Our Fellows

Congratulations to our NSF Fellows who will participate in the three-year summer institute in advanced research methods (SIARM) for STEM education research at the University of Chicago beginning this summer 2021. Read more about our fellows below.

Alexandra Adair, Ph.D.
Research Associate at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University (NYU)

Bio: Alexandra Adair is a Research Associate at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Dr. Adair has contributed to a range of randomized controlled trials, mixed method, and quasi-experimental studies. Her work at the Research Alliance focuses on our study of New York City’s Computer Science for All Initiative, as well as career and technical education (CTE), Pre-K for All, and college access and success initiatives. Prior to joining the Research Alliance, Dr. Adair worked at the Education Development Center (EDC) where she worked on a number of large and small scale projects including her work on the Ready to Learn Initiative, a federally funded program conducted in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS, which aimed to improve young children’s science and literacy skills. She also served as co-lead and principal data analyst for Community Collaboratives for Early Learning and Media, a network of 30 PBS member stations and partner organizations implementing programming for children and families. Raised in NYC, she is also a proud former NYCDOE middle school teacher. Dr. Adair earned her PhD in Educational Psychology from CUNY Graduate Center. She also holds an MA in Psychology from the New School for Social Research, and a BA in English and Classics from Emory University.

Research Interests: During her doctoral studies, Dr. Adair examined digital media use, early STEM education, and school readiness policy and assessment. Her graduate studies focused on developmental psychology, particularly attachment research and social psychology. In future research, she hopes to explore afterschool STEM initiatives; how leaders can use data to improve school organization and climate; and the causes and consequences of educational inequalities in NYC, as well as potential solutions.

Elizabeth Adams, Ph.D.
STEM Evaluation Researcher
Research in Mathematics Education
Simmons School of Education & Human Development
Southern Methodist University

Bio: Elizabeth L. Adams, PhD is a STEM Evaluation Researcher at Research in Mathematics Education, a research unit within the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She earned a PhD in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis at North Carolina State University and a MA in Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a former fourth grade teacher and district-level program evaluator.

Research Interests: Dr. Adams’s research interests focus on evaluating STEM programs and developing measures for STEM education. She is currently working on two NSF projects. On one project, she is working with an inter-disciplinary team to design and evaluate a game-based learning experience using Minecraft that integrates computational thinking concepts for middle grades students. One another project, she is working with a team to develop and collect evidence of validity to support the use of an observational system focused on promoting equity and access for Black and Hispanic students in elementary and middle grades mathematics classrooms. She has a strong interest in evaluating where STEM education and culturally-sustaining practices intersect to promote participation for historically marginalized students. This fellowship will support the application of advanced methods within STEM education with an emphasis on equity and access.

Dr. Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz
Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California, Merced (UCM)

Bio: Dr. Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz is a Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California, Merced (UCM). Prior to joining the faculty at UCM, she was a faculty member in the Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences Department at the University of Houston and a faculty member at Texas Tech University.  Dr. Aguirre-Muñoz earned her Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from the UC, Los Angeles. She began her professional career as a Research Scientist at the UCLA Center for Research, Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) where she lead large scale assessment development projects for states and school districts.

Research Interests: Her research integrates cognitive science, language, learning sciences, and assessment to answer questions related to: (a) STEM education; (b) model-based assessment and instruction of dual language learners; (c) the impact of opportunity to learn on learning and achievement; and (d) content-area literacy development for dual language learners. Her research projects have been funded by organizations such as NSF, NIH, Department of Energy, and the US Department of Education. Future work includes scaling up research on evidence-based models for integrated science and mathematics teacher professional development, integrated science and engineering instructional models for young dual language learners, and psychosocial factors impacting underrepresented minority student engagement and persistence in STEM learning.

Lucy Arellano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
College of Education
Texas Tech University

Bio: Dr. Lucy Arellano is an associate professor of Higher Education in the College of Education at Texas Tech University. She has over fifteen years of experience in the field of higher education. Prior to her arrival at TTU, she was an assistant professor at Oregon State University.  Previously she also served as a Research and Assessment Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and also taught in the Higher Education Administration and Policy Program at the University of California, Riverside. She earned her Ph.D. from the Higher Education and Organizational Change division at UCLA, an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan and a B.A. triple-majoring in Computer Animation, American Culture, and Latina/o Studies also from the University of Michigan.

Research Interests: Her research focuses on persistence, retention, and degree completion for emerging majority students. Concepts of diversity, campus climates, engagement, and student co-curricular involvement ground her work. Furthermore, she examines campus environments and how institutional agency influences student success. Current and future work also investigates student mobility across multiple colleges/universities and varying institutional types. Dra. Arellano’s research spans across three different spheres: 1) student experiences, 2) higher education institutions, and 3) societal contexts. In her latest grant, she serves as a co-principal investigator on a million-dollar, 5-year NSF grant whose purpose is to develop a culturally-relevant framework, to understand the intersection of Latinx identity and developing a STEM identity at a Hispanic-Serving Institution that is also a community college to support students’ degree completion, persistence, and transitions to life beyond the community college.

