Key Personnel

The SAVE Science project's strength comes from its interdisciplinary collaborative design team of STEM education researchers, experienced science teachers, teacher educators and technologists.


Diane Jass Ketelhut

Diane Jass Ketelhut is an Associate Professor of Science Education at University of Maryland, College Park. Her research interests center on improving student learning and engagement with science through increasing access to scientific inquiry experiences and through raising self-efficacy in science. She looks specifically at the use of virtual environments to deliver scientific inquiry curricula and science assessments to students in the classroom, and at professional development to help teachers integrate scientific inquiry into their curricula. She is the Principal Investigator of the SAVE Science project.  She holds certification in secondary school science and was a science curriculum specialist and teacher (science and math) for Grades 5-12 for 15 years. Prior to that, she conducted immunology basic research for 2 years. Diane received a B.S. in Bio-Medical Sciences from Brown University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia and her doctorate in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University.

Catherine Schifter

Catherine Schifter is an Associate Professor in Psychological Studies in Education (PSE) at Temple University, and a Carnegie Scholar (2000-2001). In her time at Temple she has been Director of the Online Learning Program from 1997-2000, the founding Director of the Temple Teaching and Learning Center from 2002-2004, and Chair of the CITE Department in the College of Education (2007-2009). Her research has focused on distance education and technology integration in education, with recent interest in using game-based design to assess understanding of science inquiry. In addition to publishing numerous articles, she co-edited The Distance Education Evolution: Issues and Case Studies (2004), sole authored Infusing Technology into the Classroom: Continuous Practice Improvement (2008), and co-edited New Media in Education: Beyond Constructivism (2010). Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986, Dr. Schifter was an Assistant Professor at the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was awarded the Earl Banks Hoyt teaching award (1982), and the Clinical Research Award from the American Academy of Periodontics (1986).

Brian Nelson

Brian C. Nelson is an Associate Professor of Educational Technology in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. Dr. Nelson’s research focuses on the theory, design, and implementation of computer-based learning environments, focusing on immersive games. An instructional designer and learning theorist, he has published and presented extensively on the viability of educational virtual environments for situated inquiry learning and assessment. Dr. Nelson’s recent publications have addressed issues related to the design and evaluation of educational games, with a focus on situated cognition and socio-constructivist based design. Recent articles and chapters include “Managing cognitive load in educational multi user virtual environments,” “Exploring embedded guidance and self-efficacy in educational multi-user virtual environments,” and “Exploring the use of individualized, reflective guidance in an educational multi-user virtual environment.”    

Dr. Nelson was the Project Designer on the River City Virtual World project through two NSF-funded studies, and is a Co-Principal Investigator on the on-going NSF-funded SAVE Science and SURGE studies. Each of these studies explores the use of computer games to teach and assess science inquiry and content. He was recently co-PI on two MacArthur Foundation grants: 21st  Century Assessment, investigating new models for assessment in digital media-based learning environments, and Our Courts, creating and assessing an immersive game to promote civic engagement.

Dr. Nelson earned his doctorate at Harvard University in 2005. 

Uma Natarajan

Uma  Natarajan is currently the Research Project Manager for SAVE Science. Her role involves managing and coordinating a team of research assistants in areas such as curriculum design, school implementation, professional development and school recruitment. Her research interests include exploring the affordances of technology in science learning and teaching and teacher professional development. Her dissertation used the sociocultural approach to study the curriculum and practices of a technology education curriculum for low performing students in Singapore. She has also worked extensively with teachers in integrating technologies in science classrooms. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Education, Uma spent the last decade in the field of education in various capacities as a teacher, curriculum designer, academic advisor, researcher and mentor teacher in countries like India, Singapore, Australia and the United States.

Minjung Ryu

Minjung Ryu is a post-doc research associate in SAVE Science. She is currently involved in managing the implementation,data analysis processes and coordinating the research team at the University of Maryland.  She received her Ph.D from University of Maryland and her thesis, focused on students classroom discursive participation and identity development in science classrooms. She is particularly interested in immigrant students’ science learning and how SAVE Science could support their science learning and engagement.



Cecile Foshee

Cecile Foshee is an Educational Technology doctoral student at Arizona State University. She is also an assistant professor at the Art Institute of Phoenix. She has 11 years of educational related experience, from teaching to designing and developing instructional materials. Cecile is part of the design team, for which she focuses on developing visual assets for the project.




