Carmel Research Group


May 18, 2021

Congratulations to undergrad researcher Ingrid Lopez for being selected as a 2021 DEI Global Learning Fellow through FIU’s Office of Global Learning Initiatives! The fellowship will provide some funding for Ingrid to work on her project that will investigate the experiences of males, females, and gender non-binary students in chemistry and how those experiences have affected their identity as a chemistry person. Well done!

April 30, 2021

Congratulations to two CRG members who graduated today! Group members Jake Carrier and German Mejia graduated with their BS in Chemistry. They’ve BOTH been accepted to FIU to start doctoral programs in the fall! Jake will be starting a PhD in Chemistry Education Research and German will be starting a PhD in Biochemistry. So proud of these two CRG alumni!

Spring 2021

COVID and remote teaching took its hold, but there have been a number of additions to the CRG! This semester we welcomed a number of new undergraduate researchers.

Daniela Martinez, Viviana Montalti, Ingrid Lopez, and George Rophail

Please join me in welcoming them all to the group! Head on over to the Research Team page to learn more about them.

November 22, 2020

The Carmel Research Group is excited to welcome Giselle Castano to the group! Giselle is an FIU alum and has joined our Chemistry Education Research PhD Track. Check out Giselles’s bio on the Research Team page to learn more about her research project.

Spring 2020

The Carmel Research Group would love to welcome Amy Rios, Jake Carrier, and German Mejia to the group! Check out their bios on the Research Team page to learn more about them.

November 18, 2019

The Carmel Research Group is thrilled to (re-) welcome Edi Villar to the group! Edi has been an undergraduate researcher for almost two years, but is now a graduate student in our Chemistry Education Research PhD Track. Check out Edi’s bio on the Research Team page to learn more about his research project.

September 12, 2019

Justin was invited to speak at Nazareth College’s Alumni and Reunion Weekend. He was thrilled to be able to share what he has been up to in the 10 years(!) since graduating from Nazareth’s chemistry program! Great time for reconnecting with familiar faces and meeting the students currently in the program.

July 29, 2019

Norda was accepted to and attended the ACS Postdoc to Faculty (P2F) Workshop helping her to further prepare for a career in academia!

July 22, 2019

Norda was accepted to and attended the CER Postdoc and Graduate Student Conference held at Miami University in Oxford, OH. This was a great time for her to meet other CER graduate students and postdocs and learn valuable lessons for her future career as a researcher!

June 21, 2019

Justin and Norda attended and presented their work at the Gordon Research Conference for Chemistry Education Research and Practice. The GRC was held at Bates College in Lewiston, ME.

May 31, 2019

Justin was a facilitator at the Cottrell Scholars’ Collaborative National Graduate Teaching Assistant Workshop! He presented workshops on how to develop/mold a graduate TA’s identity as a TA and how to assess curricular transformations in the laboratory.

March 31, 2019

The Carmel Research Group will be out in full force at this years ACS National Meeting in Orlando! Make sure to stop by one of our ten (!) presentations highlighting the research happenings of the group.

Sunday 3/31

10:10 – 10:30 AM: George’s Talk – Being black and being a chemistry person: Parallel development of students’ identities.  (Conv. Center W311D)

1:55 – 2:15 PM: Dr. Uma Swamy’s Talk – Incorporation of a project-based lab curriculum into hybrid and online chemistry labs for non-science majors (Conv. Center W311B)

2:45 – 3:35 PM: Justin’s HS Program Workshop – Supporting and assessing molecular-level sensemaking. (Conv. Center W315A)

7:00 – 9:00 PM: DivCHED Poster Session:

  • Natalie’s Poster – Chemistry with friends: Investigating students’ social interaction networks in an active learning general chemistry course
  • John’s Poster – Exploring students’ attitudes and identities in a non-STEM majors chemistry laboratory.
  • Andrew’s Poster – Flipping the switch: Insights gained on how to retain chemistry majors.

Wednesday 4/3

9:15 – 9:35 AM: Edi’s Talk – Designing and evaluating a project-based, acid-base experiment that incorporates the scientific practices. (Conv. Center W312B)

3:10 – 3:35: Norda’s Talk – Exploring students’ proficiency with selected scientific practices in traditional and reformed laboratory environments. (Conv. Center W312B)

3:35 – 3:55: Norda’s Talk – “I made an educated guess”: Students’ responses to scientific practices assessment task. (Conv. Center W312B)

Thursday 4/4

9:20 – 9:40 AM: Grace’s Talk – Exploring the student-home identity nexus for general chemistry students.

We’ll post pictures in the Gallery once we return! See you there!

March 28, 2019

Norda had a paper published! The article in the Journal of Chemical Education highlights her doctoral work on incorporating the Science Writing and Workshop Template into first-year chemistry lab courses. Way to go, Norda!

January 17, 2019

Justin and colleagues have published two manuscripts in the Journal of Chemical Education!

One article is a result of an invited symposium at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education and discusses how to support and grow the impact of the CER community.

The other is about the characterization of laboratory reform efforts and evaluation of classroom materials for evidence that students may engage with the Scientific Practices.

Check out the Publications page for links to the articles!

