Science Play Team

Denise Gillman is an Associate Professor of Directing & Dramatic Literature at Christopher Newport University (CNU) in Newport News, VA and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Union member.  For over a decade, science-themed plays have been a major focus of her teaching, research and scholarship and both her professional and educational directing activity.  At CNU, she teaches “Science on the Stage” for the Honors Program.  Nationwide, she is one of only a few professors teaching a course that promotes interdisciplinarity between the arts, humanities and sciences.  She has given many science play presentations at regional, national and international conferences.  Ms. Gillman received the 2014 Association for Theater in Higher Education and Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Prize for Teaching Innovation for discovering new pathways for student success in the field of theater through her teaching, directing and scholarship on science-themed plays.  She has created, along with some former and current students, a science plays catalogue website ( that provides information about published science plays.  Questions or inquiries regarding her science play work can contact her at

Brooke Sanders began working on the Science Plays website alongside Denise Gillman in January 2017 of her Junior year at Christopher Newport University. From there, the website has been updated weekly with tens of blog posts and research.
In March of 2018, Brooke and Denise Gillman presented the catalogue at the Comparative Drama Conference in Orlando, Florida. In May 2018, Brooke graduated Christopher Newport University with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication and a Minor in Digital Humanities. Since graduation, Brooke has worked in the social media realm for Spark Brand, an advertising firm in Tampa, Florida. More recently, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to pursue Market Research for a Public Relations organization. For further questions or inquiries, she can be reached at

Trevor Hoag (@DrHoagCNU) is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Digital Humanities at Christopher Newport University. His forthcoming book, Occupying Memory: Rhetoric, Trauma, Mournin, investigates the rhetoricity of memory in relation to clinical/political struggle, and his articles have appeared in the journals Enculturation, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Liminalities. Dr. Hoag’s professional website can be found at: http://trevorhoagphd.o

Meaghan Yesford graduated from James Madison High School and currently attends Christopher Newport University. She is a sophomore and is majoring in Theater with a double concentration in Design/ Technical Theater and Directing/ Dramatic Literature. She previously worked with professor Gillman on the science play, Photograph 51, as an Assistant Stage Manager. In the summer of 2018, Meaghan began researching for the website with the Summer Scholars Program at CNU. By the end of the summer she had published 81 different posts to the website.

Jake Caracciolo is a Junior at Christopher Newport University majoring in environmental studies and minoring in theater. Jake works for an audio/visual company in New York focused on musicals, plays, and concerts. At Christopher Newport University, Jake has assisted in the building of sets for: Twelve Angry Jurors, Photograph 51, The Single Girls Guide, and Antigone.  Jake began researching and logging environmental plays for the Science Plays Catalogue in February, 2017. He will begin his next adventure this upcoming Spring 2019 semester as he ventures to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji through an amazing study abroad opportunity.

Shannon Farrow McNeely writes and researches on science-themed theater and STEAM education. With Gillman and Hartman, she co-authored the article “How Science Plays Are Building Interdisciplinary Bridges in the Classroom and Inspiring Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URSCA)” published in Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research (2018). McNeely played the role of Henrietta Leavitt in the collegiate premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s science-themed play Silent Sky at Christopher Newport University. Her thesis research “Act Like a Scientist: Science Theater as a Creative Approach to Address Gender Disparity in STEM Careers” was presented at the Paideia Conference (2016) and the Comparative Drama Conference (2017), received Christopher Newport’s Cupola Award, and is published in their journal of undergraduate research (2016). She graduated from Christopher Newport with her B.A. in Fine and Performing Arts (2016) and her M.A. in teaching (2017). McNeely teaches third grade in Henrico County, Virginia.

Danielle Hartman received a BA in theater and English from CNU and an MFA in theater pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she wrote her thesis, “In Pursuit of Women Scientists: Using Science Plays to Promote Women Entering STEM Disciplines.” This work received the American College Theater Festival/Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival prize for Innovative Graduate Studies in 2016. Her play Core of Temptation won the 42nd Annual National Playwriting Competition hosted by Wichita State University, where it was produced in 2016. Her play tackles the question of religion versus science in the creation of the universe. She currently works as an educator at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Mary Washington and has presented her work at several regional and national conferences including Southeastern Theater Conference and the Comparative Drama Conference.