Meera Chandrasekhar, Principal Investigator

Meera Chandrasekhar is Curators’ Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Following her undergraduate education in India, she received a Ph. D. in Physics from Brown University, Providence, RI, in 1976. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Max-Planck-Institut in Stuttgart, W. Germany, she came to MU in 1978.

Prof. Chandrasekhar’s research interests are in the area of optical spectroscopy of semiconductors, superconductors, and conjugated polymers, with an emphasis on high pressure studies. She is deeply interested in the education of young students. She has developed hands-on physics programs for K-12 students and professional development programs for K-12 teachers.

Her awards include the Missouri Science Educator Award, STOM, 2008; Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, 2006; Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, 1999; and a William T. Kemper Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching in 1997.

Prof. Chandrasekhar has served as Principal or co-Principal Investigator on several educational grants funded by the National Science Foundation, Missouri Department of Higher Education, and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The last grant (2005-2008) supported development and implementation of professional development for a yearlong course for physics in ninth grade.

In this project Prof. Chandrasekhar serves as chair of the management team and curriculum revision team, a member of the advisory board and district liaison committee, co-Coach/Mentor coordinator and physics instructor.

Ann Wallenmeyer, co-Principal Investigator

Ann Wallenmeyer is currently the K-12 Science Curriculum Facilitator at Springfield Public Schools. She is also an adjunct professor at Missouri State University, where she teaches secondary science methods. She obtained a BA from Southwest Baptist University and an M.S. in Education from Missouri State University. She has previously worked as a Biology teacher in Texas and Secondary Science teacher, Curriculum Instructional Accountability Assistant and Mentor at Springfield.

Dorina Kosztin, co-Principal Investigator

Dorina Kosztin is Associate Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She obtained her B.Sc. from University of Cluj, Romania, and her M.Sc. and Ph. D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She came to MU in 2001.

Prof. Kosztin has a strong interest in improving the way introductory physics courses for undergraduate students are taught and in the education of younger students. She has introduced several new teaching techniques for lower-level undergraduate Physics courses, including clickers and web-based support. For her activities she received the Provost Junior Faculty Teaching Award in 2005 and the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching in 2008.

Prof. Kosztin played a key role in curriculum development and teaching in the A TIME for Physics First project funded by Mo-DESE (2005-08). 

In this project Prof. Kosztin serves as a member of the management team and curriculum revision team and physics instructor.

Dorina Mitrea, co-Principal Investigator

Dorina Mitrea is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1996, after which she joined the faculty at MU.

Her research interests are in the areas of Harmonic Analysis and Partial Differential Equations. Her substantial involvement in outreach activities includes work with both students and teachers. At the middle school level, she has experience coaching for the Mathcounts competition at the regional, state and national stage, as well as organizing mathematics summer camps for 5-8 graders in Columbia.

Prof. Mitrea was honored by the President of the United States at the White House as coach of top-placing students in the 2003 national Mathcounts Competition. She has won the 2001 Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award and a 2005 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence at the University of Missouri.

Prof. Mitrea has coached high school students for math competitions and has organized the AMC and the Great Plains Mathematics League competitions. She has developed courses and recruitment models for attracting and preparing middle grade math teachers. She has developed curricular materials for teacher training and implementedthem in a sequence of three summer institutes for Missouri teachers.

In this project Prof. Mitrea serves as a member of the management team and math instructor.

Deborah Hanuscin, co-Principal Investigator

Deborah Hanuscin, Assistant Professor of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, is currently the Bess Schooling Professor of Elementary Education, jointly appointed in the Department of Learning, Teaching, & Curriculum and Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She obtained her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Physics Education from Indiana University in 2004.

Prof. Hanuscin’s research interests focus on teacher learning, with particular regard to scientific literacy and the ways teachers portray science in the classroom. She has received numerous awards, both as a classroom teacher and university faculty member. Most recently she received the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award and was named Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Instructor in the MU College of Education.

Prior to coming to MU, Prof. Hanuscin was a classroom teacher and informal science educator. She has been involved in teacher professional development since 1996, and currently directs the MU QUEST Program for K-6 teachers, a content-focused professional development institute that includes an outreach program for elementary-age students.

