Who Are We?

LabRats San Diego is a nonprofit after-school education program taught by scientists for students age 11-18. We incorporate some of the best aspects of sports and scout programs into the lab, utilizing science related team building activities as well as a performance based system of advancement and a strong code of ethics. Our approach is built on creating fun and engaging experiences through which our members can observe their own progress as they develop strength of character, expand their knowledge, and develop confidence in their ability to accomplish great things.

LabRats San Diego is broken up into a core program and an advanced program using a performance based system of learning, leadership, and responsibility. We are currently enrolling youth grades 5-9 for our program. Our 90-minute weekly science labs are being led by science mentors with a background in research. This leadership approach brings to our students “real life” science mentors who have been there, and who have a full understanding of the work it takes to make it through STEM education.

Shawn Carlson, Ph.D. : Dr. Carlson received Bachelor Degrees in both Physics and Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1981, a Masters Degree in Physics and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from UCLA in 1983 and 1989 respectively. Dr. Carlson is a nationally known science writer. He spent six years writing "The Amateur Scientist" column for Scientific American, and has published several popular books ion science and one college-level textbook on physics. To increase the public's engagement in science, Dr. Carlson has founded and led non-profit organizations, worked with educators at all levels, created web-ventures, lectured extensively, and written numerous books and articles. His innovative approaches to education have been discussed in books (including The American Dream by Dan Rather), magazines (including News Week, and  US News and World Report), and numerous newspapers and TV shows. In recognition of his work in science education, Dr. Carlson received the highly prestigious MacArthur "genius" Fellowship. He is the creative mind behind LabRats, excited to share his experience and teach youth the incredible world of science that is all around us.

J. Ryan Merrill (Education Coordinator): Received his Masters in Chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015. Received his Bachelor degree in Chemistry from University of California Santa Barbara, college of creative studies, in 2013. He spent 4 years in research; studied the folding patterns of Amyloid proteins in type II diabetes, helped develop a new nESI Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometer machine, and studied synthetic DNA properties. He spent 2 years teaching general chemistry classes and labs at UC Boulder, and spent over 6 years tutoring for STEM related classes. He grew up in Encinitas and attended LCCHS, He loves the community here and wants to give back and share his love for science