bio

Who am I?

I'm a science education consultant with a passion for communicating science. I'm also a researh associate and outreach coordinator at the University of Colorado at Boulder Physics Education Research Group and Science Education Initiative, studying student learning in physics courses and and communicating educational practices to K12 and college teachers.

Here's my resume and information about my current clients.


"Coring" a cake at the Exploratorium in a live webcast on polar science

Articles about me

I've had a unique career path, so here are a few articles about my travels:

Seeking the Warm Spot: A nonlinear career in writing and education. Article about my career transitions on the international Agora blog from L'Oreal Foundation. (2012)

STEMinist Profile. Short outline of my career on blog about women in science. (2012)

Educators that Rock. Profiled for series in findingEducation. (2010).

How a Scientist Becomes a Science Writer: Article I wrote for the National Science Writers Association website about my career. (2010)

Spotlight on Hidden Physicists: Stephanie Chasteen. Radiations magazine of Sigma Pi Sigma (The Physics Honors Society). (2009).

American Physical Society interview, for Forum on Graduate Affairs, detailing my career and my advice to other people seeking alternative careers in science. (2007)

Short bio

Dr. Chasteen is currently a Science Teaching Fellow in the Science Education Initiative at the University of Colorado and an independent consultant to a variety of innovative science education programs. She has a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics, and extensive expertise in science education and education reform through coursework and professional experience. She previously held a postdoctoral appointment at the Exploratorium Museum of Science in which she developed and taught professional development workshops in science inquiry to K12 teachers. At the University of Colorado, she has researched student understanding and developed course materialat to better teach junior-level students the skills and habits of mind that are expected of budding physicists. Her recent projects focus on communicating best teaching practices (as supported by research) to practicing K-16 educators, including workshops, videos, and podcasts. She has presented extensively to K-14 audiences on the use of clickers and peer instruction, learning goals, and cognitive science.

Long Bio

I have an undergraduate degree in social psychology, a PhD in physics, extensive experience in science journalism, radio, and podcasting, and took a stint in the Peace Corps in West Africa. I'm a mutt. And a happy one.

I grew up among the trees in rural New Hampshire, and quickly fled to the trees of rural New York, where she studied social psychology at Bard College. I was originally a physics major, but felt discouraged by my perception that the classes were easier for the other people (all men). I later found out that I was one of the best students in the class my freshman year, but my advisor didn't want to pressure me and so didn't encourage me to continue in physics. A real shame. I kept studying science and math while finishing my social psychology degree, and realized that I wanted to learn more physics. I'm glad that I took the Social Psychology degree, however, as it gave me a broad perspective on people and learning that helped me later in my career. I feel I had a well-rounded education.

I then applied for graduate studies in physics. I finished my doctorate in condensed matter physics (i.e. material science) at UC Santa Cruz in 2005. My doctoral research focussed on making cheaper solar energy using photovoltaics made of semiconducting plastics

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Along the way, I spent two years in the Peace Corps in french-speaking Guinea, West Africa, where I ate a lot of rice, taught a few people about AIDS and sanitation, and got acquainted with various microscopic local flora and fauna. Leaving Guinea proved just as traumatic as arriving there, and to keep connected I helped found Friends of Guinea -- a nonprofit linking returned Peace Corps volunteers and funding development projects in Guinea.

While in graduate school, I fiddled around a lot in science education, through science fairs, tutoring and teaching, coursework, rehashing of undergrad lab manuals, and other such delights. I also worked as a freelance science journalist, amassing a little list of publications on a variety of topics such as evolutionary biology, light propagation, and AIDS. I spent the summer of 2003 as a AAAS Mass Media Fellow at National Public Radio in Washington DC. This was a transformative experience, as I learned how to write short, and accurately, and got to shadow amazing reporters on the job. I also became an audio addict, and later used these skills to create audio podcasts.

After graduate school, I took a postdoctoral position at the Exploratorium Museum of Science in San Francisco, as part of a new NSF program to teach scientists to do public education. Below is a photo of me with the other postdocs at the museum.

While at the Exploratorium, I worked with my mentor and friend Paul Doherty, created and taught hands-on science workshops for teachers, wrote and produced podcasts, and had too much fun for words.

When I'm not engaged in compulsive reorganization, I can usually be found on the dance floor -- I dance contra, waltz, swing, zydeco, and 19th century ballroom. I'm an avid rock climber and canyoneer. I like hiking, cats, building webpages, Johnny Cash, and the color blue. I live with my husband and two cats in Boulder, Colorado.

For more about me, check out my (extensive) personal homepage.