The Team

Hannah Sevian

Principal Investigator

Hannah Sevian is a Professor in the Chemistry Department at UMass Boston. She is also a member of the Center of Science and Mathematics in Context. Under the direction of theoretical chemist Jim Skinner, who is now at University of Chicago, she earned a Ph.D. in 1992 in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin Madison, as well as M.Phil. and M.S. degrees in chemical physics from Columbia University. Before that, she completed her B.S. in chemical engineering and B.A. in chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her training also includes post-doctoral work in theoretical polymer chemistry at Dartmouth College, seven years of teaching chemistry and physics in English and Spanish in urban and rural public high schools, and experimental materials science research while working as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2009-11, she was on loan from UMass Boston to serve as a program officer in the Division of Undergraduate Education, and the Division of Research on Learning, at the National Science Foundation. She has been on the faculty at UMass Boston since 2001. <curriculum vitae>

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Stephanie Murray


Dr. Stephanie Murray is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sevian group. She graduated from Stonehill College in Easton, MA with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2013. She then moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and began her doctoral research in organic chemistry under the direction of Dr. Simon J. Meek. While at UNC, she conducted research on the development of new catalytic methods utilizing a-boryl organometallics and successfully defended her PhD in June 2018. During graduate school, she fully realized her passion for teaching and improving STEM education so she decided to transition into the field of chemistry education research, and began working in the Sevian group in August 2018. She is currently conducting research on the ACCT project and teaching in the chemistry department.

Ira Caspari

Ira Caspari is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sevian group who is working on the Assessment Practices of STEM Teachers project. Ira completed her PhD in chemistry, with specialization in chemistry education, in October 2018 from the Institute of Chemistry Education at Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen. Supervised by Prof. Dr. Nicole Graulich at the Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen, Ira's doctoral research was about mechanistic reasoning in organic chemistry. She visited the Sevian Research Group in June and July, 2016, and returned occasionally for briefer visits to continue collaboration. When visiting the Sevian Research Group she worked on developing an approach to analyzing students’ reasoning about organic chemical mechanisms together with Dr. Melissa Weinrich. Before she started her doctoral project, Ira completed her first state examination in Biology and Chemistry Education at Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz and worked as a Pre-Service Teacher at Gymnasium Philippinum in Weilburg.

Visiting Scientists

Edenia Amaral

Edenia Maria Ribeiro do Amaral is an associate professor of Chemistry Education in the Department of Chemistry at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil. Also, she is a faculty member of the Science Education Postgraduate Program, in which she conducts research on conceptual profiles, the conceptualization process, and discursive interactions, activities and actions in science classrooms, and she supervises master’s and doctoral students. Dr. Amaral has developed research and teaching projects involving science/chemistry teachers in discussions around professional development, teaching and learning sequences, practical work in schools, and science curricula. From January to June, 2019, she will join the Sevian research team to bring a specific focus on activity theory and conceptual profiles.

Graduate Students

Steven Couture

Steve Couture graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in chemistry in 2003 and is now working towards an M.S. in chemistry under the guidance of Dr. Hannah Sevian at UMass Boston. He began the program in September 2015. Once Steve completed his undergraduate work, he went on to work for the pharmaceutical company, ArQule, performing early drug discovery research. After working in industry for two years, Steve transitioned to teaching high school chemistry. He has spent a total of eight years teaching chemistry in Massachusetts, Florida, and St. Croix, in both public and private schools. He is currently working on a project identifying cognition and metacognition within students’ chemical thinking.

Raúl Orduña Picón

Raúl Orduña Picón started in January 2016 as a doctoral student in the Chemistry Education Research track of the Chemistry Ph.D. program. In 2012, he graduated with a B. Sc. in Chemistry from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City. After graduation, Raúl started a graduate program in the Faculty of Chemistry, at UNAM, related to Chemistry Education. In 2015, he acquired with honors the degree of “Master in Chemistry Teaching for the High School Education”. His project was about applying the “Workshop of Learning and Teaching Elementary Science throughout Inquiry”. He monitored the possible change in learning and teaching elementary science throughout inquiry, based on scientific thinking skills, from a teacher through portraying his PCK during the Workshop. From 2014-15, he was a professor in the Inorganic Chemistry Department at UNAM, where Raúl taught both a General Chemistry lecture and laboratory course for undergraduate students.

