Our Team

  • portrait of Meagan Karvonen

    Meagan Karvonen, PhD

    Principal Investigator

    Meagan Karvonen, PhD is director of ATLAS (Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems), a center at the University of Kansas. In addition to her work on 5E-SESE she also directs the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment Consortium and is principal investigator of the Enhanced Assessment Grant, Innovations in Science Maps, Assessment, and Reporting Technologies (I-SMART). Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience in large-scale assessments for students with disabilities, and in particular, alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience managing externally funded projects, including serving as PI or co-PI on projects totaling more than $40 million. She has co-authored more than 200 articles, book chapters, technical reports, and presentations. 

  • portrait of Sarah Koebley

    Sarah Koebley, PhD

    Co-Principal Investigator

    Sarah Koebley, PhD as the Associate Director of Professional Learning, leads the ATLAS Center’s strategic initiatives around professional learning and in support of high quality educator resources. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University with a focus on mathematics education and research on mathematics teacher interpretations of social capital. She has more than 20 years of experience in STEM-based instructional design, inquiry-focused teaching and learning, assessment development, STEM community engagement, and educator professional development.

  • portrait of Shawnee Wakeman

    Shawnee Wakeman, PhD


    Shawnee Wakeman, PhD is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Special Education and Child Development at UNC Charlotte. Her research interests include enactment of access to the general curriculum for students with significant cognitive disabilities, alignment within the educational system and the policy implications of those alignment issues, alternate assessment, and special education teacher preparation. Dr. Wakeman has led or served on several federally funded projects, including the National Alternate Assessment Center, the TIES Center (Increasing Time, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support for Inclusive practices for Students with SCD), Project IMPACT: Inclusion Made Practice for All Children and Teachers, Project LEAAP: Longitudinal Examination of Alternate Assessment Progressions, and the NCSC. Dr. Wakeman has designed and provided PD to practicing teachers in more than 10 states and currently works extensively with preservice teacher candidates in clinical settings. In this project, Dr. Wakeman is a university partner and PI for the UNC Charlotte subaward. 

  • portrait of David Pugalee

    David Pugalee, PhD


    David Pugalee, PhD is a professor and director of the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (STEM) at UNC Charlotte. An internationally recognized expert on STEM education, Dr. Pugalee has published works on STEM teaching and learning, including the recent books Lesson Imaging in Math and Science and Effective Content Reading Strategies to Support Scientific and Mathematical Literacy. Dr. Pugalee has more than a decade of classroom teaching experience, including mathematics and science at the K-12 and higher-education levels, and has led multimillion-dollar grants providing STEM education–related professional development to school districts across North Carolina.

  • portrait of Lindsay Ruhter

    Lindsay Ruhter

    Research Associate

    Lindsay Ruhter is responsible for coordinating activities between teams and external partners and for routine monitoring of project management and deliverables for 5E-SESE. Ms. Ruhter previously served as the science test development coordinator for the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment Consortium, using her special education background to develop and conduct training for item writers, internal reviewers, and external reviewers. Before joining ATLAS, Ms. Ruhter was a special education teacher in Virginia.

  • portrait of Sue Bechard

    Sue Bechard, PhD


    Sue Bechard, PhD has served as a senior advisor to the DLM Alternate Assessment Consortium since 2011. She has focused her career on promoting inclusive educational assessment and instructional practices through design and implementation of comprehensive alternate assessment systems in more than 18 states. This has included providing face-to-face and online professional development opportunities to teachers of students with significant cognitive disabilities. She has served as PI or leadership team member on numerous federally funded grants. Her research focuses on the development, validation, alignment, and consequences of assessments for students with disabilities. 

  • portrait of Sean J. Smith

    Sean J. Smith, PhD

    Course Design Consultant

    Sean J. Smith, PhD is a professor of special education at the University of Kansas. Dr. Smith has a background in the area of special education and technology, specifically towards the integration of technology across teacher preparation programs. He has authored and presented several articles and papers dealing with special education technology and is currently a Project Director on several US Department of Education program initiatives seeking to further the integration of technology components across teacher preparation programs and into the lives of students with disabilities. 

  • portrait of Rebecca Swinburne-Romine

    Rebecca Swinburne-Romine, PhD

    Research Design & Statistical Specialist

    Rebecca Swinburne-Romine, PhD is an assistant research professor in the Research Design and Analysis (RDA) Unit at the Life Span Institute at KU. She has served as a co-investigator and statistical specialist on numerous NIH- and IES-funded projects in education and public health. Her expertise is in multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, and instrument development. As a member of the RDA Unit for the past 4 years, she has worked on a wide range of projects and contributed statistical and methodological work to small, single-case design projects as well as large, randomized control studies.