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Perla Myers, PhD 

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Yaoran Li, PhD

Dr. Yaoran Li is the Former Director of Research and Development at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from Beijing Normal University, and her M.A. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She is currently a Senior Project Manager of iPhone at Apple. Dr. Li unleashes the power of science-informed innovations with cutting edge technologies and data science and unites forward-thinking people through a shared passion for revolutionary products and optimal experiences.

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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 was 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.

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Rebecca Ottinger

Rebecca Ottinger is the current Project Manager for Project VisMO and instructional designer for the VisMO Teacher Preparation Course. She is managing VisMO teacher preparation trainings with teachers in San Diego and the adaptation of Project VisMO Essentials curriculum to an "Intro to VisMO 5-week curriculum." 

Rebecca is an educator and world traveler (she has lived in and/or traveled to 24 countries!). She has worked as an ELL teacher for children and adults, as a program coordinator for Jewish family educational programs, and as the Executive Assistant and later General Manager for a global non-profit in digital fabrication and education. She is from San Diego, CA and has a Bachelor's in Hispanic Studies and Education from Brandeis University. 


Cassandra Graves, MEd

Cassandra Graves was a Learning and Research Associate at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education.  In this role she assisted in the curriculum  development and program implementation of the VisMO Masterclass Camp, VisMO Think and Tinker Studio and VisMO Core Program. In the summer of 2021, she was the program manager and origami lead for the VisMO Summer Adventure Camp. VSAC utilized a low-tech and high tech approach to foster visuospatial skills and computational skills through paper folding and coding on MinecraftEdu. She was also the Principal Investigator for the VisMO Essentials program funded through The San Diego Foundation. 

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Lisa Ridgley, PhD

Dr. Lisa Smith is an Assistant Director of Research at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with specializations in Research Methods & Statistics and Gifted Studies from Ball State University. Before coming to the University of San Diego, she was a Postdoctoral Associate with the Research & Evaluation team at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. She collaborates on the design, implementation, evaluation, and research contributions of several nationally funded grant initiatives. For project VISMO, Lisa has worked on psychometric analysis, assisted with data collection, and serving as a learner to test origami lessons and activities. 


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Marina Meza, MEd

Marina is a California native who has worked with parents and children of all ages throughout her career. She got her B.A. in sociology from UC Berkeley. She has worked in education and community development in the Bay Area as an academic tutor, family resource specialist, and social services liaison. When she is not working she enjoys exploring the bay with her preschooler

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Ruchita Patel, Phd

Ruchita Patel is a Research Associate in the Learning and Technology Area at WestEd. In this role, she works on projects testing digital education programs and products in the areas of social-emotional learning, special education, and mathematics. She serves as project manager and/or implementation coordinator on research studies employing a variety of methods, including usability and feasibility testing, and experimental designs. Her areas of expertise include survey and instrument development, data collection, and data management and analysis




Research and Program Team Members


Dr. Perla Myers is the Executive Director of the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and 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 believes that we will be closer to that goal when the first reaction people have when they hear the word "mathematics" is a smile.



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


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Lora Khatib

Research Collaborator


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