Phillip Andrew Boda, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago

Bio: Dr. Phillip A. Boda is a new Bridges-to-Faculty scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Special Education Department. Most recently, he worked at The Learning Partnership where he collaborated with Chicago Public Schools and local universities through one the largest Research-Practice Partnerships in the country to support AP Computer Science and STEM education reforms. Previously, Dr. Boda was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Stanford University working with Dr. Bryan Brown leveraging culturally relevant pedagogy in Virtual Reality to contextualize science instruction for diverse youth in relational ways. He also held an appointment at the University of California, Berkeley as a Post-doctoral Researcher in Dr. Marcia Linn’s WISE Research Group utilizing advanced regression and psychometric analyses to study Knowledge Integration in Science Education through novel technologically enhanced curriculum, and the instruments used to evaluate impact of Design-based Research studies. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, Teachers College in Science Education, and his work has focused on equity involving Cultural/Disability Studies in Science Education, Educational Technology, and the Learning Sciences. His work is published in notable peer-reviewed outlets such as the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Urban Education, and the Proceedings of the ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. He has also been awarded numerous commendations such as an Emerging Leader in Education by Phi Delta Kappa, is currently a Jhumki Basu Fellow, and received the Diversity Research Award from Columbia University for his dissertation work around disability and identity.

Research Interests: Dr. Boda’s work leverages the affordances of relationship-building with students, their localized cultural communities, teachers, and district leaders to answer questions about cognitive and affective impacts among intersections of under-represented identities across disciplines (i.e., race, class, gender, disability, and native language fluency). Through these multi-year Research-Practice Partnerships, his work explores how researchers can collaborate with districts to analyze student-/teacher-/and school-level data in ways that, when combined with Design-based Research methods, change the landscape of educational equity by design at various stakeholder levels to respond to those students multiply marginalized in STEM, Science, and Computer Science (e.g., Black young women; Latinx boys labeled with a disability). Through this work, he places a strong focus on how intersectional identities showcase why it is pertinent to examine diverse positionalities in relation to academic achievement, affect, and socio-political applications of content, specifically to shift from individual deficit lenses toward contextual and critical analyses.

Vandeen Campbell, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor and Senior Quantitative Director
Urban Education Department and The Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies
Rutgers University – Newark

Bio: Vandeen Campbell is an Assistant Research Professor and Senior Quantitative Director at the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies and the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University – Newark.

Research Interests: With a focus on equitable outcomes for youth in struggling districts, Campbell’s research interests include school organization and improvement, college access and success, dual enrollment, and parental engagement. Her current research focuses on producing a series of studies on area public schools, examining the potholes students experience at all transition points from eight grade through college and the workforce. She studies the impacts of school improvement approaches that can mitigate these potholes. Part of these studies will explicitly focus on STEM access and success. She plans to use data mining methodology, including predictive analytics, to better understand hemorrhaging and opportunities in STEM pipelines. In participating in SIARM for STEM, Campbell hopes to benefit from a support network of STEM researchers, refine use of familiar methods, learn about complex extensions, and develop measures specific to the study of STEM pathways.

Sapna Cheryan, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Washington

Bio: Sapna Cheryan is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington.  Her research investigates the role of cultural stereotypes in causing and perpetuating racial and gender disparities in U.S. society. She has published numerous articles on these topics in journals such as Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Psychological Bulletin. In 2009, Dr. Cheryan received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2012-2013, she was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City, and in 2016-2017, was a Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Cheryan received a BA in American studies and psychology from Northwestern University and a PhD in psychology from Stanford University.

Research Interests: My work has established new insights about racial and gender inequalities by examining the local (e.g., neighborhood), institutional (e.g., organizational cues), political (e.g., K-12 education policy), developmental (e.g., across ages), and historical (e.g., longstanding patterns of discrimination) forces that influence individual psychology and shape society. My findings shift the explanation for inequity away from individual deficiencies and examine the role of societal structures (e.g., physical environments) and belief systems (e.g., stereotypes) in creating and perpetuating inequalities. Moreover, I identify how to change societal structures and belief systems to create inclusive environments and reduce inequities. I use multiple methods and techniques, including experimental studies, field studies, meta-analyses, and large-scale reviews. I am excited to join NSF SIARM to further develop my methodological and analytical tools, including facility with large-scale datasets and interventions.

Heidi Cian, Ph.D.
Florida International University

Bio: Heidi Cian is a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University, where she works in support of a National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (NSF-AISL) grant studying the contribution of childhood science talk on STEM identity construction for Latino youth. She received her PhD from Clemson University’s Curriculum & Instruction program in the Teaching & Learning department in May 2019, where she studied the influence of students’ knowledge, values, and experiences on their reasoning about socio-scientific issues.

