Team

Science Projects Integrating Computing and Engineering (SPICE) is a Design and Development project funded by the National Science Foundation STEM+C program. We are an interdisciplinary research and development team representing SRI International, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University.

Principal Investigators

Satabdi Basu
Satabdi Basu
Principal Investigator, SRI Education
Satabdi Basu, Ph.D., is a CS Education researcher at SRI International’s Center for Education Research and Innovation. Her research in Computer Science Education spans designing curricula, tools, and learning environments that help in developing computational competencies, and developing assessments to evaluate such competencies. Her interests also encompass exploring the synergies between CS and STEM, and the use of modeling and simulations for synergistic learning of science and Computational Thinking in K-12. She has worked on developing adaptive scaffolds for open-ended modeling and simulation based environments, and is interested in applying different forms of learning analytics to better understand, assess, and scaffold students’ learning behaviors in such technology-rich open-ended environments.
Dr. Basu received her undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the West Bengal University of Technology, India, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
Kevin McElhaney
Kevin McElhaney, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, Digital Promise

Kevin McElhaney is Associate Director of Science and Engineering Education Research in the Education Division at SRI International. He conducts research on curricula, assessments, and teacher professional development in K-12 across the science, engineering, and computer science disciplines. Of particular interest are the alignment of technology-enhanced curriculum materials, instructionally supportive assessments, and professional development opportunities with the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the K-12 Computer Science Framework, and the Next Generation Science Standards. Dr. McElhaney’s work integrates the disciplines of science, engineering, and computer science by anchoring authentic engineering design problems and computational thinking tasks to project-based investigations of science phenomena, problems, and issues. This approach lowers barriers to implementing engineering and computer science in public school contexts and helps make science instruction relevant, meaningful, and compelling to diverse students. Dr. McElhaney takes advantage of principled design approaches that align curriculum and assessment to frameworks and standards and that integrate content and practice.

Dr. McElhaney earned his Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of California, Berkeley, his Ed.M. from Harvard University, and engineering degrees from Northwestern University and Stanford University. He also taught high school mathematics and science in California and Missouri schools.

Gautam Biswas
Gautam Biswas, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt University

Gautam Biswas is a Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering in the EECS Department, and a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) at Vanderbilt University. Prof. Biswas conducts research in Intelligent Systems. He has been developing simulation-based environments for learning and instruction, exploiting the synergy between computational thinking and STEM concepts and practices. This has resulted in a number of systems developed for K-12 classrooms, such as CTSiM, C2STEM, and SPICE. He has also developed innovative learning analytics and educational data mining techniques for studying students’ learning behaviors and linking them to metacognitive strategies. In all of his projects, there has been a strong emphasis on scaffolding students’ Self-Regulated Learning processes and preparation for future learning.

Prof. Biswas has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, India, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Michigan State University in E. Lansing, MI. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) Society.

Jennifer L. Chiu
Jennifer L. Chiu, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, University of Virginia

Jennifer Chiu is Associate Professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her research investigates how to support K-12 students to engage in engineering design projects that promote conceptual learning in science and mathematics. These design projects include wide ranging learning technologies such as online learning environments, virtual laboratories, sensors, computer-based simulations, and 3-D printing. Dr. Chiu also designs and implements professional development workshops for inservice and preservice K-12 teachers to help them incorporate engineering projects into their classroom science instruction. She is the Principal Investigator of numerous of NSF-funded projects that involve engineering, science, and mathematics education and cyberlearning.

Dr. Chiu earned her Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an M.A. in Science Education from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. She is a former product engineer at Hewlett Packard and taught high school math and science in Oklahoma.

Researchers

Nonye M. Alozie
Nonye M. Alozie
Education Researcher, SRI Education
Nonye M. Alozie, Ph.D., is an education researcher in SRI International. Her work focuses on science education research, science literacy, collaboration in science classrooms, science assessment development, classroom and implementation studies, and equity in science learning opportunities. As a member of the SPICE team, her work includes integrating literacy supports through curriculum development, and supporting assessment development, equity integration, and teacher supports. Dr. Alozie is a former assistant professor of science, math, and literacy in teacher education for elementary and secondary teaching. She also developed and implemented two science outreach programs in molecular biology, biotechnology, and science museum learning. Dr. Alozie earned a doctorate in science education and an M.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. She has a B.S. in organismic biology, ecology, and evolution from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Sarah Fick
Sarah Fick
Research Assistant Professor, Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia
Sarah Fick is Research Assistant Professor at Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her research investigates how we can intentionally support students to be aware of the crosscutting concepts they use in collaboration with science and engineering practices to make sense of the scientific phenomena and to design solutions. She often does this through research on water focused phenomena, but has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology. She is the Principal Investigator for another NSF funded grant focused on gathering stakeholders to discuss the educational roles of crosscutting concepts. In her free time, she loves to go hiking.

Dr. Fick earned her Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of Michigan. She holds an M.S. in Natural Resources, and an M.A. in Science Education, also from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Biology from Bowdoin College. She also taught middle and high school science at public and independent schools for five years in New England.

Ron Fried
Ron Fried
Senior Instructional Design Consultant, SRI Education
Ron Fried is a Senior Instructional Designer in the Education Division at SRI International. His work focuses on science education, assessment, evaluation, curriculum design, video development, and emerging technologies. For the SPICE project, Mr. Fried is involved with both curriculum and assessment design and development. Mr. Fried has extensive experience in curriculum design, development and delivery for commercial and government clients, as well as for educational institutions. He frequently consults on the use of video and emerging technologies in research, training, and curriculum design. Mr. Fried has also designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated multi-source human performance assessments, including performance simulation testing, paper and pencil knowledge testing, online surveys and assessments, and group performance scenarios. Mr. Fried earned his MA in Instructional Technology from San Jose State University, where he also received his teaching credential, and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Prior to joining SRI, Mr. Fried worked as a high school and middle school science teacher.
Reina Fujii
Reina Fujii
Education Researcher, SRI Education
Reina is an education researcher at SRI Education. Her work focuses on assessment and curriculum design using evidence-centered design (ECD). As a member of the the SPICE team her work includes equity and fairness integration in the design and development of the SPICE curricular materials and assessments.
Beth McBride
Beth McBride
STEM and CS Education Researcher, SRI Education
Beth McBride is a STEM and CS Education Researcher at SRI International. Her research investigates how to support student learning in engineering design projects, particularly those that also promote conceptual learning in science, mathematics, or computation. She employs learning analytics extensively in her studies of student learning and the design of learning technologies. Dr. McBride earned her Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a Masters of Engineering in Applied Climate Science and a B.S. in Earth Systems Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, and also worked with USAID in Liberia on STEM education projects.
Ningyu Zhang
Ningyu Zhang
Research Assistant of the Open-ended Learning Environment Group at Vanderbilt University
Ningyu Zhang is a Ph.D. student of computer science and Research Assistant of the Open-ended Learning Environment Group at Vanderbilt University. He joined the SPICE team in Fall 2017 and have contributed to the development of the computational modeling environment. Ningyu also analyzed students’ engineering design activities and their significance to learning with log data collected from SPICE studies.

Ningyu received an M.Ed. degree from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education in 2014. His research interests also include learning analytics and machine learning.