1. Faculty
  2. Post-Docs
  3. Graduate Students
  4. Undergraduates
  5. Alumni of BERG
  6. Collaborators


These are the researchers in the UW BERG group.


Alison Crowe

My research interest focuses on developing active learning strategies that are effective for a diverse population of students.  I am currently working with colleagues in the UW Biology Education Research Group to assess  the effectiveness of different active learning modules for enhancing student learning and engagement in an introductory cell biology course. I am also part of a multi-insitution effort to identify the key concepts biology majors should learn by the time they graduate and develop a general biology assessment tool to measure student progress toward these learning goals.  A long term goal is to use this tool to guide curricular reform.

Biology 200: Introductory Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Biology 400: Experiments in Molecular Biology
Biology 401: Advanced Cellular Biology
Biology 485: Senior Seminar in Cancer Biology

Scott R Freeman

My research interests center on the impact of active learning strategies on student performance in college science courses. I am currently working with colleagues in the University of Washington’s Department of Biology to determine whether certain types of course designs have a positive impact on achievement by underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged students. This study is part of a broader effort to evaluate the role of active learning in improving the quality of science education.

Biology 180: Introductory Biology, Ecology and Evolution
Biology 200: Introductory Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology
Biology 325: Diversity of Life (writing course)


Mary Pat Wenderoth

I am interested in assessing the impact on student learning of incorporating cognitive science results into Biology teaching methods. These cognitive science findings include retrieval practice (aka testing effect), learning with contrasting cases and improving student’s metacognition.

I am also working with Sarah Eddy on developing a classroom observation tool that can assess the fidelity of implementation of teaching methods that have been shown in the discipline based research literature to enhance student learning.

Biology 220: Introductory Animal and Plant Physiology
Biology 350: Foundations in Physiology
Biology 460: Mammalian Physiology
Biology 462: Advanced Animal Physiology
Biology 463: Advanced Animal Physiology lab

Jennifer Doherty

Dr. Doherty joined the UW BERG group in September of 2014. She finished a post-doc at Michigan State, where she worked on Environmental Literacy with Andy Anderson. Their work focuses on understanding students’ conceptual understanding and learning of ecology, as well as evidence-based tools and implementation for deep understanding of STEM topics.

“As a biology education researcher I focus on how students from 6th grade through college develop understanding of biology. Students develop deep understanding of biology when they apply their knowledge and skills to solve novel problems. In my research, I use a learning progressions approach that coherently links three dimensions of this type of teaching: students’ naïve conceptions, data from learning assessments, and instructional tools and approaches.”


Biology 220: Introductory Animal and Plant Physiology

Benjamin L Wiggins

I’m the Faculty Coordinator for Biology Instruction at UW. My research focuses on large-enrollment classes and on the active learning that can be done in this critical learning environment. My experiments compare different active learning strategies and assess their effectiveness on exam scores, pre/post testing, student interviews and affect surveying. We also analyze student communities through social network analysis to look for best-practices for students in informal learning environments associated with high-pressure courses. I coach and develop instruction videos for Ultimate Frisbee while I complete my PhD in Learning Sciences with a focus on STEM education.

Biology 200: Introductory Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology


Sarah L Eddy

I’m a statistically-minded behavioral ecologist who shifted from salamander courtship behavior to human behavior in the college classroom.  I’m primarily interested in strategies for promoting equity in STEM classrooms.  I’ve taught a large-enrollment vertebrate evolution class, a northwest vertebrate natural history lab, and several graduate level seminar courses on teaching both face-to-face and online.

Graduate Students

Daniel Z Grunspan

My research aims to understand nuances of human cultural transmission. Specifically, I am interested in social learning biases, their impact on effective transmission of information, and potential genetic underpinnings to learning strategies. I use a mix of longitudinal social network analysis and genetic analysis within large undergraduate classrooms to answer these questions.  While my primary interest is in the evolution of human behavior, these data also allow a firsthand look at the social aspect of undergraduate classrooms and how it affects student learning.

Classes Taught:
Biocultural Anthropology 201: Principles of Biological Anthropology

Classes TA’d:
Biology 200: Introductory Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology
Biology 400: Experiments in Molecular Biology
Biocultural Anthropology 201: Principles of Biological Anthropology

Hannah L Jordt

I study the evolution of suicidal altruism in an engineered E. coli system, and how short, written interventions can alleviate stereotype threat amongst introductory biology students. I am also interested in how active learning can best be used to increase student performance. I was a middle school math teacher in the Mississippi Delta for two years, and more recently have TA’d introductory biology courses at the UW and taught seminars on evolution at the Monroe Correctional Complex through University Beyond Bars.

Classes Taught:
7th Grade Math (in Mississippi)
8th Grade Math/Pre-algebra (in Mississippi)
Evolution seminar series (MCC)

Classes TA’d:
Biology 180: Introductory Biology, Ecology and Evolution
Biology 200: Introductory Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology

Elli J Theobald

I am a plant community ecologist interested in the biological impacts of climate change. As a teacher I am committed to ensuring that all students have opportunities to succeed. As such I am leading a project investigating best methods in teaching undergraduates about climate change. Visit my website to see a full description of my ecology and education research as well as a complete list of my teaching experiences.

Classes Taught:
Biology 179: Supplementary Instruction for Introductory Biology (UW)
Biology 560: Seminar in Statistical Computing in R
Secondary Science Intern Teacher Credentialing (Alliant University, San Francisco, CA)
7th and 8th grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra (in Oakland, CA)
7 th, 8th, and 9th grade Life Science, Physical Science, and Biology (in Oakland, CA)

Classes TA’d:
Biology 180: Introductory Biology
Biology 317: Plant Systematics and Identification
Biology 325: Diversity of Life (writing course, reader/grader)

Roddy Theobald

I am a PhD candidate in statistics at the University of Washington, a research assistant at the Center for Education Data and Research, and a former middle school teacher in Oakland, CA. I am interested in research methods for evaluating educational interventions, and particularly in methods for inferring causality from observational data. I have collaborated with the Biology Education Group on a number of projects that evaluate the impact of classroom interventions on student performance. For more details, see my website.

Classes taught:
Statistics 395: Probability II
Statistics 220: Basic Statistics
7th grade math (in Oakland, CA)
6th grade math and science (in Oakland, CA)

Classes TA’d:
Statistics 221: Statistical Concepts and Methods for the Social Sciences


Mercedes Converse

Catherine King

Leah Wener-Fligner

Alumni of BERG

David Haak

Now a post-doc at IU-Bloomington