Research Interests: Heidi Cian is interested in learning about the out-of-school STEM-related experiences that contribute to the development of individuals’ sense of self within STEM and how these experiences can be celebrated and leveraged to promote participation in STEM by minoritized students, while also disrupting traditional stereotyped notions of what characterizes STEM participation. Drawing from research conducted as part of her postdoc experience that highlights the significant role of parental activity in supporting STEM identity construction in culturally affirming ways, through the fellowship she aims to study how parents perceive themselves within STEM and the relationship between this self-perception and the types of STEM-related interactions they have with their children. The aim of this work is to understand how parent self- perception in STEM facilitates or precludes certain types of STEM-related interactions with their children, with the objective of using this understanding to make recommendations to educators and outreach programs on facilitating parent involvement in their programs and empowering parent agency in supporting their child’s STEM interests and pursuits.

Yasemin Copur-Gencturk, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California (USC)

Bio: Yasemin Copur-Gencturk is an assistant professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). Copur-Gencturk’s research focuses on three areas: (1) identification of the knowledge needed for teaching mathematics; (2) identification and development of professional learning opportunities that are successful in enhancing teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching; and (3) understanding the role of teachers’ knowledge and implicit biases in the equity in mathematics classrooms. Copur-Gencturk is a Principal Investigator on several federally funded projects, with a total budget of $4 million. Her work has been published in top journals, such as Educational Researcher, the American Educational Research Journal, and the Journal of Teacher Education. She received an NSF CAREER Award in 2018 and an Early Career Publication Award from AERA-Research in Mathematics Education in 2016.

Research Interests: Dr. Copur-Gencturk’s interest in this fellowship is driven by her aim to develop a more coherent and complex understanding of research designs and methods to accommodate the complexity of educational research. She believes that having a more robust understanding of how different approaches are related to each other will allow her to conduct more rigorous research studies. She strives in her work to advance the field and believes this opportunity will take her one step closer to her career goals.

Ben Van Dusen
Assistant Professor
Iowa State University’s School of Education

Bio: Ben Van Dusen is an assistant professor in science education at Iowa State University’s school of education. Prior his work in academia, Dr. Van Dusen worked as a high school physics teacher and as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation. When not teaching or engaging in research, he can often be found playing with his two kids or on a disc golf course.

Research Interests: My research focuses on issues of inequities in STEM education and has two major strands: student outcomes and quantitative research methods. My investigations of inequities in STEM student outcomes have examined the impacts of learning assistants on equity in physics student failure rates (Van Dusen & Nissen, 2020a), inequities in physics student learning (Van Dusen & Nissen, 2020b) and attitudes (Nissen, Her Many Horses, & Van Dusen, 2021), chemistry student learning (Van Dusen et al., under review), and creating baselines for understanding STEM student learning (Nissen et al., in press) and attitudes (Nissen et al., 2021). My investigation of the quantitative methods used in STEM education research have examined nested datasets and hierarchical linear modeling (Van Dusen & Nissen, 2019), missing data and multiple imputation (Nissen, Donatello, & Van Dusen, 2019), online administration of low-stakes assessments (Nissen et al., 2018), and regression model specification (Van Dusen & Nissen, under review). Currently, I am examining how quantitative research methods have the potential to bias findings about inequities in STEM student outcomes from a Quantitative Critical (QuantCrit) perspective. I hope that my participation in the fellowship will strengthen and expand my QuantCrit investigations of the quantitative methods used in STEM education equity research.

Carrie Diaz Eaton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies
Bates College

Bio: Dr. Diaz Eaton has earned her degrees in mathematics, but also considers herself a biologist, a computational explorer, a natural philosopher, and a discipline-based STEM education researcher. Her professional research is grounded in approaches from complex adaptive systems, evolution, and ecology. She co-founded and helps lead a number of community building support networks in interdisciplinary and inclusive STEM education including QUBES, SCORE and EDSIN. Dr. Diaz Eaton is also a proud 1st generation Latinx. She is also a mother to two children. Dr. Diaz Eaton values the complex interplay at the intersection of her identities, professional activism in STEM education, research, and teaching.

Research Interests: Over the last couple of years my research has moved to computational approaches in understanding STEM Education reform. I am particularly interested in how online collaboration has become a part of STEM Education reform and how this allows us to mine information about networks as the backbones of community transformation. I am also interested in mining information about language networks and evolution to understand collaboration in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields. I have dabbled also in traditional education research, including mixed methods analysis of surveys, ethnography, and experimental design research. In general, my research strengths are in synthesizing frameworks and collaborating and communicating across disciplinary and cultural boundaries. However, I am looking forward to engaging in formalized education research training with SIARM with a community of practice to help form a more focused research program.

