INAUGURAL
X-DBER CONFERENCE

DBER themes graphic

Join us in 2021

The discipline-based education research (DBER) community at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) welcomes you to an online conference to discuss how theories, methods, and application of education research cross disciplinary boundaries. The X-DBER 2021 conference was originally scheduled in-person for May 18-19, 2020.

The goal of this conference is to bring together DBER researchers from across disciplines (e.g., biology, chemistry, engineering, geoscience, math, physics) to learn about ongoing research and develop future directions. The meeting centers on five themes:

  • educational tools and interventions,
  • learning and cognitive research,
  • diversity, inclusion, and equity
  • student experiences and affect, and
  • integrating disciplinary practices.

The meeting will allow researchers and practitioners to identify synergies in theoretical and research approaches across disciplines to help the diverse communities solve novel problems and translate research into classroom practices. This virtual setting will allow researchers across all ranks (e.g., graduate students, postdocs) to present their work to a national audience and help connect these researchers to broader communities and research projects.

Plenary Speakers


Nicole Becker, Ph.D.

Department of Chemistry, University of Iowa

Nicole Becker

Research in the Becker group explores how undergraduate chemistry students develop expertise in using models to predict and explain chemical behavior. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, we explore the impact of instructional strategies on scaffolding students’ model-based reasoning in chemistry contexts. The goal of this work is to inform the design of evidence-based instructional materials for introductory chemistry courses and to improve student performance and retention in these courses.


Joanne Lobato, Ph.D.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, San Diego State University

Joanne Lobato

Dr. Lobato’s research has involved developing the actor-oriented transfer perspective, which led to an interest in “noticing” from both psychological and socio-cultural perspectives. More recently, Dr. Lobato has been motivated by the need for alternative models of videos to be used in learning mathematics online and by the emerging research area of learning vicariously through observing online dialogues. She has pursued these interests through empirical studies on the learning and teaching of the following topics at the secondary school level: algebraic reasoning, ratios and proportions, slope and linear functions, quadratic functions, rates of change, and multiplicative reasoning.


Alex Mejia, Ph.D.

Department of Integrated Engineering, University of San Diego

Alex Mejia

Dr. Mejia investigates the funds of knowledge of Latinx adolescents, and how they use these funds of knowledge to solve engineering problems in their communities. Dr. Mejia is particularly interested in how Latinx adolescents bring forth unique ways of knowing, doing, and being that provide them with particular ways of framing, approaching, and solving engineering problems. He is also interested in engineering and literacy education for equity, engineering literacies in K-16 settings, equity-oriented instructional strategies that support engineering activity, the use and application of critical theories in engineering education, and the development of critical consciousness in engineering through social justice.


Kathy Perkins, Ph.D.

Department of Physics, University of Colorado-Boulder

Kathy Perkins

Dr. Perkins is Director of the PhET Interactive Simulations Project and Director of CU’s Science Education Initiative. She is also an Associate Professor Attendant Rank in Physics, specializing in physics education research. Her work in science education research has focused on: pedagogically effective design and use of interactive simulations; sustainable course reform; students' beliefs about science; and institutional change. Before arriving at CU, she was trained as an experimental physicist and atmospheric scientist at Harvard University, and transitioned to physics education research in January 2003 as a post-doctoral researcher with Carl Wieman.


Beth Schussler, Ph.D.

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Beth Schussler

The primary research focus of Dr. Schussler’s lab is the shaping of undergraduate learning environments to foster meaningful student learning. Although learning environments are organized around specific curricula, the effectiveness of the curriculum is often impacted by the instructor and/or student perception of the instructor. Much of my lab’s research has focused on this interplay between curricula and the instructor and how it affects student learning. Some lab research specifically informs teaching professional development (TPD) for biology graduate teaching assistants. We have found, for example, that student perceptions of GTAs change over the semester, are impacted by the title the GTA uses with their students, and are linked to particular teaching behaviors that can predict perception of teaching effectiveness. These lines of research led to the creation of an NSF-funded research coordination network (BioTAP) focused on improving GTA TPD. BioTAP members have co-published a national survey on the state of GTA TPD at institutions across the US and Canada and proposed a conceptual model for conducting research on GTA TPD programs, which is used as part of the BioTAP Scholars program.

Conference Schedule

Monday: The conference will officially begin at 9 a.m. on Zoom, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Monday will include two themed sessions with featured speakers and a poster session.

Tuesday: Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and include two themed sessions.

Wednesday: Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and include one themed session. The conference will end by 4 p.m.

Registration is postponed

Registration for the 2021 conference will open in January.

The registration fee will be $75. If you’d like to give a talk or poster, please prepare and submit an abstract of no more than 250 words.

You will need a CSMCE Application/Registration Portal account for registration. Log in with your account details and then select 2021 X-DBER Conference from the list of programs.



UNL Center for Science, Mathematics & Computer Education
251 Avery Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0131

402-472-8965