The Learning Design Group is made up of educators, researchers, curriculum and assessment specialists, scientists, and engineers who work collaboratively to design, test, and disseminate innovative and teacher-friendly materials. Here is a little bit more about who we are.

“Our team members will always be educators at heart.”

Teaching from PreK to post-secondary in both formal and informal settings, the experiences of our Learning Designers are incredibly diverse. We take pride in the fact that we understand kids. This is reflected in our curriculum, as we design with students in mind and draw from the rich insights of our educators.

“We push the boundaries of the educational frontier.”

Our research specialists conduct studies that investigate our curricular approaches. As members of the University of California, Berkeley academic community, our researchers make ongoing contributions to the field that impact teaching and learning in meaningful ways.

“We believe that curriculum isn’t just written, it’s designed.”

Our Learning Designers plan and build curricular materials using multiple sources of input, including knowledge of best teaching practices, research-based evidence, scientific knowledge, and cutting-edge assessment practices.

“We develop learning trajectories to model the growth of student understanding over time and to guide a sequence of instruction that builds towards a deep understanding of the science content.”

Our assessment specialists use these trajectories to create diagnostic assessments that reflect student progress toward understanding in order to give teachers clear rationale for formative feedback and for instructional next steps. We are also working toward collecting evidence of student thinking unobtrusively, as they engage in digital learning experiences.

“We don’t assume that students know how to read science text, write science explanations, or engage in scientific argumentation.”

Our literacy specialists ensure that all students are prepared to make sense of complex disciplinary texts and engage in writing and arguing in evidence-based ways—like scientists.

“Real scientists and engineers designing experiences that immerse students in authentic investigations and design challenges.”

We create curricula that allows students to discover how science and design thinking are relevant to their lives and communities. Our Learning Designers, some of whom were formerly working science and engineering professionals, contribute a unique conceptual breadth and depth to our materials.

Team Members

  • Rebecca Abbott
  • Professional Development Specialist
  • rebabbott@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 666-3756
  • Rebecca Abbott is a Professional Development Specialist for The Learning Design Group. She provides support for teachers and district leaders implementing Learning Design Group approaches and curriculum, particularly with the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® elementary program. She taught elementary school for 17 years in the Bay Area, including serving as a K–5 English Learner/Literacy specialist and early reading intervention teacher in Oakland. She holds a BS in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree in Education from San Francisco State University with a focus on English learners’ language development.

  • Jacqueline Barber
  • Director, The Learning Design Group
  • jbarber@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-2336
  • Director and Principal Investigator of The Learning Design Group, Jacqueline Barber also serves as Associate Director of Lawrence Hall of Science. In that role, she leads the Lawrence Hall of Science Center for Curriculum Development and Implementation, home to more than a dozen active science curriculum programs. She has been developing increasingly educative curriculum materials for the past 28 years. She is the PI, along with P. David Pearson, of the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® program. Ms. Barber will lead the development of the intervention, the recruitment, and coordination of the project.

  • Alison K. Billman
  • 1G2L Grant PI/Research Specialist
  • alison_billman@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Website
  • Alison Billman is a Research Specialist for The Learning Design Group. She provides leadership for research and development of the integrated science and literacy curriculum for kindergarten and first grade as well as coordinating other research efforts for the team. She is Principal Investigator for an Institute of Educational Sciences grant focused on the development of integrated science and literacy curriculum for first grade and for the Spencer Foundation grant examining the design of science informational texts for beginning readers. Her background includes 14 years of teaching first grade. She holds a Masters of Elementary Education from University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro and a PhD in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University.

  • Lauren Brodsky
  • Assessment Lead
  • brodsky@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Lauren Brodsky is the Assessment Lead for The Learning Design Group. She worked first with The Learning Design Group as a science developer on the GEMS® Curriculum Sequences before going to England to do research focused on the use of mathematics in science education, and on the implementation of new high school qualifications for the government of the United Kingdom. She returned, excited to focus on a formative assessment system to support student learning. She has a BS in Planetary Geophysics from Brown University and an MS in Educational Research Methodology from Oxford University.

  • Ashley Lawrence Chase
  • Student Content Director
  • achase@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Ashley Chase is the Student Content Director for The Learning Design Group. She oversees a wide range of text and multimedia projects, including student books, digital reference collections, articles, animations, and video interviews. She has more than two decades of experience in writing and editing diverse materials, from children's fiction to museum exhibit text to grammar textbooks. She was formerly editor of California Chronicles, a history magazine for 4th-8th graders published by Cobblestone. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University.

  • Jonathan Anderson Curley
  • Middle School Science Lead
  • curley@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Jonathan Curley is the Middle School Science Lead for The Learning Design Group. He has been developing curriculum at the Lawrence Hall of Science since 2006. Previously, he taught elementary school for four years in bilingual classrooms in Richmond, CA. Jonathan majored in Environmental Studies and Sociology at Oberlin College. After graduating, he received a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to spend a year in rural Latin America studying children's games and local environmental issues and creating related environmental education games. His areas of expertise include curriculum design for English Language Learners, Ecology, and Ocean Sciences.

  • Megan M. Goss
  • Middle School Literacy Lead
  • mgoss@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Megan Goss is the Middle School Literacy Lead for The Learning Design Group. She is a former elementary teacher and earned a PhD in Education in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of California, Berkeley. Megan was a lead author for the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® units Gravity and Magnetism, Variation and Adaptation, Digestion and Body Systems, Weather and Water, Models of Matter, Chemical Changes, and Aquatic Ecosystems. She has also authored several student books.

