Institute Leadership

P Bell

Philip Bell (Executive Director) pursues a cognitive and cultural program of research across diverse environments focused on how people learn in ways that are personally consequential to them. He is a professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Washington Seattle and holds the Shauna C. Larson Chair in Learning Sciences. Bell recently served on the Board on Science Education at the National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on everyday expertise in science and health, culturally responsive science instruction, the use of emerging learning technologies in science classrooms, children’s argumentation and conceptual change in science, and new approaches to inquiry instruction in science. Bell directs the Institute, co-Directs the LIFE research center, directs the Learning Sciences Graduate program at UW, and directs the Everyday Science & Technology Research Group. Bell has a background in human cognition and development, science education, computer science, and electrical engineering.


Andrew Shouse (Collaborating Faculty) focuses on equitable science education in formal and informal settings, and communication of research to policy and practice audiences. Shouse's work is informed by a breadth of experiences in practice, including teaching elementary and middle grades, science center administration, and policy analysis. Prior to his appointment at UW Shouse was Senior Program Officer at the National Research Council's Board on Science Education (2003-2008) where he directed two consensus studies and edited the reports Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits (NRC, 2007; with Bell, Lewenstein, and Feder) and Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 (NRC, 2007; with Duschl and Schweingruber) and authored (with Michaels and Schweingruber) Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Shouse serves on advisory bodies for numerous organizations, including: the National Geographic Society, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago), and The NSF Center for Biophotonic Science and Technology at the University of California-Davis. Shouse completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy at Michigan State University in 2005.


Carrie Tzou (Collaborating Faculty) has an interest in addressing issues of equity and social justice in science and environmental science education. She is an assistant professor in science education at the University of Washington Bothell. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and an M.S. in Teaching and Learning with a concentration in science education from Vanderbilt University.

Megan Bang

Megan Bang (Collaborating Faculty) focuses her work on two critical components: (1) working at the immediate and practical levels of improving teaching and learning with Indigenous youth and communities with a primary focus on science education (and through this I believe other children and communities), and (2) to conduct transformative research that deepens our understandings of the relationships between culture and cognition in and across learning settings. My research is currently focused on understanding the ways in which culture – understood as a diverse repertoires of practice individuals and community engage in – impact learning, development, and teaching. I am particularly focused on science education as the context in which to study these broader issues.

Katie Headrick Taylor

Katie Headrick Taylor (Collaborating Faculty) is interested in the rapidly expanding terrain of accessible technology that can support young people in transforming scientific and technological practices to address their own daily needs. She is an assistant professor in the learning sciences and human development at the University of Washington. She holds a Ph.D in diversity, learning, and development from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University. She has looked closely at the role of digital media in the lives of children, youth, and adults through ethnographic and mixed method case studies, classroom and community-focused design studies, and the development and study of undergraduate courses for pre-service teachers. She is most committed to the notion that young people, in collaboration with one another and emerging technologies, have the potential for producing new techno-civic practices that address and influence practical, “on the ground” issues that transcend school/home/community boundaries.

Graduate Researchers

Jeanne Chowning is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences. Her research interests include student reasoning, argumentation, and justification related to socio-scientific issues. She is also interested in how students learn about scientific practices and current technologies in science across informal and formal settings. Chowning serves as the Director of Education for the nonprofit Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR). For nearly 20 years, she has directed her professional efforts towards improving pre-college science education, fostering a greater understanding of biomedicine and bioethics, and promoting equity in science through expanded opportunities for students. At NWABR, Jeanne serves as the Principal Investigator on science education grants from the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation that focus on preparing young people for a future where science and technology will play an increasingly important role. She directs NWABR's STEM professional development and curriculum design efforts, and has co-authored numerous curricular resources, including a supplement for the NIH Office of Science Education. A former high School science teacher, she earned a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University and a B.F.A in Fine Art from the San Francisco Art Institute. In addition, she received her K-12 Teaching Certification and an M.S. in Biology Education from the University of Washington.