Kalina Gjicali, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Global TIES for Children
New York University (NYU)

Bio: Kalina Gjicali is a Research Scientist in Measurement and Evaluation at Global TIES for Children, an international research center at New York University (NYU), which aims to improve the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies to promote children’s holistic development in low-income countries and conflict-affected countries around the world. During her tenure at TIES, she has worked on numerous psychometric analyses to investigate measurement validation of academic and social-emotional learning (SEL) measures to be used for the purposes of impact evaluation. She has performed impact analyses of several cluster randomized control trials (CRCTs) evaluating the effectiveness of remedial education interventions on child outcomes of refugee children in Lebanon and Niger. Currently, through funding from the LEGO Foundation, she is working towards an effort to measure the quality of playful learning interactions in cross-cultural contexts. Dr. Gjicali received her doctorate in Educational Psychology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) in 2019. Prior to that, she completed her M.A. at Teachers College, Columbia University in Cognitive Studies in Education and her B.A. at Hunter College, CUNY in Psychology and Sociology. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Gjicali held an internship at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), was a senior statistical consultant at CUNY, and served as a teaching fellow at Queens College, CUNY by teaching foundational educational psychology courses.

Research Interests: Dr. Gjicali has engaged in STEM-education research relevant to (1) understanding children’s development of mathematical thinking using game-based learning and developing game-based assessments of numeracy, (2) examining the relation between students’ noncognitive factors (e.g., intentions to pursue STEM, socio-mathematical classroom norms) and their mathematics achievement using large-scale data (i.e., PISA), (3) developing novel measurement methods of noncognitive constructs relevant to STEM performance (e.g., mathematics attitudes). Dr. Gjicali hopes to continue her research agenda in the field of STEM education by (1) identifying individual differences (e.g., by race/ethnicity, immigrant-origin) in mathematical thinking, (2) examining the extent of cross-domain development between early numeracy and other developmental domains such as executive functioning and language comprehension, especially for linguistic minority children and (3) evaluating the effectiveness, dosage, and developmental timing of (quasi)experimental and teaching interventions aimed to promote discrete STEM competencies.

Jessica Gottlieb, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Education Psychology and Leadership
College of Education
Texas Tech University

Bio: Dr. Jessica Gottlieb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership. She earned her doctorate in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for STEM Education at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Gottlieb previously worked as a classroom teacher in Los Angeles, CA. Her research focuses on how educational policy can be used to increase equity and access of high-quality STEM education opportunities.

Research Interests: My interest in the NSF SIARM fellowship stems from my desire to expand my research skills to incorporate advanced quantitative and computation methods into my work. The goal of my research is to better understand how STEM education policy can be used to expand opportunity via equitable access to high-quality STEM learning experiences, especially for minoritized groups of students in STEM. My research interests are STEM occupational pathways, STEM education policy, and STEM teacher workforce policy.

Tanner Huffman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Director, Center for Excellence in STEM Education
Department of Integrative STEM Education
School of Engineering
The College of New Jersey

Bio: Dr. Tanner Huffman is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative STEM Education and Director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education in School of Engineering at The College of New Jersey. Dr. Huffman has served as a board member of the American Society of Engineering Education’s Precollege Engineering Education Division; as an advisor for Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab Satellite Network; as a committee member on the National Academy of Engineering project, Educator Capacity Building in PreK-12 Engineering Education; and advises the NSF funded INCLUDES project, STEM PUSH Network at the University of Pittsburgh.

Research Interests: Researchers and practitioners at The College of New Jersey’s Center for Excellence in STEM Education have initiated the Urban STEM Teachers that STICK (Successful, Tenacious, Innovative, Collaborative, Knowledgeable) program to improve the quality of its associated STEM education programs and contribute to the growing research on effective preservice urban STEM teacher education. The summer institute in advanced research methods for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education research (SIARM for STEM) will advance our work on the Urban STEM Educators that STICK initiative by enabling us to explore and apply rigorous and novel applications of advanced methods.

Jiwon Lexi Hwang, PH.D
Assistant Professor
Division of Special Education & Counseling
Charter College of Education
California State University, Los Angeles

Bio: Dr. Lexi Hwang is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Special Education and Counseling at California State University, Los Angeles. She earned a Ph.D. in Special Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Hwang currently serves as an associate editor for Assessment for Effective Intervention journal and serves on editorial boards for several other scholarly journals including Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. The primary focus of her research is on effective instructional approaches to increase mathematics and science achievement for students with learning difficulties particularly in the areas of problem-solving. Dr. Hwang’s research intends to diversify and increase participation of underrepresented students in STEM by enriching educational opportunities for continued STEM education.  

Research Interests: Dr. Hwang’s research interests include (a) effective instructional approach for teaching mathematical problem solving with a STEM/STEAM interdisciplinary framework interweaving science, arts, technology, and disciplinary literacy, (b) supporting pre- and in-service teachers with mathematical understanding and skills, and (c) implementing computational modeling and use of simulation to provide ample learning opportunities in virtual manipulation and visualization to teach chemical reaction content for students with and at risk for learning disabilities. She has written a number of peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and newsletters related to effective strategies for math and science instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities. She presented at numerous national and international conferences, and recently, she was invited as an industry-leading expert to present for the virtual miniseries entitled “Normalizing Exceptionalities with Science and STEM Teaching” by the National Science Teaching Association. Dr. Hwang believes her focus on research can enhance students’ real-life mathematical and scientific problem-solving abilities and teachers’ capability to implement evidence-based instructional practices, and ultimately, bridge the gap between research and practice. As Dr. Hwang becomes one of the NSF fellows on SIARM for STEM, she believes this fellowship opportunity will greatly benefit her future research on STEM education as well as research advisory for graduate students in many aspects. She looks forward to strengthening her program of research by integrating rigorous research methods and skills to carry out the current and planned research projects.

