ISLS Emerging Scholars

The ISLS Emerging Scholars Program, funded by the Wallace Foundation, is a step towards elevating and supporting the work of scholars from ethnic, racial, cultural, and/or linguistic backgrounds that have been systemically marginalized and underrepresented within the ISLS. Our hope is to expand the field’s understandings of, and methods of studying, learning processes and learning environments by encouraging and empowering emerging scholars’ long-term engagement in, and contribution to, ISLS. The initiative is further focusing on supporting outstanding and innovative research that focuses on addressing educational injustices through the research methodologies and/or topics under study.

List of Scholars




Biographies & Projects

Mariam Alhashmi

Mariam Alhashmi

Assistant Professor
Department of Education Studies Chair
Zayed University, UAE

Mariam Alhashmi Emerging Scholar Project

Mariam Alhashmi completed her PhD at the British University in Dubai specializing in Educational Management and Leadership with a focus on the philosophy of Islamic education. Her academic interests include Islamic education, Arabic teaching and learning, personalized learning, learning beyond classrooms, and innovative learning spaces. As a head of the national UAE curriculum for Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Social Studies, Mariam has trained hundreds of teachers and principals in the UAE, Kuwait, KSA, and Kenya.

Although the learning and developmental benefits of imaginary play are widely recognized, most research has been conducted in Western cultural contexts; much less has explored imaginary play in Muslim communities, featuring culturally relevant material and pedagogies. This study inquires into how children engage in imaginary play and how adults support imaginary play in four Muslim communities in Toronto, Beirut, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. As a collaborative design experiment (Brown, 1992), we will offer an initial playgroup design and refine it in collaboration with mothers and the children themselves at each site over the course of ten weeks. The playgroup design is organized around a 10-session playgroup program that we collaboratively designed for children under 7 years old, based on traditional stories from Muslim cultural contexts with invitations for imaginary play.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141–178.

Claire Alkouatli

Claire Alkouatli

Adjunct Research Fellow
University of South Australia

Claire Alkouatli Emerging Scholar Project

Claire Alkouatli completed a PhD in Human Development, Learning, and Culture at the University of British Columbia and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of South Australia. She is currently engaged in research projects and collaborations in Australia, Canada, England, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Her research focuses on the roles of culture, relationships, and pedagogies in human development across the lifespan, including imaginative play, dialogue, inquiry, and challenge.

Although the learning and developmental benefits of imaginary play are widely recognized, most research has been conducted in Western cultural contexts; much less has explored imaginary play in Muslim communities, featuring culturally relevant material and pedagogies. This study inquires into how children engage in imaginary play and how adults support imaginary play in four Muslim communities in Toronto, Beirut, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. As a collaborative design experiment (Brown, 1992), we will offer an initial playgroup design and refine it in collaboration with mothers and the children themselves at each site over the course of ten weeks. The playgroup design is organized around a 10-session playgroup program that we collaboratively designed for children under 7 years old, based on traditional stories from Muslim cultural contexts with invitations for imaginary play.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141–178.

Francisco Castro

Francisco Castro, Ph.D.

Computing Innovation Research Fellow,
New York University

Francisco Castro's Emerging Scholar Project

Dr. Francisco Castro is a Computing Innovation Research Fellow at New York University. His research is in human-computer interaction, technology ethics and responsible computing, and computing education. His work explores and interrogates the intersections and interactions across computing, AI, creative and artistic disciplines, education, and equity- and justice-centered design. Guided by human-centered and participatory approaches, he partners with community organizations, designers, educators, and scholars to investigate socio-technical systems and design equitable technologies for social good and social justice, education, and community empowerment.

