Research in the Popova Group focuses on characterizing the network of complex relationships among factors that drive instruction and student outcomes in organic and inorganic chemistry learning environments. Our research projects contextualize these relationships with respect to examining the development of student representational competence skills, problem-solving skills, and conceptual understanding. See the ‘Research’ page for the description of concrete projects.

Our research is currently funded through two National Science Foundation grants:

  • NSF DUE-2142214 – Collaborative Research: Exploring Connections Between Instructional Practice and Student Learning in Inorganic Chemistry Learning Environments
  • NSF DUE-2025216 – BCSER: Developing Expertise in Educational Testing to Support Characterizing the Impact of Organic Chemistry Instruction on Students’ Ability to Reason with Representations

Our Culture and Values

We are a collaborative, inclusive, and culturally diverse research group. We collaborate within and outside the group to support and learn from each other and address major challenges in chemistry education. We believe that our collective strength comes from the broad range of skills, talents, and perspectives of our diverse backgrounds and aspirations. We strive to create a positive and welcoming environment that encourages open communication and empowers group members to express themselves and feel confident in their abilities.

The core values of our group include:

Mental, emotional, and physical well-being: We believe that physical, emotional, and mental well-being is of utmost importance. For this reason, we check in with each other and treat each other with compassion, flexibility, understanding, and care. We celebrate rest, hobbies, vacations, and self-care!

Respect: We prioritize respect for one another and our community through mindful interactions. Specifically, we aim to actively listen to each other, intentionally make space for everyone to have input, value diverse experiences and ideas, respect each others’ unique career paths, and celebrate one another’s strengths and individuality. We are not just colleagues, but also each other’s cheerleaders and allies!

Effective and open communication: We strive toward early communication about any issues. We also provide constructive non-personal feedback that outlines both strengths and areas for improvement.

Mentorship and support: We value collaborating, requesting help, and providing help to each other. One important aspect of how we conduct research is that we work in small teams of 3 – 4 people on each project. Each project team includes researchers with varying levels of expertise (postdocs and graduate students collaborating with post-baccs and undergraduate students). This allows us to brainstorm with each other, challenge each other’s ideas, collaboratively conduct analyses to ensure rigor, support each other through the various research challenges, and celebrate our accomplishments and achievements. Another positive aspect of our research teams is that they foster multiple mentoring relationships within the group.

Courage and open-mindedness: Sometimes it takes courage to propose new ideas or take action. For this reason, we value being brave and creating a welcoming space in which being brave is easy. This means that we keep an open mind when hearing new ideas, meeting new people, and receiving feedback.

Intentional goal-setting: To meet our professional and personal goals, we value intentional and frequent goal-setting. For this reason, we hold semester/summer planning meetings during which we outline concrete goals and tasks, as well as reflect on our success in achieving goals. Based on these conversations, we make adjustments to improve how we work and support each other.