January 17, 2019

Justin and colleagues had a paper published! The article in Contemporary Educational Psychology investigates students’ identity development trajectories and their impacts on success and the pursuit of STEM careers.

January 3, 2019

With a hectic fall semester, the Carmel group grew again! Please join us in welcoming an undergraduate and a post-baccalaureate researcher:

Natalie Mendez was an LA with Justin this past year and was intrigued by the change in dynamic that re-arranging students in the classroom space produced. Natalie is using student-reported data to investigate the routes of communication within the classroom environments and any impact it had on success in the course.

John Vihlen has been a TA in the Chemistry department teaching our Chemistry and Society lab for a number of semesters. John is working with Justin and Dr. Uma Swamy on the re-design of the lab to make it more project-based and how to mitigate some of the issues transferring project-based activities to an online/at home environment.

Keep an eye out for the Carmel Research Group at the ACS National Meeting in Orlando this April. Everyone will be presenting their work in either a talk or a poster. More on this as things get scheduled, stay tuned!

Also, Justin and colleagues had a paper published in Science Advances. This article describes the change in instructor assessments over time as a result of a large-scale pedagogical change at Michigan State University, way to go!

August 8, 2018

The Carmel Research Group had a number of presentations at this year’s Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.

Norda gave a presentation titled Development and analysis of scientific practices assessment tasks for the chemistry laboratory. The talk highlighted the the development process for the assessment tasks and some preliminary data from their use with students.

Justin gave an invited talk with Dr. Marilyne Stains from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln titled I’m finally a doctor, what do I do now? The role of a post-doctoral experience in CER. This talk emphasized the impact of a postdoctoral experience and how it may shape one’s career.

Justin co-presented a talk with Dr. Uma Swamy from FIU titled Incorporation of a project-based lab curriculum into a hybrid chemistry lab for non-science majors. They discussed their work in transforming the non-science majors lab and how they may continue transforming the course moving forward.

If you’d like to more about any of the presentations given at BCCE, feel free to contact us!

April 30, 2018

Here we grow again!. Please join us in welcoming Andrew Casanova to the group as an undergraduate researcher. Check out his bio on the Team page to find out why Andrew chose ChemEd research!

April 17, 2018

Justin gave a research seminar at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, FL. His talk was titled “Developing Assessment Tasks for the Scientific Practices in a General Chemistry Laboratory Context

The Carmel Research Group has added another member! Please join us in welcoming George O’Dell to the group as an undergraduate researcher. George was a Learning Assistant for Justin this spring and has developed an interest in Chemistry Education Research. Check out his bio on the Team page to find out more about him.

March 19, 2018

Justin presented a talk at the ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, LA. His talk, titled “Developing assessment tasks for the scientific practices: Alignment, design, and testing” outlined the preliminary stages of task development for the Science Practices Assessment Project. Lots of great questions and excitement about the project!

February 9, 2018

Congratulations!! Justin and colleagues’ JChemEd publication “Adapting assessment tasks to support three-dimensional learning” was selected as Editor’s Choice in Science Magazine.

February 8, 2018

We’re still growing!  Join me in welcoming a post-baccalaureate researcher to our group, Delaney Serlin. Delaney completed her Bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. She will be continuing her work with Dr. Carmel in investigating students definitions of science and what a scientist is. Check out her bio on the Team page to see why Delaney chose to pursue ChemEd research!

January 16, 2018

The group continues to grow! Join me in welcoming two new members to the group!

Dr. Norda Stephenson has joined the group as a postdoc after completing her Ph.D. and working as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica. Norda will be working on the Lab Practices Assessment project.

Edian (Edi) Villar has joined the group as an undergraduate researcher. Edi will be working to develop and evaluate a project-based laboratory activity for use in our first-semester general chemistry lab.

Check out their bios on the Team page to find out more about them.

December 15, 2017

Justin’s work with his colleagues at FIU, Grand Valley State, and Michigan State had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Chemical Education, as well as be selected for ACS Editor’s Choice!

October 20, 2017

The research group is growing! Join me in welcoming our newest undergraduate researcher, Grace Leon-Lozano, to the team! Want to know more about why Grace chose to do ChemEd research? Check out her bio on the Team page!

August 20, 2017

Justin was invited to give a talk in the High School Program at the Fall ACS National Meeting in Washington, DC!  His talk was about the development of the glow-stick lab featured in the Journal of Chemical Education.

August 1, 2017

The Carmel Research Group is founded at FIU! Looking forward to great experiences! If you are interested in working in my research group, come see me in CP 334, or send me an email at

July 31, 2017

Justin has been awarded two NSF grants!

The first is with co-PIs Melanie Cooper (Michigan State University) and Deborah Herrington (Grand Valley State University) and will focus on the development of tasks to assess students ability to use Scientific Practices. (Award #1708506: Collaborative Research: Developing Items to Assess Students’ Understanding of Scientific Practices in Chemistry Laboratory Settings)

The second is part of a multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary grant that extends the work of a project that Dr. Carmel worked on while at Michigan State. He and his co-PI at FIU, Sonia Underwood, will be working to make a more coherent experience for those that enroll in the gateway STEM courses, through use of the scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. (Award #1725609: Collaborative Research: Extending a Coherent Gateway to STEM Teaching and Learning)