Our Research
The Team
UMB Chemistry Department

Have questions? Email us! seviangroupumb(at)gmail.com

We gratefully acknowledge current funding sources:

* NSF award DRL-1621228 (Supporting Chemistry Teachers to Assess and Foster Chemical Thinking)

* NSF award DUE-1757249 (Assessment Practices of STEM Teachers)

* NSF award DUE-1904102 (Persistence, Effectiveness, and Retention Studies in STEM Teaching)

* NSF award HRD-1936921 (ADVANCE Catalyst: Gender and Racial Equity in the STEM Faculty at UMass Boston)

* NSF award DUE-2000603 (ECR: Facilitation Practices of Instructional Assistants)

* NSF award DUE-2021074 (IUSE: Developing and Investigating an Asset-Based Supplemental Course to Increase Student Success in Undergraduate General Chemistry)

And we are also grateful for recent past funding sources:

* NSF award
 DUE-1348722 (Abstraction thresholds in undergraduate STEM curricula)

UMass Boston Office of Global Programs seed grant (Conceptual Profile Theory for Chemistry Concepts)

* NSF award 
DRL-1222624 (Chemical design learning progression)

* AAAS Women's International Research Collaborations at Minority-Serving Institutions grant (Cultural and contextual influences in learning to think as a chemist)

* UMass Boston Civic Engagement Scholars Initiative (CESI) grant (Your brain on civically-engaged chemistry)

* International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) grant (Design for International Standards for Chemistry Education)

* NSF award EHR-0412390 (Boston Science Partnership)
    Research in our lab is concerned with studying how all students develop chemical thinking and reasoning over many years of training in chemistry (middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate school), how problem-solving in chemistry is similar to and different from problem-solving in other disciplines, how a focus on green chemistry influences students' learning of chemistry, how scientists can learn from teachers to communicate science more inclusively and effectively, and policies and practices that create hope and social conscience so that chemical literacy is available and worthwhile for all learners. The unifying feature of our work is that it is directed at improving equity and creating capacity for students, particularly in urban public education, to have access to learning chemistry.

Chemical Thinking framework, which characterizes the practice of chemistry in terms of core questions that chemistry permits answering (blue), activities of chemical scientists and students of chemistry (orange), and progress variables (PVs) along which learning of chemistry can be measured and mapped. Adapted from Sevian & Talanquer (2014) DOI: 10.1039/C3RP00111C.


July 2021: Congratulations to Dr. Raúl Orduña Picón on his successful doctoral defense on July 23. Dr. Orduña Picón begins on August 1 as project director on the Noyce research study "Assessment Practices of STEM Teachers" at UMass Boston.

May 2021: Our research group, several alumni, and families and significant others got together on a beautiful day at the end of May to celebrate many exciting transitions and joys: graduations in August of Jessica and Raúl, acceptance of Lily Green to the master's program in the School for the Environment, a successful year and a half for Stephanie at Brandeis, a first successful year for Ira at Tufts, completion of postdoc by Tim and his move a few days later to North Carolina, completion of postdoc by Shahar and his new position at Ben Gurion University in Israel, and Greg's new position as Director of STEAM at the Gann Academy.
Sevian group May 2021

May 2021: Congratulations to Dr. Jessica Karch on her successful doctoral defense on May 12. Dr. Karch will begin a postdoc at Tufts University in June, working with Professor Ira Caspari.

January 2021: Congratulations to postdoc Tim Abell, who has accepted a position starting in June as an assistant professor of chemistry at Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina!

October 2020: Daniliz Capellán Pichardo and Dr. Sevian presented about Daniliz's research, conducted under Jessica Karch's mentorship, at the Fall 2020 Faculty Research Celebration at UMass Boston. See minutes 13 to 25 in the event posted on Youtube.

