Indigenous STEAM logo with bird

Our Team

The Indigenous STEAM Collaborative is a partnership of scholars from Northwestern University, Anishinaabe Midewiwin, the University of Washington, and Western Washington University dedicated to developing science learning materials for Indigenous youth and families in collaboration with families, community members, and other educators.

Megan Bang

Northwestern University

Principal Investigator

Megan Bang (Ojibwe and Italian descent) is a Professor of Learning Sciences and Psychology at Northwestern University and is currently serving as the Senior Vice President at the Spencer Foundation. She is a former pre-school teacher, middle school teacher, and GED educator. She has been focused on community based settings and education. She was the former Director of Education at the American Indian Center (AIC), where she served in this role for 12 years. 

 

Her research is centered on understanding culture, cognition, and development with a specific focus on the complexities of navigating multiple meaning systems in creating and implementing more effective learning environments with Indigenous students, teachers, and communities both in schools and in community settings. 

 

Megan’s work focuses on decolonizing and indigenizing education with a focus on “STEAM.” More specifically she works to create learning environments that build on Indigenous ways of knowing, attend to issues of self-determination, and work towards socially and ecologically just futures. 

 

Megan approaches her work in both schools and informal settings through rigorous mixed methods, from utilizing experimental design in her foundational cognition and development studies, to community-based participatory design work in which she co-designs learning and teaching with communities, families, and youth. 


Dr. Bang has won several awards including the AERA early career award in Indigenous Education as well as the Division K early career award in Teaching and Teacher Education. She is currently serving on the Board of Science Education at the National Academy of Sciences, the Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee at the National Science Foundation, and the editorial boards of several top journals. She also serves on the board of Directors for Grassroots Indigenous Multi-media, an organization focused on Ojibwe language revitalization.

Doug Medin

Northwestern University

Co-Principal Investigator

Doug Medin is Louis W. Menk Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Professor Emeritus in Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.  Broadly speaking, much of his research has focused on cultural differences in ways of looking at the world and people’s understandings of human-nature relations.  This includes cross-cultural studies of biological categorization and reasoning, cultural and cognitive dimensions of moral reasoning and decision making, and culturally- and community-based science education. 

 

For more than two decades this research has focused on Indigenous communities in general and Native American communities in particular, the latter in collaboration with Native scholars and community members.

 

At Northwestern, Dr. Medin has been faculty advisor to the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance, a member of the Native American and Inclusion Taskforce (2014), and a member of the Native American & Indigenous Peoples Steering Group (since 2015). 

 

Further afield, he served on the 2009 NRC committee on Informal Science Learning, is a recipient of the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Education. He was honored in 2013 with the Association for Psychological Science William James award for lifetime achievements in psychology.

Filiberto Barajas-López

University of Washington

Co-Principal Investigator

My research examines the realities of teaching and learning mathematics in schools serving predominantly African American, Latina/o, Native American, poor/working-class, and immigrant youth. I pursue several interrelated themes in my work:
(1) understanding how research, policies, and practices in mathematics education address the realities of youth of color, poor and working class youth, and immigrants;
(2) how Mexican immigrant youth experience mathematics learning socially and institutionally, including how these youth are socialized to learn and think about mathematics in their own homes and communities;
(3) how secondary mathematics teachers learn to develop understanding about youths’ home and cultural knowledge to develop and enact culturally relevant mathematics learning experiences;
(4) how children and youth develop racial and ethnic identities in relation to disciplinary identities within the field of mathematics;

(5) living Indigenous resurgence and decolonization

 

Central to all this work is privileging youth experience, family knowledge and cultural knowledge. I contend that student experience and voice offer both practical and theoretical insights on how race, culture, language, gender, class are intimately connected to the ways in which students come to participate in mathematics learning.

 

Currently, I teach and advise students across the undergraduate, teacher education (Mathematics Education), and graduate education (Mathematics Education) programs in the College of Education. I am also an affiliate faculty of Education, Equity and Society.

 

Anna Lees

Western Washington University

Associate Professor / Co-Principal Investigator

Anna Lees Ed.D. (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, descendant) began her career as an early childhood classroom teacher in rural northern Michigan. Now, an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Western Washington University, she partners with schools and communities to prepare teachers for the holistic needs of children, families, and communities. Anna is committed to developing and sustaining reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities to engage community leaders as co-teacher educators, opening spaces for Indigenous values and ways of knowing and being in early childhood settings and higher education. 

