Principal Investigators

Dr. William Folk

Dr. William Folk

William Folk, PhD., Prof. of Biochemistry, University of Missouri, co-PI, served on the faculties of the University of Michigan Medical School and the University of Texas-Austin before joining the University of Missouri as chair of the Department of Biochemistry. There he was responsible for 25 regular faculty, over 150 staff, and the education of over 300 undergraduate majors, 45 graduate students and 90 medical students. By the end of his tenure, the Department’s external grant support increased five-fold to become MU’s strongest biomedical science department. Dr. Folk initiated efforts that strengthened collaborative research and outreach education with College of Education faculty. When serving as Senior Associate Dean for Research in the School of Medicine, he was responsible for facilitating research and training of medical and graduate students, fellows and junior faculty, and directed the Office of Medical Research. Dr. Folk also served as associate director of MU Health Care’s Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, directed an NIH-funded Center for International Phytotherapy Research (TICIPS) and an NIH-funded Center for Botanical Interaction Studies (MU-CBIS). He has extensive experience with cross-cultural science research and education/learning as a result of collaborations in over a dozen countries, including the implementation of communities of learning and practice.

Dr. Folk has mentored 25 PhD students, 20 postdoctoral fellows, and numerous undergraduates and medical students in research training. He leads research programs focusing upon viruses, medicinal plants and botanical supplements and science education. Dr. Folk led an NIH postdoctoral training program at the University of Michigan, a DOD-funded breast cancer research training program for undergraduates at MU, an HHMI science education program (Maps in Medicine), and the ShowMe InABox science enrichment program for middle schools.

Delinda van Garderen

Dr. Delinda van Garderen

Delinda van Garderen, PhD, is a Professor of special education. She is currently the interim chair in the Department of Special Education at the University of Missouri. Her research interests focus on students with learning disabilities, struggling learners, and teacher practice and development in the content areas of mathematics and science. Recent or current research projects include how students and teachers use representations to solve mathematics word problems, student development and intervention in number (e.g., conservation of quantity, numerical magnitude), and use of Universal Design for Learning to plan instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners in science. She has mentored doctoral graduate students in educational research training and has prepared many graduate and undergraduate students to be teachers in both general and special education. She currently leads a personnel preparation leadership grant, Project PRISM: Preparing Interdisciplinary Leaders in Science and Mathematics Special Education, that provides support for doctoral students to complete their PhD. She has written approximately 40 peer-reviewed articles, one co-authored book, and eight book chapters and has received over 4.5 million dollars on federally funded grants.

Amy Lannin

Dr. Amy Lannin

Amy Lannin, PhD., Associate Professor, English Education; Director of Campus Writing Program, University of Missouri, co-I, also directs the Missouri Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project.  Other funded grant projects include the STEM Literacy Project (National Science Foundation grant: “Anchoring Students in Real-life Issues that Integrate STEM Content and Literacy”) and Show Me Literacies Collaborative (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education grant: “Comprehensive Literacy Development”).  Lannin has published in Science Scope, WPA Journal, Writing & Pedagogy, The English Journal, and has a chapter in the edited collection Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research. Dr. Lannin’s research focus includes writing instruction and assessment across the curriculum.

Program Manager

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill


phone 573-882-8758

As program manager, Sarah Hill is a member of the management team and responsible for oversight of day-to-day activities, coordination and implementation of the project timeline, communication with participants and their districts, facilitating collaboration among campus departments and other tasks that often materialize.  In addition, she acts as manager for another program, also in the MU College of Education. Ms Hill, formerly the project director for A TIME for Physics First, an extensive professional development program for 9th grade science teachers in Missouri and hosted by MU Physics, began her 20-year experience in teacher professional development with a six-year stint as coordinator of the Show-Me Science Center, hosted by Columbia Public Schools and affiliated with the Science Teachers of Missouri. She can be reached at or (573) 882-8758.

Evaluation Team

Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy, Senior Research Coordinator, Assessment Resource Center (ARC), University of Missouri.  Bridget holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from Kansas State University and has ten years of experience conducting program evaluation at the ARC.  She has worked with multiple programs and organizations to develop evaluation plans and data collection protocols with the end goal of promoting continuous improvement in a variety of organizational settings.

