Our Staff


Amalia McDonald Skyberg - Founder and Co-Director 

Prior to graduate school, I worked as a research assistant for a large lifespan data sharing project in New York. During this time, I helped organize an outreach BrainDay event four times a year to educate and engage the local community in Neuroscience through family friendly activities. After moving to Charlottesville, I volunteered as a mentor at Computers4Kids and as a graduate student at UVA, I run a developmental neuroepigentic research program investigating the biological mechanisms that contribute to healthy social neural development in children. Working with children is one of my favorite things about my job and I can’t wait to teach young scientists about all the amazing things our brains do!



Rolf Skyberg - Co-Director 

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at UVA in Dr. JC Cang’s where I study the physiological development of the visual system using mouse models. I also did my graduate studies at UVA in Dr. David Hill’s lab where I studied the development of the taste system. Throughout these experiences I have gained expertise in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and the development of sensory systems. I have also gained extensive teaching experience as a teaching assistant for a variety of Biology and Psychology courses. Prior to my time as a graduate student I was a summer camp counselor at Camp Lincoln in Nisswa, MN.




Francesca Sciaccotta - Camp Mentor 

I am a 3rd year PhD stundent at UVA in Dr. Alev Erisir's lab where I study the tree shrew visual thalamus. Prior to coming to Charlottesville, I studied psychology, biology, and neuroscience at Miami University and graduated in May 2019. While in college, I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, where I was involved in outreach for the greater Cincinnati area. Some of my favorite service projects involved volunteering at local middle and high schools, as well as the Ronald McDonald House. I am passionate about working with children and am excited to help grow their interest in the brain and nervous system!




Erin Kastar

Erin Kastar - Camp Mentor 

I am currently a graduate student in Jess Connelly’s lab at UVA and I look at how early life experiences impact future behavioral, neural, and epigenetic outcomes in an animal model. As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, I volunteered to educate young middle school girls on neuroscience and show them why animal models are a cool and useful tool through the Expanding Your Horizons program. This program focuses on getting young girls, specifically from underrepresented minorities, interested in STEM fields. I also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and was a summer camp counselor for 5 years. I really enjoy working with kids, and unfortunately don’t get to very much anymore, so I’m incredibly excited to teach more kids about science and hopefully get them excited about it too!


Robert Williams - Camp Mentor  Robert Williams headshot

I am currently in the lab of Dr. Adema Ribic as a fellow in the Bridge to Doctorate Program at UVA. As an undergraduate, I studied code-switching in different languages and dialects. I am current interested in how learning changes the brain. I received my undergraduate degree from Queens University of Charlotte but am originally from Fuquay Varina, NC. I enjoy running, watching classic films, and martial arts.




Samantha Brindley - Camp Mentor 

I am currently a graduate student in the Social Neuroscience Lab at UVA where I study the neur Sam brindley headshot al mechanisms that contribute to individual differences in social behaviors and traits. I recently organized and participated in Brain Awareness Week, which is a global science outreach initiative. During this event, UVA graduate students and faculty gave presentations on brain science to elementary and high school students in Charlottesville. I also mentor UVA undergraduates in underrepresented groups that are interested in studying neuroscience and conducting research. Prior to graduate school, I studied neuroscience, chemistry, and public health at the University of Miami where I held weekly problem-solving sessions for students taking introductory chemistry courses. I love sharing science with others, so I’m very excited to help children discover a passion for science by learning how amazing their own brains are!


Elise Savier - Camp Mentor Elise Savier Headshot

I grew up in a rural area of northeast France and entered the world of research as a medial lab technician. I have since grown a passion for fundamental questions in neuroscience and am currently investigating the neural basis of vision. Without an internship early in my training, I would not have pursued these studies in college and based on my own experience, I believe there is a need for early outreach efforts in science. I want to communicate my passion for research to the next generation and give everyone interested a chance to consider this career path. There is so much left to explore and discover, I'd like every curious mind to join this incredible adventure! 






Full 2021 Brain Camp Staff 

Amalia McDonald Skyberg, Rolf Skyberg, Francesca Sciaccotta, Erin Kastar, Robert Williams, Samantha Brindley, Elise Savier, Minah Kim, Mona Fariborzi, Olivia Skyberg, Peter Hill