TJ McKenna got his start as an animal behaviorist and is now an extreme hoarder of NGSS resources (which we know to be scarce). This may have stemmed from his undergraduate research where he conceived and designed experiments on deceptive and theft-averting behaviors of food-caching Eastern Grey Squirrels - hoarders of a different kind. This later eventually led to a Masters degree in Entomology, and he is currently in the doctoral program in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Connecticut focused on Science Education, and a lead facilitator for the NGSX project (NGSX.org).
TJ first commented on early drafts of NGSS and became very interested in education because of the way the Next Generation Science Standards capture what it is like to think like a scientist in authentic ways. Now, drawing on his background as a research scientist and his 7 years of on-air television work, phenomena has become a major way he engages students and teacher learners (both pre-service & in-service) with core science ideas that they want to figure out. Because the NGSS reflect how TJ thinks about science, he hopes that through curating a cache of phenomena this will open conversations and with educators across the nation who are hoping to create the next generation of student engagement in science.