Several MST Professors have won grants in the past two years for some extremely innovative and important research. We’re proud of these accomplishments and wanted to take a moment to share a bit about these projects! 


Paulo Blikstein (Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design)

Professor Paulo Blikstein won grants from both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the European Union Horizon Research & Innovation Programme in 2020. The NSF awarded Professor Blikstein a nearly $2 million grant to support a project titled “From Access to Sustainability: Investigating Ways to Foster Sustainable Use of Computational Modeling in K-12 Science Classrooms (A2S),” which investigates how to support engagement in computational modeling in middle school classrooms. The second grant has supported the “Make it Open” Project, which connects the work of the maker movement with inquiry-based approaches of science education to support open schooling in Europe. Both of these projects are done in partnership with the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab and are extensions of Professor Blikstein’s work studying emancipatory learning technologies and democratizing powerful learning opportunities. 


Nathan Holbert (Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design)

In 2021, Professor Nathan Holbert won a $1.5 million grant from the NSF to support the Connected Spaces Project. This project seeks to develop digital tools for middle and high schoolers to collaborate with mentors and peers on maker projects. The project is a collaboration between Professor Holbert and Michael Tissenbaum, an Assistant Professor with the University of Illinois College of Education, in partnership with Professor Holbert’s Snow Day Learning Lab and the Brooklyn-based, STEM-focused non-profit, the Beam Center. Professor Holbert’s work explores the uses of play and constructionist learning in diverse contexts, and building out such a robust resource for maker-based knowledge construction is an innovative implementation of the theories and practices he continues to develop and advocate for. You can learn more about Connected Spaces in this article from the TC Newsroom


Irina Lyublinskaya & Alexander Karp (Mathematics Education)

MST Professors Irina Lyublinskaya and Alexander Karp recently won a grant from the Bolashak Program for a STEM Education Research and Practice program for faculty from Kazakhstan. This program will support 8 STEM faculty from Suleyman Demirel University in Almaty, Kazakhstan to visit TC for a year beginning in July 2022. These visiting scholars will engage in a custom-made series of professional opportunities with a focus on developing their capabilities in both effective teaching in their discipline and education research. We look forward to welcoming these scholars to the MST Department and wider TC Community this summer!


Irina Lyublinskaya, Sandra Okita, & Erica Walker (Mathematics Education, Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design, & Mathematics Education)

Professors Irina Lyublinskaya, Sandra Okita, and Erica Walker recently won a $1.3 million grant from the NSF for a project titled “Promoting urban Black and Latinx children’s learning and interest in mathematics through culturally relevant robot coding activities.” The goal of this project is to program to increase the interest and improve achievement in mathematics of New York City Black and Latinx students in 1st-3rd grades. It will engage urban Black and Latinx elementary school students in short, culturally relevant robot-coding activities. 


Ellen Meier (Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design)

Professor Ellen Meier’s ongoing work in the Center for Technology & School Change (CTSC) is supported by Systemic Transformation for Inquiry Learning Environments for STEM (STILE) grants from the NSF. In 2020, CTSC received its third consecutive STILE grant for $3 million. In “recognizing technology as a catalyst for transforming instruction, the Center engages in research and practice to reimagine approaches to equitable education in the digital age” ( The work done under this grant is both research and practice-based, as CTSC professionals work with teachers to implement backward design and survey and understand their experiences as educators implementing STEM curricula. 


Detra Price-Dennis (Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design)

In 2020, Professor Detra Price-Dennis received a grant from the Spencer Foundation to fund “Pedagogies of Possibility: Exploring Culturally Responsive Education during COVID-19,” a study which she is conducting in collaboration with her #JustLit Project team. This work aims to understand the experiences of K-12 teachers and the difficulties they faced transitioning their culturally responsive teaching practices into online learning environments during the pandemic. After conducting their study, the team was able to share their findings during a virtual town hall just this past November. As we continue to try to understand the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on educators and students, the results of this research will become increasingly important.



Jessica Riccio (Science Education) 

Jessica Riccio won an NSF grant for her project titled “Building Capacity for Cross-site Research on Promoting Noticing for Equity and Equitable Science Teaching Practice through Video Analysis.” The project will serve the national need of building capacity to develop equitable and effective science teaching practice by investigating the use of video analysis tasks in teacher preparation through a cross-site, longitudinal study focused on STEM teacher effectiveness and retention in high-needs schools. The COVID-19 pandemic gives new urgency to video analysis as large numbers of teacher educators now use digital libraries of classroom video cases in lieu of traditional field experiences in PK-12 schools. In addition, current social events give increased saliency to how teachers are prepared to enact equitable, justice-oriented, culturally responsive, and linguistically-sustaining pedagogies.

This project will involve a collaboration of science teacher educators from seven partnering universities: Vanderbilt University, Texas State University San Marcos, Teachers College Columbia University, West Chester University, University of Northern Iowa, Florida International University, and Kennesaw State University.



Erica Walker (Mathematics Education) 

Professor Erica Walker was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the NSF for her “Storytelling for Mathematics Learning and Engagement” project in 2020. As a part of this project, Professor Walker and her team will collect and curate digital stories of mathematicians from typically marginalized backgrounds. These will come in the form of short videos, which will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories for teachers to use to students to images of diverse people telling their stories about their doing and knowing of mathematics. Like much of Professor Walker’s work, this project aims to improve equity and access to more inclusive, rigorous mathematics curricula through culturally responsive teaching. In the past, she has even partnered with MST’s Media & Social Change Lab to produce a podcast episode highlighting the stories of Black mathematicians at the National Association of Mathematicians conference!