October 2020: "Homenaje a Vicente" in the School of Chemistry at UNAM in Mexico City. Hannah was one of the presenters who shared in the celebration of Vicente to honor him in winning the American Chemical Society's 2021 Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry. Congratulations to our amazing collaborator, Vicente! Links: program of the full celebration on YouTube, and Hannah's presentation on 9 October.

July 2020: We celebrate Ira Caspari and wish her every success as she begins at Tufts.
celebration with Ira

May 2020: The ACCT project website has moved to the American Chemical Society's ChemEd X website: www.chemedx.org/acct. This occurred in sync with NSF's STEM Education for All Showcase, where the ACCT team presented a video targeted to an audience of teachers and made by the teachers who lead the ACCT project: Rob Huie, Scott Balicki, Greg Banks, Becca Lewis, and Michael Clinchot, with technical support by postdoc Tim Abell and undergraduate research assistant Daniliz Capellán Pichardo. The video, "Formative Assessment with a Bang!", won the distinction of the 12th most discussed video out of 171 videos in the Showcase. The video was viewed 2,685 times in the 8-day window of the Showcase in May 2020, by 1,068 unique visitors from 416 locations representing every inhabited continent. Check out our video in the 2020 NSF STEM Education for All Showcase.
formative assessment with a bang video on NSF STEM education for all Showcase

January 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Ira Caspari, who will join Tufts University in September as an assistant professor of chemistry specializing in chemistry education research!

November 2019: Raúl, Klaudja, and Hannah participated in the Second Congress on Conceptual Profiles, in Recife, Brazil, at the end of November. Raúl gave two talks in Portuguese related to his conceptual profile of substance. Klaudja presented a poster about students' and chemists' reasoning about chemical control in English (with translation to Portuguese by Edenia Amaral, conference organizer). Hannah gave one talk in Spanish related about a conceptual profile of chemical consequences, and another in English (with translation) about planning for the teaching using conceptual profiles. 
Raúl presentation in Recife  Klaudja presentation in Recife   Hannah presentation in Recife
(1) Raúl presenting
(2) Klaudja presenting, Edenia translating, Eduardo's reflection in the glass
(3) Hannah presenting

November 2019: We are so happy for Dr. Stephanie Murray who has accepted an assistant professorship in chemistry at Brandeis University, starting in January! Congratulations!

October 2019: Many congratulations to two of the amazing undergrads in our research group! Daniliz Capellán Pichardo presented a poster about her research progress on her chemistry BS capstone thesis project during the summer, which was supported by the Beacon Student Success Scholarship she received. And Heven Wolde graduated from the pharmacy technician program that is organized by JVS and supported by several major healthcare organizations and development programs in the Boston area, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, CVS Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Boston Mayor's Office Workforce Development program, ABCD, and Boston PIC. We are all so proud of you both!

September 2019: Two nice news about postdoc Stephanie Murray: she will chair a symposium in DivCHED at the ACS spring 2020 conference in Philadelphia in March 2020 on "Formative Assessment Practices in Chemistry Teaching", and she was a presenter on Sept 26 at the Chem Catalyst event sponsored by the New England Section of the ACS at Blueprint Medicines Global Headquarters in Cambridge, MA.

August 2019: Welcome to our newest postdoctoral scholar, Shahar Abramovitch, who joins the Sevian group from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

June 2019: Congratulations to Raúl on being awarded the College of Science and Mathematics Dean's Doctoral Fellowship for Fall 2019.

May 2019: Eduardo Mortimer visited for 10 days. We enjoyed stimulating research discussions and some fun times, including visiting Mass MoCA and a party at which Eduardo and others performed.
Eduardo, Edenia, and Hannah at Mass MoCA . Eduardo performing

May 2019: Two major congratulations: (1) to Daniliz Capellán Pichardo on receiving a UMass Boston Beacon Student Success Undergraduate Fellowship to support her internship doing research in our lab this summer, and (2) to Raúl Orduña Picón on receiving the Mastricola award from the Department of Chemistry, which is a large financial award given to one graduate student each year who is selected by the entire faculty for demonstrating the highest excellence in research, service, and teaching.