Jessica Karch

Jessica Karch began as a graduate student in the Chemistry Education Research track of the Chemistry Ph.D. program in September 2016. In 2015, she graduated with Bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and German from Columbia University, where she worked under Prof. Xavier Roy researching cluster precursors to solid state materials and as a TA under Dr. Sarah Hansen developing and implementing teaching lab curriculum. After graduating, she spent a year in Germany as a fellow of the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange. As a member of the Sevian group, Jessica will focus on investigating abstraction thresholds in chemistry education. She was awarded an "Improving Graduate Student Preparedness for Entering the Workforce" fellowship from the NSF, which will involve working at the Flagship Clubhouse at the Museum of Science, Boston, as part of her research.

Clarissa Keen

Clarissa Keen started her PhD in Chemistry Education Research in September 2017 under the guidance of Dr. Sevian at UMass Boston. Clarissa graduated with a BA and MA in Chemistry from Boston University in 2012, and is returning to academia after over five years of industry experience. She has worked as both an instructor and curriculum advisor for a variety of science programs, conducted research in academic and product development settings, and has spent the past two years focusing on adult education and professional development. Her lab work has included modeling bio-inorganic enzymes and developing environmentally preferred salt solutions for road maintenance applications. Clarissa will continue to apply these experiences to her work in chemistry education in the Sevian Group.


Klaudja Caushi

Klaudja was born in Albania and raised in Greece. In 2014 she moved to Boston to pursue her
higher education at UMass Boston. In 2018 she graduated with a BS in Biology and a minor in
Chemistry, as a first-generation college student. Klaudja got her first introduction in chemistry
education research while a sophomore undergraduate student in the lab of Dr. Sevian. At that
time, she was closely working with Dr. Vesal Dini, a post doc in the Sevian research group, on
developing and investigating an approach to transforming chemistry teaching through
engagement in classroom Formative Assessment (FA) that redirects teachers’ attention,
interpretation and action toward the development of meaningful chemical thinking. She is now a
first year PhD student focusing on chemistry education research. Klaudja is passionate about
teaching chemistry and research and hopes one day to combine the two. In her free time, you will
find her either in a hip-hop class or a yoga class.

Undergraduate Students

Daniliz Capellan Pichardo


Daniliz Capellán Pichardo is a junior majoring in Chemistry. Born in the Dominican Republic, and immigrating to the U.S.A, Daniliz was raised in Brooklyn, New York where she lived for 14 and a half years. She moved from New York City to oston, Massachusetts when she was 17 years old to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She joined the Sevian Group in summer of 2018. She has an interest in Chemistry Education and Chemistry Research and is an aspiring mad scientist. Daniliz is taking over Shawn Rock’s eye tracking project and is working with Jessica Karch and Dr. Sevian to apply eye tracking and pupillary technology to study how students infer properties from 2d and 3d models of molecular structures.





Greg Banks


Michael Clinchot


Greg Banks teaches chemistry and AP chemistry at the Urban Science Academy in Boston Public Schools. He has been teaching in Boston since 2003. He received his B.A. in chemistry from Providence College and holds an M.S. in environmental science and an M.Ed. from UMass Boston. Greg is a National Board Certified teacher and has been an instructor for the Chemistry Contextualized Content Courses at UMass Boston as part of the Boston Science Partnership. He has also been a Boston Science Education Fellow and was in the Research Experience for Teachers program at Northeastern University. He has presented at the National Science Teachers Association and the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education conferences.
Michael Clinchot teaches 8th grade science in Boston Public Schools. He taught at the Edwards Middle School starting in 2005, and then moved to the O'Bryant School in 2015. Prior to teaching in Boston, he taught for 15 years in New York City, teaching science and social studies at the middle school level. In addition to his work in this group, Michael also works with a group of Boston Public Schools teachers looking at how best to help students learn science. Michael has attended and presented about his work in both groups at NARST, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Educational Research Association conferences.

