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Speaker Bios

Short biographies on each speaker at the 2020 Discovery Summit

Dr. Christine Cunningham is a Professor of Practice in Education and Engineering in the College of Education whose work aims to make engineering and science more relevant and accessible, especially for populations underrepresented and underserved in engineering and science. She aims to create a next generation of innovators and problem solvers by developing research-based and field-tested engineering curricula, resources, and professional development for preK-12 education. Her research focuses on articulating frameworks for precollege engineering education and exploring affordances of engineering for learners. She currently serves on the National Assessment Governing Board. Previously, Cunningham was the Founding Director of Engineering is Elementary (EiE). In 2017, her work was recognized with the prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education.

Dr. Chantal Balesdent is the PK-12 Engineering Education Manager in the College of Education whose work aims to increase educators’ confidence in teaching engineering with children across the country. She manages an experienced team working to develop the next generation of precollege engineering curricular materials and professional development. Chantal received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oregon. At UO, Chantal was active in local science outreach through the Women in Graduate Sciences organization, and as an NSF GK-12 fellow, she taught hands-on science to elementary school students in rural Oregon.

Dr. Scott McDonald is an Associate Professor of Science Education at The Pennsylvania State University and Director of the Krause Studios for Innovation in the PSU College of Education. Dr. McDonald takes a design-based approach to research focuses on science teacher learning, student learning in the geosciences, and the impact of space on learning. His work in the Krause Studios investigates how technology, particularly in the form of learning spaces, can support higher education teaching and learning. In science education, he researches teacher learning, framed as professional pedagogical vision for ambitious and equitable science teaching practices. He is also engaged in research-based development of learning progressions in Plate Tectonics and Astronomy as part of a series of NSF funded projects including The Geological Models for Explorations of Dynamic Earth (GEODE) project, and GeoHazard: Modeling Natural Hazards and Assessing Risks project. 

Dr. Rayne A. Sperling is an educational psychologist. Her research examines the measurement and promotion of learners' self-regulation including their motivation, metacognition, and strategic processing. Her work also addresses effective instructional manipulations, in both traditional and technology-rich environments, that are designed to promote learners' self-regulation, comprehension, decision making, and problem solving. Much of her work addresses issues of objective-based student assessment, construct measurement, and evaluation.