May 2019: Our entire research group went to see Jessica perform in the first annual spring concert of the Brookline Community Band. This community band originated as the First Corps of Cadets of Massachusetts in 1741, but Jessica joined the band more recently than that.
Jessica in BCB  Jessica in BCB

May 2019: Congratulations to Clarissa on winning the "Outstanding Oral Presentation" award at the 20th annual Northeast Student Chemistry Research Conference hosted by the Northeastern Section Younger Chemists Committee of the ACS, which was held this year at Northeastern University.
Clarissa wins NSYCC award

May 2019: Welcome to our newest postdoctoral scholar, Tim Abell, who joins the Sevian group from Miami University, where he did his doctoral work with Stacey Lowery Bretz.

April 2019 was filled with conferences:
  • NARST: Dr. Sevian, Dr. Ira Caspari, and Raúl Orduña Picón presented talks at the Annual NARST Conference in Baltimore, MD (March 31 - April 3). Dr. Sevian was invited to present in the presidential symposium on science teacher professional development. Ira presented on "Organic Chemistry Professors’ Teaching Orientations and Their Students’ Abstraction during Problem Solving," and Raúl presented on his dissertation work, "Conceptual Profile of Substance: Representing Heterogeneity of Thinking and Speaking about Substance in Chemistry Classrooms." Congratulations as well to visiting professor Edenia Amaral, who presented a poster and a talk at NARST, and former visiting professor and current collaborator Orlando Aguiar, who presented a talk at NARST on a project with Dr. Sevian looking at "Chemistry Teachers’ Intentions and Students’ Epistemic Agency in Communicative Patterns in the Classroom."
  • ACS: Dr. Stephanie Murray and Clarissa Keen also presented talks at the National ACS Meeting in Orlando, FL (March 31 - April 4). Stephanie presented on "Exploring Teaching Noticing, Interpreting and Acting in Response to Written Student Work" and Clarissa presented on "Embracing students’ challenges in general chemistry lab activities". Dr. Sevian was also invited to present at ACS in a symposium honoring Diane Bunce. 
  • Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference: Qausarat Ogunneye presented a poster at the MA URC in Amherst on April 26, about her honors thesis project working with Klaudja Caushi, on studying how students think about chemical control.
Qausarat at MA URC

March 2019: Daniliz Capellan Pichardo and Raúl Orduña Picón, and Jessica Karch attended the New England Regional SACNAS Meeting held at Brandeis University on March 23. Jessica Karch presented a talk. See Photos for a view. 

February 2019: Congratulations to Jessica Karch and Raúl Orduña Picón on being accepted to the NARST 2019 Sandra K. Abell Institute for doctoral students in science education. 

January 2019: Congratulations to Raúl Orduña Picón on passing the oral qualifying exam and achieving doctoral candidacy!

December 2018: Congratulations to Qausarat Ogunneye on being awarded an Oracle Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the spring 2019 semester to work on her research with Klaudja Caushi!

October 2018: Congratulations to Jessica Karch on passing the oral qualifying exam and achieving doctoral candidacy!

October 2018: Klaudja participated as a mentor at the Brockton NAACP STEM career night at Brockton Public Library as part of the Massachusetts Governor's STEM Week Initiative.

July 2018: Hannah met Keith Taber in Cambridge, England.
Keith Taber and Hannah Sevian

June 2018: Jessica is in Kiel, Germany, at IPN, working with our collaborator Sascha Bernholt and his graduate student Marc Rodemer. 
Univ of Kiel-IPN Chemistry Education Group  Jessica with Sascha and Marc
University of Kiel - IPN Chemistry Education Group        Jessica (on right) with Sascha (left) and Marc (middle)

May 2018: Congratulations to Klaudja Caushi on graduation from UMass Boston! And we are so happy that Klaudja will join us in the fall as a PhD student.
Klaudja graduation May 2018

April 2018: Congratulations to Jessica Karch on being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for 2018-2021!!!