Robert Huie


Jennifer Lambertz


Rob Huie teaches all levels of chemistry up to AP chemistry at Boston Latin Academy in Boston Public Schools, and has been teaching chemistry in Boston Public Schools since 1994. He is a native of Boston, having attended the Boston Public Schools and graduated from Boston Latin School, and with close ties to the community. He earned both his bachelor's degrees, in chemistry and materials science and engineering, from Brown University. After graduating, he worked for nine years as a Senior Materials Research Engineer for the US Army Materials Technology Laboratory in Watertown, MA, specializing in the corrosion of high temperature nickel super alloys, aluminum alloys, and coatings systems during Desert Storm. After leaving the Materials Technology Laboratory, he took on a teaching position in Boston, earned an M.Ed. from UMass Boston, and has enjoyed working with his students ever since.
jen lambertz
Jennifer Doyle Lambertz taught 7th and 8th grade math and science for six years at the Mary Lyon School in Boston Public Schools, where she has been working since 2007, and now is teaching 4th grade. Jennifer graduated from Boston College with a degree in elementary education and human development. She also earned a master's degree in moderate special education from Boston College. In 2011, Jennifer was named one of Boston's Best Educators of the Year. Jennifer has presented about our work at the National Science Teachers Association conference.

Rebecca Lewis


Scott Balicki

becca lewis

Dr. Rebecca Lewis teaches chemistry and AP chemistry at the John D. O'Bryant School for Math and Science in Boston Public Schools. She began at The English HIgh School in BPS, and has taught chemistry in Boston since 2007. Prior to teaching in Boston, she taught in Swansea Public Schools. Rebecca attended New York University, where she majored in psychology. Following this, she completed her M.D. at UMass Medical School. Rebecca is a National Board Certified teacher, and has presented about our work at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education.

Scott Balicki is a chemistry and AP chemistry teacher in the Boston Public School district, where he has taught biology, chemistry, and physics since 2001. He earned his BS in Biology from Bates College in 2001, and his MEd from Boston University in 2006. He has been an instructor for Earth Science 1 Contextualized Content Courses at UMass Boston and Northeastern University.  He has served as a Boston Science Education Fellow, and has presented about teaching, peer leadership, and chemical demonstrations at the National Science Teachers Association Conference.

Collaborating Principal Investigators

Pamela Pelletier (Boston Public Schools)

Pam Pelletier is the Director of K-12 Science and Technology/Engineering in Boston Public Schools, where she has worked since 2004. Formerly, Pam was a high school classroom teacher and department chair, professional development specialist, curriculum developer and implementation advisor, and district administrator. Pam was inducted into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators in 2012 and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1991. 

Orlando Aguiar (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Orlando Aguiar is an associate professor of physics education in the School of Education at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. He has worked extensively with physics teachers in Brazil, studying discursive dynamics in science classrooms and questions from teachers and students. He has developed a conceptual profile of energy across science domains. During 2017-18, he was a senior visiting professor in our group in Boston, where he advised graduate students and postdocs, and contributed to professional development in Boston Public Schools alongside our teacher-researcher team. He also taught a graduate course on classroom discourse analysis methods. 

Heilen Arce (University of Costa Rica)

Heilen Arce received her B.S. and her M.Sc. at the University of Costa Rica, her master's dissertation project was on biomaterials. After working in the Chemistry Industry for about 2 years she went back to the University of Costa Rica to work there as a General Chemistry professor, where she found her true passion: teaching chemistry. In 2010, Heilen joined the Cognitive Science Master's Program at the University of Costa Rica and her current interest is in developing strategies for her students to improve their learning process and techniques for professors to help with that process.

Eduardo F. Mortimer (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Eduardo Mortimer is a professor in the School of Education at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. He has developed the Conceptual Profile theory over the past 20 years, including a recent book on Conceptual Profiles: A Theory of Teaching and Learning Scientific Concepts, co-edited with Charbel El-Hani. In collaboration with Phil Scott, he published Meaning Making in Secondary Science Classrooms. He has also collaborated with many other researchers in science education over several decades, including Rosalind Driver (Leeds University, England) and Andrée Tiberghien (CNRS, France).

Lance C. Pérez (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Lance C. Pérez is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where his research includes wireless communications, sensor networks, image processing and engineering education. He is also currently the Dean of Engineering at UNL.

Vicente Talanquer (University of Arizona)

Vicente Talanquer is a distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Arizona, where his research focuses on the study, reflection, and improvement of chemistry education and teacher preparation. His research interests include commonsense reasoning in chemistry, learning progressions and trajectories of expertise in chemistry, and development of teacher assessment reasoning.