Soo-Yeon Cho

Soo-Yeon Cho

Soo-Yeon Cho, PhD., is a Senior Researcher at the Assessment Resource Center, University of Missouri. She has been an evaluator on programs and projects funded at the federal, state, and county levels. She has led and conducted all stages of the evaluation: designing, collecting data, analyzing data, and submitting reports to government and foundation agencies, with a recent focus on STEM educational programs. She conducted performance evaluation of teacher training programs for the national accreditation of the MU College of Education. She also served as an evaluator for a SAMHSA-PBHCI Integrated Care Project on quality improvements to monitor intervention effectiveness.

William Romine

William Romine

William Romine, PhD., Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Wright State University; internal evaluation, assessment development.  William Romine is an Associate Professor in Wright State University’s Biological Sciences department, with joint appointments in Teacher Education and Computer Science.  He directs the Data Science for Education laboratory at Wright State where he and his students focus on educational measurement using tests and surveys, social media, and sensors.  Dr. Romine and his students use these measures to construct dynamic models for both learning and affective change related to science.


Meera Chandrasekhar

Meera Chandrasekhar

Meera Chandrasekhar, PhD., Professor of Physics, University of Missouri, will advise on the development of science inquiry and professional development activities. Aligning with her strong interests in the education of young students, Dr. Chandrasekhar received the NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring and the prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching and is a University Curators’ Teaching Professor.  She has led numerous grant-funded programs in science education, most recently A TIME for Physics First.

Torrey Palmer

Torrey Palmer

Torrey Palmer, PhD., Consultant in Literacy, Teaching and Curriculum is committed to strengthening public education locally and nationally and has worked as a classroom teacher, coach and curriculum coordinator. She currently works for TNTP, a non-profit focused on ending the injustice of educational inequalities, where she leads innovative work to support teachers and leaders in leveraging college and career ready standards to yield improvements in teaching and learning. Prior to joining TNTP, Torrey served as the K-6 Literacy Coordinator in Reno, Nevada, where she co-founded the Core Task Project, a nationally recognized model for Common Core State Standards implementation.  She is a Student Achievement Partners Fellow, a contributor to the Basal Alignment Project, and has presented nationally at conferences hosted by the International Reading Association (IRA), WestEd, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Yale Education School of Management. Torrey holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and recently completed her doctorate in Educational Specialties, with an emphasis in literacy and action research, at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Prior to her work in education, Torrey was a two-time silver medalist at the World Rowing Championships and competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.


Gouranga Saha

Gouranga Saha, PhD., professor of education at Lincoln University, has led a multi-year professional development program, “Enduring Understanding of Science via Inquiry & Literacy” (EUSIL) serving five high-need school districts in St. Louis to increase the academic achievement of students in science through inquiry and literacy.

Graduate Research Assistants

Profile of Heba Abdelnaby

Heba Abdelnaby

HEBA ABDELNABY is a second year master’s student in Special education, from Gaza City, Palestine. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education & English language teaching and her educational interests are in the areas of literacy, writing and learning disabilities. Heba is a Fulbright international student and has shared her personal perspective on the Linking Science & Literacy for All Learners.

Profile of Rachel Juergensen

Rachel Juergensen

RACHEL JUERGENSEN is a doctoral candidate in Special Education.  She has 15 years of experience in education as an elementary teacher, administrator, and statewide coach for Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support. Her research interests include equitable instructional opportunities in elementary science for students with learning disabilities and students with learning difficulties.

Profile of Cassandra Smith

Cassandra Smith

CASSANDRA SMITH is a doctoral student in Special Education, and hails from St. Louis. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education: Cross-Categorical Special Education (K-12) here at the University of Missouri – Columbia; then a  Master of Education Degree in Special Education: Curriculum for Exceptional Students, Teaching Fellow – University of Missouri – Columbia.  She was a special education teacher for four years. Her educational interests are math interventions, strategies, and methods for secondary students with disabilities.

Profile of Tracey Kenyon Milarsky

Tracey Kenyon Milarsky

Tracey Kenyon Milarsky is a second-year doctoral student in Special Education. Before coming to Mizzou, Tracey taught preschool to primary grade students including students who qualify for special education services. Her research interests include early childhood disability identity formation and qualitative methodology.