Research Associate in STEM Education - University of Maryland

The University of Maryland is hiring a Research Associate in STEM Education to start in September 2017


The position:

We are seeking a postdoctoral research associate to split time between conducting research and leading the development of a thriving community of faculty who teach Introductory Physics for Life Science (IPLS) classes.

Research topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • How faculty create courses from collection of curricular materials, use online resources, and engage in online communities
  • How user interfaces can affect course design
  • How community building activities such as workshops and social media can help faculty incorporate, adapt and maintain innovative instructional methods in their teaching.

Community building activities may include (but are not limited to):

  • Conducting in-person and online workshops for physics faculty
  • Seeding and facilitating online discussions
  • Learning about and engaging in best practices for creating thriving online communities


The project:

IPLS-Portal is a collaborative project between the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and 8 colleges and universities to create a web portal to collect and curate curricular materials developed for Introductory Physics for Life Science (IPLS) classes, and to sustain a community of educators dedicated to iteratively improving instruction in these courses. The project started approximately one year ago and we have conducted initial research into how physics faculty plan IPLS courses, categorize curricular materials, create curricular materials, and collaborate with other instructors in their course planning and implementation. We have a large collection of interview and focus group data available for analysis for a wide variety of investigations. Over the next 3 years, the project will create a large database of interdisciplinary curricular materials that is easily searchable and browsable, support faculty in adapting these materials, help faculty design new IPLS courses that fit their specific circumstances, and sustain a community educators interacting and learning through the portal. We aim to create a thriving community of IPLS instructors who share stories, ideas, and materials through professional development workshops and extended online and in-person interactions. Finally, we will conduct extensive research into the use of the database and the curricular materials therein, and the evolution of the community of users.


Preferred qualifications:

  • PhD/EdD in STEM field or physics/science education
  • Enthusiastic learner (because this project will involve research in many different areas, your ability to learn is more important than extensive experience in relevant areas)
  • Understands how to listen and draw out people’s experiences and perspectives (e.g. in the context of interviews)
  • Experience with research into faculty/teacher change, instructional change, institutional change, and/or faculty/teacher professional development
  • Experience with an existing online community of educators
  • Experience with qualitative research including interviewing and video analysis
  • Strong communication and writing skills and a willingness to improve them
  • Strong time management and organizational skills and a willingness to improve them
  • Ability to work with a geographically distributed team



  • Employer: University of Maryland, College Park
  • Location: Preferably in the DC area, but will consider hiring someone who would work remotely
  • Supervisors: Primary supervisor Chandra Turpen, with additional advising by a team of researchers at the University of Maryland (Joe Redish), Montgomery College (Raluca Teodorescu), and the American Association of Physics Teachers (Sam McKagan and Adrian Madsen).
  • Start date: Prefer September 2017, but will be flexible for the right candidate
  • Time commitment: Prefer full-time, but will be flexible for the right candidate
  • Length of appointment: 1-year contract, renewable up to 3 years

For more information:


To apply:

Please submit the following to Chandra Turpen at

  • Cover letter, including:
    • Why you are interested in this position
    • Why you are a good fit for this position
    • Your preferred start date
    • When you received or expect to receive your PhD or EdD
    • Your preferred work location (College Park, MD; or elsewhere)
    • Your preferred full-time or part-time status (ranging from 50% to 100% time)
  • CV, including:
    • List of publications
    • Education, research, and community-building experience
    • Contact information for three references

I hope that our paths intersect soon so that was could chat about research on faculty learning and institutional change.

Thanks for your time and advice,


Dr. Chandra Turpen
Research Assistant Professor
University of Maryland, College Park