NC State Physics Education Research Group
Current Graduate Students
Jeff Polak
email: jmpolak2 at ncsu dot edu
Jeff was born in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin  Whitewater in 2006 with a BS in Physics, with a minor in Mathematics. Jeff participated in undergraduate research projects UWW, the University of Illinois  Urbana/Champaign, and NC State, all in Physics Education Research. He has been a TA for Matter and Interactions Labs as well as for the SCALEUP class.
Jeff's research interests include how students apply their understanding of mathematics to physics and how the same mathematics concepts might be treated differently depending on the physics context. He is also interested in the design of instructional materials that strengthen the connections between physics and relevant mathematics concepts.
Meghan West
email: mjwest3 at ncsu dot edu
Meghan was born in Walnut Creek, CA. She graduated from the University of California at San Diego in 2004 with a BS in Physics and minors in Psychology and Mathematics. Meghan taught one year of high school Physics and Physical Science with Teach for America and participated in an independent research project at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Meghan began graduate studies at NCSU in the fall of 2008. She has been a TA for Matter and Interactions (M&I) Mechanics and E&M labs, M&I Mechanics SCALEUP class, and Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) for preservice elementary school teachers.
Meghan is studying interactions between students and their TAs in introductory level physics labs. In particular, she is looking at how TAstudent interactions relate to the students' behaviors and progress during assignments in the M&I mechanics lab course. Her other interests include the development of impactful TA training programs and science teacher preparation.
Bin Xiao
email: bxiao at ncsu dot edu
Bin was born in the city of Wuhan in China, and he graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2008 with a BS in Physics. After graduation, He worked as a research assistant in the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences studying single molecule biophysics. Then he began his graduate studies at NC State in the fall of 2009.
Bin is interested in seeing how problem solver's instantaneous confidence changes during the process of solving problems.
Bin has TA experience in Matter and Interactions laboratory sections as well as both algebra and calculusbased traditional physics labs.
Theodore Horton
email: tuhorton at ncsu dot edu
Theodore (Ted) was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in 1965. He spent most of his life in Jacksonville, Florida from the age of 11 until he graduated from Jacksonville University with a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics at the age of 30. Afterwards, as a graduate student at NCSU he studied theoretical nuclear and particle physics, and he taught introductory physics labs and lectures. He completed a Master's degree and in 2005 he took a physics teaching position at Jackson State Community College in Tennessee. In this position he developed and taught courses in both physics and physical science, and he served as the faculty advisor for preengineering students.
He left this position in 2010 and was accepted back into the graduate program at NCSU to pursue his Ph.D. in the PER group. During his previous teaching experience he became interested in the differences between how experts solve problems and how the average 200 level physics student solves problems. In particular, he is currently interested in the ways that students learn from worked examples. His current research topic includes producing video worked examples for use by students online. His goal is to produce videos that present the worked examples in novel ways, and he wants to see if these presentations cue beneficial learning actions in students.
Ted has taught lectures and labs in calculusbased physics, algebrabased physics, and physical science. He worked as a TA for the first semester of Matter and Interactions (mechanics) labs in 20102011, and he worked as a SCALEUP second semester (electricity and magnetism) TA during the Fall semester 2011.
Katie Foote
email: ktfoote at ncsu dot edu
webpage: https://sites.google.com/a/ncsu.edu/kathleenfoote/
Katie was born in Farmington, CT and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island in May, 2010 with a double degree of a BS in Applied Physics and a BA in Physics Secondary Education with minors in Math and Asian Studies. She spent a summer in a PER REU program at the University of Minnesota, working with Dr. Ken Heller to explain the gender gap in concept test scores in introductory physics courses. She spent a couple summers helping to teach at the Center for Talented Youth summer camp in both Nuclear Science and Introduction to Engineering courses. She began her studies in North Carolina in the fall of 2010. She has continued to expand her teaching experience at NCSU as a TA in an E&M Matter and Interactions course for engineers
Colleen Lanz
email: cblanz at ncsu dot edu
webpage: https://sites.google.com/a/ncsu.edu/cblanz/
Colleen was born in Buffalo, New York and graduated in 2008 from Canisius College with a BS in Physics and BA in Mathematics. While at Canisius, Colleen discovered the joy of teaching both math and physics to undergraduate students. She then went on to obtain her MS in Applied Mathematics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 2010. Having missed the world of physics, she applied to the graduate program at NCSU and began research in biophysics. Realizing that her true passion was for pedagogical research, she began working in the PERD group with Dr. Paesler and Dr. Beichner.
Colleen’s current research attempts to minimize the pedagogical barriers that are often encountered in a typical instructional physics lab. Colleen is developing a smartphone app that will access the raw data outputted by its internal sensors which include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a camera. The smartphone can then be used to collect data in the lab in lieu of “black boxes” that are timeconsuming and difficult to use. The hope is that students will feel more comfortable using equipment that is already familiar to them and they will be able to focus more on the physics concepts at hand.
Her other interests include the creation of a physics lab curriculum that caters directly to life science majors.
Colleen has taught vector geometry, differential calculus, and multivariable calculus. She has been a teaching assistant for elementary calculus, trigonometry, linear algebra, elementary calculus with matrices, geometry, mathematics of design, and a SCALEUP physics class for elementary education majors. She has also been a lead TA for both calculusbased and algebrabased electricity and magnetism labs.