Francisco’s ML + Dance + Art project examines the co-design of culturally sustaining educational resources for teaching about machine learning and ethical design in ways that leverage the cultural, collaborative, and embodied nature of dance and arts practices. Machine learning (ML) systems are ubiquitous across multitudes of fields and with the rise of these systems, we have also seen a rise in ethical challenges resulting from how these systems are designed and implemented. Further, these challenges exist within computing disciplines that are already burdened by exclusive, marginalizing cultures and practices that lead to low participation by women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). In this project, Francisco will co-design curricular modules and resources as he builds our understanding of how learning design can leverage the culturally situated, collaborative, and embodied nature of dance and arts practices in ML education. Learners will examine and work with ML models that respond to their bodies as they develop and leverage the models to code animations over their videos to create performances and artistic pieces.

Jessica Chandras

Jessica Sujata Chandras

Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Wake Forest University

Jessica Sujata Chandras Emerging Scholar Project

Jessica Sujata Chandras studied at the University of Washington where she completed her BA with Honors in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish in 2010. She then received her PhD in 2019 from the George Washington University in linguistic anthropology studying multilingual practices in middle-class education in Pune, India. Her goal is to broaden understanding of the cultural contexts of learning through theories of aspiration and promises of prestige through social and physical mobility for underrepresented groups.

“Collaborative Education: Finding New Pathways for Learning in Tribal Communities in Western India,” seeks to support practitioners/educators who conduct school in rural areas of Osmanabad, a socially stratified district in Maharashtra, India. The educators/practitioners work for a local NGO that provides educational and social welfare support to the community of Gormati-speaking members of a federally registered tribe. This project implements family perspectives and linguistic analysis in Learning Sciences (LS). The project focuses on language education and asks the question: What scaffolding (pedagogical, socio-cultural, emotional) is required for students from tribal communities in rural India, who experience formal schooling in the dominant language of the region, rather than their own tribal language? The project also brings together an opportunity to share relevant LS research (theories, methods, research processes) between indigenous communities in the United States and tribal communities in India.

Ethan Chang

Ethan Chang, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Assistant Professor of Educational Administration
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Ethan is an Asian settler, educator, ethnographer, and community-based researcher at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. His research explores community-based designs for cultivating broad-based, intergenerational leadership committed to education and social transformation.

‘Building Builders’: Community-Based Designs for Cultivating Decolonial Educational Leadership
This decolonial participatory action research project explores how Kanaka Maoli leaders design learning environments that further Hawaiian self-determination. We focus on one Kanaka-led space of intergenerational learning centered around the practice of uhau humu pōhaku, or rock weaving. At pōhaku sessions, Native and non-Native participants actively engage in restorative land-based projects. We seek to understand how participants weave, and are woven into, Hawaiian cultural practices and ways of knowing and being through these joint activities. Research findings will offer conceptual, empirical, and methodological implications for amplifying Native resurgence within and beyond schools.

Zynab Gates

Zaynab Gates

Researcher in Education,
University of California, San Diego

Zaynab Gates' Emerging Scholar Project

Zaynab is an educational researcher focusing on learning and social development. As an Indigenous scholar and teacher educator, she has strived to address a two-fold purpose in education: to develop our individual capabilities and to mobilize those capabilities for social transformation towards a more just and united society. Her research agenda stands at the intersection of teacher education, language and literacy, and Indigenous knowledges. Zaynab holds a PhD in Education from the University of California San Diego. She is a member of the Wichí-Weenhayek people whose traditional territory between the Pilcomayo and Bermejo rivers is situated in Argentina and Bolivia.
This project is a continuation of recent research on biliteracy practices which showed how Qom and Wichí Indigenous language teachers have disrupted their discriminatory experiences accessing formal education to build nurturing and encouraging learning environments for the youth studying to become intercultural bilingual teachers. Embedded in a partnership with Indigenous language teachers, we will critically reflect on elements of their teaching framework and we will put them in conversation with current research on the field of Indigenous language learning. To deepen our understanding, I will also accompany Indigenous teacher candidates to their first practicum in Elementary classrooms, to observe and learn with them which and how are elements of the teaching framework translated to the classrooms they lead.
Kaleb Germinaro