Gabriel de los Angeles is an indigenous doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development from the Snoqualmie tribe, focused on the ways in which learning and development occur in play and other informal learning environments. His research is currently concerned with the development of identity and personality of characters within the minds of players in role playing game activities. He has fifteen years of non-profit experience in local communities of play. He earned his M.A. in Teaching in English to Speakers of Other Languages from Central Washington University and his B.A. in English Literature form the University of Washington.

Emma Elliott (Cowichan) is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development program as well as a Master's student in the School of Social Work. Her areas of interest are related to First Nations adolescent suicide, adolescent development/identity, and issues related to intergenerational and historical trauma. She has begun a qualitative research project titled, "Embracing the Sacredness of Life: Understanding suicide in Cowichan," to understand the recent trend in suicide in her home community. She is particularly interested in identifying traditional healing practices of the Cowichan peoples and blending them with best social work practices, as well as developing new strategies that are effective for increasing health and well-being in Indigenous communities. Emma is committed to community-based research methodologies and continues to do the work of cultivating relationships and following community protocols and needs.

Elaine Klein is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences. Her research interests include how people learn about complex subjects in Biology through authentic practice, engaging all students in STEM education and career pathways, and integrating pedagogical skills into scientific expertise. She has over five years of experience teaching and developing environmental education curriculum in New York City and Austin, Texas. She earned her M.S. in evolutionary Biology from San Diego State University and a B.A. in Ecology and Environmental Studies from Simon's Rock College of Bard.

Fan Kong is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research interests include the affordances of out-of-school learning environments. She has over five years of experience teaching and working in arts and community-based organizations. Most recently she worked on research-practice partnerships focusing on broadening conceptions of learning across formal and informal learning environments at the Center for Informal Learning and Schools at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Columbia University.

Veronica Cassone McGowan is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences. Her research interests focus on creating authentic, equitable, and transformative science and environmental science learning opportunities for students across settings. She is a certified teacher with an M.S. in Biology from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University. Prior to attending the University of Washington, she worked as a sea turtle biologist and taught biology, environmental science, and sustainability to secondary students in formal and informal learning environments around the country.

Megan McGinty is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development, focusing on science education, the natural sciences, and climate change. Her research is on human cognition and understanding of the natural world. She is currently focused on using climate change as a model for the teaching and learning of complex natural systems in science education and on science learning in the outdoors. McGinty has worked for over 25 years in outdoor and environmental educaiton. She earned he M. Ed. in Natural Science Education from Western Washington University, a certificate in Non-profit Management from North Cascades Institute, and a B.A. in Geology from Northwestern University.

Cení Myles (Navaja/Mohegan) is a second year M.Ed. student in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research interests focus on urban American Indian children and families' cultural practices using mobile technology. She also serves as an Advisor to the Tribal Touchpoints Initiative, Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Boston Children's Hospital. She has also worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, and has over twenty years of experience working with Native communities.

Charlene Nolan is a second year M. Ed. student in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research interests focus on the ways Latino families construct narratives of identity and belonging through informal outdoor play activities. Specifically, her research addresses gaps in early childhood development research and curricula, and suggests ways that schools and teachers can incorporate different styles of play in and out of the classroom to meet the needs of a diverse body of students. Charlene earned her B.A. in Psychology and Latin American Studies with Honors from Oberlin College.


Suzanne Perin is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program. Her research focuses on how social groups learn together in informal settings, particularly in science centers, museums and aquariums. She is interested in how design, the meanings of objects, prior knowledge and experience intersect in learning environments. Prior to graduate school, she worked in science museum exhibition development and evaluation. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology from UC Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Museology (Museum Studies) from the University of Washington.

Tana Peterman is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research and practice interests include increasing STEM learning opportunities for all students through focusing on teacher learning and development. She is a teacher at heart, and came to the University of Washington after seven years of teaching middle school science in South Texas and Seattle. She earned her certificate in Teacher Leadership from the University of WAshington in 2013, her B.S. in Biology from the University of Oregon, and is currently in the process of finishing her M. Ed. in Learning Sciences and Human Development.

