About Us



Karin Lohwasser

Karin Lohwasser, PhD, is a research associate for the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant Building Capacity for Ambitious Science Teaching & Next Generation Science Standards Through Networked Improvement Communities. She is also involved in creating a video library for science teachers’ continuing education.

Previously, Karin worked as a science coach and teaching assistant for the Teacher Education Program, and was a doctoral student in science education at the University of Washington. In her doctoral dissertation, she focused on professional collaboration among in-service science teachers. Her general research interests include ongoing job-embedded professional development for science teachers, bridging educational research and classroom practice, and connecting science teaching to work in other science-related fields.

For five years, Karin was project manager at the Center for Inquiry Science (Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle) for two main projects: the NSF-funded Observing for Evidence of Learning research project, which established and supported science teacher learning communities in over 20 middle schools in four local school districts; and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)–funded Systems Education Approach to Science project, which developed a model for support and integration of science education in 13 elementary schools.

Karin has also served as executive producer and editor for and author of science-related multimedia at the Institute for Film and Image in Science and Education (FWU), the media institute of the federal states of Germany. Karin also brings her experience as a classroom teacher to her work and research. For 12 years, she taught 5th- through 13th-grade biology and chemistry, including AP courses in genetics, evolution, ecology, and neurosciences/behavioral sciences, at several secondary schools in Germany and at the German School London (United Kingdom).


Christine Chew

Christine Chew is an advanced doctoral student studying Science Education. leadership and instructional reform implementation. She currently serves as a research assistant for the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant Building Capacity for Ambitious Science Teaching & Next Generation Science Standards Through Networked Improvement Communities that provides professional development and fosters networks for practicing science teachers in the region.  Christine’s research centers around leadership, context and ownership in instructional reform enactments, particularly in science. Christine is working to understand how the school context in which reforms take place both helps and hinders instructional progress, and in how administrators in particular influence both the context and specific instructional choices that teachers make.  Her work aligns with efforts to enact science instruction that supports Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in secondary schools.  Christine has also served as an instructor for the secondary science methods course for the alternative teacher certification program, a coach for secondary teacher candidates, and as the research assistant for the Noyce Teaching Scholars program.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Christine taught chemistry, biology and bio/chem at Redmond High School (in Washington state).  Formerly the Executive Director of College Access Now, she also led and grew the Seattle non-profit organization dedicated to making college admission possible for talented, motivated and economically disadvantaged students who will be the first generation in their families to attend college.  Christine has also worked extensively in science and engineering fields both in the environmental science and computer technology industries.


Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the UW College of Education. Her research focuses on building Local Improvement Networks that support ambitious and equitable teaching practice with novice and experienced science teachers, science and English Language Learner (ELL) coaches, principals, and district leadership. Three principles guide her work:

  1. Instructional excellence begins with a commitment to equity and being responsive to how all students engage in learning.
  2. Core practices, well-designed tools and routines support the development of teaching.
  3. Networked improvement communities based on strong partnerships with local schools and districts can accelerate common knowledge in a system when multiple-role actors are involved.

Building Capacity for the Next Generation Science Standards through Networked Improvement Communities, NSF (PI).This design-based implementation project supports the development of local improvement networks with science teachers, coaches and principals in 8 schools and the development of an innovation hub. The community seeks to improve teaching and learning for all students, but EL students in particular.

STEM Academy, Race To The Top (PI). The STEM Elementary Specialists program is preparing 20 5th and 6th grade teachers to teach science, mathematics and engineering. We are revising units of instruction and engaging teachers in working on ambitious and equitable practices during the school year as well as during the summer. We are running a summer academy for incoming 5th grade students which will be a site for student and teacher learning.

Start Strong, Race To The Top (PI). Similar to the STEM Academy we are supporting 150 K-1 teachers in developing strong science curriculum and teaching practices.

Developing Networked Improvement Communities for High Quality Mathematics and Science TeachingWA STEM (Co-PI withElham Kazemi). This is an efficacy and development project taking a whole-school approach. We are developing job-embedded professional development models that invest in social and material resources and tools to support teachers, school and district leaders in improving a technical math and science core, K-12.

