Killer Snails: From Beach to Lab Bench to Bedside

Part of Educators


Join us for a special afternoon for educators with Mandë Holford, associate professor, CUNY Hunter College and The CUNY Graduate Center, and research associate, American Museum of Natural History, and Jessica Ochoa Hendrix, CEO of Killer Snails.

Fish-hunting snails—yes, you read that correctly—harpoon their prey with barbs containing complex mixtures of peptide venoms. Venoms—molecules that evolved as toxins—have the power to transform lives. Marine chemical biologist Mandë Holford studies snail venom and its ability to disable prey by interfering with cell signaling. These peptides can provide insights into cellular physiology, informing efforts to develop new medical therapeutics, new agricultural pesticides with gentler environmental impacts, and myriad other innovations yet to be discovered. Holford will be joined by Jessica Ochoa Hendrix, with whom she co-founded Killer Snails, a learning games company that uses extreme creatures, like venomous marine snails, as a conduit to advance scientific learning in K–12 classrooms. Together they will talk about how they have leveraged their backgrounds in science and education to help students feel like scientists addressing real-world problems. They will also share a free multi-modal science curriculum supplement to introduce these killer snails to students.

This is a free online event for 6–12 teachers. One hour of CTLE credit available. 


Dr. Mande Holford

Mandë Holford is an Associate Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College and The CUNY Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her research, from mollusks to medicine, combines -omic technologies with chemical biology to examine venoms and venomous animals as agents of change and innovation in evolution and in manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. She is active in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. She co-founded Killer Snails, LLC, an award-winning EdTech learning games company that uses extreme creatures, like venomous marine snails, as a conduit to advance scientific learning in K–12 classrooms. Her honors include being named a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Breakthrough Women in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NPR’s Science Friday, a Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Fellow, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, an NSF CAREER awardee, and Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Her Ph.D. degree is from The Rockefeller University.


Jessica Ochoa Hendrix

Jessica Ochoa Hendrix, CEO of Killer Snails, has worked in K–16 education since 2003. Ochoa Hendrix was awarded the 2019 TED Residency, an in-house incubator within TED for breakthrough ideas and invited to give a TED talk on incorporating VR into the classroom. Prior to co-founding Killer Snails, she most recently worked as an educational consultant whose clients included Relay Graduate School of Education and the Charter Network Accelerator. Previously, she worked for Uncommon Schools as the Director of Organizational Learning, as an Education Pioneer at the New York City Department of Education, and with Brooklyn Prospect Charter School to launch the first Brooklyn Prospect in 2008. Ms. Ochoa Hendrix received her M.B.A. with a concentration in Social Enterprise from Columbia Business School and was awarded the Board of Overseers Fellowship and the Nathan Gantcher Prize for Social Enterprise. Prior to business school, she worked in marketing for the Harvard Business Review and The Economist, and taught for four years for The Princeton Review. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is a proud alumna of Project Entrepreneur.