Josh Gutwill's work includes research on learning in informal environments as well as evaluation of exhibits and programs to improve visitors' experiences. He is interested in fostering and studying learners' self-directed inquiry in science museum settings through research that is jointly negotiated with museum practitioners. His recent projects include investigating exhibit designs that foster metacognition about social interactions, studying STEM learning during Making activities, and assessing the impact of science museum visitation on young adults' self-efficacy. Also serving as the Exploratorium's Human Subjects Protection Officer, Josh ensures that research and evaluation participants are treated ethically and respectfully in Exploratorium studies and has developed effective methods for gaining informed consent in informal environments. He received his PhD in science education from UC Berkeley in 1996.
Joyce Ma's work involves characterizing the visitor experience in order to inform exhibit and program development and better understand the nature of informal learning at our museum. She is interested in bringing her background in the learning sciences and in EECS to studying and developing ways of using advance technologies to support museum visitors and the visitor studies field. Joyce is the co-lead on several projects looking at machine learning, biotech, and data visualization in informal learning environments.
Meghan Kroning provides a wide range of support to the Visitor Research & Evaluation department. She received an MA in 2014 in Museum Studies, Management at San Francisco State University, where she explored the ways that internal culture and values impact the quality of services in museums. Shortly thereafter, she joined the Exploratorium for the Exhibit Designs for Girls' Engagement project. Meghan now applies her keen eye to detail, love of creating organized systems, and experience in evaluating free-choice learning environments to supporting VRE personnel and project management.
Rosario Sotelo assists with marketing research, mainly recruiting visitors to provide survey responses about their experience in the museum. Prior to joining the museum she was a customer service associate at the de Young Museum and a visitor services associate at the Mexican Museum both in San Francisco. Rosario holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her personal films have screened at the New York Film Festival, Laboratorio Arte Alameda in Mexico City, the REDCAT in Los Angeles, and Guatemala’s Biennial among other venues. Her film Recámara is part of the Exploratorium Film Collection.
Hsin-Yi Chien's work includes quantitative analyses of visitor experience at the Exploratorium, research on visitors’ learning experience at social science exhibits, and culturally responsive research methodology and exhibition design. Before joining the Exploratorium, she received her PhD in communication at the University of Maryland, where she investigated how culture and social group membership influence various forms of social interaction and the resulting intergroup relations. She has received training in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Her research interests involve social and cognitive psychology, intergroup and intercultural communication, and attitude change.
Jenn Shepard provides evaluation support for the development and adaptation of exhibits for Global Collaboration projects. Jenn holds an MS from the University of Minnesota in natural resource science and management, where they studied environmental attitudes and behavior change. As a research associate at the Center for Changing Landscapes, they studied climate change attitude development and supported program evaluation for the Backyard Phenology Project, a community science initiative. A former Arizmendi baker, Jenn is a firm believer that most lessons learned in the wee hours working over a hot oven also apply to exhibit evaluation.
Sylvia de la Piedra provides research and evaluation support for the development of Living Systems exhibits. Her work includes in-person and online culturally responsive evaluations of visitor experience, quantitative and qualitative analyses, and a deliberate inclusion of Latinx experiences, perspectives, and identities. She holds an MS in wildlife, aquatic, and wildlands science and management from Texas Tech University. Before joining the Exploratorium, Sylvia worked with NASA satellite technology to answer questions on wildlife responses to climate change. Her ecological research has taken her to the rainforests of Madagascar, across the expansive grasslands in Kenya, into the clear blue oceans of The Bahamas, and throughout the eastern and southern United States. She has continually been involved in science outreach and education, and her work at the Exploratorium allows her to continue learning how to best facilitate public engagement with science, art, and lifelong learning.
Julia Nee's work involves research and evaluation of exhibits and experiences in informal educational environments like the Exploratorium. She holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, where she designed, implemented, and evaluated informal language programs for learners of Zapotec, an Indigenous language of southern Mexico. Julia also worked as a researcher at Berkeley's Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, creating practical resources to help guide leaders in technology to develop equitable language practices in emerging artificial intelligence tools. Prior to her PhD studies, she taught English at the college level in Oaxaca, Mexico. Whether in her role as a linguist, educator, or evaluator, Julia is motivated to use language to build understanding among people with diverse viewpoints and experiences, and to then build on that understanding to create joyful educational experiences.