Summer REU Interns Join TERC to Advance Equity in STEM

Join us in extending a warm welcome to the newest members of our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship program! We are excited to have them on board for the summer, where they will dive into STEM education research projects that focus on promoting equity in STEM education. With the guidance and mentorship of TERC researchers and their project teams, these interns will have the opportunity to grow and develop throughout their time with us.

During their internship, mentors will provide training on essential education research methodologies, facilitate discussions on critical issues and perspectives of social justice in STEM and education, and offer professional development support to help shape their future pathways towards graduate school, research careers, and a variety of other professional opportunities.

Let's take a closer look at each of these incredible interns and their unique aspirations!


Julianne Latimer

Georgia Institute of Technology; Industrial & Systems Engineering  

Julianne-Latimer-headshot Julianne-Latimer

Mentors: Karen Mutch-Jones and Audrey Martinez-Gudapakkam 
Project: Enhancing and Empowering: Doing the Math with Paraeducators

Julianne was drawn to interning at TERC due to its focus on diverse innovation and the development of groundbreaking teaching methods, curricula, and technology aimed at enhancing STEM education. She felt a strong resonance between TERC's mission and her own goals of improving STEM co-curricular opportunities and resource allocation, especially in rural and underserved areas, to ensure all K-12 public school students can pursue their STEM interests.

Through her involvement in the Doing the Math with Paraeducators project, Julianne aims to deepen her understanding of how K-12 STEM education research directly benefits participants and how to leverage these technical skills in future projects.

Reflecting on her experience at a project event, she remarked, "It's been incredible to witness the strong connection the paraeducators have forged with their cohort and research team. I never imagined that something so technical could have such a profound personal and emotional impact."

Julianne aspires to continue working on human-focused education projects that combine her Industrial & Systems Engineering curriculum with innovative educational resource allocation strategies, all while maintaining a personal connection with the communities involved.


Devon Locke

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Environmental Science and Political Science

Devon-Locke-headshots Devon-Locke

Mentors: Mia Ong, Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Lisette Torres-Gerald, and Christina Silva
Project: Native STEM Portraits

Devon learned about the REU program through a recommendation from his advisor, who recognized how well it aligned with Devon's academic interests and pursuits. 

"TERC’s goals of utilizing social and critical theories to create more inclusive research and opportunities are important to me," he says.

Devon hopes this internship will help him bridge the gap between natural science and social science, equipping him to better examine disparities within research and academic settings.

Devon is returning for his second summer as an intern at TERC. You can learn more about his initial experience in an article featured in Hands On! magazine, "Unifying My Identities—Reflections from an REU Student."


Ellen Chan

UMASS Amherst, Biology


Mentors: Gilly Puttick and Mike Cassidy
Project: ExIST

Ellen's choice to intern at TERC was driven by her resonance with the organization's focus on STEM education research. "I want to dive into STEM education research and gain hands-on experience," she explained. She is also interested in exploring "dry lab" research, especially data analysis, to complement her biology studies.

Ellen plans to become a high school biology teacher, and she sees her time with Project ExIST as a chance to blend its teachings into her future classroom.

"Maybe I'll kick off the year with systems thinking and have my students create biology Scratch games instead of regular tests," she said. "My main goal as a biology teacher is to boost scientific literacy," she declared, underlining the importance of grasping the nature of science in discerning credible information from pseudoscientific myths.

Vanessa Galeana

Boston University; Education & Human Development specializing in Youth Development & Justice


Mentors: Teresa Lara-Meloy, Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, and Elise Levin-Guracar
Project: AMPED4Making

Vanessa discovered the REU program through one of her professors at Boston University.

"I wanted to intern at TERC to get more experience in the field of research," Vanessa explains.

With seven years of experience working in youth-serving settings, Vanessa felt it was time for a change. She sees research as a crucial tool for improving existing systems, particularly in education. 

