People

Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., Tangled Bank Studios has a core team of producers and business professionals who are dedicated to the highest-quality filmmaking. Feel free to contact us or use our online proposal submission form if you have an idea for a film.

Photo by James Kegley
Michael Rosenfeld
Head of Television and Film

Michael Rosenfeld is an award-winning producer, writer, and television executive with extensive leadership experience in documentary production and new media. He has produced and written films covering a broad sweep of topics, from anthropology to history to volcanology. As an executive producer and production company president, he has overseen a number of legendary franchises, including National Geographic Explorer and the National Geographic Specials. In a career spanning network broadcast, cable, and public television, he has won or led teams that won hundreds of industry awards, including the Peabody and almost 40 News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

Before launching Tangled Bank Studios as HHMI’s head of television and film, Rosenfeld was associated with National Geographic for more than two decades as a supervising writer, producer, executive producer, and production company president. As president of National Geographic Television, Rosenfeld oversaw the production of more than 130 hours of television documentary programming a year for National Geographic Channel, PBS, and broadcasters worldwide. He oversaw such signature projects as The Gospel of Judas for the National Geographic Channel; National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth, which aired on PBS; Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack for NBC; and Pyramids Live, broadcast on Fox TV.  He also established National Geographic's Digital Studio, which produces short-form digital content earning millions of views, and oversaw National Geographic Television's first venture into television drama.

Rosenfeld joined HHMI in July 2011 to lead its new initiative in science filmmaking. He is responsible for overall strategic development of Tangled Bank Studios, its partnerships, and its productions.

Photo by Hadar Goren
David Elisco
Director of Development

David Elisco has been writing and producing award-winning science and natural history documentaries for more than 20 years. He has worked for and with Sea Studios Foundation, National Geographic Television and Film, Discovery Channel, and PBS, among others. Elisco has produced a number of critically acclaimed and award-winning films, including National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth, which aired on PBS and was hosted by Academy-Award nominee Edward Norton; The Shape of Life, an eight-hour series for PBS; Oceans in Glass, for WNET's Nature; and Web of Life, a two-hour, Emmy-nominated special that aired on PBS.

Most recently, Elisco produced, directed, and wrote several films for National Geographic Television and Film, including Sex, Lies & Gender, which investigates new science surrounding human sexuality; Countdown to Catastrophe, a two-hour special which examines impending disasters posed by tsunamis and earthquakes; and Virus Hunters, which probes a provocative new theory that viruses are the major driver in the creation of complex life on Earth.

Elisco's honors include Best Series at Wildscreen Festival; Best Children's Program at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Festival; first place in The Environmental Media Awards; and an Emmy nomination. As director of development for Tangled Bank Studios, he is responsible for the evaluation of proposals from producers around the world and the development of selected projects, from concept through production and distribution.

Photo by James Kegley
Lori Beane
Director of Operations

Lori Beane brings more than 15 years of experience to her role as director of operations. Prior to joining Tangled Bank Studios, Beane served as an executive in the Production Management Department of media powerhouse Discovery Communications—most recently as Director, Collective Nets. In this capacity she supervised more than 1,500 production hours for five of Discovery's networks: Investigation Discovery, Military and History, Destination Discovery, Velocity, and Discovery Fit & Health. During her nine years at Discovery, Beane negotiated deals with vendors; managed production budgets, schedules, and deliverables; and ensured that production and contractual obligations were met.

Earlier in her career, Beane managed the day-to-day production and business operations of Lone Wolf Documentary Group, a mid-sized production company based in Maine. There she also helped develop film projects such as the National Geographic Special Lost at Sea. Beane leads the business affairs, budgetary, and partnership arms of Tangled Bank Studios.

Photo by Paul Morigi
Laura Helft
Senior Researcher

An accomplished education specialist with a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology, Laura Helft works with Tangled Bank Studio’s scientific advisors and editorial teams to ensure high standards of accuracy and fidelity to the scientific process.

Prior to joining Tangled Bank Studios, Helft conducted research on plants and the bacteria that can make them sick at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her time there, she was a leader in a number of initiatives to engage the public in science, including science festivals, after-school science clubs, middle-school and high-school classroom teaching, and the national Science Olympiad. In addition to coordinating the efforts of Tangled Bank Studios' scientific advisors, Helft also researches, fact-checks, and annotates projects as they develop. To extend the reach of Tangled Bank Studios films into K-12 classrooms, Helft liaises with HHMI's Educational Resources Group to develop short films, classroom activities, and interactive tools for educators.

For HHMI’s Department of Science Education

Photo by James Kegley
Sean B. Carroll
Vice President for Science Education

An internationally recognized scientist, award-winning author, and educator, Carroll leads HHMI’s Department of Science Education and oversees the largest portfolio of privately supported science education programs in the country. He was the architect of HHMI's new $60 million science filmmaking initiative and has served as executive producer and on-screen presenter of HHMI’s first slate of short films produced specifically for the classroom.

Carroll is a pioneer of, and widely considered to be the leading figure in, the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or –“evo-devo,” the study of the genes that control animal body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. In recognition of his scientific contributions, Carroll has received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences, been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, as well as named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A prominent science communicator in print, on radio, and on television, Carroll is the author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species, which was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award (non-fiction); The Making of the Fittest, which won the 2007 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award; and of Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times 2005 Science Book Prize. His first two books were the basis for, and Carroll was the scientific consulting producer of, a two-hour NOVA special that was first broadcast in December 2009 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Carroll also writes a regular feature, "Remarkable Creatures," for the New York Times' Science Times.

Prior to becoming Vice President at HHMI, Carroll was (and continues to be) Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For his educational contributions, he has receivedthe Stephen Jay Gould Prize for the advancement of the public understanding of evolution from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Award from the Society for Developmental Biology.

Photo by Hadar Goren
Dennis Liu
Head of Educational Media & Outreach

A nationally recognized expert in science education, Dennis Liu has directed the production of educational media at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1997. His team of scientists, education specialists, and graphic designers work with research scientists, animators, educators, and filmmakers to produce an array of educational products. Their work includes lectures, short films, animations, virtual labs, and a variety of supplementary materials for use in science classrooms, all of which are distributed free to educators in multiple formats.

His team will also be producing short classroom films and supporting materials based on Tangled Bank productions.

HHMI’s short films have been widely adopted by teachers and have received numerous awards, including Best Short Feature from the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards and a Labby Media Award from The Scientist magazine.

Liu’s group also produces the award-winning BioInteractive website, where over two million visitors stream videos, view animations, perform “virtual labs," and obtain lesson plans and activity guides. The group’s virtual labs won the prestigious International Pirelli Top Prize for the Diffusion of Scientific Culture and Thinking. The group has developed an extensive network of teachers who produce, review, and advise on the development of curricular materials. His team has also been producing the HHMI Holiday Lectures on Science series since 1997. Each series features research scientists giving highly engaging presentations focused on a specific topic. The lectures are aimed at advanced high school and introductory college students.

Prior to joining HHMI, Liu conducted research in neuroscience and genetics, earning a PhD in biology from the University of Oregon and completing postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington, where he later assumed a faculty position in the Department of Genetics. Liu has taught courses in neurobiology, genetics, and comparative physiology. He has a passion for explaining science to all audiences, has been an advisor on numerous museum exhibits, and writes a regular feature for the journal Life Sciences Education.