About CTRL

The Creative Technology Research Lab (CTRL) is a research lab associated with the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. The primary aim of the CTRL is to investigate how to meaningfully engage all learners in technology-mediated learning, with a focus on computer science and computational thinking. The focus of the lab is on rigorous research, K-12 outreach, and advocacy.

Our Team

Maya Israel

Maya Israel

Associate Professor of Educational Technology, School of Teaching and Learning 
University of Florida

View Maya's Faculty Page


Maya Israel, Ph.D. is the research director of the CTRL. She is an associate professor of special education and an affiliate faculty of the Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching & Agency (DELTA) program at the University of Illinois. Her primary areas of specialization include supporting students’ meaningful access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning with an emphasis on computational thinking and computer programming. She studies how to use instructional approaches such as Universal Design for Learning, metacognitive learning strategies, and technologies to help students become more successful learners.

Todd Lash

Todd Lash

Doctoral Student, Special Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Previously, Todd worked for seventeen years as a K-5 classroom teacher, interventionist, library media specialist and instructional coach for computer science and computational thinking at the elementary level. He is the co-winner of 2015 State of Illinois, Those Who Excel Award for Educational Teams and is the co-founder of EdCampCU, which aims to bring community members with diverse viewpoints together to discuss education-related issues.  Todd’s research interests are around increasing equity in and access to high-quality computer science education for all students. Over the last year, he served as a writer for the 2016 Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Standards Revision team and as a writer for the k12cs.org Framework project.  Todd is also an active member of the CSTA K-8 task group.‚Äč

Yasemin Cicek

Yasemin Cicek

Doctoral Student, Curriculum and Instruction
Specialization in Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching, and Agency (DELTA)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

After teaching mathematics to middle grades (from 5th to 8th grades) for one year, she began her studies in the Educational Technology master's program to integrate technologies into teaching effectively. During the master's program, she has been intrigued with computational thinking research efforts to enhance K-12 students’ content creation by using technology creatively and actively. Her research interests include integration of computational thinking practices into K-12 curriculum, effective use of technologies in school settings and designing technologically enhanced learning environments to promote all learners’ meaningful learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

John Hampton

John Hampton

Doctoral Student, Educational Technology
University of Florida


Currently a graduate assistant working with Dr. Israel. It's my third time attending UF (BA in '06, M.Ed. in '07). I taught high school English and photojournalism for 10 years. I also did instructional design and UDL work for other teachers in my county. My current area of research interest is in using video game narratives as identity-building tools.

Ruohan Liu

Ruohan Liu

Doctoral Student, Educational Technology
University of Florida


Ruohan is a doctoral student in the program of educational technology at University of Florida. Prior to entering this program, Ruohan had received a master degree in ESOL and Bilingual Education at UF, and she had been a teacher for two years in China instructing ESL and college bridge courses. Ruohan’s current research interests focus on the gamification elements in computer education in the K-12 context, specifically in regard of the effects on learning, engagement, self-efficacy, and motivation.

Wei Yan

Wei Yan

Doctoral Student, Educational Technology
University of Florida


A PhD student in the department of Educational Technology at the University of Florida. Before entering the program, she got her BA in Elementary Education (Mathematics and Science) from China and MA in curriculum and instruction (Elementary Education) from UF. Her research interest is integrating technology into the elementary curriculum, especially in math and science.

Feiya Luo

Feiya Luo

Doctoral Student, Educational Technology
University of Florida


Prior to pursuing her PhD in Educational Technology, Feiya received her master’s degree in Translation and Interpretation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California. Also a teacher with many years of teaching experience, Feiya's current research interests involve computational thinking integration and CS Ed in K-12. Feiya believes in leveraging interactive learning technologies such as robotics to promote learners' interest in science.

Michael McKelvey

Michael McKelvey

Coordinator of Engagement Technology & New Media
Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE)
College of Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


 

Past Team Members

Cinda Heeren

Cinda Heeren

Teaching Professor, Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Faculty Page - Personal Site


Cinda has taught the data structures course at Illinois for 7 consecutive years. Her experience teaching computer science has proved invaluable to the CTRL's efforts.

George Reese

George Reese

Director, Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

View George's Faculty Page

George Reese is Director of the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) in the College of Education, and has been part of that organization for 20+ years. MSTE's goal is to bridge K-12 STEM teaching and learning via new digital technologies and university-community collaborations. Reese was a high school mathematics teacher in the later 1980s and early 90s before coming to the University of Illinois. He is Past-President of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM). He is learning programming and works with others who also like math and/or coding.

Quentin Wherfel

WherfelDoctoral Student, Special Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Quentin M. Wherfel is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Prior to entering the program, Quentin had been a teacher for seven years. He was a band director for three years in various schools in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, where his primary instruments were the classical guitar and clarinet. He also was a middle school learning/behavior specialist in the Urbana School District #116 where he worked with students with mild disabilities. His research interests focus on collaboration between general and special education teachers in inclusive classrooms. Specifically, he is interested in teachers' use of classroom assessments and other practices as methods for gathering evidence for student learning, and the instructional decisions made from the evidence to increase student achievement.

Gakyung Jeong

Gakyung Jeong

Doctoral Student, Special Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Gakyung is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education.  Previously, she worked with students with disabilities as a special education teacher in Korea and as a general education instructional assistant in San Antonio, Texas.  Her research interests focus on challenging behaviors of students with and without disabilities in inclusive education settings.  Specifically, she is interested in teacher education, examining how to prepare both general and special education pre-service teachers to manage challenging behaviors in their classrooms.

Jelena Pokimica

Jelena Pokimica

Doctoral Student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership (EPOL)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Jelena is a PhD student in Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership. Her interests span across instructional strategies in integrative learning environments, research methodologies, and applied research. She is also interested in research team capacity building and peer mentoring.