In this project Prof. Hanuscin serves as a member of the management team, curriculum revision team, advisory board, district liaison committee, research team chair, and leadership instructor.

James Spain, Senior Personnel

James Spain is Professor of Dairy Nutrition and Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Missouri. He received a B.S. from North Carolina State University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech. He has been at MU since 1990.

Prof. Spain’s research interests focus on interactions between nutrients and the environment on lactation and reproduction of dairy cattle. He has a keen interest in teaching and advising MU students. He has been involved in several MU-wide activities such as Summer Welcome, Learning Community Teams and undergraduate research projects. He has served as faculty advisor for several Clubs, including the Block and Bridle Club, CAFNR Student Council, QEBH and the Kappa Delta Sorority.

Prof. Spain has received several awards for teaching and advising, including the Green Chalk Award in 1996, William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2001 and Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.

In this project Prof. Spain serves as chair of the advisory board and a member of the management team.

Sunder Balasubramanian, Senior Personnel

Sunder Balsubramanian is Assistant Professor of Physics at Lincoln University, Jefferson City. He obtained a B.Sc. in Physics from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai,

India, in 1991 and an M.E. in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, in 1995. He then obtained a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Physics in 2003. After two years of post-doctoral work at the University of Missouri, Columbia, he joined Lincoln University as an assistant professor of physics.

Prof. Balasubramanian’s research is in sensor development and in biomedical imaging. He is the Director of the Adaptive Optics and the Nanophotonics Laboratory at Lincoln University and is currently focusing on developing novel laseracoustic detection platforms to defeat Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and on hormone detection in small ruminants.

Prof. Balasubramanian has always been interested in teaching and adopting novel teaching methodologies in the classroom. He is currently leading Lincoln University’s efforts in transforming all introductory physics courses into an inquiry/activity based learning environment. He is also interested in mentoring high-school students in research projects to expose them to frontier areas of science and technology. He has a student fromJefferson City currently building a coherent-domain imaging system to look at cells.

In this project Prof. Balasubramanian serves as a member of the management team and curriculum revision team, and physics instructor.

Dennis Nickelson, Senior Personnel

Dennis Nickelson is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Physics at William Woods University in Fulton. He obtained his B.S.E. in chemistry and physics from Central Missouri State University (University of Central Missouri), aM.Ed. from Lincoln University, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

A retired physics teacher and science chair from Jefferson City High School, Dr. Nickelson has 30 years experience teaching in Missouri public schools. He spent five summers on the faculty of the Missouri Scholars Academy. He served as the Central Missouri Science Olympiad Director for eleven years. He has been an adjunct professor for Lincoln University, Linn Technical State College, Columbia College, and University of Missouri, Columbia. He is also the chemistry and physics teacher for the Missouri Distance Learning High School after authoring the courses.

Dr. Nickelson serves as a physics teaching resource agent for the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is chairman of the high school Department of Elementary and Secondary Education/Math- Engineering-Technology-Science committee. His awards include Jefferson City Public Schools Teacher of the Year (finalist, Missouri Teacher of the Year), Monsanto Science Teaching Award, Sigma Xi (Central Missouri Chapter) Science Teaching Award, and Missouri Academy of Science Teaching Award.

Dr. Nickelson has served as senior staff on several professional development projects such as the lead physical science teacher for the K-6 Missouri Science and Math project, a project pioneering the use of computers in the science classroom for Columbia Public Schools, the Missouri Constructing Physics Understanding in a Computer Enhanced Environment, and Making Science Accessible Through Inquiry and Literacy for the St. Louis Public Schools (Co-PI). He served as a coach mentor and a peer teacher in the A TIME for Physics First Project funded by Mo-DESE (2005-08).

In this project Prof. Nickelson serves as a member of the curriculum revision team and physics instructor.