Vanessa hopes that her time at TERC will support her goal of pursuing graduate studies in Social Work after completing her undergraduate degree. She views this internship as an opportunity to apply research skills that will be valuable in her future academic and professional endeavors.


Kenya Freeman

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; Elementary Education


Mentors: Ken Rafanan, Elise Levin-Guracar, and Nuria Jaumot-Pascual

Kenya's interest in interning at TERC was sparked by her curiosity about the research aspect of education and a desire to broaden her educational scope. During her interview, she emphasized her desire to be part of something larger than herself.

"I see this opportunity as a significant step in my educational journey, one that will expose me to new possibilities beyond my current boundaries," she says.

Kenya hopes to gain insights into effectively meeting the educational needs of young African American students, tailoring her approach to their unique circumstances. She is deeply passionate about the project she is working on and aspires for her work to inspire young girls who share her background.

"I want them to know that their dreams should be as big as to move them to tears, and if not, to dream even bigger," she says. "Whether they find themselves in maker spaces or the world of entrepreneurship, I want to encourage them to pursue their passions relentlessly and never settle for anything less."

Tadea Martin-Gonzalez

Yale University; American Studies, certificates in Education Studies and Climate Science and Solutions

Tadea-Martin-Gonzalez-headshots Tadea-Martin-Gonzalez

Mentors: Karen Mutch-Jones and Audrey Martinez-Guadapakkam 
Project: Enhancing and Empowering: Doing the Math with Paraeducators

Tadea pursued an internship at TERC to combine her passions for community knowledge, social justice, and STEM education. She often felt frustrated by the lack of equity conversations in STEM education so TERC's approach resonated deeply with her.

"As someone who once left STEM because of what felt like omnipresent inaccessibility, I found my way back by working to prevent others from feeling the same way," Tadea explained.

Her experience as a pedagogical partner for a math professor at the undergraduate level shifted her vision of creating an accessible and supportive classroom, reigniting her passion for building community in educational settings. She saw the Doing the Math with Paraeducators project as a powerful embodiment of these ideals and was thrilled to join TERC.

Tadea is excited to learn the intricacies of conducting equity-focused research and gaining insights from her principal investigators, fellow interns, and paraprofessionals.

She values the opportunity to understand what drives her colleagues in their work and the lessons they have learned along the way. Tadea was particularly impressed by the innovative approaches to data collection and research at TERC.

"I have already learned so much about innovative approaches to data collection and research that put the community first," she added, reflecting on her positive experiences thus far.

Emily Amspoker

Carnegie Mellon University, Human-Computer Interaction

Emily-Armspoker-headshots Emily-Armspoker

Mentors: Teon Edwards and Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki
Project: UniVRsal Access

With a background primarily in technology-focused research projects, Emily sought an opportunity that concentrated specifically on education research. "I knew I wanted to do research related to educational technology," she shared, "but I wanted to work at a place that focused specifically on education research."

Emily was particularly drawn to the UniVRsal Access project at TERC, which aims to create a game for neurodiverse learners in an informal and exploratory setting. "I wanted to intern at TERC because I wanted to do research in educational technology for neurodiverse learners," she explained. The project's innovative approach to creating inclusive learning experiences resonated deeply with her aspirations.

Through this internship, Emily hopes to gain valuable insights into creating empowering and accessible educational experiences for diverse groups of learners.

"Since all of the research in the program focuses on education through a social justice lens, I also hope to learn more about how to research education from a critically conscious and culturally aware perspective," she said.

Pursuing a minor in Game Design and Design for Learning, Emily is eager to synthesize and apply her coursework skills in a research setting, enhancing her ability to develop impactful educational technologies.


Make sure you're on our email list to receive updates about the interns and read blog posts about their experiences at TERC and with their mentors. Sign up here.

You can also learn about our first cohort of REU interns here. 

Summer REU Interns Join TERC to Advance Equity in STEM
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Summer REU Interns Join TERC to Advance Equity in STEM

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