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

Anna Galanides is currently a Christopher Newport University senior, majoring in Theater with double concentrations in Arts Administration and Design/Tech. Her experience with science plays began with CNU’s 2nd Annual Science Play Festival, where she acted as Stage Manager and Artistic Associate. She continues her work on science plays through an internship with Denise Gillman and the Summer Scholars Program at CNU. Anna is looking forward to acting as the Associate Artistic Director for CNU’s 3rd Annual Science Play Festival in January of 2021.

Meaghan Yesford is a senior at Christopher Newport University and is majoring in Theater with a double concentration in Design/ Technical Theater and Directing/ Dramatic Literature. She was an Assistant Stage Manager on the science play Photograph 51 in the fall of 2017 and was the Stage Manager for the science play An Experiment with an Air Pump in the fall of 2019, both directed by Denise Gillman. Meaghan’s work on the Science Plays website began in the summer of 2018 with the Summer Scholars Program at CNU. She has contributed about 80 posts to the website and presented her work at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in April, 2019. She is currently a part of the Research Apprenticeship Program at CNU as the Assistant Director for TheaterCNU’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. 

Jake Caracciolo received a BA from Christopher Newport University in May of 2020. He majored in environmental studies and minored in theater and museum studies. While at Christopher Newport, Jake has assisted in the building of sets for multiple productions. He also contributed to the Science Plays Catalogue, starting in February of 2017. Jake currently works for an audio/visual company in New York focused on musicals, plays, and concerts. He is looking to continue his passion for theater as his interests and skillsets expand. 

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 has presented her work at several regional and national conferences including Southeastern Theater Conference and the Comparative Drama Conference and as part of the VCU Honors College Berglund Series and Diverse Conversations.  She works professionally in Richmond with 5th Wall Theatre and has worked with CAT Theatre and Wishing Winds Creations.  Danielle directed in the 2019 and 2020 Science Play Reading Festival at Christopher Newport University and helped to develop the online science play catalog  She currently works as an educator at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Mary Washington and has co-authored 2 articles with Denise Gillman and Shannon Farrow on science theatre and interdisciplinary studies.

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 from 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 an 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