Faculty and Staff

Emeritus Faculty are listed on the Emeriti Faculty Page


Dr. William W. Cobern
University Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and Science Education
Director of the Mallinson Institute for Science Education
B.A. University of California (San Diego)
Ph.D. University of Colorado (Boulder)
Office: 3245 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5407

Dr. Cobern has a joint appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. He began his science education career as a high school biology and chemistry teacher, and has also taught science at the elementary and college levels. At the Institute he teaches a variety of courses for science teacher development and science education research. He has an active
research program funded by the National Science Foundation
. Dr. Cobern is a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation. In 2006, Dr. Cobern was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2008, he was named Fellow of the American Education Research Association.


Dr. Todd Ellis
Assistant Professor of Geography and Science Education
B.S., B.S., Pennsylvania State University
M.S., Ph.D., Colorado State University
Office: 3139 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5660

Dr. Ellis joined the faculty at WMU in August 2015, with a joint appointment in Geography. His specialties include research in weather and climate education, teacher professional development, and informal education practices. He is responsible for overseeing curriculum and instruction for the Geography 1900: Exploring Earth Science: The Atmosphere, and teaches various other graduate courses in the Institute. He is a GLOBE Partner (http://www.globe.gov) and Education and Outreach Lead for the NASA CloudSat Mission (http://cloudsat.atmos.colostate.edu). His research interests include professional learning community models for professional development, and identifying cognitive skills necessary for learning meteorology. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University, and B.S. degrees in Physics and Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University.


Dr. Marcia Fetters
Interim Associate Dean and Director of Teacher Education
College of Education and Human Development
Associate Professor of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies
B.S., M.A. Ed., and Ph.D. Michigan State University
Office: 2425 Sangren Hall - Phone: (269) 387-3538
Office: 3242 Wood Hall - Phone: (269) 387-5927
Fax: (269) 387-2882

Dr. Fetters has a joint appointment in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, and she is also the Interim Associate Dean in the College of Education and Human Development. Her primary undergraduate teaching assignment is secondary science methods. At the graduate level, she teaches a variety of courses for science teacher professional development and growth. Her research interests focus on the needs of individuals marginalized from the science education community, with a special focus on individuals with learning disabilities, and science in informal settings. Related to this interest, she has explored, written about, and published on the use of toys to teach science concepts.

Charles Henderson
Dr. Megan Grunert Kowalske
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
B.S. University of Indianapolis
M.S., Ph.D. Purdue University
Office: 3425 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-2859

Dr. Grunert joined the WMU faculty in 2011, with a joint appointment in the Chemistry Department and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Her research interests include diversity in chemistry and other sciences, motivational theories, educational psychology, and curriculum development to foster inclusive education.

Charles Henderson
Dr. Charles Henderson
Professor of Physics
B.A. Macalester College
M.S., Ph.D. University of Minnesota
Office: 1129 Everett Tower
Phone: (269) 387-4951

Dr. Henderson has a joint appointment in the Physics Department and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. His current work is focused on the development of theories and strategies for promoting change in the teaching of STEM subjects. This includes issues related to the diffusion and adoption of research-based instructional strategies. Two current projects include ‘Facilitating Change in Undergraduate STEM’ and ‘Understanding Instructor Practices and Attitudes Toward the Use of Research-Based Instructional Strategies (RBIS) in Introductory College Physics’. Both projects are funded by NSF. The goal of the former project is to articulate models for promoting changes in STEM instructional practices in higher education. The latter seeks to understand the level of knowledge about, attitudes towards and use of RBIS by introductory physics instructors. Dr. Henderson is the editor of Physics Education Research Section of the American Journal of Physics and former chair of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Committee on Research in Physics Education. He has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research and work with graduate students at the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland from January to June, 2010. His primary work will be with the University of Jyväskylä Institute for Educational Research. Dr. Henderson earned his Ph.D. in Physics Education Research from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus.

Dr. Heather Petcovic
Associate Professor of Geological Sciences
Ph.D. Oregon State University
Phone: (269) 387-5488 - Geosciences
Phone: (269) 387-5380 - MISE

Dr. Petcovic has a joint appointment in the Department of Geosciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Her geology research focuses on a combined filed, analytical, and numerical modeling approach to understand how dikes fed lava flows of the Columbia River flood basalts, which include the Earth's largest lava flows. Her science education research focuses on the role of field experience in geoscience education, alternative conceptions in earth sciences, and the role of informal education programs in promoting scientific literacy in the general public, enhancing formal K-12 learning, and encouraging underrepresented students to pursue careers in the sciences.

Dr. David W. Rudge
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
B.S. Duke University
M.S., M.A., Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh
Office: 3134 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-2779

Dr. Rudge has a joint appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Dr. Rudge researches how the history and philosophy of science (particularly evolutionary biology) can be used to inform the teaching of science. Additional information regarding his research and that of his students is located here. He served as President of the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (IHPST) group, and was also project director of an NSF grant project to improve middle school science teaching. Dr. Rudge is the course supervisor for BIOS 1700 Life Science for Elementary Educators I. He also regularly teaches SCI6140 Science: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives.


Dr. David Schuster
Associate Professor of Physics
B.Sc.(Honns.) University of the Witwatersrand
M.Sc., Ph.D. University of Wisconsin--Madison
Office: 3147 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5844

Dr. Schuster has a joint appointment in the Physics Department and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. His specialization is physics education, while his original field was nuclear physics. Particular interests include cognition (conceptual understanding and problem-solving), assessment, teaching and learning in science, educational design, curriculum development, epistemology and inquiry. He teaches graduate courses in science education and is developing and teaching inquiry-based undergraduate physics for prospective teachers. Prior to joining WMU he was in the physics department at the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and was also National Moderator for all provincial matriculation examinations in physics. In recent years he was also Chief Examiner for physics for the International Baccalaureate.