March 2018: We are so happy that Shandira Soto and Camila Muneton, students at Boston Latin Academy, are working on advancing their science fair project on determining what is the identify of a mystery metal that they found, with mentoring by Raúl Orduña Picón in our lab. Shandira and Camila won first prize for their project at the Boston science fair (Massachusetts Region VI) on March 3, and are headed to the Massachusetts State Science Fair and also to the International Science Fair. This is also featured in the UMass Boston News. We are all cheering for you, Shandira and Camila!!!!

March 2018: Klaudja Caushi and Florence Wanjiku presented posters at the ACS conference in New Orleans. Klaudja presented about "Characterizing teachers' approaches to formative assessment in chemistry and other STEM classrooms". Florence presented about "Validating the use of the SAMM survey in 6th and 7th grades to to elicit student thinking about the particulate nature of matter". Steve Couture also gave two talks at the ACS conference, one on "Epistemic games in substance characterization" and the other on "A green electrochemistry experiment for general chemistry".

February 2018: Congratulations to Clarissa Keen on passing her literature seminar!

November 2017: Congratulations to Steve Couture on being awarded the prestigious CIBA Award by the Green Chemistry Institute of the American Chemical Society. Steve will present at the national ACS conference in New Orleans about the development, implementation and evaluation of a greener electrochemistry lab for general chemistry (based on his mentorship of Nayer Abd El Meseh in his undergraduate capstone project) and also present his master's thesis research on epistemic games in chemistry. Congratulations also to Steve on the acceptance of his proposed workshop at NSTA 2018 on epistemic games in chemistry, which he'll present at prime time to an audience of up to 200 teachers!

October 2017: Congratulations to Klaudja Caushi on winning a Grants-in-Aid travel grant from the Northeastern Section of the ACS (NESACS) to attend and present at the national ACS conference in New Orleans in March 2018!

September 2017: Alumni news: Congratulations to Gaby Szteinberg on winning the Outstanding Staff Award from the College of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. We're all so proud of you, Gaby!

August 2017: Dr. Sevian has been promoted to full professor! Here she is presenting about the ACCT project research at the ESERA conference in Dublin.

July 2017: Congratulations to Josibel García Valles on landing a job at Fenway Health!

May 2017: Many joyous news items this month:
  • Congratulations to Klaudja Caushi on receiving a UMass Boston Beacon Student Success Undergraduate Fellowship to support her internship doing research in our lab this summer!
  • We wish the very best to Courtney Ngai, who will begin a postdoc at Colorado State University this summer.
  • Congratulations to Becca Lewis on the birth of Jonah, who nearly arrived during the Science Fair in Boston, but Becca drove herself to the hospital in time to deliver him.
  • Congratulations to Josibel García Valles on earning Honors in Biochemistry for her thesis on pupillometry to study cognitive load while solving chemistry problems!
  • Congratulations to Nayer Abd El Meseh on graduating and completing his Senior Capstone in Environmental Science with his project on a novel Green Chemistry laboratory experiment on electrochemistry and batteries, in collaboration with Steve Couture!
  • Congratulations to Felix Nampanya on graduating with a BS in biochemistry and landing his first job, at Dana Farber Cancer Institute!
  • Congratulations to Vesal Dini on the publication of his first paper from his PhD dissertation at Tufts, published in Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res., titled "Case study of a successful learner's epistemological framings of quantum mechanics"!
  • And congratulations to Raúl Orduña Picón and Jessica Karch on being accepted to present posters at the Gordon Research Conference on Chemistry Education Research and Practice in June!

April 2017: Our Chemical Thinking Learning Progression research and development team has been invited to participate in the ACS's inaugural ChemEd X conference on May 22-24 on "Chemistry Instruction for the Next Generation". You can view our presentation and sign up to participate at:

April 2017: The RSC journal, Education in Chemistry, has highlighted Melissa's and Hannah's new CERP paper on organic reaction mechanism problem solving in its latest issue here! The "Teaching Tips" section is especially excellent. The highlight is also posted on the journal's Twitter and Facebook sites.