2006 Kemper fellows

Paul Miceli, Senior Personnel

Paul Miceli is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prof. Miceli received his B.S. in Engineering Physics, M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (UIUC). His Ph.D. research was in the area of experimental Condensed Matter Physics in which he studied the critical behavior of hydrogen in modulated metals. Subsequently, he joined Bell Communications Research (Belcore) as a Member of Technical Staff from 1987 to 1992, where he applied neutron scattering methods to study the recently discovered high temperature superconductors. In the fall of 1992 he joined the MU faculty where he pursues a research program in the area of surface physics.

Prof. Miceli’s current research projects focus on understanding the atomic-scale mechanisms that lead to the growth of films and nanocrystals. His experimental program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is carried out with synchrotron x-ray scattering using research facilities that he developed at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory. Prof. Miceli is the Associate Director of a multi-university group that constructed and operates a beam line at the APS.

In 2006 Prof. Miceli was the recipient of the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

In this project Prof. Miceli serves as a physics instructor.

Angela Speck, Senior Personnel

Angela Speck is an Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Mizzou. She obtained her B.Sc (Hons) in astrophysics from Queen Mary, University of London, followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy from University College London (UCL) in 1998. After postdoctoral appointments at UCL and University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, she came to Mizzou in 2002. She is directly responsible for the expansion of the MU Astronomy program (which includes a minor) and is now the Director of Astronomy at MU.

Prof. Speck’s research includes studying stardust using infrared observing techniques and developing technologies and pedagogies for teaching astronomy. She was the recipient of the 2008 Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award. She has also received an NSF CAREER Award, and has developed a large program aimed at providing research opportunites for undergraduates interested in astronomy.

Prof. Speck is also the organizer of a public outreach program “Cosmic Conversations”, and coordinates tours of the Laws Observatory for school and pre-school groups. In addition Prof. Speck is currently the Chair of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory Users Committee.

In this project Prof. Speck serves as a member of the curriculum revision team and physics instructor.

Sarah Hill, Project Director

Sarah Hill earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1981. She is the Project Director for the A TIME for Physics First program, an extension of her position as Program Coordinator for the previous Ed-MSP program of the same name. She is a member of the project management team and reports directly to PI Prof. Meera Chandrasekhar.

Ms Hill will be responsible for management of day-to-day activities, communication with partners and participants, coordination of academy-related administrative work; coordination of applications and admissions details; execution of the day-to-day needs of the summer academy, and coordination of the kit lending library. Prior professional experience includes a six-year stint as coordinator of a statewide professional development and kit-lending program for K-6 science teachers, the Show-Me Science Center, which was affiliated with the Science Teachers of Missouri and operated out of the science department of Columbia Public Schools.

Christi Bergin, Paula McFarling and Bridget Murphy, Evaluators

Christi Bergin is associate research professor at the Assessment Resource Center, University of Missouri (ARC). She has an EdS in program evaluation and research, and a PhD in child development, both from Stanford. She teaches child development and has written a textbook on child development for teachers. She has won a teaching award at MU. She specializes in socioemotional well-being of children; particularly in helping teachers discipline in ways that promote strong teacher-student relationships and students’ development of self-control. She has been an evaluation consultant for over 30 years, in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri. She has worked on several national projects for high-risk, impoverished youth. She hails from Chico, California but has been a “Missourian” for 10 years. Her role in the project is to manage the evaluation.

Paula McFarling is a senior coordinator at ARC. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Family Studies from the University of Missouri. After teaching at the elementary and college levels, Ms. McFarling has worked in program evaluation and market research for over 15 years, managing a diversity of projects including evaluations of teen tobacco usage in Missouri, child care needs in Boone County, and LSTA-funded programs within the Missouri State Library. In this project, Ms. McFarling serves as a member of the evaluation team, coordinating data collection.

Bridget Murphy is a research coordinator at the Assessment Resource Center (ARC). She earned an MA in Sociology at Kansas State University. She has experience working on a wide-range of evaluation projects, including analyses for a multi-year project pertaining to NCLB and Missouri’s MAP test. Her primary role in A TIME for Physics First will be managing, analyzing, and reporting on survey and achievement data. As the mother of a 9th-grade physics student in the Columbia Public Schools, Bridget is especially pleased to be involved in this project.