The Team

Pricipal Investigators

Mike Stieff

Principal Investigator

Mike Stieff (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is Associate Professor of Learning Sciences and Chemistry at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His research focus on the development of new pedagogical and curriculum innovations to improve STEM learning. This work addresses three specific goals: (i) identification of the task-specific use of visuo-spatial strategies in scientific problem solving, (ii) characterization of the interaction of visuo-spatial ability and scientific expertise, and (iii) the development of visualization software for teaching high school and college chemistry. He is an expert in the design and evaluation of learning environments, particularly those in undergraduate STEM courses. His current projects explore new theoretical frameworks regarding the role of visualization and diagrammatic reasoning at multiple levels of science instruction and the design of simulations and animations for teaching science.
Alison Castro Superfine

Alison Castro Superfine

Co-Principal Investigator

My research interests focus primarily on studying and supporting mathematics teacher
learning, both practicing and prospective elementary teachers. My funded projects
include designing and studying learning environments for mathematics teacher
preparation courses to support prospective teachers' development of mathematical
knowledge for teaching and professional noticing. Related to mathematics teacher
preparation, I have developed different analytic approaches to study mathematics
teacher educators and the knowledge needed to teach teachers. Other funded projects
have focused on practicing elementary teachers and their use of learning trajectory-
based formative assessment practices, and ways of supporting their learning to engage
in productive classroom discourse over time.

Yue Yin

Co-Principal Investigator

Yue Yin is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and an affiliate faculty at the Learning Sciences Research Institute. Her research interests and expertise include assessments, science education, research design, survey design, and applied measurement/statistics.

Dr. Yin is passionate about using assessment to help improve instruction and learning. She has conducted research on various assessments, such as performance assessment, concept mapping assessment, formative assessment, computational thinking assessment, and assessments used in makerspace. The subject contents in her research have involved physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and statistics, ranging from K-12 to higher education. In her research, she uses learning theory as a foundation, measurement/statistics as tools, to explore and examine ways of using assessments to improve learning and instruction.

Project Management

Rachel Yim

Project Manager

Rachel Yim is the project manager for the Connected Chemistry Curriculum Efficacy Project. She has eleven years of experience in scientific research and taught science (primarily biology) at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary level over the course of eight years, including two years as a GK-12 Fellow with the National Science Foundation.
Teresa Nighelli

Teresa Nighelli

Insructional Coach

Teresa Nighelli (MS Ed.) is a secondary science teacher who joined the CCC project over 10 years ago to help develop the 9 units of CCC. She is passionate about sharing science that is both connected and relevant to the real world. Her work in the science education field includes teaching science to students from elementary to high school age, educational director and curriculum development for a children's science museum, participation in NASA STEM educational programming, and educational consulting for Nickelodeon. In the last few years of the CCC project, she has helped provide professional development for participating teachers, including classroom visits and workshops. She has also worked to update the materials and simulations.


Ying Chen

Research Assistant

Ying is a doctoral student in educational psychology (Measurement, evaluation, statistic and evolution). His research interests are centered around IRT modeling, psychometric analysis on rater-mediated assessment and teacher evolution. Currently, Ying is working on CCC as a graduate research assistant for classroom observation and data analysis.

Melanie Snow

Research Assistant

Melanie is a current PhD candidate in Learning Sciences studying teacher practices in science classrooms. She was formerly a high school Chemistry teacher in Atlanta and Chicago. She holds a BS in Earth and Atmospheric Studies specializing in Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics and a MEd in Science Education.

Anna Szuba

Research Assistant

I am a motivated chemistry PhD student with hands-on experience gained through conducting research in STEM related projects. I am dedicated to fostering and supporting an educational setting that facilitates a path of learning which generates and affords opportunity that will lead to fulfillment of one’s goals in life. My dissertation works examines student understanding of protein structure when related to intermolecular forces and representational competence. Using verbal protocols, students’ developing understanding of proteins was analyzed to investigate how a specific learning environment helped students overcome difficulties related to (1) understanding protein structure, (2) representational competence and (3) whether the digital learning environment positively impacted students’ learning.

Stephanie Werner

Research Assistant

As a RA on the CCC project, I perform classroom observations, analyze teacher recordings, help facilitate discussions during PD, and help to create content for the socio-scientific unit.

My research interests include improving the representation and retention of URM students in STEM and making large-scale changes to remove systemic barriers for marginalized students. I enjoy working with big data sets and playing around with data visualizations. I always love learning new things and have been spending my spare time learning programming and more about science policy.

As for non-work/research related interests, I love cooking and finding new recipes to try, playing video games, doing fun science experiments with the kids at Science Club, and taking nature walks (especially Chicago Botanic Gardens).


Dane DeSutter

Postdoc Research Associate & Lead Developer

Hi! I'm Dane and I am the lead developer of the CCC simulations as we migrate to the web. My undergraduate degree was in Physics and Chemistry. I received my Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences in 2019. In addition to this, I have been developing software in JavaScript for the past few years.

Deep Patel

Software Developer

Deep is a frontend developer on the CCC project. Deep considers himself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on his academic foundations in Computer Science and stay in tune with the latest technologies through continued coursework and community involvement. Outside of work, he enjoys biking, playing cricket, gaming, and exploring Chicago.
Sidney Spurgeon

Sidney Spurgeon

Sidney is a graduate student in the Stieff Group. She is studying for her PhD in chemistry with a focus in chemistry education. She is interested in chemistry representations and has enjoyed working on the submicroscopic simulations as part of CCC. In her free time Sidney likes to watch anime and go hiking (when it isn't too hot or humid).


Haeyoon Chung

Robin D'Aversa

Research Assistant

Robin is a Doctor of Nursing Practice student, specializing in Sexual Health and Midwifery, and a former CPS teacher. This is Robin's second year with the CCC project and they relish the opportunity to investigate—with students and teachers—the impact of an enriched and deepened chemistry curriculum.

Rich Kogen

Mirlanda Prudent

Sara Rezvi

Tim Stoelinga