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Conference Hosts

Dr. Nicole Albada
UC Santa Barbara 

Nicole Alea Albada is an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. She received her PhD in 2004 in Developmental Psychology from the University of Florida, with an emphasis on adult development and aging, and graduate certificates in Gerontology and Social Science methodology. She primarily teaches research methods and statistics to undergraduate students in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, and sometimes teaches an adult development and aging course. Nicole is the director of the TALE – Thinking About Life Experiences – Lab, which explores why and how people remember events from their life, and the links between remembering autobiographical events and psychosocial well-being in various age groups and across cultures. She also studies the role of personal stories and autobiographical storytelling as a pedagogical tool in both in-person and online classroom environments.

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Dr. Victoria Cross
UC Davis


Victoria Cross, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of Psychology at UC Davis. She earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from UC Davis in 1999. Her career has focused on effective uses of educational technology in higher education. She has worked in faculty support at national, campus, and department levels. Moving into the Professor of Teaching position has allowed her to initiate a research program in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her research investigates the challenges faced in leveling the playing field when teaching critical thinking skills to a diverse student body and the cognitive mechanisms at play in university student learning. She primarily teaches lower division research methods and data visualization courses.

Dr. Emma Geller
UC San Diego

Emma Geller is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Psychology department at UC San Diego, where she teaches primarily research methods and statistics in the undergraduate curriculum. She is PI of the Learning and Instruction in Multimedia Environments (LIME) Lab, and her work investigates how students develop deep understanding of concepts in math and science. Past and current projects focus on questions such as: (1) How do questions help people learn? (2) How can peer discussion and self-explanation be leveraged in the classroom to support deeper learning? (3) How can instructors most effectively correct students' misconceptions about scientific concepts? She is particularly interested in the use of multimedia technologies to support and improve student learning, both in face-to-face classes and online.

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Dr. Annie Ditta
UC Riverside 

Dr. Annie S. Ditta is an award-winning Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Psychology Department and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teaching at UC Riverside. Her research marries her two areas of interest: creative thinking and the scholarship of teaching & learning. Her work specifically investigates the complex interplay between memory and creativity, with particular focus on how people’s ability to both remember and forget helps them learn to produce novel ideas, avoid becoming fixated on old or unhelpful ones, and transfer learned ideas to novel situations. The ultimate goals of her research are threefold: 1) to help students develop their critical and creative thinking skills, 2) increase motivation to learn, and 3) to design better methods of instruction for large lecture courses at the university level.

Dr. Melissa Paquette-Smith

Melissa is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Psychology at UCLA. Prior to teaching at UCLA, she completed her doctorate in Psychology at the University of Toronto. Melissa’s research interests span a broad range of topics in psychology, including children’s early social and linguistic development and improving psychology instruction. In her developmental research, she examines how infants and young children process social information in the speech signal and how this relates to the development of linguistic and social competencies. Her pedagogical work focuses on ways to optimize student learning in the classroom. In particular, she is interested in how student’s language background and life experiences influence learning.

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Dr. Celeste Pilegard
UC San Diego 

Dr. Pilegard is an Associate Teaching Professor at UC San Diego. She received her Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Her research falls at the intersection of cognitive psychology and educational psychology: she is interested in how we learn and how, as a consequence, we should teach.

In the lab, she focuses on how motivation and metacognition interact with principles of learning to produce meaningful learning outcomes. In the classroom, she is interested in infusing open science principles into intro-level courses, facilitating causal reasoning, developing inclusive course policies, and helping students relate to scientists. She teaches courses in research methods, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology.

Dr. Vanessa Woods
UC Santa Barbara  

Vanessa Woods, Ph.D. is an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. Vanessa earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior from UC Santa Barbara, and went on to pursue a teaching career. Before starting at UCSB as a Teaching Professor, Vanessa was an Adjunct Professor at CSU Channel Islands, and Santa Barbara City College. Vanesa is a passionate teacher who strives to have every student succeed, and their teaching style and philosophy are designed to give students the resources they need to perform well in challenging courses and to motivate them to dedicate the time and effort necessary to reach their potential. Vanessa’s research has three main focus areas: (1) the role of mentorship in promoting college student success, (2) best practices for fostering disciplinary access to promote student success, and (3) psychological factors (e.g. attitudes, identity, stigma consciousness) affecting the leaky STEM pipeline for students who identify with groups that have been historically marginalized.Vanessa’s goal is to be an agent of change for fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion by serving as a voice for all students.

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