We are a diverse and deeply experienced team of scientists, teachers, methodologists, writers, artists, and researchers. We stand in and across the boundaries of academic, public school, museum, industry, and policy settings. The strengths in the areas of our expertise enable us to do things differently and develop innovative, robust approaches to our projects.
Director of Outlier Research and Evaluation
Prior to coming to the University of Chicago in 2005, Jeanne Century was a Senior Researcher at Education Development Center (EDC) in Waltham MA. Jeanne has a BA in general science from Brandeis, and a MEd and doctorate in science education curriculum and teaching from Boston University. During her 25-year career, Jeanne has developed science instructional materials for the elementary and middle school levels and has provided professional development, technical assistance and strategic planning for teachers and school, district, and state administrators. Her research has focused on the impact of inquiry science instruction, strategies for improving utilization of research and evaluation, sustainability of reform efforts, measurement of intervention fidelity and innovation implementation, STEM schools, and computer science education. Century served on the Education Policy and Department of Education Agency Review transition teams for the Obama-Biden administration where she was responsible for STEM education and education research and development issues. In 2010, she shared the National Association for Research in Science Teaching award for the most significant publication that year. Jeanne has served on numerous committees and advisory boards for work focused on improving STEM education.
Associate Director of Outlier Research and Evaluation
Melanie joined the Outlier team in July 2011 and works on a range of research and evaluation projects. She currently is PI on S3 (The STEM School Study, a National Science Foundation-supported study of inclusive STEM high schools) as well as several evaluation projects. Prior to joining Outlier, Melanie worked as a quantitative researcher at the Chicago Postsecondary Transition Project, a joint project between the Consortium on Chicago School Research and The School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She has also previously worked as a research analyst at Chicago Public Schools in both the Office of Math and Science and the Department of Postsecondary Education. She received her PhD in Social Psychology from Loyola University and holds a BA from Ohio University.
Associate Project Director
Liz joined the Outlier team in November 2012 with a variety of experience as both a researcher and an educator. She currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator on Outlier’s S3 project. Prior to coming to Outlier, Liz worked as a Research Assistant on the NSF-funded Life on Earth project at Northwestern University, and with the Chicago Children's Museum on an exploratory study of the Museum's early learning-focused Pritzker Playspace. Her graduate work focused on young children’s learning and interactions in both formal and informal settings. Liz is also a trained Montessori teacher, and taught in three to six year-old classrooms for several years. Liz has her MA in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and a BA in Psychology from Denison University.
Amy leads Outlier’s ongoing work focused on understanding and measuring the use of educational innovations and exploring the contexts that support or inhibit implementation and spread of practices to new users. She has played an integral role in the development of Outlier’s conceptual framework and instruments for measuring implementation of mathematics and science instructional materials programs. This work has been supported in her project leadership on three related research studies funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences. Amy currently oversees efforts to work with other researchers to adapt and customize Outlier’s implementation measurement instruments to meet their project needs.
Trained as a mixed methodologist, Amy received a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Human Development in Educational Contexts at the University of Rochester and completed an IES-funded postdoctoral fellowship in experimental education research methods at Vanderbilt University. Prior to graduate work in research, Amy worked as a school psychologist in Texas and New York State.
Heather came to Outlier Research & Evaluation after completing her Ph.D. in Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago in 2012. Since joining Outlier, Heather has contributed to a number of research and evaluation projects in the areas of STEM and computer science (CS) education. These projects include Building an Operating System for Computer Science Education (OS4CS) study, the first to examine CS professional development and CS teacher capacity across the United States; the Barriers and Supports to Implementing Computer Science (BASICS) project, which aims to create tools and resources for the CS education community; and the external evaluation of the Code.org K12 programs, which Heather leads. Heather also co-founded the STEM Bridge Network, an emerging group of scientists that work in education, and who are committed to making education career paths accessible and transparent to early-career scientists.