Younsu Kim

Younsu Kim is a Mathematics Education Ph.D. student at Arizona State University. She is currently involved in a development, testing and delivery, and maintenance of the SAVE Science modules. She is interested in students' mathematical thinking, motivation, cognitive load theory, and game design.




Kent Slack

Kent Slack is an Educational Technology Ph.D. student at Arizona State University. He previously was the lead programmer and developer of the SURGE project, an NSF funded grant exploring the use of an educational game to teach and assess concepts relating to the physics of motion.  His current interests involve cognitive load theory in educational game contexts, the use of instructional design methods in higher education settings, and Merrill’s first principles of instruction. Kent is involved with the programming, development, testing, delivery, and maintenance of SAVE Science.



Melissa Karakus

Melissa Karakus is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology program at Temple University.  She is relatively new to SAVE Science, having joined the team in the Fall of 2011.  Prior to this, Melissa was involved as a Research Assistant on an IES-funded grant that used principles of cognitive science in order to modify and develop middle school science curricula.  Melissa’s main area of research interest is student motivation.  Within SAVE Science Melissa performs teacher observations, coordinates module implementations, and provides additional support as needed.                                       



Alexander Yates

Alexander Yates is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Temple University.  He received his PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington in 2007, and his B.A. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University in 2001.  His research interests span all aspects of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. Currently, his research focuses primarily on integrating diverse sources of information about text -- such as structured data, manually-annotated text, and unannotated  corpora -- to develop systems that understand the meaning of written language.



Avi Sil

Avi Sil is a PhD student working under Dr. Alexander Yates in the Computer Science Department at Temple University. His research interests include Artificial Intelligence, Text Mining and Machine Learning. He is interested in building artificial systems which have Commonsense Knowledge. He has received the Best Graduate Research Project award from the CIS department at Temple University in 2011. Also, he was also the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2011 by the College of Science and Technology at Temple for teaching undergraduate courses in Java and Operating Systems. Currently, he is working in the SAVE Science project on applying various Data Mining techniques to find useful latent patterns in the given data.


Mary John

Mary John is graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park.  While she has a Master’s degree in both Business Accounting and Computer Management, she is currently pursuing her third postgraduate degree in Information Management.  She has experience working with database and financial management systems.  Her focus within the SAVE Science project is the management of our Dashboard which is how our data is collected, organized, and retrieved for analysis.



Bradley Bergey

Bradley Bergey is a 4th year doctoral student in educational psychology at Temple University and joined SAVE Science in August, 2012.  His work  with SAVE Science will focus on data management and analysis.  He is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow with the Teaching and Learning Center.  Previously, he worked as a research assistant on an NSF-funded study of effective teaching practices to support diagram comprehension in high school classrooms. His research interests include student-generated questions and learning through inquiry.



Martha Carey

Martha Carey is a second-year doctoral student in urban education at Temple and joined SAVE Science in August 2012. Her role involves recruitment, implementation, and qualitative data collection and analysis. Martha has a Master's degree in Teaching and has been a high school English teacher and an educational administrator in higher education, has worked with emerging charter schools in partnership with the Minneapolis school district in the pilot implementation of their Arts for Academic Achievement program, and has worked as a grant writer and grant reviewer for the City of Seattle. Martha has also worked in museum administration and is an oil painter. Her research interests include teacher preparation in urban education, arts education implementation in urban schools, and analysis of emotional entrainment and constraint as social exchange in the urban classroom.


Xiaoyang Gong

Xiaoyang Gong is a first-year  Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. She is working with Diane as her teaching assistant and will be helping the research team at Maryland.







Senfeng Liang

Senfeng Liang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland  majoring in mathematics education. He also has a Master’s degree in mathematics. Currently, he is working on his dissertation which explores the “Nature of Chinese immigrant families involvement in their children’s mathematics education”. Senfeng’s role in this project is to conduct quantitative data analysis.






Tony Lutkus: External evaluator to SAVE Science

Anthony Lutkus is a Senior Program Administrator in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) program and held a similar position for state services groups at Educational Testing Service (ETS) through March 1, 2008. He has managed the creation and business aspects of both paper-and-pencil and computer-based placement tests and has co-authored a number of key NAEP publications, including the Nation's Report Cards and state reports. Prior to coming to ETS, Dr. Lutkus was the Director of Assessment in the Higher Education Department for the state of New Jersey. He is responsible for evaluating the SAVE Science project. He earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Princeton University.