Meet Our Team
Lucas Education Research operates as a division of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Established in 2013 as part of the larger operating Foundation, Lucas Education Research invites selected educational experts and research firms to collaborate on the design and evaluation of rigorous project-based learning in K-12 schools.
We strive to define the key design principles for rigorous projects and to study the necessary conditions and factors of the school ecosystem for the effective and sustained implementation of this approach to teaching and learning.
The George Lucas Educational Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from job seekers who will contribute to our diversity.
Kristin De Vivo is the first Executive Director of Lucas Education Research, founded in 2013 as a sister division to Edutopia at the George Lucas Educational Foundation. LER's mission and strategy, developed by Kristin, focuses on building an evidence base to support transformative practices in K-12 education. Before heading LER, Kristin served as Vice President of Research and Validation at Scholastic Inc., from 2003 to 2013, where she implemented a continuous research and evaluation cycle that strategically improved the company’s blended-model interventions, setting the highest-quality benchmarks for research in educational publishing. Before joining Scholastic, Kristin worked at two Bay Area education-related start-ups, LeapFrog Enterprises and Scientific Learning. Prior to this work, she conducted extensive neuropsychological and achievement testing with young children and adults at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and at the University of California at San Francisco. She received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
Britte Haugan Cheng, Principal at Menlo Education Research, serves as a research adviser to Lucas Education Research. An established learning scientist who has contributed significantly to the Design Based Implementation Research (DBIR) literature base, Britte brings over a decade of research expertise to the Foundation. Britte's review and synthesis of the research underway will inform further refinement and enhancement of the Lucas Education Research portfolio. In addition to this work, Britte leads a collaboratory across grant partners designed to study the conditions in school systems that enable rigorous project-based learning. Britte received her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley’s Cognition and Development program, specializing in K-12 technology-based science curriculum and assessment.
Aside from joining LER as the Knowledge & Action intern, Carlo Juntilla works as a high school social studies teacher in Richmond, California. His passion for education stems from a desire to create innovative solutions that address inequities to empower communities. As a teacher, Carlo seeks to provide culturally responsive pedagogy that infuses identity development with skill building to prepare his students for success in the 21st century context. He started his career in education by developing a grant for first-generation college students while attending Gonzaga University for undergrad. After graduating with a BA in political science, Carlo joined the national service organization Teach for America while attending Loyola Marymount University to pursue a MA in education policy. The focus of his Masters thesis explores the impact of a diverse teacher workforce on student achievement.
Amanda Palmer oversees the administration of grants and contracts, plans the division's annual research colloquium, and provides executive support. Amanda is an experienced grants administrator professional who is dedicated to working with social impact oriented teams. Prior to joining LER, Amanda worked in partnership with principal investigators at a nonprofit biomedical research organization in San Francisco to ensure grants adhered to sponsor requirements and regulations. Her professional experience includes grant management, financial planning and analysis, project management, and customer service. She received her bachelors of Science degree in health science at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Tara Partow is a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Fellow. She is an educator and youth advocate with experience working in charter, public, and private schools within the state of New Mexico. As an English teacher and experiential educator, she has cultivated a strong interest in the impact of restorative justice practices, community-responsive teaching, and project-based learning in schools. Tara holds a B.A. in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Scripps College, with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She looks forward to supporting virtual professional learning communities in their implementation of project-based learning.
Angela Rosenberg assists in the maintenance and support of Sprocket, LER's web portal. She is interested in PBL as a way to encourage critical thinking and a passion for learning in students. As an undergraduate student, she worked on blended learning initiatives to integrate technology into college classrooms. The focus of her Master's dissertation and undergraduate research was on the ways in which interactive fiction provides a new framework for textual analysis. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Bryn Mawr College and a master's degree in Digital Humanities from Trinity College Dublin.
Sheree Santos, Director of Curriculum and Technology Development, is the chief technology leader for LER and directs digital content development, delivery and management of all technology strategy and operations. She also oversees the curriculum development process for all curricular exemplars being developed in LER’s research studies. Prior to joining LER, Sheree spent eight years with Edgenuity, planning and developing online curricula as Social Studies Department Manager and, later, as Curriculum Quality Assurance Manager. She started her career in education by receiving concurrent bachelor’s degrees in secondary education and political science from Arizona State University. After a few years teaching high school and middle school social studies in Phoenix, Sheree earned her master’s in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in educational technology from Grand Canyon University.
Denis Udall, senior program officer, manages the strategic direction of the Foundation’s research related to project based-learning for the humanities. Prior to joining LER, Denis was a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for eight years where he managed strategy and grants related to a wide range of areas including improving the quality of curriculum and instructional materials, California education policy, and classroom/school-level formative assessment, and at the Walter S. John Foundation where he focused on vulnerable, disconnected youth. Denis has also had a 10-year history with Outward Bound including helping to found Expeditionary Learning (now EL Education), a national school improvement network, and the New York City Outward Bound Center, Outward Bound’s first urban center. Denis is the founder of the North Oakland Community Charter School, and received an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Rochelle Urban began her career as a scientist, but has been working in STEM education for the last decade. Before coming to GLEF, Rochelle most recently worked at the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC overseeing STEM outreach programs for K-12, expanding and improving programs that connected USC engineering students to K-12 students as well as delivering teacher PD. Previously, she has worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs in their Joint BioEnergy Institute supporting and developing their education outreach strategy, and at the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science Learning Design Group, where she worked on the elementary Amplify Science curriculum. Rochelle spent a number of years at the California Academy of Sciences designing, delivering, and coordinating field trips and virtual programs. Rochelle earned her B.A. in biology from Barnard College and her PhD in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. Rochelle was a Mirzayan Science Policy Fellow with the Board on Science Education at the National Academies.
Nathan Warner is the Director of Teaching and Learning at Lucas Education Research. Previously, he worked at the nonprofit EL Education in the role of Regional Director, where he led a team of instructional leaders in supporting schools and districts with implementing EL Education’s student-centered educational model. Nathan also worked at Lucas Education Research as a Senior Program Officer and Program Officer from 2014-2018 where he supported a number of research and development partnerships designed to gather evidence around the effectiveness of innovative project-based learning curricula, programs and instructional practices. Nathan began his career as a secondary social studies teacher and school leader in the New York City Department of Education for sixteen years, and during that time co-founded the nationally recognized Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in northern Manhattan. Nathan received his PhD in Sociology with a focus on education and social inequality from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Glen Water is a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Fellow, who is seeking to improve his understanding of PBL and its impacts on students’ academic, socio-emotional, and civic outcomes. He is deeply passionate about citizenship education and is excited to become a better advocate for PBL on local, state, and international levels. He has over 10 years of experience in teaching, evaluation, curriculum development, and education leadership in Hawai’i, Palestine, and the Bay Area. Glen received a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, an MA in Education from the University of Hawai’i - Manoa, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame.
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