Meet the Team

Our team consists of higher education researchers who are also experts in biology, chemistry, or physics.

Filter team members by their scientific discipline or campus affiliation below.



Lydia Bender

Lydia Bender

Graduate Student, KSU

Research and Background

Lydia Bender is a Ph.D. candidate at Kansas State University and is currently working under the supervision of Dr. James T. Laverty. Her research interests include implementing research-based instructional strategies to address specific learning goals and finding ways to work with faculty to ultimately improve student learning.  


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Danny Caballero

Danny Caballero

Associate Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Danny Caballero (co-PI) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He received his Ph.D. in Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He studies how tools affect student learning in physics, and the conditions and environments that support or inhibit this learning. Caballero will be responsible for working with the Physics faculty team on protocol development, coding work, and interpretations of data analyses.


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Justin Carmel

Justin Carmel

Assistant Professor, FIU

Research and Background

Justin Carmel (co-PI) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the STEM Transformation institute at Florida International University. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry Education Research at Miami University. His research interests include developing assessment items to measure students ability to use scientific practices (analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations and arguments), investigating how students’ identities as a scientist affects their success in their chemistry courses/major/degree program, and determining the relationship between laboratory curriculum and students’ identities as a scientist.


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Melanie Cooper

Melanie Cooper

Lappan-Phillips Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Melanie Cooper (PI) is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at MSU. She received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at University of Manchester. Her current research focus is the development and assessment of evidence-based curricula in order to improve the teaching and learning of chemistry within large-enrollment undergraduate chemistry courses.


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Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day

Postdoc, MSU

Elizabeth Day is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Cooper Chemistry Education Research group who collaborates with the 3DL4US team. She earned a PhD in chemistry at the University of Georgia with a specialization in chemical education. Her primary project is curriculum development and assessment for a non-majors’, project-based green organic chemistry laboratory curriculum.

Diane Ebert-May

Diane Ebert-May

Distinguished Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Diane Ebert-May is and University Distinguished Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Plant Biology. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology, Population, and Organismal Biology at University of Colorado. Her research focuses on testing a model she created for professional development of faculty and postdoctoral fellows in transformed teaching and the long-term influence of departments on early career faculty teaching. Her book, Pathways to Scientific Teaching (Ebert-May and Hodder eds, second edition in prep), is based on student-centered learning, inquiry-based instructional strategies, assessment and research.


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Cori Fata-Hartley

Cori Fata-Hartley

Asst. Dean, College of Nat. Sci., MSU

Research and Background

Cori Fata-Hartley is an Assistant Dean in the College of Natural Science and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She earned her Ph.D in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the University of Toledo. Her her work is focused on improving STEM teaching and learning and increasing the retention and academic success for a diverse group of learners interested in STEM. She works with departments and programs across the college to develop and improve curricula and the connections among them. Fata-Hartley will direct the STEM Teaching and Learning Fellows program and coordinate collection of data (assessments, classroom videos, interviews) from the Fellows, course coordinators, and faculty who are not participating in the STEM Teaching and Learning Fellows program. Fata-Hartley will also work with the Biology faculty team on protocol development and coding activities.


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Debbie Herrington

Debbie Herrington

Professor, GVSU

Research and Background

Deborah Herrington (PI) is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Integrated Science Program at Grand Valley State University. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry Education from Purdue University. Her research interests focus on improving the teaching and learning of chemistry from middle school through college. Active research projects include development and evaluation of effective professional development for grades 6-12 science teachers, examining student use of simulations and screencasts to construct understanding of core chemistry concepts outside the classroom, development of assessment items to measure students abilities to use science practices, and using text messaging to encourage student self-assessment and provide formative assessment data to guide instruction. She will coordinate the collection of data and facilitate the faculty cohort at GVSU.


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J.T. Laverty

J.T. Laverty

Assistant Professor, KSU

Research and Background

James T. (J.T.) Laverty is an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. He earned his Ph.D. in physics at Michigan State University. His research interests include developing and improving assessments in undergraduate physics, investigating scientific practices in undergraduate physics, transforming physics courses to include scientific practices. He serves as the site PI for KSU and will lead the physics contribution to the development of the 3D-LOP, measurements of student learning in physics, and recruit KSU faculty to the learning community.


