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Jennifer Cromley

My research focuses on two broad areas: 1) reading comprehension of illustrated scientific text and 2) cognitive and motivational predictors of STEM students' achievement and retention. My research includes both studies of basic processes (how learning works) and classroom interventions (how to help students learn better). I use a variety of research methods, including questionnaires, think-aloud protocols, eye tracking, analyses of student work products such as sketches, and analyses of computer logfiles. My research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

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Runzhi Chen

Runzhi Chen is a doctoral student in the CSTL division of the Educational Psychology department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Science from the University of California Irvine and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia. She joined the Cromley lab in the Fall of 2020. Runzhi is interested in motivation and cognitive factors of STEM students’ learning and achievement. Her doctoral projects include how motivational factors influence students’ chemistry problem-solving performance and intervention of learning strategies. She also works as a research assistant in the PRISM project, contributing to creating visual assistance for middle school science reading. She plans on working as a faculty researcher and continuing research on motivation and strategy-use.

Jae Jun Jong

Jae Jun Jong is a Ph. D student in the department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Previously, he worked as an elementary school teacher and taught various subjects, including English, science, and computer. Due to the previous experience as a teacher, Jae Jun became interested in conducting research on motivation, attitude, and achievement of STEM students. His current interest includes the effect of language on STEM students’ motivation and attitude toward contents. Jae Jun hopes to work in educational settings, to promote students’ learning in STEM by improving students’ attitude and motivation towards STEM. 

Elise McCarren

Elise McCarren is a doctoral student in the CSTL division of the Educational Psychology Department and is also the Director of the Chemistry Merit Workshop Program in the Chemistry Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned both her B.S. and M.S. in the Teaching of Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Elise is also an instructor for Chemistry 101, Introductory Chemistry. Prior her time at UIUC, Elise taught high school chemistry and physics in both southern and central Illinois.


Christopher George

Christopher George is a Junior studying Bioengineering on the Therapeutics Track. He joined Dr. Cromley's group in August of 2022 to gain further experience in the data analytics field. He also joined to try and help decrease the significant effects that troubles with stress have on graduate student retention rates in engineering programs. After graduation, Chris aspires to work in the data analytics industry or research fields and then apply to MD/MBA programs. He hopes to one day run a medical practice that can see patients regardless of their insurance.


Karin Jensen

Karin Jensen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her research interests include student mental health and wellness, engineering student career pathways, and engagement of engineering faculty in engineering education research. Before becoming faculty at the University of Michigan, she was a professor at UIUC. Prior to this, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Sanofi Oncology in Cambridge, MA. She earned a bachelor's degree in Biological Engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia.

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Joseph Mirabelli

Joe Mirabelli is a postdoctoral research fellow in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His research interests include the retention and well-being of graduate engineering students, the training of engineering education researchers, and novel mixed methods analyses in the social sciences. Before coming to Michigan, Joe earned a PhD in Educational Psychology at UIUC, a Master's degree in Physics at Indiana University, and a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics at UIUC.

Jessica Gladstone

My research aims to provide novel information about the development of achievement motivation and what can impact this development. I programmatically examine students’ STEM motivation and engagement through three lines of research: 1) How do important socializers (i.e., parents, teachers, peers, role models) impact students’ motivation and engagement in STEM? 2) How do motivation and engagement relate over time to predict students’ STEM achievement? 3) A critical analysis of the construct grit and how it relates to students’ STEM motivation, self-regulation, engagement, and achievement. To help answer these questions I use various methods including survey research, qualitative interviews, focus groups, longitudinal designs, field and lab-based experiments, and content analyses. More information about my research can be found here:

Juan Álvarez

Juan Alvarez teaches courses in communications, signal processing and probability. His research interests include response to failure and success in Engineering, as well as improving study skills in undergraduate students. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Illinois faculty in Spring 2011 and is currently a Teaching Assistant Professor. Prior to that, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at York University, Canada, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chemical Physics Theory Group at the University of Toronto, Canada, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Saskatchewan. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois in 2004 and 2002, respectively.

Avi Kaplan 
Temple University
Tony Perez
Old Dominion University
Ting Dai
University of Illinois Chicago 
Yona Davidson
Temple University

Wanda Brooks
Old Dominion University
Eboni Zamani-Gallaher
University of Pittsburgh 

Julie L. Booth
Temple University 

Andrea Kunze
Delta State University

Tia Fechter 
Frank Nelson
Temple University
Arianna White
Old Dominion University
Kyle R. Mara
University of Southern Indiana
Michael J. Balsai
Temple University
Natasha Beretvas
University of Texas at Austin
Nora S. Newcombe
Temple University 


Martin Van Boekel

Taylor Williams

Taylor Williams finished a Master’s program at UIUC in Secondary Science Education. Taylor worked in the Cromley Lab for 2 years working on various projects related to science learning throughout the grade levels. She completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology from UIUC where she worked in the Exercise Psychophysiology Lab.  Both experiences have inspired her to delve more deeply into the learning process and how children learn science. She currently teaches middle school science.

