STARS Celebration 2021 Featured Speakers


Dr. Veronica Cateté

STARS Keynote Speaker

Dr. Veronica Catete is  a Research Scientist in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where she received my B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science. She received my Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a concentration in mobile game development. Her overall goal has been on improving K-12 education through computing. Dr. Catete's earlier work involved evaluating ways to determine affect in intelligent game-based learning environments, then moved on to developing platforms for social game-based learning (both programming and human networking skills).

Dr. Catete's current research interests address teacher training and curriculum development for computing education. Her dissertation work focused on developing support mechanisms for novice computing teachers assessing high school programming labs, which was recognized with back-to-back Best Paper awards at the international conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. Since then, she have been working to incorporate computing and computational thinking into core classes. This research looks into a faded scaffolding approach to both teacher professional development and student activities. This work is assessed using a mixed methods CEO model of intelligent code traces, exit ticket feedback, and formalized field observations.

In addition to her academic research path, Dr. Catete has been leading computer science outreach to middle school students since January 2009. She has been able to pilot ideas and develop new insights into computing education research. Her outreach efforts have grown from one local middle school to over 1000 students across North Carolina. Internationally, she is a member of NCSU’s Global Engagement Institute, where she works with Mothering Across Continents to assess hands on computational thinking and engineering design cycles with rural secondary schools in Rwanda developing teacher PD and local sustainability teams.

Dr. Huifang Zuo

STARS Celebration Featured Research Speaker

Huifang Zuo is a Research Specialist on the Outlier Research Evaluation Team for STEM Education at the University of Chicago . She is currently working on a range of research projects. She received her Doctoral Degree in Educational Research Methodology and M.A. in Geography Information Science from UNC-Charlotte. With specialty in quantitative methodology, her research has focused on STEM education, neighborhood analysis, self-efficacy, and learning English as a second language. She also conducted geography-related educational research with integrating GIS technologies into education to better explore and understand educational phenomena. Huifang also holds a M.A. in the major of Language Acquisition and Chinese Modern Literature from Beijing Normal University.


Dr. Joseph Allen

STARS Celebration Featured Research Speaker

Dr. Joseph Allen is the Director, Equity, Leadership & Planning for the Austin Independent School District, where he leads efforts to cultivate the equity ecosystem. With the support of the equity team, Dr. Allen aims to develop and implement practices that ensure equally high outcomes for all participants in the Austin ISD educational system; that interrupt and disrupt inequitable practices, examining biases, and creating inclusive multicultural school environments for adults and children; and that support discovery and cultivation of the unique gifts, talents and interests that every human possesses. Dr. Allen earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he was a member of the STARS Computing Corps Evaluation Team.  


Amy Isvik

STARS Celebration Featured Speaker

Amy Isvik is a doctoral Computer Science student at North Carolina State University with a focus on integrating computer science education into K-12 classrooms utilizing curricular co-creation methods. She received a B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Wartburg College in 2018. Amy serves as the Internship Supervisor for the Game2Learn High School Internship program and over the past 3 years has guided over 80 high school students in the creation of computing-infused curricular materials for use in K-12 classrooms. She has been recognized for her work in CS outreach as recipient of the 2021 Graduate Student Leadership Award from her department. Through her position as President of the STARS student organization at North Carolina State University and as a graduate student mentor for a group of STARS CSforALL Scholars developing CS curriculum for use in active classrooms, Amy has expertise regarding how to organize groups of students interested in BPC to action and implementation.



Dr. Jamie Payton

Executive Director, STARS Computing Corps

Jamie Payton is Chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Temple University. Her research interests include pervasive computing systems for smart health and well-being, broadening participation in computing, and evidence-based approaches to improving computer science education. She is the Director of the STARS Computing Corps, a national alliance with the mission to broaden participation of groups that are underrepresented in computing. With support from the National Science Foundation, the STARS Computing Corps operates as a community of practice that engages computing faculty and students at institutions of higher education (IHEs) with a shared commitment to take action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in computing. STARS has engaged more than 50 colleges and universities in projects designed to promote persistence by connecting computing to community and societal impacts, reinforcing computing knowledge through teaching and practice, and developing professional, entrepreneurial, and creative skills. STARS student members have positive gains in GPA, self-efficacy, computing identity, and commitment to computing, with enhanced outcomes for women, African American/Black, and Hispanic/Latinx students.

Through her work with STARS, Payton has also helped to foster an academic community centered around broadening participation in computing through the annual STARS Celebration conference, which builds capacity for students and faculty through education and ignites action for adoption of evidence-based BPC practices, and as a co-founder of the IEEE STCBP RESPECT research conference, which advances peer-reviewed scholarship on diversity, equity, and inclusion in computing. Payton is also a founding member of the Connected Learner project, which aims to revolutionize undergraduate computer science education by connecting students to peers, connecting students to the profession, and connecting computing to a purpose and by transforming faculty classroom practices and departmental culture to emphasize inclusive pedagogy.


Dr. Tiffany Barnes

Director of Research, STARS Computing Corps

Tiffany Barnes is Professor of Computer Science at NC State University. She received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics, and the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from N.C. State. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the NC State Golden Chain Society, she has served ACM SIGCSE (Symposium Chair 2018, Program Chair 2017, Board 2011-2016), IEEE Special Technical Community on Broadening Participation (Chair, and founder of the RESPECT conference (2015-present)), the International Educational Data Mining Society (EDM chair 2016, board 2011-present), STARS Computing Corps (Co-Director 2006-present, Celebration Chair 2011, 2015), Foundations of Digital Games (Program Chair 2014), the International Society for AI in Education (Board 2016-Present), and IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies (Assoc. Editor 2016-Present). Dr. Barnes received an NSF CAREER Award for her novel work in using data and educational data mining to add intelligence to STEM learning environments. Dr. Barnes is the co-founder and co-Director for the STARS Computing Corps, a consortium of universities that engage college students in outreach, research, and service to broaden participation in computing. Her research focuses on AI for education, educational data mining, serious games for education, health, and energy, computer science education, and broadening participation in computing education and research.


Chelsea Zackey

Program Coordinator, STARS Computing Corps

Chelsea Zackey is a graduate student and aspiring researcher serving as this year’s STARS Celebration Program Coordinator. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Computer Science at Temple University this fall after having received her B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from the university the spring of 2019, graduating Cum Laude with distinction in the major. Though a longtime proponent for democratizing the information economy, Chelsea’s current work with the STARS Computing Corps has been her first opportunity collaborating with a group under the shared mission of broadening participation in computing. Prior to this, she has explored various ways to further this agenda through her various roles as a local community forum panelist; Peer Tutor at Temple’s Mathematics and Computer & Information Sciences (CIS) departments; volunteer mathematics tutor at the Philadelphia High School for Girls; Classroom Assistant for Temple’s Sonia Kovalevsky Day program; and former Vice President and President for Temple’s student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).
Throughout her undergraduate years, Chelsea’s efforts have been recognized at the departmental, college, and university level. Based on her undergraduate research experience in computer science and desire to pursue a career in academia, she was selected by Elsevier as its 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration Temple scholar. Later that year, she was selected by the Mathematics department as their inaugural recipient of the Isaac Newton Award, as well as one of the recipients of the College of Science & Technology’s Francis James and Helen C. Sholomskas Award for Outstanding Students. Moreover, due to her work with expanding the infrastructure and presence of Temple’s AWM student chapter as president, she found herself in the company of the 2019 Diamond Award recipients, which is description regarded as the highest recognition by Student Affairs given to a Temple University undergraduate who has demonstrated superior leadership, academic achievement, service to the University, and impact on a community.