The Team

Hannah Sevian

Principal Investigator

Hannah Sevian is a Professor in the Chemistry Department at UMass BostonShe has been on the faculty at UMass Boston since 2001. Earlier in her career, 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, transferring there to follow her advisor after completing M.Phil. and M.A. degrees in chemical physics at Columbia University. Before that, she completed her B.S. in chemical engineering and B.A. in chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder, while working in the lab of Carl Lineberger. 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 TechnologyWhile at UMass Boston, she founded the Center of Science and Mathematics in Context in 2003 and led the Boston Science Partnership from 2004-13From 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. <curriculum vitae>

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Ira Caspari

Dr. 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.

Tim Abell

Dr. Tim Abell is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sevian group working on the ACCT project. Tim graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in chemistry in 2014. He then went to Miami University to begin doctoral research in chemistry education with Stacey Lowery Bretz. His doctoral research focused on developing a concept inventory to assess students’ understanding of dissolution, precipitation, and the changes in enthalpy and entropy that accompany these processes. He successfully defended his PhD in March 2019. Tim joined the Sevian group in May 2019. 

Shahar Abramovitch

Dr. Shahar Abramovitch is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sevian group working on the Assessment Practices of STEM Teachers project. In 2019, Shahar completed his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Shahar’s dissertation dealt with the conceptualization of energy among practicing scientists, online media and junior high-school (JHS) students. Shahar has a B.Sc in Marine Biology and an M.Sc in structural Biology. Shahar is also a science teacher, having earned his teaching certification from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Since 2004, he has been teaching biology, chemistry and physics courses in JHS, high school and college. As of 2014, he is also focused on science teachers’ training while lecturing in college.

Visiting Scientists

None at the moment

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. Jessica is also the first graduate student in the US to be awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (in 2018) for chemistry education research as a field of study.

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.


Greg Banks

Greg began his PhD in Chemistry (chemistry education research track) in September 2017, and is completing his doctoral work while also teaching full-time in Boston Public Schools. He is a founding member of the Chemical Thinking Learning Progression project, which is now funded by NSF in Phase 2 as the Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking project. Greg's dissertation work involves a longitudinal multiple case study of three teachers across two years of teaching high school chemistry. He is studying the ways that teachers design the learning environment with respect to chemical ideas.

Klaudja Caushi

Klaudja was born in Albania and raised in Greece. In 2014, she moved to Boston to pursue her bachelor's degree at UMass Boston. In 2018, she graduated with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, as a first-generation college student. Klaudja joined the Sevian group while a sophomore at UMass Boston. At that time, she worked closely with Dr. Vesal Dini, a postdoc in the group, on developing and investigating an approach to transforming chemistry teaching through engagement in classroom formative assessment (FA) that redirects teachers' attention, interpretation, and actions toward the development of their students' meaningful chemical thinking. Klaudja is now a PhD student in Chemistry (chemistry education research track). She is passionate about teaching chemistry and hopes one day to obtain a faculty position where she will combine teaching and research in chemistry education. In her free time, Klaudja can be found either in a hip-hop class or a yoga class.


Undergraduate Students

Daniliz Capellan Pichardo


Charlotte Pohl

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 Boston, 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.

Charlotte Pohl is a senior majoring in chemistry with a minor in education studies at Swarthmore College. She an undergraduate research intern in the Sevian Group for the summer of 2020. She is assisting Klaudja Caushi in coding chemistry students’ and chemistry professionals’ reasoning and acting upon the crosscutting disciplinary concept of chemical control.

Andrea Contreras




Andrea Contreras is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science as well as women's gender and sexuality studies. She was born in Mexico and she immigrated to the US in 2007. Andrea joined the Sevian group in January 2020 and has been assisting Dr. Ira Caspari with the Assessment Practices of STEM Teachers project and Dr. Tim Abell with the Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking project.




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


Scott Balicki


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.
Scott Balicki is currently an 8th grade science teacher in Boston Public Schools. Prior to this, he taught chemistry and AP chemistry in the same school, where he has also 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.

Rebecca Lewis


becca lewis

Dr. Rebecca Lewis teaches chemistry and AP chemistry in Hingham Public Schools. Prior to this, she taught chemistry, biology, and psychology at the John D. O'Bryant School for Math and Science in Boston Public Schools. She began at The English High School in BPS in 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.

Collaborating Principal Investigators

Pamela Pelletier (retired from Boston Public Schools)

Pam Pelletier was the Director of K-12 Science and Technology/Engineering in Boston Public Schools, where she 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 a 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. 

Edenia Amaral (Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil)

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. During January to June 2019, she joined the Sevian research team to bring a specific focus on activity theory and conceptual profiles.

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).

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.

Past Collaborators

Lance C. Pérez (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) 

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

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.

jen lambertzJen Lambertz (Boston Public Schools)

Jennifer Doyle Lambertz was one of the founding members of the Chemical Thinking Learning Progression project. She 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.