Joni M. Lakin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Educational Studies
The University of Alabama

Bio: Dr. Joni Lakin (Ph.D., The University of Iowa) is an Associate Professor of Educational Studies at the University of Alabama. She studies educational measurement issues, including test validity and fairness with a particular interest in the influence of fairness and validity of assessments on the identification of students with academic talents. Her informal STEM research and educational evaluation work has mainly focused on “altruistic engineering” frameworks and addressing the educational needs of students in high poverty, predominantly African American, and often rural school districts in Alabama. Her professional website is jonilakin.net.

Research Interests: I do many types of evaluation work in STEM education, but my primary research is related to “altruistic framing” of engineering. Research suggests that many student populations that are underrepresented in STEM are more likely to hold pro-social and community-focused values, including women, Black and Latinx students, rural students, and first-generation college students. This leads to “goal incongruity” where students are less interested in some fields of STEM because they don’t see it as relevant to their values or goals. To build greater goal congruity for Black, urban, low-SES students, in particular, I have worked with a team of engineers to develop interventions tailored to this population to frame engineering as an altruistic or pro-social career that helps others by solving important societal challenges (e.g., developing alternative energy technology, providing affordable access to clean water). These interventions include a summer camp, high school science curriculum, and STEM educational outreach events.

All of my STEM education research projects have a focus on broadening participation of underrepresented groups in STEM and promoting greater STEM educational quality. In applying for this fellowship, I was excited about the opportunities to expand and update my methodological expertise that I draw on for research, evaluation, and teaching. I would like to expand my use of experimental and quasi-experimental methods to more effectively handle non-equivalent control groups and look at the impact of equity in participation in an intervention as well as equity in the outcomes of the intervention. I expect the training, networking, and collaboration provided by this program will help me to introduce more rigorous designs into our evaluations that consider the realities of educational programs.

Darnell Leatherwood, Ph.D.
Teaching Fellow in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago

Bio: Darnell Leatherwood is a quantitatively trained interdisciplinary social scientist, educator, and social entrepreneur. He is currently a Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. He will join the Saint Louis University School of Education as Visiting Assistant Professor (effective August 2022). He is also Faculty Affiliate at the University of Michigan School of Social Work’s Center for Equitable Family and Community Well-Being and is a Collaborating Researcher for the Men of Math (M2) Fellowship Program at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute for Racial Justice.

Additionally, Darnell serves a Young Scholar on The Journal of Negro Education Editorial/Advisory Board out of Howard University in Washington DC and a Board Member (publicly elected office) on the Matteson School District 162 Board of Education. He is the founder of the Black Male Educators Alliance of Illinois (BMEAIllinois), and in 2017 he started the Black Boys Shine campaign [501(c)(3)] which is purposed to illuminate the character and contributions of Black boys and men nationally/internationally.

Darnell holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy and Social Welfare from the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, Certificate in Education Sciences from the Department of Education Institute of Education and University of Chicago Committee on Education, M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago Division of the Social Sciences, and B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business.  His research and teaching interests include education, social policy/inequality/inequity, adolescent development & identity formation, race & racism, and quantitative research methods. Darnell and his work has been featured in multiple media outlets nationally. To learn more about his other projects or more recent work, follow him on LinkedIn and IG.

Statement of Research Interest: The goal of Darnell’s research is to eliminate inequities and inequalities in the educational experience of youth. He is currently examining heterogeneity in average district level academic achievement (grade level achievement), improvement rate (the rate at which scores change across student cohorts, within a grade), and learning rate (the rate at which scores change across grades, within a student cohort) nationally. He hopes to leverage his research to inform policy, practice, and to make real the eradication of educational disparity in the U.S. public school system.

Prashant Loyalka
Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University

Bio: Prashant Loyalka is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. His research focuses on examining/addressing inequalities in the education of children and youth and on understanding/improving the quality of education received by children and youth in multiple countries including China, India, Russia, and the United States. He also conducts large-scale evaluations of educational programs and policies that seek to improve student outcomes.

Research Interests: Prashant’s STEM-related research focuses on (a) assessing and improving college student learning outcomes in STEM majors across multiple countries such as China, India, Russia, and the United States; (b) evaluating the impact of a wide range of interventions (most recently EdTech interventions) on math and science learning in K-12; (c) examining and addressing gaps in STEM outcomes by gender, social class, and race; and (d) exploring the role of social factors (such as segregation) in affecting student learning in STEM.

Stefanie L. Marshall, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Science Education,
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Minnesota

Bio: Dr. Marshall (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2018) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Dr. Marshall, situates her work at the intersection of educational policy, leadership and science education, focusing on the organizational needs for science education.