 

She is currently engaged in research around a land education professional development model led my tribal nations and a relationship-based site embedded professional development model with tribal early learning programs. Her scholarship has been recognized by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, and the Spencer Foundation; she currently serves as editor of the Tribal College and University Research Journal and co-chair of the American Educational Research Association’s Indigenous Peoples of the Americas special interest group. 

Marjorie James

Tulalip Tribes

Co-Principal Investigator

My name is Marjorie James (Tulalip, Swinomish, Samish) (she/her). I’m a K-12 Tribal curriculum and education engagement collaborator for Tulalip Tribes of Washington. Since attending University of Washington and earning a BA in American Indian Studies (’06), I have has dedicated my education, work, and labor to reclaiming inherent tribal sovereignty and forwarding social justice. I come from a long and broad tradition of Native/Indigenous educators in my family and communities. So in 2016, somewhat inevitably, I shifted from the American legal industry to work in Tribal and Native education.

 

I prioritize Native pedagogies, expansive collaboration, systems understanding, continued learning, and flexibility to coordinate the creation and implementation of Tulalip Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum in local schools. This project benefits all and everything within Tulalip Tribes’ ancestral territories. It correspondingly helps Tulalip’s partner districts meet state Tribal History and Culture curriculum requirements. I also has the privilege of serving as a trustee for the Tulalip Foundation, a small non-profit dedicated to empowering the wellbeing of the Tulalip Reservation and surrounding community.

Jordan Shananaquet

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Co-Principal Investigator

Jordan E. Shananaquet, (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, citizen) Boozhoo Inawemaaganak. Gdinmikoon. Anishinaabe-Odawa kwe ndaaw miinwaa Waganakising Odawa ndodabendaagwaz. Nme ndodem minwaa Jaadaan Shawwawnawnawquet ndo zhaaganaashii noozwin. Kchi kinomaage kwe ndonaangzhe. Nhow. Hello Relatives, I greet you all in a good way. My name is Jordan Shananaquet. I am an Anishinaabe-Odawa woman and a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa (LTBB). I am sturgeon clan and I serve as the Education Director for Niigaandiwin Education Department which is located at our tribal headquarters in Harbor Springs, Michigan.

As an undergraduate, I earned two bachelor degrees in History and Cultural Anthropology along with minors in Native American Studies and Classical Studies with a concentration in Latin from North Carolina State University. As a graduate student at NC State, I spent three semesters studying the history of my people: the Anishinabek. Being part of the Anishinabek community—particularly the Waganakising Odawak—reinforces my love of history, a history that has informed my identity as a scholar and as an Anishinaabe-Odawa woman. My sense of home, and thus history, is rooted in my ancestors; they are one in the same.

As Anishinabek people, we are inseparable from all of creation and share a deep connection to our first mother, Ishkaakimikwe, or mother earth. Our identity—that is, our sense of place, language, and culture—is intimately related to our land and the beings that inhabit it. It is a space of connection and relationship; our land contains the memories of our ancestors and tells our people who we were and who we are. Niigaandiwin’s Ishkaakimikwe Kinoomaagewinan (IK) Curriculum Program utilizes a place-based framework coupled with and locally-relevant instruction and hands-on experiences to invite learners to engage with content from multiple perspectives. This work serves as a way to shift longstanding historical practices that have omitted Indigenous people from decision making power over education, and increasing representations of Indigenous people, communities, languages, stories, as well as perspectives in formal and informal educational spaces. I am excited to expand this work through Indigenous STEAM Collaborative.

I value community-based learning built on collaboration and mutual respect. Moreover, I believe it is important to support the growth of the Waganakising Odawa Nation as well as fellow Tribal Nations by weaving both ancestral and contemporary knowledge in the work that we do in order to further Tribal Educational Sovereignty. I am honored by this opportunity to serve my Indigenous relatives in this work. Miigwech. That is, thank you.

Jeanette Bushnell

University of Washington

Elder Educator

Jeanette Bushnell (Anishinaabe) is a semi-retired lecturer in The University Honors Program at the University of Washington and a co-founder of The N.D.N. Players Research Group.  Jeanette strives to foreground indigenous philosophies and knowledges. Her teachers are from both Anishinaabe Midewiwin and westernized academy.  With indigenous colleagues and based on indigenous philosophies, she teaches university students, creates pedagogic materials, develops games, grows food, and ponders the challenges of our changing world with specific foci on sovereignty, economics, food, governance, wellness, education, and equity.

