CREATE - ING members

Prof. Joseph Krajcik

Joseph Krajcik is Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education with a faculty appointment in the MSU College of Education. He is the director of CREATE for STEM, a joint institute between the colleges of Natural Science, Education, Engineering and Lyman Briggs. CREATE's mission is to improve the teaching and learning of science and mathematics through innovation and research.

Michigan State University Director Contact
Dr. Bob Geier

With an original background in Physics and then digital systems design, Bob began teaching high school science and mathematics in Massachusetts in 1988.

Michigan State University Deputy Director Contact
Renee Bayer

Renee Bayer began her work teaching environmental and secondary science education before moving into community-based public health research, teaching and practice. Her research interests include issues in educational and health equity and community-based participatory research (CBPR).

Michigan State University Associate Director for Engagement Contact
Dr. Kristen Bieda

Kristen Bieda is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State. She also serves as the Associate Director of Mathematics for the CREATE for STEM Institute. More information about her work can be found at

Michigan State University Associate Director - Mathematics Contact
Dr. Christopher Reimann

Chris serves as director of policy and strategic partnerships for CREATE. In this role, he co-leads the NextGeneration Project-Based Learning (NextGenPBL) initiative at CREATE, which supports teachers and districts as they begin to implement CREATE materials and approaches in classrooms in Michigan, Wisconsin, and California.

Michigan State University Associate Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships Contact
Dr. Mark Urban-Lurain

I am responsible for teaching, research and curriculum development, with emphasis on engineering education and, more broadly, STEM education.

Michigan State University Associate Director - Engineering Contact
Sue Carpenter

Sue is the Business/Communications manager for CREATE, and has been at MSU for over 25 years. She will be helping to administer the Next Generation Project Based Learning initiative, and overseeing CREATE's communications team. Sue has a B.S. in Business Administration, and working toward an M.S. in Management through MSU's Broad College of Business. 

Michigan State University Business Manager Contact
Dr. Idit Adler

I joined CREATE for STEM as a research associate in 2017, and design NGSS-aligned curriculum for middle school as part of the Health in Our Hands (MI SEPA) project. I am interested in designing complex learning environments that provide opportunities for all students to engage in challenging science learning, and scaling up those experiences through community educational partnerships.

Michigan State University Contact
Susan Codere

From 2011 to 2014, I served as the MDE Project Coordinator for Michigan's involvement in the development of the NGSS. As an extension of my work with MDE, I am working with CREATE to promote the transition to NGSS in K-12 learning environments, and to develop resources to support educators as they implement NGSS.

Michigan State University Contact
Krista Damery

Krista is a doctoral student in teacher education. As a research assistant at CREATE for STEM she works on the NextGen Science Assessment projects.

Michigan State University Contact
Ms. Ligita Espinosa

Ligita Espinosa has been a part of the Michigan State University since 2008. She has M.A. in Linguistics from Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania and is fluent in English, Lithuanian, and Russian.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Kellie Finnie

I am currently employed as a Research Associate with the CREATE for STEM Department at Michigan State University.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Phyllis Haugabook Pennock

Phyllis designs biology curriculum and chemistry assessment items for K-8 students that are aligned with NGSS. She received her PhD in Science Education with a concentration in Biology from Western Michigan University. Her research interests include issues relevant to equity and social justice in science education.

Michigan State University Contact
Angela Kolonich

Angie just completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education at MSU, and is co-directing the Next Generation Project Based Learning Initiative at CREATE for STEM. Her research interests include supporting teachers in developing inclusive, three-dimensional science classrooms that support all students in learning science.

Michigan State University Graduate Student Contact
Dr. Jane Lee

Jane is a research associate developing curriculums and assessment items for middle and high school students that are aligned with NGSS. She received her PhD in Science Education from Seoul National University and taught biology in Korea. She is interested in improving environment for science teaching and learning.

Michigan State University Post-Doc Contact
Mary Luba

I am all about the numbers. I am the CREATE for STEM Accountant and I manage the general, research and specialty accounts. Previously, I worked at Wayne State University as the Research Administrator for the Ballistics and Impact Biomedical Engineering Group. My accounting degree is from the University of Detroit (aka: UDM).

Michigan State University Contact
Deborah Peek-Brown

Deborah Peek-Brown is an Academic Outreach Specialist for the Create for STEM Institute at Michigan State University. Deborah began her career as a science educator in Detroit Public Schools, where she taught for twenty-eight years.

Michigan State University Outreach Specialist Contact
Dr. Samuel Severance

I earned my PhD in Learning Sciences & Human Development combined with Cognitive Science from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Kamali Sripathi

Kamali received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2014, focusing on the biophysics of small catalytic RNAs. Her research interests include: 1) understanding how students use the visualizations (e.g., 3D images of biomolecules, graphs, chemical equations, etc.

Michigan State University Post Doc Contact
Colter Starr

Colter is CREATE's technology director, overseeing all things tech-related.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Matthew Steele

I am an observational astronomer who specializes in optical spectroscopy of extra-galactic globular clusters and accretion powered outflows. More broadly I am interested in large data-set science, and researched-based student-centered pedagogies. My science interests lay in stellar population studies and accreting compact objects.