April 2017: Jessica Karch's first talk at ACS was excellent! She presented about epochs observed using eye tracking during chemistry problem solving.
Jessica Karch ACS 2-Apr-2017

March 2017: Courtney Ngai successfully defended her dissertation on March 15. Congratulations Dr. Ngai!

March 2017: Melissa Weinrich will begin as a tenure-track assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Northern Colorado in August 2017. Congratulations Melissa!

March 2017: Our ACCT Team led an all-day workshop at the BPS Science Teacher Leader retreat on March 10 on noticing students' thinking and analyzing ways that teachers act on what they notice in videos of classroom discourse, and then we participated in district preK-12 science curriculum alignment work on March 11.
Back row: Rob Huie, Greg Banks, Scott Balicki, Jake Foster (Advisory Board member), Pam Pelletier, Raúl Orduña Picón
Front row: Hannah Sevian, Holly Rosa, Michael Clinchot, Jen Lambertz

March 2017: Congratulations to the whole ACCT Team on our article on Better Formative Assessment in The Science Teacher. The journal chose our article to feature in a video (https://youtu.be/9d8QpoV6U-c) and on their Facebook page (www.nsta.org/TST/Facebook).

February 2017: Congratulations to Jessica Karch on passing her literature seminar!

January 2017: Our NSF-funded Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking project is featured on the UMass Boston News. More information on the project is available at www.acctproject.org.

November 2016: Congratulations to Prajakt Pande on his new paper published in Studies in Science Education, called "Representational competence: towards a distributed and embodied cognition account"!

September 2016: Courtney gave an outstanding presentation at EuCheMS in Seville, Spain, on "How students classify and differentiate substances, revealing chemical identity thinking". The week before that, she also gave a well-received talk at ECRICE in Barcelona on "Characterizing the link between chemical identity thinking and biochemistry contexts". Congratulations, Courtney!

August 2016: Congratulations to Josibel García Valles on her successful oral presentation on "Application of Pupillometry in Chemistry Education Research" in the Research in Chemistry Education symposium at the ACS conference in Philadelphia!
Josibel at ACS Philadelphia 2016

July 2016: The Sevian Research Group welcomed Ira Caspari as a visiting scientist. Her advisor, Dr. Nicole Graulich, joined us as well for one of our group meetings.

Back row, L to R: Kevin, Steve, Nicole
Front row, L to R: Raúl, Ira, Melissa, Courtney, Hannah

June 2016: Dr. Sevian and Raúl traveled to Brazil to work with a collaborator, Eduardo Mortimer. In the picture below, they are in the mountains overlooking the city of Belo Horizonte!

L to R: Dr. Hannah Sevian, Dr. Eduardo Mortimer, Raúl Orduna Picón
February 2016: Congratulations to Courtney Ngai on being selected as a delegate for the Northeastern section of the American Chemical Society to participate in the European Association for Chemical And Molecular Sciences Chemistry Congress, to be held in Seville, Spain, in September 2016.

February 2016: Congratulations to Steve Couture on passing his literature seminar!

January 2016: Welcome to our newest graduate student, Raúl Orduna Picón!

L to R: Steve Couture, Dr. Hannah Sevian, Courtney Ngai, Dr. Melissa Weinrich, Raúl Orduna Picón
September 2015: Our new graduate student, Steven Couture, has joined the Sevian research group!

May 2015: Congratulations to Dr. Sevian's most recent graduate, Dr. Steven Cullipher! See the Photos page for pictures from the day of the hooding ceremony.

Spring/Summer 2015: Dr. Sevian will be chairing the 2015 Gordon Research Conference on Chemistry Education Research and Practice. More info...

Spring 2014: Check out a video on YouTube about freshman chemistry majors teaching 8th graders in Boston about chemistry through the medium of learning model based theater productions!


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