Dr. Brandy Ann Skjold
Faculty Specialist II for Laboratory Instruction
B.S., M.S. Northern Michigan University
Ph.D. Western Michigan University
Office: 3140 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-3336

Dr. Brandy Skjold is the Laboratory Instructional Specialist in the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. She has a science emphasis in biology, with an interest in the ecological effects of climate change on microorganisms. Brandy earned her Ph.D. in Science Education, and her research interests include the role of language in college science teaching and in research laboratories. This research has implications on learning theories, science student retention and current best practice pedagogy. Brandy’s primary goal as a faculty specialist is to help instructors incorporate effective laboratory practices into the Institute's six core undergraduate courses, and to help graduate students develop appropriate laboratory skills.

Dr. Joseph P. Stoltman
University Distinguished Professor of
Geography and Science Education
B.A. Central Washington State
Ph.D. University of Georgia
Phone: (269) 387-3407
Fax: (269) 387-3442
More Information

Dr. Stoltman has a joint appointment in the Geography Department and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Dr. Stoltman has been a faculty member since 1971 in the Department of Geography, Physical Sciences Division, College of Arts and Sciences. His research has focused on the teaching and learning of geography, global change education, and the spatial analysis of educational reform in Michigan. He is a member of AAAS, NSTA, NCGE, AAG, SSEC, and MCSS, professional societies devoted to improving scientific knowledge and teaching in the earth and social sciences. He serves as co-coordinator of the Michigan Geographic Alliance, which has as its objective the enhancement of geographic literacy in Michigan among students and young adults.


Dr. Mary Anne Sydlik
Adjunct Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher
Mallinson Institute for Science Education
Co-Director of Science and Mathematics Program Improvement (SAMPI)
B.A. Clarion State College
M.A. Western Michigan University
Ph.D. Syracuse University
Office: 3231 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-3791

Dr. Sydlik is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher in the Mallinson Institute for Science Education as well as Director of the Science and Math Program Improvement (SAMPI) Center, an outreach division of the Institute specializing in evaluation, research, and technical assistance for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. Mary Anne joined SAMPI in 2009, and is serving as a lead investigator on national, statewide, and local educational improvement efforts. In addition to evaluation, her research areas include behavioral ecology and animal behavior; faculty development; using technology in the classroom; and science and technical writing, especially for the general audience and for children.

Office Coordinator:
Heather White

Heather White
Office Coordinator
B.A. SUNY Plattsburgh
Office: 3225 (3241) Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5398

Heather is our Administrative Assistant and joined the Mallinson Institute in March 2011. Her primary responsibilities involve admissions, payroll, budget allocations for student funding and endowments, course scheduling, event coordination, recruiting, and general office management. Heather received her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communications/Television Production from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Previously, she has worked in both scientific contract research and pharmaceutical manufacturing. She received the Arts and Sciences Distinguished Staff Award in 2014 and is a WMU Brand Ambassador. Outside of work she enjoys quilting, volunteering, and cheering on Bronco Hockey.

Lab Coordinator:
Betty Adams

Betty Adams
Coordinator of Laboratories
B.S. Michigan Technological University
M.A., M.A. Western Michigan University
Office: 3141 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-2715

Betty Adams is the Laboratory Coordinator at the Mallinson Institute. Her background is in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and her graduate studies have been in physics and science education. Betty tends to the practical aspects of running the MISE science teaching/learning laboratories, and also to the technological needs of the Institute. Her research interests include the creative use of materials and technology in teaching/learning science, the nature and effectiveness of inquiry pedagogy, the relevance of language in science instruction, challenges to understanding dualistic conceptions of matter and radiation, the history and philosophy of science, and the place of scientific thinking in human culture.

Adjunct Faculty  
Herb Fynewever Dr. Herb Fynewever
Associate Professor of Chemistry at Calvin College
B.S. Calvin College
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin--Madison

Dr. Fynewever has adjunct appointments in the Chemistry Department and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at WMU.  His research interests include how students learn chemistry.  In particular, they investigate how the type and timing of feedback impacts students' learning. They study how this formative assessment can be incorporated into homework assignments, peer-to-peer instruction, self/computer instruction, teacher/student interaction, classroom activities, and even testing.

Senior Researcher Emeritus:
Mark Jenness
Dr. Mark Jenness
Senior Researcher Mallinson Institute for Science Education
Director of Science and Mathematics Program Improvement (SAMPI)
B.S. Nazareth College
M.A., Ed.D. Western Michigan University
Office: 3225 Wood Hall
Phone: (269) 387-3791

Dr. Jenness retired in 2010 from his position as founding Director of SAMPI, an outreach division of the Mallinson Institute that specialized in evaluation, research, and technical assistance for K-12 schools and other educational institutions. He continues to remain an active researcher serving as lead investigator on national, statewide, and local educational improvement efforts. He specializes in evaluation and technical assistance in the areas of science, mathematics, and environmental education. He has received grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Dept. of Education, Kellogg Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Michigan Dept. of Education, and various other funding agencies. Currently he serves as PI for the evaluation of the national CPU-PET Materials Development Project, the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Development Project, the Northern Michigan Mathematics and Science Partnership, and the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. Publications include various papers, project-specific evaluation reports, and instruments for use in program evaluation.


3225 Wood Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5444 USA
269-387-5398 | 269-387-4998 Fax