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Becky Matz

Becky Matz

Academic Specialist, MSU

Research and Background

Becky Matz is an Academic Specialist in the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, and an adjunct instructor in the Department of Chemistry. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Michigan. Her primary research interest is undergraduate STEM education reform, including exploring organizational change, characterizing assessments with respect to scientific practices and core disciplinary ideas, analytics on large, cross-institutional data sets of course grades, assessment of quantitative literacy in lower-division math courses, and creating assessments for student understanding of core chemistry ideas in introductory cell and molecular biology.


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Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson

Postdoc, MSU
Paul Nelson is a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with the 3DL4US team to understand the contexts that support improved STEM teaching and learning. He returned to the research world following 9 years teaching high school math in high-needs public schools. Prior to teaching, his research background was in sensory neuroscience and bioengineering, with an emphasis on understanding sound processing in the auditory system. He earned his PhD at Syracuse University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. Nelson’s current roles within the team include project management, 3D-LOP and 3D-LAP data analysis, faculty development support, and studying instructors’ motivation to use the 3DL framework in their classes.
Lynmarie Posey

Lynmarie Posey

Associate Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Lynmarie Posey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and CREATE for STEM Institute. She earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University. Her current research is centered around studying approaches to support students with low mathematical placements in successfully transitioning to general chemistry through a chemistry bridge course organized around core ideas and scientific practices. She has an ongoing collaboration with mathematics education researcher Kristen Bieda which has led to development of mathematics interventions for the chemistry bridge course; recently they have initiated a project to explore the nature of mathematical knowledge for teaching in the context of chemistry (MKT-C). She is also interested in the nature of social networks in cohort programs and how they may promote student success.


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Zahilyn Roche

Zahilyn Roche

Postdoc, FIU

Zahilyn Roche Allred is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the STEM Transformation Institute at Florida International University (FIU). Zahilyn received her Ph.D. in Chemistry with a specialization in Chemistry Education Research from Miami University in Oxford, OH. Her current work focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluations of activities that prompt students to use their understanding of chemistry core ideas to explain biological phenomena.

Jon Stoltzfus

Jon Stoltzfus

Bio. Sci. Director, MSU

Research and Background

Jon Stoltzfus is Director of the Biological Sciences Program and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Michigan State University. His research interests include how students use core ideas in developing explanation across introductory undergraduate science courses.


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Ryan Sweeder

Ryan Sweeder

Associate Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Ryan Sweeder is an associate professor for Chemistry in Lyman Briggs College and director of the Lyman Briggs’ NSF SPRING Scholars program. He received his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry and Chemistry Education at University of Michigan. He and his research group explore gender inequity in science education, strategies to retain students in the sciences, and the impact of curricular interventions on student learning. His current research projects include examining student use of simulations and screencasts to construct understanding of core chemistry concepts outside the classroom, using text messaging to encourage student self-assessment and provide formative assessment data to guide instruction, and assessing the success of a Lyman Briggs program designed to support students with low incoming mathematics skills.


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Stuart Tessmer

Stuart Tessmer

Associate Professor, MSU

Research and Background

Stuart Tessmer is the Associate Chairperson for Undergraduate Programs and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.. He received his Ph.D. in Physics at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interest is the physics of electrons inside nanosystems. As Undergraduate Director for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Tessmer will work with the Physics faculty team and support efforts to align the work of the research team and the undergraduate instructional program in Physics and Astronomy.


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Sonia Underwood

Sonia Underwood

Assistant Professor, FIU

Research and Background

Sonia Underwood (PI) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the STEM Transformation institute at Florida International University. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry with a focus on Chemistry Education Research at Clemson University. Her research interests are developing assessment measures to determine impact of curriculum transformations, investigating the ways in which students use a chemical structure to predict a compound’s macroscopic properties, and exploring the connections students make between their chemistry, biology, and physics content knowledge.


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