About Me

Hi there, I’m Stephanie Chasteen.  I’m a geek of many flavors.  I’m keenly interested in how the world works, as well as how peoples’ brains work and how we learn.  I’m an education researcher and reformer by trade.  I’ve got a BA in social psychology, a PhD in physics, and I also have a background in science writing and journalism, as well as media production.

Visit me on LinkedIn or  Twitter or  Facebook.

Consulting Services


My mission is to support the broad and effective use of research-based instruction in STEM, such as active-learning, backwards design, and student-centered pedagogy.  My primary focus is on faculty professional development, and departmentally-based change initiatives.    As a physicist, education researcher, writer, and “academic at large,” I can provide quality work on a wide variety of STEM educational projects.

I specialize in:

  • Project management
  • Evaluation and research
  • Workshops
  • Writing and editing

You can find out more about me at my professional website, http://chasteenconsulting.com. 

Articles about Me

Here are two articles that I wrote explaining my career path.  Helpful for scientists interested in education!

Seeking the Warm Spot: A nonlinear career in writing and education. Article about my career transitions on the international Agora blog from L’Oreal Foundation. (2012)

How a Scientist Becomes a Science Writer: Article I wrote for the National Science Writers Association website about my career. (2010)

Here are some other articles about my career:

Envisioning & Implementing Effective Educational Programs.  Nice short article about my blending of education and communication, in the Newsletter on the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.

STEMinist Profile. Short outline of my career on blog about women in science. (2012)

Educators that Rock. Profiled for series in findingEducation. (2010).

Spotlight on Hidden Physicists: Stephanie Chasteen. Radiations magazine of Sigma Pi Sigma (The Physics Honors Society). (2009).

American Physical Society interview, for Forum on Graduate Affairs, detailing my career and my advice to other people seeking alternative careers in science. (2007)

My Biography

I have an undergraduate degree in social psychology, a PhD in physics, extensive experience in science journalism, podcasting, and multimedia production, and I took a stint in the Peace Corps.  I’m a polymath, and curious, and this is my strength.

I entered Bard College as a physics major, but felt discouraged by my perception that the classes were easier for others than for me.  I later found out that I was one of the best students in the class.  (This is a classic case of imposter syndrome).  I switched to social psychology,which I loved, and gave me a solid grounding in the social sciences. I kept studying science and math and realized that I wanted to learn more physics.

stephlabAfter spending two years in the Peace Corps in Guinea, West Africa (and founding the nonprofit Friends of Guinea upon my return), I was accepted for graduate studies in physics at University of California Santa Cruz.  My doctorate was in condensed matter physics, and focused on making cheaper solar energy using semiconducting plastics.

While in graduate school, I fiddled around a lot in science education, through science fairs, tutoring and teaching, coursework, rehashing of undergrad lab manuals, and other such delights. I also worked as a freelance science journalist, amassing a little list of publications in the popular press on a variety of topics such as evolutionary biology, light propagation, and AIDS. I spent the summer of 2003 as a AAAS Mass Media Fellow at National Pnpr3ublic Radio in Washington DC. This was a transformative experience, as I learned how to write short, and accurately, and got to shadow amazing reporters on the job. I also became an audio addict, and later used these skills to create audio podcasts and other multimedia.

postdocs_smAfter graduate school, I took a postdoctoral position at the Exploratorium Museum of Science in San Francisco, as part of a new NSF program to teach scientists to do public education. To the left is a photo of me with the other postdocs at the museum.  While at the Exploratorium, I worked with my mentor and friend Paul Doherty, created and taught hands-on science workshops for teachers, and wrote and produced several podcasts.  The Exploratorium was a deeply inspiring place to be, and I decided that I wanted to leave science journalism, and dedicate my life to reforming science education to be more inspiring.

I then moved to Boulder, Colorado, to learn more about science education and research-based teaching methods (to become an “informed activist” in the word of a colleague).  I joined the Science Education Initiative (SEI) at the University of Colorado Boulder as a postdoc in physics, and my research is best-known on the impact of the SEI model, and student learning in upper division physics.  See peer-reviewed publications.  I have also created a wide variety of multimedia products for the PhET Interactive Simulations as their multimedia director.

I am now the PI of the TRESTLE (Transforming Education, Stimulating Teaching and Learning Excellence) project at CU Boulder, helping to leverage the existing expertise built through the SEI to support further change at the institution.  Through my consulting business, I am connected to a wide variety of national STEM reform projects in physics and beyond.  I have strategically avoided a faculty track, and consider myself a change agent and academic “at large,” providing expertise and woman-power to support broad change in STEM education.  See my full list of clients.  I am also a mom, hiker, climber, and dancer.

My Publications

Since my internship at National Public Radio’s science desk, I’ve loved using audio as a medium to communicate science. It’s intimate, appeals to younger people, and is just plain fun. Below are some of the podcasts I’ve created.

You can also visit my popular press publications list (including MP3’s from ye olde NPR days) and the live webcasts I did at the Exploratorium, and education-related films that I’ve produced and directed, as well as my academic publications.


Learning about Teaching Physics

This podcast is my most recent brainchild, arising from my interests in science education, education research, and communication. As of May 2011 we have one produced episode, temporarily on the Podomatic site, but this will be eventually hosted on the National Science Digital Library.
We’re getting the physics education research out of those stuffy journals and into your hands (or, rather, ears) with this little audio podcast. Co-hosted by veteran high school physics teacher Michael Fuchs and physicist and education researcher Stephanie Chasteen, each episode investigates a piece of the research literature and how it can relate to your classroom.

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears Podcast

A collaborative project with the National Science Digital Library. This podcast is geared towards elementary educators to help them use polar science to address common student misconceptions about science. This webzine won the SPORE award from AAAS for integrating science & literacy, and the episode “Warm Blankets and Cold Breezes” was featured in the presentations at the presidential ceremony for science teaching excellence.


A monthly variety show about nanotechnology created for the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network.

Science Teaching Tips

A series of podcasts created by, and for, science teachers. Includes science facts, history, and hands-on activities.

The Classic Summer Institute

A series of podcasts about the Summer Institute for teachers at the Exploratorium.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

pannlife May 26, 2007 at 1:50 am

Why do they use the term “fellow” like that? Do you think it’s sexist?

Perhaps “fella” would be cuter.

Ravi July 23, 2008 at 9:14 am

:-)) @ pannlife

?*? September 25, 2008 at 6:43 pm

yay for reforming college physics classes! i’ll admit that the freshman engineering physics classes required for my major almost made me drop out because they absolutely SUCKED! now, years later, i’m realizing that condensed matter is super important in my field and is also really cool. 🙂

sciencegeekgirl September 26, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I like your moniker, “psi*psi”. It reminded me of a great moment from my young adulthood. My father is a physical chemist. Whenever I was exasperated at something as a child, I would say “sigh” (not actually sigh, but say the word “sigh.”) He would always reply “star sigh”. I never understood what the heck he was talking about. Years later, in my late twenties, when I was finishing quantum mechanics, I suddenly remembered these exchanges. I called up Dad and asked him, “Was that a reference to the probability density of the wavefunction?” “Yes,” he told me, “you have arrived.”

?*? September 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Your father sounds like an awesome person!

Kotasahn August 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I stumbled across your blog while looking for hands-on activities for my anatomy and physiology students. I really enjoyed reading your biography as I am a huge advocate of creating enjoyable science education experiences. I am working on my PhD in Integrative STEM education and try to teach what I preach by incorporating technology (designing/building prototypes and whatnot) into my life science courses. It is great to see someone in the field who is so accomplished- definitely gives me something to aspire to!

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