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.
Veronica Garcia-Luis's scope of evaluation work includes exhibit development, public programming, orientation and wayfinding, and audience development. Before joining the Exploratorium in 1997, Veronica was a museum educator at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History in Los Angeles, where she explored object-based programming with a wide range of audiences. She then went on to receive her MA in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University in 1997, where she investigated how museums can create effective partnerships with urban Latino families. Veronica is very enthusiastic about creating accessible learning environments for diverse audiences.
Nina Hido's work involves research on learning in informal environments with a focus on the evaluation of exhibits and programs to improve the experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. These projects include the Science of Sharing, The Tinkering Studio Learning Dimensions Framework, the Geometry Playground exhibition, and the Active Prolonged Engagement (APE) set of exhibits. Nina is especially interested in how intuitive design can create accessible learning experiences. Nina holds a BA in psychology from UC San Diego. Nina's favorite childhood pastime was to quietly observe the behavior of those around her and she feels fortunate to spend her days working to understand and assess the nature of learning and play at the museum.
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.
Meghan Kroning earned an MA in 2014 in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University with a focus on visitor-centric organizational practices. Her thesis explored how museums' internal culture and values affect the quality of services for visitors. Shortly thereafter, Meghan began working with the Exploratorium on the Exhibit Design for Girls' Engagement (EDGE) project. She has since devoted her keen attention to detail and passion for crafting positive museum experiences to other research studies, exhibit evaluations, wayfinding projects, and behind-the-scenes support.
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.
Ashley Davis’s work involves organizing and systematizing the experiences within the Visitor Research and Evaluation department. She’s interested in creating platforms and protocols that invite people to explore and work toward their greatest potential. Prior to joining the Exploratorium, Ashley worked on supporting community and youth development programs while holding leadership positions within the YMCA of Los Angeles and Greater Grand Rapids as well as City Year Denver. Her work included co-collaborating with state analysts to strengthen program delivery, partnering with local organizations to expand program offerings, and overseeing administrative operations. Ashley is especially excited to foster an environment where learning and creating continue to be a deep inspiration for staff and visitors.
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.