About Us

At the Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research, we believe that all faculty and students can be more successful teachers and learners in Astronomy and the Space Sciences.  But, we are convinced that can only happen by challenging the status quo, by doing things differently than they've been done before.  As a nonprofit entity, CAPER is committed to transforming learning environments, by translating the best of over 50 years of education research into effective, easy-to-implement classroom strategies and materials.  Leveraging expertise in the sciences, education research and real classrooms, we provide resources for faculty in the forms of high-quality, research-based classroom curricula, pragmatic professional development activities, and pathways for engaging in the international Astronomy & Space Science education community.

After 20 years of experience, CAPER is recognized as one of the world's leading Astronomy & Space Sciences education research teams.  Still, we recognize that we are just beginning to understand how humans engage in the science.  We are actively seeking to further our understanding of teaching and learning, by following new directions in research, and by working with a greater diversity of research partners and curriculum writers.  We look forward to the next 20 years!


Stephanie Slater, Director

Stephanie provides direction for CAPER's programming and research efforts, and oversees its day to day operations. She holds a joint appointment at Capitol College where she is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Space Science Education and Public Outreach.  

Stephanie is internationally recognized for her work in understanding how the public engages in learning science.  Her current work focuses on transforming  the thing we call "misconceptions" into chunks that are more actionable, such as cognitive load, spatial reasoning,  algorithmic processing, and issues of identity and belief.


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Paulo Bretones, Senior Scientist

Paulo is recognized for his contributions to the expansion of astronomy education and public outreach across  international settings, particularly Latin America.   His focus is on the ways in which these efforts can be accomplished through astronomy education research and collaborative networking.  Paulo serves on the faculty of the Federal University of São Carlos in São Paulo - Brazil, and is co-editor of the Latin American Journal of Astronomy Education (RELEA).


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David McKinnon, Senior Scientist

David is an international leader in the development of programs that engage teachers and students in authentic science, using remote telescopes.  His research has led the way in our understanding of such programs, and their impact on educational experiences in classrooms and on the STEM pipeline.  David is on the faculty of the Edith Cowen University in Australia.


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Timothy Slater, Senior Scientist

Tim is widely known as the "professor's professor."  He allocates most of his time to coaching physics and astronomy professors in using research-based active learning strategies.  He is the University of Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair in Science Education in Laramie, WY, US.


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Tanzeem Ali, Scientist

Tanzeem's research focuses on international education structures, particularly the ways in which "shadow education" systems perpetuate and extend inequities of educational opportunity.  


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Lena Danaia, Scientist

Lena is well-known for her work related to science teacher preparation, and the ways in which astronomy can be used to engage pre-service teachers in authentic science.  Lena holds a joint appointment at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, NSW, Australia, where she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Teacher Education.


Inge Heyer, Scientist

Inge has spent decades developing a unique expertise in astronomy communications across a variety of settings, including college classrooms, informal educational settings, professional scientific journalism, and science fiction venues. Inge is Visiting Assistant Professor at Loyola University Maryland, and serves as Deputy Press Officer for the American Astronomical Society.


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Cuauhtémoc Méndez Rosas, Scientist

Cuauhtemoc is Professor of Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy at the Tec de Monterrey High School at Guadalajara Campus. Currently, his interest is to develop a collection of contents so that Astronomy is included in the education curriculum in Latin America. He has a Master´s degree in Education and Cognitive Development.


Rick Pomeroy, Scientist

Rick is a national leader in science education, where he is particularly concerned with both pre-service and in-service teacher learning.  Rick is also on faculty at University of California-Davis, in Davis, CA, US, where he supervises science teacher preparation and credentials. 


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Sharon Schleigh, Director of K-12 Programs

Sharon's 20 years in education have given her a broad understanding in the ways in which students and teachers engage in science.  Her current work in research and curriculum development includes argumentation in a science classroom; authentic research in astronomy and problem-based curriculum designs; how students, teachers and scientists think about the nature of science; and how curriculum impacts content knowledge and attitudes about science.  She is on faculty at Eastern Carolina University.




Kendra Sibbernsen, Scientist

Kendra interests lie in two areas:  excellence in teaching at community colleges, and the impact of extracurricular science experiences for undergraduates.  She can often be found driving around the upper-Midwestern United States with her husband Michael, and a merry band of undergraduate students, hunting elusive (and often wayward) high-altitude balloons.


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Debra Stork, Scientist

Deb is a national leader in two fields:  the preparation of science teachers, and the impact of engaging young girls in astronomy.  She is Head of Teacher Education at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, IA, US. 


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Ahia Dye, Research Associate

She would never say so herself, but Ahia is one of the world's foremost experts on Polynesian astronomy.  Her publishing and research interests are related to the reconstruction of Hawaiian astronomy, and the impact of reintegrating culture and science education.  She is a program specialist at `Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, HI, US,  and a graduate student at the University of Wyoming.


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Koa Rice, Education Specialist

Koa is passionate about using Hawaiian cultural knowledge to engage students in the learning of science.  She interacts with schools across the Big Island of Hawai`i and serves as a cultural liaison.


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Coty Tatge, Research Associate

Coty is interested in the ways that language and culture interact with the teaching of science.  She is a graduate student at the University of Wyoming, in Laramie, WY, US.




Ken Brandt, Research Associate

Ken is an ardent fan of space exploration, and loves explaining the various facets of it to anyone who'll listen.  He is a veteran science educator, having served in various capacities for the last quarter-century, including, most recently, the direction of a small planetarium and science center in rural NC.




Katie Guffey, Research Associate

Katie hails from North Carolina and loves teaching about everything Earth Science.  She'll also jump at any chance for adventure, including jumping off the pali (cliffs) at South Point on the Big Island and out of perfectly good airplanes (with a parachute, of course).


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Sawyer Slater, Program Assistant

Sawyer is an undergraduate at Hawai'i Community College.  She manages social media for CAPER, in addition to providing logistical support at community events.  Sawyer is also making a name for herself in the fancon world, where she is a frequent speaker on YA scifi.



Max Slater, Program Assistant

Max is CAPER's audio/visual guru and assistant planetarium operator, with experience in both portable and large domes.  He is also a speaker at fan conventions, where he provides interactive sessions that engage attendees in creating original scifi scenarios.


Donna Governor, Program Evaluator

Donna is our go-to program evaluator.  With decades of experience in science education, including curriculum development, professional development, workshops, and grant writing, she is able to work with our diverse portfolio of projects.  Learn more about her work at Governor Educational Consulting.


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Larry Morris, Technology Consultant

Larry has been a key partner in solving our engineering problems, from guiding curriculum and teacher professional development for robotics instruction to  creating custom apps for the science classroom.  To learn more about Larry's work, visit Hexational Software.