Priya Pugh is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research interests focus on the ways in which cognition, culture, and learning intersect in informal outdoor contexts. She is specifically interested in studying the ways in which teachers and educators engage non-human actors in outdoor learning settings, and how these practices can inform complex systems of reasoning in science-based education. She is an environmental educator, and received her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2011 from the University of Washington, with a certificate in Environment, Education, and Community from IslandWood.


Giovanna Scalone is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences at the College of Education. Her research interests include understanding the learning and teaching of science and environmental science education across settings for culturally-responsive curricula. Other interests include multimodal teaching and learning in science and argumentation.


Déana Scipio is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences with research interests in the dialectic relationship between formal and informal STEM learning environments; creating spaces for youth to demonstrate or create expertise; architecting community-university partnerships to facilitate STEM learning; and helping scientists build pedagogical capacity. She has a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Biology from the University of San Francisco, a certificate in Education, Environment, and Community from IslandWood, and an M.Ed. in curriculum and teaching from the University of Washington.


Shelley Stromholt is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences at University of Washington. She studies STEM-related learning and identity development in informal settings. Before pursuing a Ph.D., Shelley taught science and environmental education in informal settings. Most recently she was an educator at a residential outdoor learning center, where she supported graduate students in their teaching practice and coordinated the evaluation of student learning. Shelley has completed a B.S. in Biology at Oregon State University, and a M.Ed. in Science Education at University of Washington.


Paul Sutton is a doctoral student in Teacher Education at the University of Washington. He has an interest in how teachers learn and how their expertise is leveraged within school reform and renewal projects. His current project explores teacher collaboration in problem-based learning design teams. He previously worked as an English and Leadership teacher at Sammamish High School in the Bellevue School District for eight years. Sutton has a B.A. in English from Portland State University, an M.A. in English from York University in the UK, and a M.I.T. from Seattle University.

Kerri Wingert is a graduate researcher and doctoral student in Learning Sciences. She studies how students and teachers learn to "speak science," with particular attention to culturally and linguistically diverse contexts. A native of Nebraska, she earned her BA in English and teaching certificate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Master's from Concordia University. She has five years of language teaching experience, including teaching science with non-native speakers of English in Omaha, Houston, and England.


Elizabeth "Biz" Wright. Known to her friends and former students as Biz, Ms. Wright is interested in how students experience science in (and out of) the classroom and what their stories, individually and collectively, can tell us not only about our teaching but about how we can better tap into student agency and student voice. Ms. Wright earned a BA in Biology from Northern State University and completed all of the coursework for a Masters in Public Health before changing careers and becoming a teacher. Prior to her work at the UW she taught middle school science for seven years in Weston, MA. Ms. Wright is a third year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program who entrusted the care of her Red Sox season’s tickets to her friends while embarking upon this academic adventure and misses Fenway almost as much as she misses her friends, family and former students.

Group Alumni & Research Collaborators


Leah Bricker (Assistant Professor—University of Michigan, School of Education)uses lenses from multiple fields (e.g., science education, learning sciences, science studies) to research phenomena of interest in science education (and STEM education more broadly), including social disparities related to youth interest and opportunities associated with STEM learning and practice. Bricker’s other focal interests include the intersections among language, literacy, text, and scientific practice, as well as learning within health-related contexts (e.g., infectious disease and other public health arenas, genomics). Bricker applies anthropological lenses to the study of youth, family, community, and professional STEM-related learning across contexts and timescales. In addition, she uses ethnographic findings and design-based research methods to design and study STEM learning environments. Bricker is also interested in methods associated with youth participatory action research and citizen-science endeavors.

Bricker earned her PhD in the learning sciences at the University of Washington, where she was affiliated with the National Science Foundation-funded Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center, as well as with the Everyday Science and Technology Group and the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education.