Kaleb Germinaro, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,
Curriculum and Instruction,
University of California, San Diego

Kaleb Germinaro's Emerging Scholar Project

With the aim to institute theory into action, Dr. Kaleb Germinaro works in community with folks to address issues of equity, justice and space. In addition to his responsibilities as a professor at UIC, he stewards Estelita’s Library, a small social justice library and bookstore and serves as a board member for the Equitable Development Initiative for the City of Seattle and Environmental Works, a non-profit architecture firm. He keenly pays attention to and focuses on space, how his disability and Blackness are supported and/or suppressed in spaces, and how he navigates justice and liberation through his spatial orientations.
Three lines of inquiry are most pertinent now:
  1. The role of Black and Disability theories and knowledge in how we understand the role of learning and education in climate, spatial and social justice.
  2. How youth engage intersections of race, the environment, and space through community design and the built environment (the current project being supported).
  3. Black theories and knowledge’s methodological and theoretical contributions to community-based design research and ethnography.
Natalie De Lucca

Natalie De Lucca (she/her)

Ph.D. Candidate in Teaching and Learning,
Vanderbilt University

Natalie De Lucca's Emerging Scholar Project

Natalie De Lucca is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University. She is a philosopher, learning designer, and critical learning analyst with expertise in responsive physics teaching, sociocultural theories of learning, and critical social theories. Natalie’s area of focus is STEM learning, which she explores through the lens of the historical conduct of science and technology in United States society.
Motivated by inadequate tools to recognize and support affirming forms of Black girls’ learning in science, this project addresses practical and theoretical issues shaping understandings of Black girls’ science learning and the broader landscape of STEM Education. This project’s goals are to (1) develop a framework to articulate historical and contemporary forms of Black empiricism, (2) integrate Black intellectual genealogies into STEM learning environments and (3) co-design the iteration of a novel science learning environment with Black girls informed by the framework above.

Carl C. Haynes-Magyar, Ph.D.

Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow
Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII)
Carnegie Mellon University

Carl Haynes-Magyar is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. He is a computing education researcher whose work lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction, the learning sciences, and several fields of psychology. Carl’s overall research agenda is to explore the symbiotic relationship between learners and artificial intelligence, create accessible learning technologies for computing education, and broaden participation in computing. Dr. Haynes-Magyar uses his lived experience as a Black, queer, undifferentiated schizophrenic, and first-generation scholar to enrich his service and teaching.

Carl is developing, Codespec, a computer programming tutor. He aims to improve the learning gains of novice programmers and decenter cognitive norms about learning how to program through adaptive scaffolding of different research-based problem types, adaptive feedback, and adaptive support. In contrast to traditional programming practice that asks learners to write code from scratch, mixed-up code (Parsons) problems require learners to place code blocks in the correct order—and sometimes indentation. These problems are designed to challenge but not frustrate programmers and keep them in an optimal zone between what they can do with assistance and what they can do independently to scaffold their learning better. Not all programmers are alike in their affinity for programming problems; some programmers reject code-tracing, programmers with experience can have strong adverse reactions to Parsons problems, and relevance (i.e., goals, interest, and purpose) mediates learning outcomes. This project is centered around cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and behavioral learning gains/outcomes and cultivating IDEAS (inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and sexual orientation and gender identity awareness).

Chris Jadallah

Chris Jadallah, Ph.D. Candidate

Science & Agricultural Education
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
University of California, Davis
UC Davis student profile

Chris Jadallah is an incoming Assistant Professor of Environmental Justice in Education at the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies. He is currently completing his PhD in Science and Agricultural Education at UC Davis where he is also an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Working across diverse social and ecological contexts, Chris studies how the situated knowledge and practices found distributed within and across communities can be leveraged as assets toward addressing complex environmental challenges.