Science STARS: Nurturing Urban Girls’ Identities through Inquiry-Based Science (Co-PI with April Luehmann, U of Rochester and Angie Calabrese Barton, Michigan State). We provide urban teen girls an opportunity to participate in rich, inquiry-based investigations and develop their identities as scientists and agents of change in their communities. We are applying ambitious and equitable practices in an out-of-school space and are supporting youth in developing documentaries about advocacy and science.


Hosun Kang

Hosun Kang is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of California Irvine. Dr. Kang is interested in designing professional learning experiences for secondary science pre-service and in-service teachers so that teachers’ classroom practices improve in ways that are productive for student learning. She is particularly interested in supporting students from non-dominant cultural, social, and linguistic backgrounds with research-based practices. Central to this effort is understanding what is entailed in the work of teaching science by eliciting and responding to diverse students’ scientific thinking, everyday experiences and languages in ways that advance the learning of key ideas in science and empower students as science learners. Dr. Kang is studying the relationships between student learning, teachers’ instructional practices, and teacher learning. She is also studying formative assessment as a mean to improve both student learning and teacher learning.

Hosun received her Ph.D. in curriculum, instruction, and policy (specializing in science education and teacher education) at the Michigan State University in 2011. She worked with the research team at the University of Washington as a postdoc research associate between 2011-2013. She has seven years of teaching experiences at the secondary level in South Korea.

Jennifer Richards

Jennifer Richards, Ph.D., is a research associate on the Building Capacity for Science Standards through Networked Improvement Communities project and a program mentor for Annenberg teaching fellows at the UW.  She enjoys working with science teachers in educational and professional development settings to engage and support all students in participating in scientific practices and inquiry in the classroom.  Doing so requires close, ongoing attention and responsiveness to students’ developing ideas around scientific phenomena, and one of Jen’s primary research interests is understanding how teachers come to teach responsively – in ways that take account of and adapt to students’ ideas.

Jen graduated from the University of Maryland in 2013 with a Ph.D. in science education.  At the University of Maryland, she managed the professional development and research activities of the inquiry strand of the Minority Student Pipeline MSP, coordinated the Noyce scholars program, and taught pedagogy courses for secondary science candidates and Learning Assistants.  She has prior middle and high school science teaching experience and continues to engage in a variety of school settings through job-embedded professional development activities.


Mark Windschitl

Mark is a professor of Science Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington. His research interests deal with the early career development of science teachers—in particular their trajectories toward ambitious and equitable pedagogy. His most recent work is to study the clinical experiences of preservice science teachers in three different R1 institutions, mapping their social networks while in the field and documenting how their opportunities to learn change  over time. This NSF funded project is in collaboration with Dr. Karin Lohwasser. Other work with Dr. Jessica Thompson and funded by the National Science Foundation is organized around the development of Networked Improvement Communities as a social infrastructure for teachers to collectively solve difficult problems related to ambitious teaching. Work from this and related projects has appeared in The American Educational Research JournalTeachers College RecordCognition and InstructionPhi Delta KappanScience Education, and in white papers commissioned by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Science. Dr. Windschitl is the PI on a Noyce Teaching Scholars grant and has supported approximately 30 teachers in that program in their transitions to urban schools. He also administrates the Annenberg Fellowship program, known as the Rhodes Scholarships of Teaching— for teacher candidates at the UW. He is the recipient of the 2002 AERA Presidential Award for Best Review of Research, the co-author of the chapter on Science Teaching in the new AERA Handbook of Research on Teaching, and a member of the National  Research Council Committee on Strengthening and Sustaining Teachers.


David Stroupe

David Stroupe is an assistant professor of science education in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. David got his PhD at the University of Washington and continues to collaborate with the team as he extends the work of developing and testing tools, courses, and professional development opportunities in Michigan. Currently, David has three overlapping areas of research interests anchored around ambitious teaching practice. First, he frames classrooms as science practice communities. Using lenses from Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), he examines how teachers and students negotiate power, knowledge, and epistemic agency. Second, he examines how beginning teachers learn from practice in and across their varied contexts. Third, he studies how teacher preparation programs can provide support and opportunities for beginning teachers to learn from practice.