Elizabeth Starks

University of Washington Bothell

Visual Designer

Elizabeth Starks (Shiwi / Diné) is a cultural technologist and artist. Her work focuses on creating and using tools for empowerment of Indigenous communities through collaborative design processes. She co-designs with stakeholders to understand and communicate complex ideas through creative visual methods. She holds a Master’s degree in Software-Driven Systems Design, a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, and a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art. 

Jennie Woodring

Northwestern University

Project Coordinator

Jennie Woodring is a research project coordinator who has worked with Doug Medin and Megan Bang on several projects in the departments of Psychology and Learning Sciences. Her contributions to the team include a range of roles, from administrative record keeping to team coordination to data analysis. She holds a BA in Microbiology from DePauw University, Greencastle, IN.

Felicia Peters

Northwestern University

Project Coordinator

Felicia Peters (Menominee and Santo Domingo Pueblo) is currently the project coordinator for ISTEAM at Northwestern University. She is a former middle school Math and Science teacher for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as well as a teacher for the CPS American Indian Education Program. Felicia has focused her work around the Chicago Native American community working for the American Indian Center of Chicago as a Program Coordinator for Positive Paths and as a Community Health educator for American Indian Health Services of Chicago.  Felicia credits ISTEAM for motivating her towards education and becoming a teacher. Felicia received her BA degree, Middle School Education with a minor in Math and Science concepts from Northeastern Illinois University in 2015.


Felicia’s goal as project coordinator for ISTEAM is to continue to connect youth with their traditions and revitalize their relationship with land and water. Felicia’s son has also grown up as part of ISTEAM and describes it as his only opportunity to learn and teach with other Native children.

Krystal Villanosa

Spencer Foundation

Postdoctoral Fellow

Krystal Villanosa

Nikki McDaid

Northwestern University

Research Assistant

Nikki McDaid (Shoshone-Bannock, Paiute) is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. Her research interests are broadly focused on informal and formal learning environments at the intersection of land-based education and Indigenous resurgence. More specifically, she wants to understand the ways that Indigenous youth in a land-based learning environment (Dr. Megan Bang’s ISTEAM program) recognize the personhood of plants and whether or not the propensity to do so might have an effect on the ways youth engage in environmental decision-making. 

 

She is also conducting research on how conceptions of human-nature relationships mediate knowledge systems that are activated when thinking through environmental decisions. Nikki earned her M.A. in Teaching from Pacific University and her B.S. in Sociology from Northeastern University. She also is a parent of two young children and is a former middle school and high school teacher.

Mario Guerra

Northwestern University

Research Assistant

Mario Guerra

Alissa Baker

Northeastern State University/Northwestern University

Research Assistant

Alissa Baker (Cherokee Nation) is a mother, assistant professor of psychology at Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, Oklahoma), and PhD student in Dr. Doug Medin’s MOSAIC cognitive psychology lab at Northwestern University.  She is interested in how Native and Indigenous cultures strengthen cognition and self-concept through language revitalization and cultural resurgence.  She is very interested in merging teaching, research, and service in creative ways that serve students and their communities.  

 

She is currently studying how Indigenous epistemologies shape ecological cognition and is part of a grassroots initiative to build a Cherokee language nest for young children and their mothers.

Forrest Bruce

Northwestern University

Research Assistant

Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe) is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. He is broadly interested in land-based education and the design of community-based learning environments that support Indigenous ways of knowing and being. He received a BS in Social Policy from Northwestern University and worked in Chicago Public Schools’ American Indian Education Program (Title 6) for a year before joining the ISTEAM research project, first as a research coordinator then later as a graduate student. 

Undergraduates

Joy Kim

Northwestern University

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Class of 2022

Biological Sciences

Minor in Global Health & Psychology

Christine Poterman

Northwestern University

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Class of 2023

Psychology & Environmental Policy and Culture

Minor in Spanish & Dance

Athena GoingSnake

(Cherokee)
Northwestern University

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Class of 2025

Social Policy and Environmental Science

Alivia Britton

(Odawa)
Northwestern University

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Class of 2025
Social Policy

Minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies
Anna Wittcoff

Northwestern University
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Class of 2024
Learning and Organizational Change, Business Institutions, and Civic Engagement

Alumni

Alice Tsoodle                        

Meixi *                                    

Megan McGinty                   

Priya Pugh                             

Gabriel de los Angeles     

Joh Howard                           

Emma Elliot-Groves        

Cece Hoffman 

Victoria Plumage   

Brett Ramey                  

Project Coordinator

Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Postdoctoral Fellow / Research Assistant

Faculty / Former Research Assistant

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Contact the ISTEAM team