Yaoran (Alora) Li, PhD  Full Bio  |

Dr.Yaoran Li is broadly interested in people’s learning processes of new visual, spatial, and quantitative concepts and the mechanisms underlying learners’ cognitive and motivational changes. She enjoys collaborating with scholars, learners, educators, administrators, and entrepreneurs to identify and develop effective educational innovations. As the PI of the Project VisMO, she will lead the development of the origami-based intervention and oversee all the research and dissemination aspects with amazing interdisciplinary collaborators.

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Perla Myers, PhD 

Dr. Perla Myers is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of San Diego. She earned her B.S. from the University of Houston, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Myers is passionate about achieving equity in education and diversifying the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and works closely with students, colleagues and the community, as transformation is achieved through joint efforts, when students, families, future teachers, educators, leaders come together to create affirming experiences, delve into explorations, and empower each other to persevere, enhance their understanding, and reinforce the belief that they are capable.

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Vitaliy Popov, PhD 

Vitaliy Popov is an Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Popov’s research focuses on understanding, designing, and evaluating learning technologies and environments that foster student collaborative problem solving, spatial reasoning, engineering design thinking and agency. He is currently serving as a co-principal investigator on three projects funded by the National Science Foundation ranging from studying visuospatial skills development through origami to fostering middle school students’ interest in engineering through Funds of Knowledge approach.


David C. Geary, PhD 

David C. Geary is a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program. His work spans a broad range of topics from children’s mathematical cognition and development to the evolution of sex differences. He’s written four sole authored books, including Children’s Mathematical Development (1994; 2012 Korean translation) and co-edited a five-volume series on Mathematical Cognition and Learning (2015-2019). He served on the President’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel from 2006 to 2008 and chaired the learning processes task group, and was appointed by President G.W. Bush to the National Board of Advisors for the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (2007 to 2010).


Kylie Flynn, PhD

As a Senior Research Associate in WestEd’s Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program, Kylie Flynn directs randomized controlled trials (RCTs) funded by the U.S. Department of Education and edtech companies.

Flynn’s interests focus on improving education outcomes for high-needs students, including those living in poverty, diagnosed with a disability, and/or learning English as a second language. Her research work involves the development and/or testing of education interventions for these high-need populations.


Linlin Li, PhD

Dr. Linlin Li is a Senior Research Associate in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program at WestEd. Dr. Li brings a highly sophisticated approach to research and program evaluation, including quasi-experimental and experimental designs, mixed methods, and qualitative research. Her research work focuses on the areas of developmental psychology, STEAM intervention, inclusion of children with disabilities in the regular education classroom, and family engagement. Her recent work involves in using interactive games to design and evaluate interventions for students living in poverty and at risk for academic difficulties. She has been a What Works Clearinghouse certified reviewer since 2013 and a reviewer for Early Childhood Research Quarterly since 2008.


Arnold Tubis, PhD

Arnold Tubis is a retired physics professor who was a faculty member at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana from 1960 to 2000 (9 years as department head).  Origami has been an avocation of his since he early 1960s and his models have been exhibited in the USA, Japan, Europe, and Israel. He is the co-author of several Origami instructional books, including Unfolding Mathematics with Origami Boxes (with Crystal Elaine Mills, Key Curriculum Press, 2006), and Tessellation Inspired Origami Box Designs (with Diana Lee,, 2014).  And author of Tipping with Origami Money Folds (, 2013), and Jewish Gelt: Our Symbols as Origami Money Folds (, 2015). He is also the author or co-author of over twenty papers on the use of origami in K-12 math education, and is currently the Coordinator of the Greater San Diego Origami Group.


