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Ronald K. Thornton, Ph.D., Director

Ronald K. Thornton (AB, Hamilton College; Ph.D., Brown University) is a former high energy physicist who now develops effective methods and materials for teaching science to students from the middle school through college, teaches teachers and professors, and investigates student conceptual learning. As well as being the Director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching at Tufts University, he is also a Research Professor in the Physics and the Education Departments, and a former visiting professor in the Physics Departments of the Universities of Rome, Naples, and Pavia. He has been the chair of the National Committee on Research in Science Education of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). He directs a number of national and international projects which study student conceptual learning in science (with a strong emphasis on physics) and which design and introduce constructivist science curricula into schools and universities (e.g. the NSF funded Student-Oriented Science: Curricula, Techniques and Computer Tools for Interactive Learning, Foundations for Computer-Based Physics Instruction). He is a major author of the Tools for Scientific Thinking and RealTime Physics curricula and of the microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) software. These hands-on, award-winning materials are designed to serve underprepared and underserved students as well as more traditional science majors. Prof. Thornton won the 1992 Smithsonian/Computerworld Leadership Award in Science Education and the 1993 Charles A. Dana Foundation Award for Pioneering Achievements in Education (with P. Laws).

Stephen J. Beardslee, Programmer

Stephen Beardslee is the Senior Programmer at the Center for Science and Math Teaching. He has been programming MBL applications since he graduated from Hampshire College in 1986. During that time he has helped to develop MBL software for the Commodore 64, Apple II, Macintosh, and x86 personal compuers. Before moving to Tufts he worked at Technical Education Research Center in Cambridge, MA.

Mary Dygert, Programmer

Mary Dygert: B.S. Indiana University (Chemistry) M.S. and Ph.D. Cornell University (Biophysical Chemistry)
Formerly a teacher of chemistry and biochemistry at Smith College, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a software developer in computational chemistry at Molecular Simulations, Inc.

She has been involved in development of software tools for use both in teaching chemistry and in computer-aided drug design. At CSMT she has been a member of the development team that produced LoggerPro and has done work on Dynamic Analyzer as well. She is currently working on a Java-based ActiveX component tool for Vector Visualization which can be embedded in both LoggerPro and Dynamic Analyzer.

Davette Abkowitz and Edmund Traverso, Staff Associates

Davette Abkowitz and Edmund Traverso, staff associates, have been with the Center since 1986. Their principal responsibility has been to work with secondary teacher s of physics who are learning to become effective users of Microcomputer-Based Laboratory (MBL) technologies. Davette and Ed help to develop and implement workshops and teacher education programs at the Center and are completely responsible for the follo w-up activities at the schools for the teachers who have participated in the workshops.
Both Davette and Ed are experienced secondary school teachers. For this reason, they know school environments and are able to relate well to teachers who are attempting to introduce new approaches into their courses. They invite inquiries from teachers who currently use MBL equipment or who wish to know more about the use of MBL equipment to improve the teaching of science.

Allan Risley, Staff Associate

Allan S. Risley, Ph.D., graduated with a degree in physics from Denver University in 1954. For many years he worked as an experimental physicist. Much of this work focused on research upon atomic clocks and their use as national and international time standards. This work was done during his 20 years as a physicist at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colorado. He then moved into the private sector and the field of telecommunications, working first as a policy analyst and then doing design and marketing on products for time synchronization of large telecommunication networks. He published over 20 papers in scientific and technical journals on his research in physics and his work in telecommunications.

In the last several years, Dr. Risley obtained the Ph.D. in Human Development from the Department of Human and Organization Development of the Fielding Institute. His interest is primarily in the fields of human learning and systems analysis. He presently works as a consultant splitting his time between research upon how students learn physics (at Tufts University in Medford, MA) and doing systems- modeling/facilitation in organizations.

Janet Marino, Office Administrator

Janet M. Marino is the first person that one encounters on a trip to the Center. Her duties are rather simply described: "Everything." Whether it's scheduling travel for staff members of the Center, organizing luncheons, sending and receiving correspondence, or simply helping the rest of us find where we misplaced our heads, Janet does it all. She is a graduate of Fisher College, in Boston, MA and has had over twenty years of experience in the business and academic worlds.

Contact our office for more information.