Rachel Bentivenga

Rachel Bentivenga is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language.  At UIUC, Rachel works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cromley Lab.  Her research revolves around comprehension and common misconceptions in various subjects in a classroom setting.  She also works at the University of Illinois Foundation as the Coordinator of Hiring and Recruitment.  Rachel’s goals for the future are to teach at the elementary level and promote a classroom environment that is inclusive and values the differences among all students.

Chelsea Oleson

Priyanka Chopra

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Nur Dane

Nur Dane is a Doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the department of Counseling Psychology. She graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s in Genetics and her involvement on campus and a minor in Psychology allowed her to choose to do race related research, specifically racial bias, during her graduate work. Nur currently works as a research assistant at the Cromley Lab. She plans on working as a faculty researcher once she is done with her degree.

LuEttaMae Lawrence is a Master’s student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the department of Curriculum and Instruction, Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching, and Agency program. At UIUC, LuEttaMae works as a research assistant in the Cromley Lab and the Collaborative Learning Lab. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Iowa State University, which inspired her interest in the visual design of educational technology. Her research currently explores how incremental design modifications of multimedia tools impacts learning. LuEttaMae’s goals are to continue creating and researching multimedia tools in industry or complete further research at the doctorate level.  

Colin Castleberry

Colin Castleberry is a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the departments of Bioengineering and Engineering Education. At UIUC, Colin works as a research assistant in the Cromley Educational Psychology Lab, The Imoukhuede Systems Biology Lab, and Amos Engineering Education Lab. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which inspired his interest in complex biological system control, and his recent experiences in teaching and mentoring as a teaching assistant sparked his passion for education. His research currently explores complex system design, analysis, and control in both adaptive teaching applications and in biological systems for therapy. Colin’s goals are to continue enhancing system control methods to effectively adapt curriculum instruction to individual student needs, and to facilitate the development of life-saving therapies.

Yang Du

Yang Du is a doctoral student in the Queries division in the Department of Educational Psychology. She joined the Cromley lab in spring of 2018. Yang earned her master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 and taught ESL classes in various educational settings. Her master’s research on language assessment leads to her current study about educational measurement. Particularly, she is interested in computerized adaptive testing (CAT), item response theory (IRT), and differential item functioning (DIF). Yang’s short-term goal is to continue exploring realistically optimal algorithms in CAT and to apply them in test industry. In the long run, Yang plans on working as a faculty researcher and implementing more cutting-edge projects.

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Annie Hart

Annie Hart is currently a senior in bioengineering with a minor in German.  She joined the Cromley lab in the fall of 2021 and is very excited to gain further research experience studying the stressors of doctoral students in engineering.  On campus, she is a Student Leader at Carle Hospital and a member of the Illini Medical Screening Society.  After graduation, Annie hopes to continue her education by attending medical school.  

Dale Robbennolt

Dale Robbennolt is a senior in civil engineering and sociology. He joined the group in the fall of 2021 to gain more experience in social research methods and is very interested in learning more about engineering education and stressors for graduate students. His other research interests include emerging technologies in public transportation and contextual factors in engineering. After graduation he plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in transportation engineering.

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Joseph Mirabelli

Joseph Mirabelli earned a PhD in Educational Psychology in the Cromley lab while researching doctoral engineering student retention and mental health. His Master's and bachelor's degrees are in Engineering Physics. He is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan and his next plans are to search for faculty positions to research graduate student well-being and persistence while continuing to research student experiences.

Andrea Kunze

Andrea Kunze is an Assistant Professor Delta State University in the Division of Counselor Education & Psychology who completed her PhD in Educational Psychology at UIUC studying under Dr. Jennifer Cromley. She has interests in how informal & digital learning environments can help motivate pro-social attitudes and behavior change, such as antiracism and environmental sustainability. Her scholarship and teaching predominately involves active approaches such as games, simulations, and problem-based learning that can promote sustained engagement and motivation. Currently, she's exploring and developing Open Educational Resources (OERs) for multiple psychology courses and more equitable approaches to classroom assessment using ungrading and class-wide collaborative examinations.

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