Michigan State University Post Doc Contact
Mr. Dezman Thomas

"Dez" is an undergraduate student at MSU, working with CREATE as part of the tech-team.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Israel Touitou

I received my Ph.D. in science education from the Weizmann Institue of Science in Israel. My dissertation centered around students from low SES Background and their engagement for science in and out of schools.

Michigan State University Contact
Ms. Alison Vincent, CTA

I am Secretary II for CREATE for STEM Institute and received my Bachelors here at MSU.

Michigan State University Contact
Aavi Bhakta

I am a freshman at MSU living in Holmes Hall on the east side of campus. I am planning on majoring in biochemistry, but I love to work with computers. I really enjoy going hiking with my family and canoeing or kayaking. I have a burning passion for all sports but hockey, and I am a die hard Pistons, Tigers, and Lions fan.

Michigan State University
Shaniya Cason Michigan State University Contact
Kelsie Donaldson

I am a junior at Michigan State University where I study professional writing. Specifically, I am concentrating on editing and publishing, and digital and technical writing. I am eager to put my skills to use here at CREATE for STEM as a part of the communications team, where I will create content for the website and help manage the various social media accounts.

Michigan State University Contact

Dr. Peng He received his doctoral degree of science education from Northeast Normal University in 2016. In the period of 2014-2016 in his doctoral program, sponsored by Chinese Scholarship Council, he stayed two years as a visiting researcher at University of Buffalo, SUNY.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Lauren Jescovitch

Lauren earned her PhD and Masters in Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture at Auburn University, and her Bachelors in Fisheries Biology and Environmental Science at Mansfield University. Lauren is researching learning progressions on the development of principle-based reasoning in undergraduate physiology.

Michigan State University Contact
Bailey Lundholm

My name is Bailey and I am from a small town in the Upper Peninsula, Iron Mountain (hometown of Tom Izzo-Michigan State's famous basketball coach)! I am a junior at MSU studying kinesiology with hopes to attend occupational therapy school after completion of my undergrad.

Michigan State University Contact
Marisol Mercado Santiago

Marisol Mercado Santiago earned a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University under the supervision of Dr. Alice L. Pawley. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a M.E. in Computer Engineering. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow from 2011 to 2014.

Michigan State University
Dr. Cory Miller Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Consuelo Morales

Consuelo Morales is a Research Associate with the CREATE for STEM Institute. With a background in biological sciences. she has 9+ years’ experience working in secondary science education at the middle school, high school, and university level.

Michigan State University Contact
Alex Thompson

Alex Thompson is an undergraduate student at Michigan State Univeristy studying marketing and is working with CREATE for STEM as a Student Clerical Assistant. 

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Juli Uhl

I earned my PhD in Molecular and Developmental Biology from the University of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2014, focusing on transcriptional control of early embryonic patterning.

Michigan State University Contact
Dr. Xiaoming Zhai

Dr. Xiaoming Zhai obtained his Ph.D. in physics education (K-12) at Beijing Normal University in 2017. Before entering the Ph.D. program, he was a high school physics teacher for nine years (07/2005-07/2014), during which he won up to 30 awards in teaching, research, and mentoring teachers in China, including a first-place national-wide physics teaching competition prize in 2011.

Michigan State University Contact
Affiliated Faculty
Dr. Tom Bielik

My educational background includes both formal and informal environments: tour guide in the Clore Outdoor Science Museum, program director of the 'Young Active Science' program for at-risk students at the Davidson Institute for Science Education, and middle school science and biology teacher. My academic background includes B.Sc.

Michigan State University Contact
Prof. Danny Caballero

Danny Caballero is a physics education researcher who studies how tools affect student learning in physics, and the conditions and environments that support or inhibit this learning.

Michigan State University Affiliated Faculty Contact
Prof. Melanie Cooper

Evidence-based approaches to improving chemistry education are the focus of Dr Cooper's research. One of the prime outcomes of this research is the development and assessment of evidence-driven, research-validated curricula.

Michigan State University Affiliated Faculty Contact
Dr. Diane Ebert-May

University Distinguished Professor Diane Ebert‐May provides international leadership for discipline‐based biology education research that integrates life sciences and cognitive science.

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Dr. Kevin Haudek

My research interests are in student understanding and application of chemistry in biological contexts, and strategies to increase writing assessments in undergraduate STEM courses. In specific, my research questions focus on how students use fundamental chemistry concepts to explain biological processes at this level. 

Michigan State University Assistant Professor, AACR PI
Prof. Julie Libarkin

Julie Libarkin is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University with appointments in the Department of Geological Sciences, Center for Integrative Studies in General Science and the CREATE for STEM Institute. She is also affiliated with MSU’s Cognitive Science and Environmental Science and Policy Programs.

Michigan State University Affiliated Faculty
Vashti Sawtelle

Vashti Sawtelle is physics education researcher who studies how learning environments support (or inhibit) students from diverse backgrounds in their learning physics. She focuses her work on understanding the role active learning, modeling, and interdisciplinary classrooms (e.g., physics for biologists) have to play in creating supportive learning environments for all students.

Michigan State University Contact