David graduated from Davidson College with a biology degree (specializing in herpetology: the study of amphibians and reptiles), and moved to Houston where he was certified to teach middle school and high school life sciences through an alternative certification program. He taught middle school science for four years in the Houston Independent School District, and finished his Master’s degree in science education at the University of Houston in 2008.


Sara Hagenah

Sara Hagenah is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies at Boise State University. Her research is deeply engaged with school-community partnerships and aims to collaboratively advance ambitious science teaching and learning for social justice.

Sara received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education from the University of Washington in 2015. She taught middle and high school science in New York and Washington State. Sara graduated from The University of Buffalo with a Master’s degree in Secondary Science Education and The College at Brockport: State University of New York with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology.


Soo-Yean Shim

Soo-Yean Shim is a doctoral student studying science education at the University of Washington. She currently serves as a research assistant for the Building Capacity for Science Standards through Networked Improvement Communities project. Her research interests center around scientific modeling, scientific argumentation, framing and professional learning communities of science teachers. She is passionate about supporting all students in ambitious and equitable science practices. Soo-Yean got her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in science education from Seoul National University in South Korea.


Kat Laxton

Kat Laxton is currently the Puget Sound Educational Service District’s Regional Science Coordinator and Science Program Manager in Washington where she collaborates with the Washington State Science Leadership Team to develop an exemplary vision for science instruction. In her role, Kat supports the development of networked communities of teacher leaders who are highly skilled at using the tools for Ambitious Science Teaching to create rigorous and responsive science classroom learning environments. Kat coordinated and leads the development of PASTL: Partnership for Ambitious Science Teacher Leaders, a cross-district and cross-regional collaboration to support teachers in learning to implement the Next Generation Science Standards through Ambitious Science Teaching.

Prior to working for the PSESD, Kat worked as a science coach and teaching assistant for the University of Washington’s Secondary Teacher Education program while working on her Ph.D. in Science Curriculum and Instruction. As a doctoral student, Kat’s research interests include developing understanding for how instructional coaches mediate teacher learning of instructional practice related to Next Generation Science Standards. She is also interested in understanding more about how sense-making frameworks influence how teachers and district leaders interpret the meaning of “equity” when implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. Kat earned her B.S. and M.Ed. in Education and Earth Science from Louisiana State University. Prior to beginning her Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Kat spent ten years teaching in public and private schools in Baton Rouge, LA, Nashville, TN, and Houston, TX.


Carolyn Colley

Carolyn Colley is a research assistant to Dr. Jessica Thompson and an PhD student at the University of Washington advised by Dr. Mark Windschitl. Her research interests include looking at how ambitious science teaching practices and related professional learning activities improve elementary science teachers’ discourse practices and if/how they support students’ collective sensemaking during whole-class science discussions.

Carolyn graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She moved to Texas and taught bilingual (Spanish-English) 4th grade for four years before taking a 2-year position with the same district as a K-6 district science instructional coach.  Her observations and experiences working with elementary teachers inspired her to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Washington (awarded 2014); now she continues on in her doctoral studies to dig deeper into issues of ambitious elementary science education particularly around classroom discourse, the work of coaching, and teachers’ professional learning.


Melissa Braaten

Melissa Braaten is an Assistant Professor in science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Melissa is continuing to work with the team to develop tools, coursework, and professional learning experiences with pre-service and in-service teachers in the Madison area. Melissa is studying the relationships between teachers’ learning, teachers’ classroom practice, and student learning. She is working to develop stronger theories for understanding how teachers learn ambitious practices for teaching science and hopes to help build better supports for teachers. Melissa’s primary areas of interest include philosophy of science and scientific explanations, classroom discourse, and rigorous science education as an issue of social justice.

Melissa has been teaching science since 1996. Her teaching experiences range from working with 10 and 11-year old students learning chemistry and physics to working with high school students in AP Biology courses and working with students at an alternative high school.