Graduate Students in
Physics Education Research

Graduate Students, how to reach us, and the work we do...

This list is alphabetical. If your web browser supports email, you can get in touch with the people directly by clicking on their email addresses. Highlighted names give links to the person's web page.


Anyone who wants to inlcude more information, links, email, etc, or change info as it is presently written, please contact Michael Wittmann at the address at the bottom of the page.

Brad Ambrose -

Working for Lillian McDermott as part of the University of Washington Physics Education Group. His work deals with student understanding in the context of the introductory, calculus-based waves and optics course, as well as other advanced courses, including modern physics.

Kathy Andre -

Formerly of Case Western Reserve University, now at the Ohio State University, working for Alan van Heuvelen. No definite research topic yet, but she has been very involved in Arizona State's Modeling Methods Leadership Workshops, many high school teacher workshops, and cooperative learning in physics.

Eric Ayers -

Formerly working for Bob Beichner at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, now working in near-field optical microscopy for Hans Hallen. He's still interested in the field, though! Among other things, he maintains the NCSU PER page.

Lei Bao -

He's working at the University of Maryland for Joe Redish. His present project involves the study of student understanding of quantum mechanics, and the development of curriculum based on research results.

Jennifer Blue -

Working at the University of Minnesota for Pat Heller, doing a thesis on gender equity in intro-physics courses. This involves designing instruments to code problem solutions and answers to free-response conceptual questions.

Christopher L. Cooksey -

Working at the Ohio State University University with Jim Stith. Presently evaluating Bruce Patton's Jackson By Inquiry course.

Melissa Dancy -

At North Carolina State University, she's developing instructional technology with advisor Bob Beichner.

Paula Engelhardt -

Working at North Carolina State University for Bob Beichner on the development of a multiple-choice diagnostic instrument to assess students' conceptions of direct current resistive circuits. The test is called DIRECT (Determining and Interpreting Resistive Electric circuits Concept Test). Her email and web page will be valid until end of December, 1996.

Larry Escalada -

Lawrence (Larry) Escalada is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in Physics Education research at Kansas State University. Larry is currently developing and evaluating instructional units developed for the Visual Quantum Mechanics project.

Richard Flack -

At Purdue University, doing a mixture of curriculum development and other research. He's making verious improvements in lectures/labs/recitations, while doing biomedical accelerator mass spectrometry. His goal is to teach at a 4-year college.

James Flaten -

Not working directly in the field of PER, but involved with the University of Minnesota group. His research is studying vortices in superfluid helium-4 with William Zimmermann, but he's been a high school teacher for 3 years, TAed for 3 (2 with Ken Heller) at U.Minn., and is interested in integrating Heller problem-solving methods with MBL and inquiry-based curricula.

Tom Foster -

At the University of Minnesota working with Patricia Heller. His thesis topic is on the development of student problem-solving performance and conceptual understanding from instruction emphasizing qualitative analysis of problems. He received his Master's degree this year. Upon completion of his dissertation (Spring 97), he would like to teach physics at either a community college or a small college where he can conduct research in physics education.

Chris Goodridge -

Another grad student not working directly in the field of PER, but interested in its results. He's at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, working with Daniel Lathrop on properties of droplet ejecting faraday waves. He's interested in using Mathematica or MathCad or similar programs to create visualization tools for advanced undergraduate mechanics.

Lisa Grable -

She's working at NC State in the science education department. Her main interest is the study of electronic delivery systems.

Kastro M. Hamed -

Working at Kansas State University for Dean Zollmann. Present project is the study of and development of Visual Quantum Mechanics.

Charles Henderson -

He's at the University of Minnesota, but only part-time. The rest of his time he spends as a lab instructor at MacAlaster College. Though he hasn't chosen a topic yet, some of his interests are using the history of physics to teach physics concepts, and making college labs more successful using hands-on, conceptual change strategies.

Kirsten Hogg -

Her research project is a bit vague at the moment, something like Computers in Physics learning, but she is presently conducting a case study of three undergrad physics students who are studying physical optics this semester. Part of the course is a two hour computer laboratory once a week where the students get to play with optics simulations from the CUPS series. Through interviews and videotaping the lab sessions, she is trying to describe the students learning of some key concepts in Physical Optics and the role of the computer in this process.

Andy Johnson -

Working at San Diego State University for Fred Goldberg. Associated with the CPU project at SDSU, trying to document the origin of student ideas in a CPU classroom, where the students develop ideas and the teacher does not tell ideas. Where do ideas come from? Do they develop gradually? From a few students? (or in all students?) How do students interact? ....etc.....