  • Eric Greenwald
  • Director of Assessment & Analytics
  • eric.greenwald@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Eric Greenwald is the Director of Assessment & Analytics for The Learning Design Group. He also serves as Co-Principal Investigator, in collaboration with the National Writing Project and SRI, on a Department of Education grant to support teacher practice in evidence-based science writing. Before coming to the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2014, he was a Research Analyst at SRI where he helped lead a number of studies in STEM teaching and learning, assessment, and digital learning. He also taught math and science in public high schools for 6 years. He holds a PhD in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University, a Masters in Science Education and teaching certificate from Teachers College Columbia University, and a BA in Chemistry from Indiana University.

  • Ari Krakowski
  • Digital Apps Lead
  • akrakowski@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Website
  • Ari Krakowski is the Digital Apps Lead for The Learning Design Group. She leads the team in developing simulations and creating supporting science content. She earned her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Molecular Cell Biology, researching cell signaling, gene expression, and cancer biology. Ari is a former community college biology professor and environmental educator. She earned her BS in Natural Resources at Humboldt State University and an MA from San Francisco State University.

  • Suzanna (Suzy) Loper
  • Middle School Curriculum Director
  • sjloper@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Suzy Loper is the Middle School Curriculum Director for The Learning Design Group. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for a National Science Foundation grant focused on supporting teachers in teaching about scientific argumentation. She is the author of a number of teacher's guides and student books for the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® elementary program. Before coming to the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2006, she was a middle and high school science teacher in public schools. She holds a BS in Physics from Yale University and a PhD in Science Education from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Ryan Montgomery
  • Analytics Lead
  • rmontgom@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Website
  • Ryan Montgomery is the Analytics Lead for The Learning Design Group. Ryan's previous experience includes positions as a Machine Learning Consultant, a Curricular Data Analyst, and an undergraduate Astronomy Lecturer. Ryan earned his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his BS in Physics from the University of California, San Diego.

  • Karen Nelson
  • Project Manager
  • karenenelson@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-3757
  • Website
  • Karen Nelson is the Project Manager and Research Analyst for The Learning Design Group. She earned a MA in Practicing Sociology and Teaching Sociology, a BA in Sociology and is currently working on her PMP degree. Her professional background is comprised of six years of experience in higher education. Foci include research design and evaluation, institutional/collegiate administrative research, development, implementation and assessment of student learning outcomes, assessment and evaluation strategic planning, grant writing and evaluations, accreditation standards and compliance as well as two years of teaching experience.

  • Carissa Romano
  • Senior Curriculum Specialist
  • cromano@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Carissa Romano joined The Learning Design Group as a Curriculum Specialist in 2011. She develops middle school science curriculum with a particular focus on the development and integration of digital tools such as simulations and modeling tools. She is a graduate of Oberlin College where she studied Biology and Chemistry, and holds a MA in Education from UC Berkeley. Carissa spent eight years as a high school science teacher in Hayward and Oakland.

  • Karin Marie Rosman
  • Chief of Staff
  • krosman@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7753
  • Karin Rosman is the Chief of Staff for The Learning Design Group. She is the former education director of the Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) teacher fellowship program and served on the national replication team. She is a co-founder of several environmental advocacy and education groups and former campaign coordinator for the Headwaters Forest Coordinating Committee. She has a degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an MPA with an emphasis on organizational change.

  • Elizabeth Shafer
  • Elementary Literacy Lead
  • elizabeth_shafer@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Elizabeth Shafer is the Elementary Literacy Lead for The Learning Design Group. She has worked extensively on Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® units for grades 3–5 and taught second and third grades for a number of years in Oakland, California. Elizabeth is a graduate of Yale University and holds an MA in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Jennifer Tilson
  • Elementary Curriculum Director
  • jtilson@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-7771
  • Jennifer Tilson is the Elementary Curriculum Director for The Learning Design Group. She is a co-author of many of the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® teachers’ guides, strategy guides, and student books. In addition, she has worked with teachers nationwide to help them implement the Seeds/Roots approach in their classrooms. Jennifer previously taught first and second grade in a bilingual immersion school San Francisco, and has experience as a reading and writing tutor for students in grades K–8. She holds an MA in Literacy Education from the University of California, Berkeley and an undergraduate degree in English from Wellesley College.

  • Traci K. Wierman
  • Curriculum Implementation Network Director
  • twierman@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 642-2014
  • Traci Wierman leads the curriculum implementation efforts for the various programs that comprise The Learning Design Group's portfolio, including: Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading®, AfterSchool KidzScience, and Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS). Traci has been involved with both formal and informal education during her 30–year career, using Lawrence Hall of Science–developed materials in countless ways. She enjoyed 17 years as public school teacher, during which she helped found one of the first 100 charter schools in the state of California. In addition, Traci spent 9 years, 4 of those as the Director of Education and Community Outreach, working to design and deliver inter-disciplinary programs for Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

  • Cameron Kate Yahr
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • ckyahr@berkeley.edu
  • +1 510 666-3763
  • Website
  • Cameron Kate Yahr is the Chief Operations Officer for The Learning Design Group. She brings to the team experience in non-profit management, a BA in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.