Research Interests: Specifically, Dr. Marshall researches: 1) ways to support equity in science/STEM education through building and sustaining networks, 2) the impact of policies on science/STEM education, and 3) the role of school administrators in science/STEM education. Participation in SIARM for STEM will enable Dr. Marshall to expand her methodology in these research areas. As part of SIARM, Dr. Marshall is interested in designing, implementing and examining the educational, social, and network development of a program with the BIPOC STEM community (e.g. K-20, professionals, etc.) to enhance retention of BIPOC in STEM fields in the Twin Cities. Through her work, Dr. Marshall strives to move beyond recruitment and diversity statements and towards enacting effective program designs that enable BIPOC students and professionals to thrive in STEM communities.

Kate Melhuish, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Mathematics Department
Texas State University

Bio: Dr. Kate Melhuish is an Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at Texas State University. They received their Ph.D in Mathematics Education from Portland State University in 2015 which was followed by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with Teachers Development Group. Their research focuses on the design and use of instruments in mathematics education settings. Currently, they are PI on two NSF grants (Orchestrating Discussion Around Proof, DUE-1836559; Using Technology to Capture Classroom Interactions, DRL- 1814114), and co-PI on a third (Developing and Validating Proof Comprehension Tests in Real Analysis, DUE- 1821553).

Research Interests: My current research interests have developed as extensions of my prior work with assessments in mathematics education. First, I have been on two project teams that have discovered inequitable assessment outcomes for students from minoritized groups in active learning classrooms. I am interested in better understanding and measuring aspects of classroom instruction and interaction that may account for racialized and/or genderized experiences. Second, my recent work has focused on measuring in-the-moment interactions between teachers and students. My project team and I have begun to develop new means of analyzing this type of timestamp data by appealing to techniques from data mining and survival analysis. Through this fellowship, I am hoping to deepen my knowledge of quantitative methods in STEM education and develop research projects to continue pushing the boundaries of how we use quantitative data in STEM education.

Muhsin Menekse, PhD
Assistant Professor
Purdue University
School of Engineering Education
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction

Bio: Muhsin Menekse is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University with a joint appointment in the School of Engineering Education and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Dr. Menekse’s primary research focuses on exploring K-16 students’ engagement and learning of engineering and science concepts by creating innovative instructional resources and conducting interdisciplinary research studies. Dr. Menekse is the recipient of the 2014 William Elgin Wickenden Award by the American Society for Engineering Education. Dr. Menekse also received three Seed-for-Success Awards (in 2017, 2018, and 2019) from Purdue University’s Excellence in Research Awards programs in recognition of obtaining three external grants of $1 million or more during each year. His research has been funded by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Purdue Research Foundation (PRF), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Research Interests: Muhsin Menekse’s primary contribution to engineering and science education focuses on designing, evaluating, and improving student-centered pedagogical approaches to enhance student learning and engagement with studies spanning across college and K-12 settings. Dr. Menekse conducts interdisciplinary and quasi-experimental research studies to explore K-16 students’ engagement and learning of engineering and science concepts in and out of classroom environments. He designs in-vivo studies based on core learning science principles to understand the mechanisms that explain the effectiveness and limitations of active learning methods in authentic environments. Dr. Menekse is interested in the NSF SIARM fellowship since he would like to be proficient in applying advanced quantitative and computational methods to his research. He is also excited to be an NSF fellow to learn from leading scholars and collaborate with other fellows for future research opportunities.

Almaz Mesghina, M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate, Comparative Human Development
Predoctoral Fellow, Institute for Education Sciences
University of Chicago

Bio: Almaz Mesghina (she/her/hers) will receive her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development in June 2021. Almaz is a recipient of the Institute for Education Sciences Pre-doctoral fellowship.

Research Interests: Almaz’s research interests lie at the intersection of cognition and emotion in STEM education settings. Broadly, Almaz is interested in understanding students’ emotional experiences in the classroom and what cognitive mechanisms might explain when emotions facilitate or threaten students’ learning potential. To this end, she also tests interventions that students (emotion regulation) and teachers (instructional design) can use to mitigate any threatening effects of emotions. Her work aims to challenge typical notions of achievement gaps in STEM education by shifting the focus away from pure “cognitive” measures of preparedness and test performance and instead considering how emotional, social, and cultural elements of education can manifest cognitively and shroud one’s true potential. Almaz looks forward to strengthening her computational and quantitative toolkit through the fellowship.