Theresa Horstman is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences whose interests include instructional design methods for digital games and virtual environments, specifically the correlation between metaphor, the creative process and design methods for creating virtual educational experiences. She has 13 years experience as an instructional designer specializing in integrating new technologies for online and distance learning. She received her B.A. with a focus in philosophy from The Evergreen State College and her M.Ed. from the University of Washington.

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung is interested in studying the social practices surrounding emerging technologies, particularly videogames and social media, and how they reshape the lives of youth cultures as well as the ways in which we communicate and make meaningful interaction with one another. In the past he has studied videogames and social interaction among Asian adolescents in New York City using a combination of participant observation and ethnographic methods, and building on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. He has published this work in a book, The Work of Play: Meaning-making in videogames. He has a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, in Language, Literacy, and Technology; a masters degree from Teachers College in the Teaching of English, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in Organizational Behavior.

Annie Kuo is a doctoral student in the Language, Literacy & Culture program. Her research interests are in Project Based Learning, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) curriculum. She has taught ESOL at the secondary and college level in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle, and believes in helping immigrant students reach their potential and achieve academic success through fostering learner autonomy. She received her B.A. in English and Chinese from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her M.A. in TESOL and Foreign Language Education from New York University.


Lou Ann Lyon has an interest in equity and diversity in the field of computer science. She is a doctoral student at the University of Washington in the Learning Sciences. She holds a M.S. degree in Computer Science from California State University, Chico, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Pomona College in Claremont, CA.


Hiroki Oura is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education at the University of Washington. He came to Seattle from Japan in 2008. He is interested in how people learn and develop scientific understanding through problem solving and argumentation and in developing curricula and tools for facilitating such learning activities. Before coming to UW, he worked as a project researcher in The Center for Research and Development of Higher Education at the University of Tokyo and where he worked on educational software research and development. He graduated from Tokyo Institute of Technology with a Masters degree in Engineering with an emphasis on Educational Technology.

Blakely Tsurusaki (STEM Director—Washington Alliance for Better Schools)has an extensive background in design, implementation, evaluation, and research of curriculum and professional development for K-12 teachers. Prior to joining WABS, she worked at the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Washington, was an Assistant Professor at Washington State University, and taught informal and formal K-12 science and environmental education. She has experience working in both formal and informal settings, including zoos, aquariums, and science museums, as both a teacher and a researcher. She is interested in how to make better connections between students’ everyday lives and what they learn in school, equity issues in education, and environmental literacy. Dr. Tsurusaki earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy from Michigan State University, a M.Ed. in Science Education from the University of Georgia, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puget Sound.

Van Horne

Katie Van Horne is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences. She studies youth STEM learning and is interested in understanding how to engage all students in contemporary scientific practices while taking into account their everyday and out of school scientific expertise. She has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in pre-genetic counseling from Washington State University and before beginning the program at UW, she worked as the project coordinator on an NSF Math Science Partnership grant at the American Society of Human Genetics.


Elly Walsh is a doctoral student focusing on climate science education, the role of disciplinary experts in STEM education, and the incorporation of authentic contemporary science practices into informal and formal science learning environments. She has a M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College.


Hank Clark is an Information Systems, Technology, and Multimedia Production Specialist who has created online curriculum, information systems and training materials in coordination with Learning Scientists for over 19 years. His work in learning technology includes projects building custom technology, media, and online curriculum delivery solutions for learning science curriculum design and research projects in k-12 education settings, multiple private companies / corporations, and higher education institutions. Clark helps manage the creation and delivery of multimedia, technology, and communication aspects of multiple Institute projects and helps enable collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams.

Beth Strehlo is an administrative coordinator for the Institute and the LIFE Center, directly supporting two PI's as well as providing general office support for all faculty, staff, and students. She has more than 10 years of experience in administrative, supportive, and client service roles, including web marketing, event planning, and document development. In addition to supporting the Institute full time, Beth is currently pursuing a B.A. in English with Honors.