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Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching & Agency

DELTA Graduate Students

Profile of Ashita Bawankule

Ashita Bawankule

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Ashita is a MSE (Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education) Master’s student in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research interests include equity in makerspaces and engineering education. She is currently working on a makerspace-oriented project with Dr. Mike Tissenbaum to study female involvement in makerspaces. She also works with various projects in the WYSE department of Grainger School of Engineering, to engage pre-college, minority students in engineering education.

Profile of Christina Cail-Lewandowski

Christina Cail-Lewandowski

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Christina is a doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction department, with a concentration in the DELTA program at the University of Illinois. Previously, Christina was a middle school science teacher, then principal for several years until she found her calling in educational technology. She currently works as an Technology Innovative Specialist in a school district. She is passionate about the various theories and frameworks regarding learning technology in complex school systems. Her research lies in the educational technology leader and what does this person do to support and promote teacher’s pedagogical practices for school improvement.

Profile of Sourabh Garg

Sourabh Garg

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Sourabh is a PhD student in DELTA program interested in improvising the efficiency of formal and informal after-school learning (homework). His research inclination is towards the impacts of technology-rich after-school learning environments on cognitive abilities like academic achievement, visualizing, and retaining learning as well as learning experiences like interest, engagement and motivation. He believes homework to be a playful extension of classroom learning, not just a burden.

Profile of Brian Guerrero

Brian Guerrero

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Brian is a PhD student interested in the intersection of video games and education. Currently investigating the collaborative learning processes encountered in MMORPG raiding groups.

Profile of Shafagh Hadinezhad

Shafagh Hadinezhad

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Shafagh is a Ph.D. student in DELTA. Given her background in industrial design and her interest in design for social justice and equity in education, she is dedicated to designing diverse and inclusive learning environments internationally through human-centered approaches. To provide education for everyone considering their individual differences and their access to technology, Shafagh is interested in exploring the use of gestures and multisensory techniques in education. Learn more at

Profile of Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Kevin is a PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction centered around Digital Environments for Learning Teaching and Agency (DELTA). Kevin was a 6-12 grade science teacher as well as curriculum developer. He is currently a research assistant with the Progressing through the Ages: Global climate change, Evolution, and Societal well-being (PAGES) and Connected Spaces research projects, as well as working with the Formative, Automated Assessment of Student Thinking (FAAST) project. Kevin's current focus is connected to issues of equity in STEM.

Profile of Rodrigo Hidalgo

Rodrigo Hidalgo

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Rodrigo Hidalgo is a Fulbright Scholar and a PhD student in the DELTA program. His professional background is in game design and visual anthropology. His research focuses on examining the potential and constraints of digital game-based learning in various sociocultural contexts, including the global south. With more than a decade of work in the gaming industry, Rodrigo was motivated to investigate the possibilities of "play" in the educational context because of this experience and his studies in cultural anthropology.

Profile of Sam Hum

Sam Hum

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Sam Hum is a PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in the DELTA program. His research interests include the application of AI and pedagogical agents to promote equity in STEM education. Sam’s current work with Dr. Lane aims to nurture STEM interest with underrepresented students in Minecraft.

Profile of Sophie Liu

Sophie Liu

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Sophie Liu is a PhD student in the DELTA program. Her research interest broadly lies in educational data mining and learning analytics where data science methods are applied to help improve learning and teaching efficiency. She is working on investigation of undergraduates’ debugging strategies with Dr. Luc Paquette.

Profile of Josh Katz

Josh Katz

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Josh Katz is a Ph.D. student in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in DELTA. He has an interdisciplinary background in teaching technology and engineering courses and general STEM education classes. Josh's research focuses on how team contracts impact the collaborative environment in a group engineering design project. Another project he is working on is with graduate teaching assistants and making them effective instructors within service-learning applications around the Champaign-Urbana area.

Profile of Taehyun Kim

Taehyun Kim

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Taehyun Kim is a Ph.D. student in the Curriculum & Instruction department at UIUC. His research focused on how the body-based interactions with immersive media (e.g., virtual reality) can facilitate complex understanding of STEM learning contents, and how the media can be adequately designed to include these types of interactions.
Profile of Emma Kirby

Emma Kirby

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Emma is a graduate student in the College of Education (COE) at UIUC in the DELTA program. Broadly, she is interested in science education in rural areas and how students perceive and process science both in formal (classrooms) and informal settings (zoos, museums, parks, etcetera).

Profile of Juan Pinto

Juan Pinto

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Juan Pinto is a Ph.D. student in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching, and Agency (DELTA). His research specializes in educational data science, adaptive learning systems, and the use of machine learning in educational settings. Learn more at
Profile of James Planey

James Planey

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

James Planey is a second year graduate student interested in immersive technologies, their potential to enhance science teaching and learning, and challenges to their implementation in the classroom. James has previous experience in both formal and informal learning, having worked as a field biologist, nature educator, high school biology teacher, and educational technology coordinator. James is a member of the EmIT Group under the direction of Dr. Robb Lindgren.
Profile of Robin Jephthah Rajarathinam

Robin Jephthah Rajarathinam

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Robin Jephthah Rajarathinam is a Ph.D. student in the DELTA program. His background is in mechanical engineering and education. His research interests broadly focus on collaborative learning in engineering classroom contexts. To this end, his primary focus is on how learning analytics can help understand and develop meaningful collaborative learning experiences for students.

Profile of Akash Saini

Akash Saini

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Akash is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Design and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is interested in investigating the pedagogical benefits of employing Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) in a mathematics classroom and exploring the relationship between their affordances with assessments. His research and practice focus on developing, designing, exploring, and testing digital tools (such as VR, Games, etc.) to facilitate learning and provide specialized instructions, training, and guidance for integrating such technologies into educational practices.

Profile of Casey Smith

Casey Smith

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Casey Smith is a Ph.D student in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests involve cross-domain collaborations in post-secondary makerspaces. Casey’s work with Dr. Mike Tissenbaum in the DELTA program aims to explore technologies for improving student cross-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge awareness.
Profile of Anastasia Tzirides

Anastasia Tzirides

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Anastasia-Olga (Olnancy) Tzirides is a PhD candidate in the Learning Design and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on exploring the potential of using digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence combined with a multimodal and translanguaging approach to language learning.
Profile of Grace Yun

Grace Yun

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Grace Yun is a Ph.D student in the Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning (CSTL) division of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her current research interests include examining the role of gestures in technology to enhance STEM learning especially for those who are minority, low-income, and first-generation college students.

Profile of Litong Zeng

Litong Zeng

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Litong Zeng is a Ph.D. student, in Digital Environment for Teaching and Learning Agency, Curriculum and Instruction Department. Her research interests include collaborative learning with distributed intelligence, embodiment learning with haptic devices, VR/AR immersive environment and simulations.

Profile of Jing Zhang

Jing Zhang

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Jing is a doctoral student in DELTA. She has an interdisciplinary background in instructional technology, educational psychology, and educational data mining. Driven by her interests in understanding the learning experience in immersive environments that teach complex STEM concepts, she is working on research topics such as collaborative learning and augmented reality. To her, studying how people think and learn is fascinating. Apart from research, Jing loves cello, cycling, and tea.

Profile of Rachel Zhou

Rachel Zhou

Graduate Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Rachel Zhou is a PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in the DELTA program. Her research interest lies in learning analytics and data-driven decision-making to understand the student's behaviors and better support learners as well as instructors. She is currently working on the CEASAR project with Dr. Jina Kang to explore collaborative learning in an astronomy simulation platform.

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