Current Team Members

Mark Graham

Research Scientist and Director

Mark Graham directs STEM program evaluation and research initiatives as part of a national effort to transform undergraduate science teaching and student learning. He is principal investigator for a National Science Foundation supported investigation of the Summer Institutes’ on Scientific Teaching impact on faculty teaching and student achievement. In addition, Dr. Graham provides program evaluation expertise to other NSF and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) principal investigators on how to evaluate the success of a program or initiative.

Mark received a B.A. in economics with honors (magna cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. His prior experience includes a National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported post-doctoral traineeship in biomedical informatics, and then director of education research at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. At Yale since 2011, Mark Graham has published a number of peer-reviewed articles on evaluation, assessment, and student persistence.

Julie Bennie

Program Manager

Julie Bennie’s focus as a Program Manager at STEM-PERL involves the coordination of and contribution to HHMI-and NSF-funded research projects aiming to increase student persistence and engagement within STEM college education.  She manages projects related to undergraduate research experiences, student trust in an instructor, faculty implementation of evidence-based teaching practices, and many others. Julie received a B.A. in economics and English literature from Rollins College in 2023, where her undergraduate research focused on the impact of gender inequality on economic growth. 

Josh Panos

Program Manager

Josh Panos is a Program Manager in the Paul Turner Lab group, where he assists in grant-funded research and helps administer the daily operations of multiple labs, including STEM-PERL. He is broadly interested in researching social infrastructure policy, especially public education and public housing. Previously, Josh worked as a publishing coordinator and editorial assistant at Yale University Press. He received an M.A. in religion and a graduate certificate in public humanities from Yale University in 2022.

Kathy Zhang

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Kathy Zhang’s focus at STEM-PERL is investigating the factors that influence student buy-in to evidence-based teaching practices in undergraduate STEM classrooms. She is particularly interested in understanding strategies that instructors can use to attain and increase student buy-in as a way to encourage long-term persistence in the STEM field across a diverse population of students. Kathy received her B.A. in psychology from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Yale University. She is currently an instructor in the Department of MCDB at Yale and in the Department of Math and Sciences at Gateway Community College. 

Current Undergraduate Research Assistants

Kiersten Goode (2023-present)

Henry Wagner (2021-present)

Current Undergraduate Thesis Advisee(s)

Demi Lee

Cognitive Science


Former Program/Project Managers

Julia Gill

Former Program Manager & Associate Director (2020-2022)

Julia Gill’s focus at STEM-PERL was as a Program Manager and then Associate Director working on NSF- and HHMI-funded research projects about course based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), student trust, among others.  She also managed evaluation/assessment projects of educational programs. Julia received a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College in 2020 where her undergraduate research focused on the history of collegiate coeducation. Julia was with STEM-PERL from September 2020 to December 2022. In 2023, Julia started a new position at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C.

Melanie Bauer

Former Assistant Director of STEM-PERL (2017-2020)

Aiyanna Bobrownicki  

Evaluation Project Manager and Program Manager (2014-2017)

Former Postdoctoral Researchers

Alita Burmeister

Associate Research Scientist (2020-2021)

Alita Burmeister is a research-based course designer, educator, and scientist. Burmeister’s course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) integrates her microbial evolution research into the classroom, focusing on mentored student projects that advance basic science while developing student scientists. Her work in STEM-PERL researched the core components of CUREs important for student-scientist development, including the attitudes and values important to research careers. Alita is currently an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. See more at

Cong Wang

Postdoctoral Research Associate (2020-2020)

Cong Wang served STEM-PERL as a postdoctoral researcher across several NSF- and HHMI-funded grant projects. Collectively, she studied the impact of innovative pedagogical approaches in undergraduate education on STEM learning and persistence. For example, she examined the activities and outcomes of authentic course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). She also investigated the immediate and longer-term impacts on students of having instructors trained in evidence-based teaching practices such as active learning, formative assessment, and inclusion/diversity.

Wang received a B.S. in psychology from Sun Yat-sen University, a M.Ed. in educational psychology from Beijing Normal University, a M.S. in statistics and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Purdue University-West Lafayette. Her research focused on college students’ motivation and learning in classrooms. She utilized the framework of self-determination theory to study the impact of autonomy-supportive teaching approaches and self-generated rationales on student learning within the context of higher education. As a second line of research, she collaborated widely on studies where she employed complex statistical techniques to address educational research questions. Her primary tools were structural equation modeling (SEM) with latent variables, multilevel modeling, and meta-analysis.

Meghan Bathgate 

Postdoctoral Researcher via the Center for Teaching and Learning (2016-2018)

Andrew Cavanagh 

Postdoctoral Researcher via the Center for Teaching and Learning (2015-2017)

Oriana Aragon 

Postdoctoral Researcher via the Center for Scientific Teaching and Yale University Department of Psychology (2014-2016) 

Former Data Managers

Lia Crowley

Data Manager (2021-2022)

Former Undergraduate Research Assistants

Serena Ulammandakh (2021-2022)

Lazaros Efthymiou (2020-2022)

Steven Kao (2020-2022)

Kurt T. Schalper (2021-2022)

Former Undergraduate Thesis Advisees

Konrad Collins, Cognitive Science, (2022-2023 ) 

Alexa Vaghenas, Cognitive Science & Education Studies, (2019-2020 )   

Amrutha Dorai, Cognitive Science, (2017-2018 )