Our goal is to advance the social good by lowering barriers to research on student learning

Our values

Across the full range of social problems, there is no solution more comprehensive than improving education. While education has systemic barriers to research advancement, technology offers new opportunities to overcome these barriers. This is Terracotta’s overarching mission: to revolutionize education research by obliterating the obstacles to scalable, rigorous, and relevant education research.
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Our Team
Our team

We’re led by an energetic, experienced, purpose-driven team

Ben Motz
is Director of the eLearning Research and Practice Lab in Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute, and is on the faculty of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. His research examines the nexus between cognitive theories of learning, psychological theories of engagement, and what goes on in college classes. Dr. Motz has designed three enterprise-scale learning applications integrated with Canvas: Quick Check, an open-source platform for formative assessment in online learning environments; Boost, a mobile app that deploys automated nudges to help students stay on top of schoolwork; and now Terracotta, currently funded by Schmidt Futures and IES. Motz is also a founder of the ManyClasses project, a collaborative research model investigating the generalizability of educational interventions across dozens of classrooms.
Mark McDaniel
is Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences and Director of the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) at Washington University in St. Louis. He is coauthor of the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, and co-editor of the volume Integrating Cognitive Science with Innovative Teaching in STEM Disciplines. His research on human learning and memory has included highly influential scholarship on basic encoding and retrieval processes, and he has extended these theories to educationally relevant paradigms. Dr. McDaniel is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the Society for Experimental Psychologists, and is past president of APA’s Division 3 (Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science). 
Jared Stein
is VP of Higher Education Strategy for Instructure, makers of Canvas. In this role, Jared engages with higher ed leaders and practitioners around the world to figure out how technology can help education tear down barriers, build up learners, and inspire innovators. Before joining Instructure, Jared worked in higher education as a leader in online and blended teaching and learning for over a decade. He has helped departments develop fully online programs, implemented blended and hybrid teaching initiatives, and guided faculty to adopt evidence-based practices that engage learners and improve outcomes. Jared advocates for active learning, authentic assessment, open education, ethical use of data, and frictionless user experiences. Jared is author of Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide, now in its second edition.
Harmony Jankowski
is Terracotta’s Project Manager. Dr. Jankowski brings years of experience in cyberinfrastructure assessment, classroom teaching, and corporate educational technology.
Marcus Christie
is a full-stack web application developer, a leading contributor to Apache Airavata, and author of dozens of scholarly articles describing research applications of science gateways.
Kim Burgas
is an independent UX/UI design contractor and educator with expertise designing web-based research tools for non-expert audiences.
Our Advisory Board
Our Advisory Board

Experts in experimental research on human learning and education guide Terracotta’s progress and priorities.

Christina Barbieri
is an assistant professor affiliated with the Ph.D. in Educational Statistics and Research Methods (ESRM) and the Learning Sciences Ph.D. in Education specialization in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on the evaluation and application of cognitive learning principles to improve mathematical competencies, especially for students at risk for low mathematics achievement. Dr. Barbieri is also co-PI on an IES-funded Goal 1 Exploration grant focused on the relationship between improvements in fraction understanding and algebra readiness.
Kristen DiCerbo
is the Chief Learning Officer at Khan Academy, and was previously the Vice President of Learning Research and Design at Pearson. Dr. DiCerbo has also supported research for the Networking Academies at Cisco, was a school psychologist in a local school district in Arizona, participated in the White House Game Jam, and served on the advisory board for the new PBS Kids Series Hero Elementary. Her scholarly research has focused on measurement and assessment in learning technology. 
Regina Frey
is the Ronald and Eileen Ragsdale Professor of Chemical Education at University of Utah. Dr. Frey co-founded the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) at Washington University in St. Louis, and is a leader in the Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) scholarly community. Dr. Frey’s research focuses on improving student learning and sense of belonging, and supporting STEM faculty in identifying and implementing evidence-based teaching strategies.
John Gensic
is a 9th and 10th grade biology teacher at Penn High School in northern Indiana. Gensic is an IU Jacobs Educator, has been a Top Ten Finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year, and received the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2017. He is a Teach+Plus Indiana teaching policy fellow, and a member of the Learning Agency Lab’s Teacher-Run Experiment Network.
Mary Murphy
is the Class of 1948 Herman B Wells Endowed Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. She is one of the nation’s leading researchers on how social identities and group memberships interact with context to affect feelings, motivations, and behavior. Dr. Murphy co-founded the College Transition Collaborative, and is collaborator on distributed education research programs such as the Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS), the Student Experience Project, and the Character Lab.
Daniel Robinson
is Associate Dean of Research and Professor and Chair of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas Arlington. He previously served as Director of Research and Measurement at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Robinson is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology, was lead editor of Educational Psychology Review, and has served as an editorial board member of nine refereed international journals including the Journal of Experimental Education.

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