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, Digital Promise, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University.

Principal Investigators

Satabdi Basu
Satabdi Basu, Ph.D
Principal Investigator, SRI Education
Satabdi Basu, Ph.D., is a Senior CS Education researcher at SRI International’s Center for Education Research and Innovation. Her research in Computer Science Education spans the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of curricula, learning environments, assessments, and teacher professional development that foster computational competencies for K–12 students and teachers. Her interests also encompass exploring the synergies between computer science and the disciplines of science, engineering, and mathematics, 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 and teachers in their use of such technology-rich, open-ended environments.Her research interests also include promoting K12 Artificial Intelligence (AI) education and using AI to scaffold student learning in other disciplines.

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 Senior Research Scientist in STEM & CS Education at Digital Promise. 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, and a Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Software Integrated Systems at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Biswas conducts research in Intelligent Systems with primary interests in physics-based and data-driven modeling, simulation, and analysis of complex Cyber Physical systems (CPS), and their applications to diagnosis, prognosis, and fault-adaptive control. He also develops simulation-based environments for learning and instruction that integrate computer science with other STEM disciplines. He has also developed innovative learning analytics and mining techniques for studying students’ learning behaviors and linking them to metacognitive strategies. Dr. Biswas’ research has been supported by funding from NASA, NSF, DARPA, and the US Department of Education. He has published extensively, having over 600 refereed publications in engineering, computer science, learning science, and education fields.

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 School of Education and Human Development 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 mathematics and science in Oklahoma.


Nonye M. Alozie
Nonye M. Alozie, Ph.D.
Senior Science Education Researcher, SRI Education
Nonye M. Alozie, Ph.D., is a senior science education researcher at SRI International. Her work focuses on science education research, science literacy, human interactions and collaboration in science classrooms using machine learning, science assessment design and development using evidence centered design approaches, classroom and implementation studies, and equity and inclusion in science learning opportunities. She is the principal investigator for an NSF funded project that uses machine learning to characterize and assess collaboration in learning environments. As a member of the SPICE team, her work includes developing teacher supports for curriculum implementation and integrating literacy supports through curriculum development. 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 her Ph.D. 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, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Washington State University
Sarah Fick is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at Washington State University. Her research investigates how we can intentionally support students to be aware of the Next Generation Science Standards crosscutting concepts they use in collaboration with science and engineering practices to make sense of the scientific phenomena and to design solutions. Her work is situated at the intersection of teaching practice and student learning to understand how teachers support students’ authentic science investigation. Though she often works with water resource issues, her focus is on supporting environmental sustainability within science curricula. 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. Before returning to graduate school, she taught middle and high school earth, environmental , and life sciences 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.
Mindy Hsiao
Mindy Hsiao
Research Associate, SRI Education
Mindy Hsiao is a research associate at SRI International and joined the SPICE team in Fall 2019. Her work on the SPICE team includes scoring assessments and assisting in creating some teacher support videos. She holds a Master’s in Education Policy from the University of Washington, Master’s of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, and B.A. in Psychology and B.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. Prior to SRI, she taught 6th grade in Chicago Public Schools, as well as trained teachers and administrators in Washington state on a special education compliance software.
Nicole Hutchins
Nicole Hutchins
Ph.D. Student, Vanderbilt University
Nicole Hutchins is a former high school computer science teacher turned researcher focused on CS4ALL. Currently she is a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University designing and developing computational modeling curricula for K-12 STEM classrooms.
Ningyu Zhang
Ningyu Zhang, Ph.D.
Graduate Research Assistant, Vanderbilt University
Ningyu Zhang joined the SPICE team in Fall 2017 and had 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 a from Vanderbilt University in August 2020 while contributing to the SPICE project. His research interests also include learning analytics and machine learning.