Outlier Research & Evaluation
Sarah leads Outlier’s computer science education research efforts. She is currently the Principal Investigator of two National Science Foundation (NSF) research awards to Outlier that aim to increase high school computer science education opportunities for students. The first is a broadening participation study (Bringing AP Computer Science Principles to Students with Learning Differences, award # 1542963) that aims to expand participation in computer science by making CSP more accessible for students with learning differences (students with learning disabilities and related attention disorders). The second is a study (The BASICS study, award # 1339256) that involves systematically measuring implementation of Exploring Computer Science (ECS) instructional materials and the key supports and barriers to implementation, and refining our study instruments to share with the CS education community. Sarah has worked with Outlier since 2010 on a range of research and evaluation projects focused on increasing and improving STEM+C education. Prior to Outlier, she worked in the Education Department of the Field Museum, leading teacher PD and collaborating with Math & Science Education faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology in instructional materials development and training for HS science teachers. Her work has always focused on helping bridge research and practice. Sarah received her PhD and MA in Anthropology from Indiana University, and has conducted archaeological research in Belize, Egypt, and in the U.S.
Research & Evaluation Associate
Mary “MaryBeth” Talbot joined the Outlier team in June 2015 as a Research and Evaluation Associate. Currently, MaryBeth is working on the NSF CS10K study (The BASICS study) and on the evaluation of Magnetar Youth Investment Academy, a program aimed to increase financial literacy in 9-12th grade students.
Prior to working with Outlier, MaryBeth worked as a senior research analyst at the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. While at CREDO, MaryBeth served as the lead analyst on the Ohio Charter School Study assessing education outcomes of charter school and traditional public school students in the state of Ohio. Additionally, she worked as a Research Coordinator at the Center for Science and Math Education (CSME) at Loyola University Chicago evaluating professional development programs for math and science teachers in Chicago. MaryBeth received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. In addition to her interest in K-12 education, MaryBeth has research interest in gender, race, and HIV-related stigma.
Research & Evaluation Associate
Courtney joined the Outlier team in July 2015 and is currently working on the S3 project and the Code.org evaluation project. She has a background in quantitative research methods and educational technology, and her graduate work focused on teachers’ technology use in early childhood education and the effect of tablet computers on kindergarten achievement. Courtney has experience consulting with large school districts and state departments, developing teacher guides and curricula for STEM and computer science apps, and interning at the Center for Children and Technology at the Education Development Center. She received her Ph.D. in Media, Technology, & Society from Northwestern University and holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA in Theatre and English from Northwestern University.
Stephanie Loo joined Outlier as a research assistant in March 2016. She received her BA in Psychology and English and a certificate in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is currently working on a number of projects including the Amplify arts organizations evaluation project, the Broward County STEM+C research project, the Hive Chicago strategic planning project, and the Lincoln Park Zoo program evaluation project.
As an undergraduate, Stephanie worked in a learning and transfer research lab and completed an honors psychology thesis on the link between word sounds and object properties. Stephanie has also participated in research on urban transportation, wildlife resource management, and the toxicity of household cleaning products.
Akua joined the Outlier team in January 2016 as a Research Assistant after graduating from University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences. She is excited to be working on the Code.org evaluation project, the Civic Leadership Academy evaluation project, and the NSF-funded Wolcott Study (Bringing AP Computer Science Principles to Students with Learning Differences, NSF Award #1542963). Prior to coming to Outlier, Akua was a peer health educator with Peer Health Exchange, co-president of the College’s minority pre-medicine RSO, and a member of the International Student Advisory Board. She currently considering graduate work in statistics, research methodology, public health, or data analysis.
Interested in becoming an Outlier? Visit the University job site and search for posting numbers 101283 and 101054.
Get in touch
Outlier Research & Evaluation
CEMSE | University of Chicago
1427 E. 60th Street
For questions about computer science education research and evaluation, please contact:
Dr. Sarah Wille, Senior Researcher