Elizabeth I. Rivera Rodas, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Montclair State University in the College of Education and Human Services, Department of Educational Foundations

Bio: Elizabeth Iris Rivera Rodas is an Assistant Professor of Quantitative Methods and Sociology of Education in the Department of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University’s College of Education and Human Services. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Economics and Urban Educational Policy from Rutgers University – Newark, a M.S. in Social Research from Hunter College, CUNY, and a BA in economics from Barnard College, Columbia University. As an economist of education, Dr. Rivera Rodas’s scholarly interests involve the economics of urban education, residential and school segregation, and structural educational inequities by race and ethnicity. Her current research, which is supported by a two-year American Educational Research Association – National Science Foundation Research Grant, explores the structural barriers that contribute to Latinx mathematics achievement. Preliminary findings show that as gentrification occurs, schools are becoming more diverse, and Latinx students are not scoring as high on mathematics achievement tests in gentrifying areas as Latinx students in other areas.

Research Interests: Dr. Rivera Rodas’s immediate goal is to extend this research to investigate mathematics course placement of Latinx students and postsecondary plans in STEM by using stratification economics as a theoretical framework. In particular, she will investigate how advanced-level mathematics course availability affects the low enrollment and completion of STEM postsecondary degrees of Latinx students. As an NSF SIARM Fellow of STEM Education Research, Dr. Rivera Rodas will use this training to further her research. Her investigation will identify the structural and intentional processes within mathematics tracking and the impact on postsecondary enrollment and completion in STEM fields for Latinx high school students. In addition, she is eager to grow her network to include scholars doing similar work and who are able to provide methodological support in research planning, data analysis, and publication in STEM education research.

Daniel L. Reinholz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Mathematics & Statistics
Professor of Equity, Student Affairs and Campus Diversity
Chair, Ability/Disability Employee Resource Group
San Diego State University

Bio: Dr. Daniel Reinholz (he/they) is an Assistant Professor of mathematics education at San Diego State University (SDSU). He also serves as a Professor of Equity, providing professional development to faculty and staff on the SDSU campus around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before joining the faculty at SDSU, Dr. Reinholz completed his PhD at UC Berkeley and his postdoctoral research at CU Boulder. Broadly speaking, Dr. Reinholz’s work focuses on addressing racial and gender inequities in STEM, both at the level of classroom practices and in larger organizational structures.

Research Interests: A core thread of Dr. Reinholz’s research focuses on the subtle ways in which racial and gender biases manifest in everyday classroom practice. To better understand these issues, he co-developed the equity-focused classroom observation tool EQUIP (https://www.equip.ninja). The EQUIP tool attends to student’s classroom participation, and allows for disaggregation both at the level of individual students and social marker groups (e.g., race, gender). This makes EQUIP a powerful tool both for research and professional development. On the professional development side, Dr. Reinholz partners with teachers and faculty members through cycles of reflection in which data analytics are used as the catalyst for more equitable teaching. Through the NSF SIARM for STEM Fellowship, Dr. Reinholz is interested in further exploring quantitative analytic methods that can be used to provide more robust data to instructors about their classroom teaching, and also to detect statistical inequities in participation by race, gender, and other social markers.

Matthew Voigt, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Engineering and Science Education
College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
Clemson University

Bio: Matthew Voigt (He, Him, His) is an Assistant Professor in Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. I grew up in a rural farming community in central Minnesota, and I am a proud first-generation college student and Queer STEM education researcher. My disciplinary background is in applied mathematics. I earned my PhD in Mathematics and Science Education from San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego. I enjoy traveling, cooking, strategy board games, and hiking in national parks.

Research Interests: My research interests center around issues of equity, access, and power structures occurring in undergraduate STEM programs with a focus on introductory mathematics courses. My Current Research projects are examining a) the experiences of sexually minoritized (LGBTQIA) undergraduate STEM students and the mathematical discourses related to sexual identity and gender identity, b) Department culture and systemic change efforts to foster equitable, inclusive, and active learning teaching strategies in introductory STEM courses, c) Alternative course pathways (course variations) and programs to support diversity in undergraduate calculus programs. d) The role of technology, instructional design, and computer programing to broaden participation by infusing culturally relevant pedagogy.

As an early-career scholar who uses mixed-methods to investigate issues of equity in STEM education, being a part of this fellowship would provide me more robust training in advanced quantitative methods. I am also eager to learn from a community of individuals and mentors who are committed to issues of equity in STEM education and to receive continuous support in grant writing, research analysis, and publication.

Krystal L. Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Higher Education Administration
Educational Leadership, Policy & Technology Studies Dept
The University of Alabama

Bio: Dr. Krystal L. Williams is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Educational Leadership, Policy and Technology Studies Department of The University of Alabama (UA) College of Education. Prior to joining UA, Dr. Williams was a Senior Research Associate at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute. She currently serves as a research affiliate with the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Dr. Williams was a former American Educational Research Association (AERA) Postdoctoral Fellow at Educational Testing Service (ETS). She also served as a Research Assistant at the University of Michigan National Center for Institutional Diversity, and an Institutional Research Analyst at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Williams is a former AERA Minority Dissertation Fellow in Education Research, an Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) Academic Fellow, and a member of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. Dr. Williams is a member of AERA, as well as the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). She attended the University of Michigan where she completed her doctoral studies in Higher Education and Public Policy in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. She also attended Clark Atlanta University where she earned BS and MS degrees in mathematics and graduated valedictorian.

