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Research Investigators & Staff


Gwen Nugent, Ph.D.

Gwen Nugent, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator, CSI in Rural Schools

Dr. Nugent serves as Director of Rural Education Leadership at the National Center for Research on Rural Education. She also holds the position of Research Professor in the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). Nugent has more than 30 years’ experience in the design, production and evaluation of mediated instruction. She has also coordinated research projects focusing on the impact of technology to improve student learning.

Gina M. Kunz, Ph.D.

Gina M. Kunz, Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigator, CSI in Rural Schools

Dr. Kunz is Director of Rural Outreach and Coordination for the National Center for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed). She also serves as a Research Associate Professor in the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). Kunz’s research interests focus on academic and behavioral supports for K-12 students; family-school partnership to support the success of young students; and professional development for teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Jon Pedersen, Ph.D.

Jon Pedersen, Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigator, CSI in Rural Schools

Dr. Pedersen directs Science Education for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education. In addition to his role as a Professor in UNL’s Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, Pedersen serves as Associate Dean for Research in UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences.

Jim Houston

Jim Houston, Ed.D.

Project Manager, CSI in Rural Schools

Jim Houston oversees project implementation, research activities and the involvement of project personnel for CSI in Rural Schools. He previously spent more than a decade in Nebraska’s public school system, serving as a teacher and dean of students at the middle and high school levels. He holds master’s and educational specialist degrees in educational administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.



Staff


SoonChun Lee, Ph.D.

SoonChun Lee, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

SoonChun Lee is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Wichita State University. Previously he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). Lee previously contributed to several research projects on science learning progression and classroom connectivity at The Ohio State University, where he earned his doctorate in science education. From 1994 to 2008, he taught general science and physics at a high school in Seoul, South Korea.

Sue Ellen DeChenne, Ph.D.

Sue Ellen DeChenne, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sue Ellen DeChenne is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Natural and Health Sciences as the University of Northern Colorado. She previously was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Center for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed) and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). Prior to joining the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, DeChenne conducted research in several biological disciplines across multiple university settings. She earned her doctorate in science education from Oregon State University.

Brandi Berry

Brandi Berry

Graduate Research Assistant

Brandi Berry is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). She earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the summer of 2015.

Irina Kalutskaya

Irina Kalutskaya

Graduate Research Assistant

Irina Kalutskaya is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the summer of 2015.

Linlin Luo

Linlin Luo

Graduate Research Assistant

Linlin Luo is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). She is currently a doctoral student in educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and holds a master’s in statistics from UNL.

Drew White

Drew White

Graduate Research Assistant

Drew White is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS). He is currently a doctoral student in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School Psychology Program.

April Riggs

April Riggs

Undergraduate Research Assistant

April Riggs assists the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research Experiences (UCARE) Program. She is majoring in psychology and ethnic studies and minoring in sociology at UNL.

Rebekah Whitham

Rebekah Whitham

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rebekah Whitham assists the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research Experiences (UCARE) Program. She earned her B.S. in Science Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May, 2015.



Coaches


Peggy Coover

Peggy Coover

CSI Coach

Peggy Coover has spent the last two decades teaching science and mathematics courses at the middle and high school levels. She currently teaches physical science and advanced physics classes at Northwest High School in Grand Island, where she also serves as a coach for the Science Olympiad program. Coover holds secondary teaching endorsements in natural science and mathematics.

Melissa Hall

Melissa Hall

CSI Coach

Melissa Hall has taught middle school earth science and technology courses for the past six years. She has developed science curriculum based on AAAS Science Benchmarks and technology curriculum per ISTE National Education Technology Standards. In the classroom, she has used inquiry-based lesson plans and differentiated instruction to educate students of varied abilities. Hall holds bachelor’s degrees in geology and teaching life science, along with a master’s in curriculum and instruction.

Bruce Hayden

Bruce Hayden, Jr.

CSI Coach

Bruce Hayden, Jr., recently retired after a 33-year career of teaching in the Millard Public Schools. He has presented numerous workshops and sessions at the local, state, national and international levels, most dedicated to improving science instruction in middle school settings. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s College of Education. Hayden, Jr., holds a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction.

Sandra Kendall

Sandra Kendall

CSI Coach

Sandra Kendall has more than 30 years’ experience teaching science at Papillion Junior High School. She has utilized inquiry approaches to instruct students in both the physical and life sciences, covering disciplines ranging from chemistry and physics to astronomy and weather. Kendall has also written curriculum for 8th-grade science classes in accordance with the Nebraska State Science Standards. She holds a secondary teaching endorsement in natural science.



Guest Staff


Betsy Barent

Betsy Barent

Norris Public Schools

Betsy Barent has taught middle and high school science for the past 11 years, most recently at Norris Public Schools. She currently serves on the board of the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science. Prior to becoming a teacher, Barent worked in surgical research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Saint Louis University. She holds a master’s in biological sciences.

Aaron Musson

Graduate Research Assistant

Aaron Musson is a graduate research assistant and doctoral student in science education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. From 1999 to 2011, he taught chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics classes at Mount Michael Benedictine High School. Musson holds a master’s in curriculum and instruction.