Taryn Robertson, PhD

Dr. Taryn Robertson is a Post-doc Research Associate/Project Manager at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. She holds an MEd in Advanced Literacy and Reading Comprehension, and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. She is a mixed methods researcher interested in multicultural education. Her research examines culturally relevant pedagogical approaches as interventions for successful second language acquisition for English Language Learners (ELL), as well as improvements in reading comprehension and summary writing outcomes for ELL students. She enjoys collaborating with researchers, educators, and learners to identify effective quantitative interventions for ELL students while also taking student and educator voice and preference into account through qualitative approaches and analyses. Dr. Robertson has published articles in high-impact peer reviewed journals and has presented findings at conferences such as PCRC, AERA, AATC, and NAME.

Cassandra Graves, MEd

Cassandra Graves is a Research and Learning Associate at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies - Sociology from the University of California, San Diego in 2009.  After graduating she taught English in South Korea for three years. Since her return to the US, Cassandra has worked in a variety of educational settings throughout San Diego County. In 2017, Cassandra completed her California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and graduated with a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Diego. She taught kindergarten at a dual language immersion school in Chula Vista  where she led grade level math instruction.

Sherilyn Shepard, MEd

Sherilyn is a student in the Education for Social Justice PhD program, an independent contractor for humanities curriculum and assessment writing, and a volunteer research coordinator in a University of San Diego SOLES research project on the implementation of the Ethnic Studies requirement in the San Diego Unified School District. Sherilyn began her research and curriculum writing journey at the University of San Diego. She was the recipient of the Dean’s Merit Scholarship Award, working with Dr. Hubbard on white privilege. She has spent the last six years working for a large charter school network in New York City as both a middle school history teacher as well as a middle school history curriculum and assessment writer and manager. She taught Grades 5-8 history, wrote the Grade 8 U.S. History curriculum and assessments, including a U.S. History and Government Regents Mastery review curriculum and mastery unit. She also wrote and managed Grades 5-8 project-based units and co-wrote the Gr5 world history survey course. 

Yongbo Xiao, MBA

YONGBO(Andy) XIAO is a project assistant at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. He got his bachelor's degree in China. In 2015, He came to the United States and studied at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Irvine. He received his MBA in Marketing degree from San Diego University of Integrative Studies. Currently studying Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. YONGBO is dedicated to the education industry and has extensive experience in the field of US-China overseas study and exchange.




Research and Program Team Members


Adaly Solis

Adaly Solis is an electrical engineering major with a minor in mathematics graduating in May of 2021 from the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. She is currently a research assistant with the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education and in her free time, she is working diligently on her Senior Design Capstone Project as her team develops an app to address the accessibility and the stigmatization of receiving mental health services for everyone. Adaly enjoys giving back to the San Diego community through outreach events as a means to stimulate STEM interests in our youth.

Sofia Sanchez

Sofia Sanchez is a mathematics major with an emphasis in secondary education and a spanish minor, dually enrolled in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) to obtain her single subject teaching credential.  She is currently a student teacher at High Tech High International, teaching 9th grade mathematics, and is also the undergraduate research assistant with the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education.  She has a passion for mathematics education, access to education, and working with historically underrepresented communities.

Shree Narasimhan

Shree Narasimhan is a pre-med student planning on majoring in Finance and minoring in Chemistry. She is currently enrolled in the honors program at USD and is also a freshman undergraduate research assistant with the Jacobs Institute for Innovation for Education. She is passionate about health equity, understanding ethical solutions to health situations, and workplace safety in the health industry. She is also a very enthusiastic food lover and has a soft corner for baby sloths!



Lynn Fuchs

Dunn Family Chair in Psychoeducational Assessment, Department of Special Education

| Vanderbilt University |


Susan C. Levine

Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor in Education and Society

| University of Chicago |

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Robert J. Lang

Renowned Origami Artist and Consultant


Zandra de Araujo

Associate Professor in Learning, Teaching & Curriculum

| University of Missouri |

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William Zahner

Associate Professor in Mathematics 

| San Diego State University |


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Nobuko Okabe



High Tech High

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San Diego Unified School District


KIPP SoCal Public Schools