Research Interests: My research examines the educational marginalization of Black and low-income students, and how that impacts their success along PK-20 educational pathways. Additionally, I examine ways to leverage education policy to facilitate successful student outcomes, with a particular emphasis on broadening participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This policy-relevant research employs role strain and adaptation framing to examine the structural educational barriers that these students encounter, as well as the multilevel strengths that they can draw from to encourage successful outcomes. In doing so, my work centers a critical examination of systematic educational impediments, as well as asset-based approaches for understanding the mechanisms that help to facilitate student success. I am excited about using this opportunity as an NSF SIARM Fellow to help advance this work. I am confident that my participation in the institute would help me to gain exposure to advanced quantitative and computational methods that I can draw from to analyze the large-scale national datasets that I currently use in some of my research. I would also like to use the professional development offered via this fellowship for general insights that could help to inform my current grant-funded research – especially general guidance regarding research design as it relates to responding to unexpected challenges with longitudinal data collection using survey methods.

Adrienne D. Woods, Ph.D.
Senior Education Researcher
Center for Learning and Development
SRI International

Bio:Dr. Woods is a Senior Education Researcher focused on education for children with disabilities at SRI International’s Center for Learning and Development. Prior to joining SRI, Dr. Woods was a postdoctoral scholar with the Center for Educational Disparities Research at Pennsylvania State University. She received her PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2018. Dr. Woods has received grant support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes for Child Health and Development (NICHD), and the University of Michigan. Her work has been featured by several media outlets, including the Hechinger Report, CNN, NBC News, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Psychology Today, Pennsylvania Cable Network TV, and Penn State’s Evidence-to-Impact podcast.

Research Interests: Dr. Woods conducts open science research in service of expanding educational and societal opportunities for vulnerable or historically underserved children, particularly children with disabilities. She marries large, longitudinal datasets and quasi-experimental methods to evaluate the causal effects of receiving naturally-delivered special education services in U.S. schools, as well as heterogeneity in effects for different groups of children with disabilities. Her goal is to holistically evaluate child development and schooling outcomes through applied research that informs educational policy as well as directly impacts children, schools, and families. With support from the NSF SIARM for STEM fellowship, Dr. Woods hopes to deepen her work in causal inference and measurement in order to ascertain whether, how, and to what extent early special education intervention and services may remediate or exacerbate existing educational inequities for children with disabilities.

Takashi Yamashita, Ph.D., MPH, MA
Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health
Gerontology Ph.D. Program Faculty
Center for Aging Studies, Faculty Affiliate
UMBC Innovation Fellow (2019 – 2021)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Bio: Takashi Yamashita, Ph.D., MPH, MA, is an associate professor of sociology, and a faculty in the Gerontology Ph.D. program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His areas of research are wider benefits of education and lifelong learning over the life course, health literacy, applied social science quantitative methods, gerontology education and social statistics education. He is currently a principal investigator of the 3-year project (2020 – 2023) funded by the Institute of Education Science (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Research Interests: My current research focuses on wider benefits of education and lifelong learning over the life course. Given the lower lifelong education participation rates in the U.S., basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, as well as motivation to learn are essential to promote adult education and training. My collaborators and I are working with three community colleges to document adult students’ basic skills, motivation and attitudes toward learning in the STEM-related sub-baccalaureate programs (our project information and introduction video). Also, we are conducting the analysis of the U.S. data from the Program for the 2012/2014/2017 International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to explore the basic skills and skill use of STEM workers. The quantitative and computational methods for STEM education research fellowship program will expand the scope of the analyses and enhance the methodological rigor in my ongoing and future research on the basic skills, and adult education and training in STEM. In particular, the topics of measurement, causal inference, multilevel models, and causal mediation analysis will certainly benefit my future research projects.

Jamaal Young, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Texas A&M University

Bio: Jamaal R. Young, Ph.D., received his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M University in 2011. Dr. Young returned to Texas A&M University as an Associate Professor in 2020. Dr. Young examines the effects of opportunity structures related to instruction (e.g., teacher quality, access to technology, or out-of-school time activities) on the STEM dispositions. Dr. Young’s research utilizes research synthesis, meta-analysis, and large-scale data analysis to examine the determinants of STEM attainment.

Research Interests: Jamaal R. Young, Ph.D., is committed to fostering a sustainable impact on all learners’ STEM attainment. Young examines the effects of opportunity structures related to instruction (e.g., teacher quality, access to technology, or out-of-school time activities) on the STEM dispositions of traditionally underrepresented populations of learners. His work seeks to identify the most salient factors influencing Black male and female learners’ mathematics identity. Dr. Young also investigates the effects of social determinants (i.e., gender inequity, racial bias, and income level) on STEM attainment. Dr. Young’s research utilizes research synthesis, meta-analysis, and large-scale data analysis to examine the determinants of STEM attainment. To this end, Dr. Young is interested in enhancing his research capacity by further developing and expanding his methodological expertise through the NSF SIARM for STEM fellowship.

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