Ntate Dan Kqwadi -

Teaching at the University of North-West in South Africa while working for Jan Smit at the University of Potchefstroom. Present project is to study students' perceptions of visual models in the learning of atomic physics.

Laura McCullough -

Working at the University of Minnesota with Pat Heller, currently doing teacher training with the CPU project. Thesis topic is unknown, since she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up... but she's interested in topics dealing with gender differences.

Valerie K. Otero -

She's at San Diego State and the University of California, San Diego, working with Fred Goldberg. Her research involves: 1) working on further development of Jim Minstrell's facets in current electricity; 2) the development of HTML Diagnoser, an interactive computer program that gives individul feedback to students - the current electricity segment; and 3) developing part of the computer curriculum materials for the CPU project.

Jerry Pilj -

Working for Dean Zollman at Kansas State University, doing software evaluation of the Physics InfoMall. He also just started a job at Wichita Collegiate Upper School, so his work revolves around introductory physics for the high school student.

Ed Prather -

He's a physics RA at the University of Maine doing research in phys ed. as a member of the Laboratory for Research in Physics Education (LRPE), which is the Physics education research group at the University of Maine headed by Dr. Randal (Rand) Harrington. With other students, he is conducting research (pre-test and demonstration interviews) into "identifying and addressing student difficulties related to understanding radiation and radioactivity". He and Rand are disciples of the U.Wash. PEG group. Rand received his Ph.D. there (in PER) and Ed reseived a BS in phys and astro from U.W. They are currently redesigning the descriptive Physics course for non science majors to incorporate the "Physics by inquiry" style of physics education used at the U.W.

N. Sanjay Rebello -

A postdoc at Kansas State University, working with Dean Zollman. His work deals with Visual Quantum Mechanics.

Mel Sabella -

Working at the University of Maryland for Edward F. "Joe" Redish. He's still looking for a research topic, though he has been evaluating student understanding of heat and temperature and doing a literature search of mathematics issues in physics.

Cody Sandifer -

Working at San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego with Elsa Feher on visitor behavior and learning (both cognitive and affective) in an interactive science center.

Jeff Saul -

He's at the University of Marland, working with Joe Redish. Thesis topics are: 1) the student expectations of learning, physics, and mathematics, and the effect of these expectations on students in introductory calculus-based classes, 2) student use and misuse of mathematics in a physics environment.

James Steele -

Not actually working in PER, but involved together with Cliff Swartz in development of a physics learning center at Stony Brook for use by high school and undergraduate students. His research deals with nuclear theory.

Julia Stephen -

Though not officially doing PER, she's working at the University of Minnesota as a Mentor TA in TA training programs which use PER results. Her research involves biophysics.

Aaron Titus -

Working for Bob Beichner at North Carolina State University. His research is looking into the tole of animation with physics questions and problems. Does animation improve student success at solving physics problems as compared to static visuals? He's using the Web as the vehicle for delivery of multimedia phsyics problems, and he'll be implementing an initial study of these multimedia Web-based physics problems in the Fall '96 semester.

Ridvan Unal -

Working with Dean Zollman at Kansas State University on the Visual Quantum Mechanics project, studying how students describe atoms.

Dave Van Domelen -

As part of the Ohio State PER group, he is presently working on their Web page. More importantly, though currently stalled on his work, he would like to do research into a way to teach students to break complex problems up into workable bits, since too many students just look for the Uberequation into which they can plug all the givens and get The Answer.

Michael Wittmann -

He's at the University of Maryland, working for Joe Redish. Research topic involves student understanding of mechanical waves (waves on a string, sound, water waves) and related topics, such as the role of boundary conditions. A diagnostic tool for measuring student concepts and understanding is being developed for this project, and he is developing curriculum based on research results.

Weija Zhang -

Formerly a Ph.D. student for Bob Fuller at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, now at Arizona State University with David Hestenes. His work involved the use of multimedia to teach optics to college students, and necessitated the investigation of student understanding of relevant topics together with curriculum development based on research.

separating line

If you would like to send mail to ALL of use listed here, then click here. Your mail will get sent to the GS-PER administrator, who will forward it to all the others. Put "To GSPER" in the subject line, please. No spams.

This page was prepared by Michael Wittmann, University of Maryland, College Park. Last updated 22 Aug 96. Any corrections, additions, or comments are welcome!!! To get in touch with Michael, send email to


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