused on fiber art, drawing, painting, video and installations. Becky loves teaching video game design camps, and she encourages students to embrace their creativity through storytelling, art and coding. Her favorite game is Minecraft.
Hollie Rodriguez
STEAM Educator
Meet Hollie. Hollie Rodriguez is a STEAM Educator with NIU STEAM and a published writer. Rodriguez started at NIU STEAM in 2015 as a student worker. After graduating from the university’s English program in 2017, Rodriguez has come on as full-time NIU STEAM associate. In her day-to-day responsibilities, Hollie develops unique and interdisciplinary STEAM programming with an emphasis in digital media, literacy and storytelling.
Wade Duerkes
Program Director
Digital Photography Camp
Wade Duerkes received a BFA and MFA in Photography from Northern Illinois University in 1999 and 2006 respectively. During his 20-year career he has worked as a university photographer, educator and freelance photographer.
Faculty Consultants
Program Specialists
Experienced faculty in engineering, multiple sciences, the liberal arts, technology and health sciences contribute to camp in multiple ways, from instruction and lab visits to consulting on lessons. Campers will see more of them in instructional roles in the high school camps.