This project will advance a novel, community-engaged line of inquiry with educators of color in farm and garden-based learning environments. Specifically, this study will employ semi-structured interviews to examine the sociopolitical commitments that guide the pedagogical practices of farm and garden educators of color. Following preliminary analysis of the data, participants will be invited to gather for in-person ‘garden parties’ to provide critical feedback on early findings, build community, and identify directions for future iterations of this work. Ultimately, findings from this study will help point toward a justice-centered vision for farm and garden education that unsettles nature-culture relations, sustains the cultural repertoires of communities of color, and fosters socioecological change.

Won Jung Kim

Won Jung Kim Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Education
Santa Clara University
SCU ECP faculty page | MSU Edu News

Won Jung Kim completed her doctoral studies at Michigan State University, College of Education, in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education. Her research explores ways of establishing and enacting justice-oriented pedagogies through research-practice partnership with pre- and in-service K-12 teachers. Their work attends to curricular redesign to help students empower themselves as rightful and legitimate constructors, users, and critiques of STEM knowledge and practice – in examining science-related social justice issues including climate crises affecting energy, food, and water issues.

Won Jung Kim’s project, as a cross-site research practice partnership (RPP) for climate-justice action, involves two teachers, one in the US and one in Korea, and their respective students. We seek to co-design and enact a science curriculum across in-class, after-class, and summer-camp settings (SCIAS) to examine and address local and global climate issues that matter to students. Dr. Kim’s project asks: How would their RPP make space for students’ learning toward climate justice action by designing and enacting SCIAS? And 2. Which learning outcomes, both for students and teachers, resulted from SCIAS? She answers these questions by using the method of participatory design research. Multimodal data generated through this participatory design process will be analyzed using a reflexive thematic analysis. Conducting this RPP, Dr. Kim expects, will help both the teachers and the students to better understand similarities and differences in local climate issues and to foster a global and comparative perspective to broaden climate justice actions.

Areej Mawasi

Areej Mawasi, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

Neubauer Lecturer (tenure-track)
Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion

Dr. Areej Mawasi earned her Ph.D. in Learning, Literacies, and Technologies at Arizona State University in 2021. She was a postdoctoral research associate at CU Boulder’s NSF National AI Institute for Student-AI Teaming between 2021-2022. In her research, she focuses on the intersection of learning sciences, technologies and digital media, design-based methods, and critical STEM education.

This research project will examine how co-design can support the process of critiquing, investigating, and design of technologies with minoritized Arab-Palestinian youth in Israel. The study will look at how scaffolded co-design activities support learners development of critical digital literacies while considering the ethical and sociopolitical implications of technologies presence in their everyday lives. The study will examine participants perceptions of advanced technologies (e.g., bias, privacy, surveillance) and will engage students in sessions where they develop critical design artifacts to share with their own communities as they learn throughout the process.

Tiffany M. Nyachae

Tiffany M. Nyachae

Assistant Professor of Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
The Pennsylvania State University, College of Education

Tiffany M. Nyachae Emerging Scholar Project

Dr. Nyachae earned her Ph.D. in Literacy Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and the Science of Learning at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Previously, she was a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher and language arts teacher at a Buffalo-based K-8 urban charter school. There, she helped to create Sisters of Promise, an after-school program for Black girls.

My design-based research study of Social Justice Literacy Workshop (SJLW) will examine the extent to which learning environment design assists literacy development and contextualized social justice learning and action among adolescent students of Color labeled as “struggling” readers and writers in schools. This project will interrogate teacher and student learning through their co-design and redesign of the SJLW learning environment. Employing culturally diverse literature and other texts, SJLW is a dialogic space where literacy support, text creation, and justice-centered learning and action happen concurrently. This project offers more intense cycles of re-design, design assessment, and unlike my previous work, includes students in (re)design processes.

Aireale J. Rodgers

Aireale J. Rodgers, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)

HEAL Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for the Humanities
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Dr. Aireale J. Rodgers is a learning scientist of higher education whose research agenda explores how people and organizations learn and how educators can better facilitate learning that advances critical race consciousness for faculty and students in postsecondary institutions. Aireale holds a B.S. in Social Policy and an M.A. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the University of Southern California. When not thinking about equity and justice in higher education, Aireale is hosting dinner parties for loved ones or scouring books by fantastic Black women, like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison, for inspiration.

In graduate school, doctoral students are taught to use their disciplines’ tools to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Yet, for many Ph.D. students, the result of engaging in their disciplines’ legitimated practices is socialization into what Alexis Pauline Gumbs (2020) calls an “illusion of objectivity” (p. 8). Scholarship from the learning sciences is well-positioned to provide inroads toward critically interrogating the sociopolitical dimensions of faculty pedagogy and student learning in doctoral coursework. I use video recordings of classroom instruction to demonstrate how four faculty members reproduced or transgressed against norms of objectivity in their disciplines and the ensuing implications for students’ disciplinary learning and socialization in doctoral coursework. Overall, this project extends a much-needed conversation between the learning sciences and higher education about the future of teaching and learning in doctoral education.

JooYoung Seo

JooYoung Seo

Assistant Professor
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

JooYoung Seo Emerging Scholar Project

As an information and learning scientist, Dr. Seo focuses particularly on how to make computational literacy more accessible to people with dis/abilities using multi-modal data representation. He worked on various research and development projects on accessible computing and assistive technologies. His research projects have involved not just web accessibility, but also human-centered design and development studies including inclusive makerspaces, tangible block-based programming, accessible data science, and accessible/reproducible scientific writing tools for people with and without dis/abilities.

This project aims to design and develop an accessible data representation system to engage blind learners in data science literacy movement. Over the past five years, we have witnessed rapidly changing education curricula demanding knowledge on data science and artificial intelligence. While the current trends seem to continue, insufficient attention has been paid to how current data science education can accommodate students with disabilities who are increasingly participating in general education settings. As the majority of data science tools and curricula are designed with visually-oriented modality, blind individuals have faced extra challenges. Given that there are over 63,657 legally blind children, youth, and adult students in the U.S. educational settings, it is imperative for information and learning scientists to address this issue which will otherwise continue excluding this group of people from the future education. Among the five procedures of common data science workflow (i.e., importing; wrangling; transforming; visualizing; and modeling), data visualization is considered as the most challenging point for blind people to interpret. Thus, this research project will focus on that aspect within the one-year timeframe.

Angela Stewart

Angela Stewart

Postdoctoral Fellow
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Angela Stewart Emerging Scholar Project

Angela received a Bachelor of Software Engineering from Auburn University in 2015 and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2020. Angela’s work sits at the intersection of education, artificial intelligence, and HCI. She investigates creation of educational technologies that support the agency of learners and teachers, towards the goal of creating more equitable, inclusive educational spaces.

Angela will investigate the educational impacts of a culturally-responsive social robot that scaffolds reflections on identity and societal power dynamics. She will look at how these robot-scaffolded reflections effect learning computational concepts for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students.

Sandra Zuñiga Ruiz

Assistant Professor,
Teacher Education Department,
San Jose State University

Sandra Zuñiga Ruiz's Emerging Scholar Project

Sandra Zuñiga Ruiz is an Assistant Professor in the Teacher Education Department at San José State University. Her work is grounded in a commitment to justice that is about creating mejores futuros for young people, honoring the hopes and dreams of immigrants who come to the US for a better life. Drawing from her experiences, Chicana/Latina feminist perspectives and critical approaches to learning, Sandra’s research work aims to understand how teachers of color develop understandings about race and justice with and of mathematics.
Mathematics teacher education has moved towards engaging with the political nature of education and mathematics with a particular focus on justice-oriented perspectives of teaching and learning. Yet, it has been well documented the challenges of merging theory and practice when seeking to develop and enact a vision of justice and emancipatory education. The project will seek to understand the importance of creating a community of learning where grappling with the nuances and complexity of practice and justice is critical to learning.

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