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ORAU Webinar Series

ORAU Webinar Series

For more than 70 years, ORAU has helped our customers advance their mission by providing science, health and workforce solutions. Through our specialized teams of experts and a consortium of more than 120 universities, we connect the right people and resources to help our customers solve our nation’s most challenging issues.

Our 2021 Webinar Series features world-class subject matter experts presenting novel and emerging research in their respective fields. Our goal is to stimulate conversation and collaboration around some of the important research needs facing our country.

Challenges and Opportunities with Utilizing Artificial Intelligence in Education: A Framework for Adoption

June 23, 2021, 1:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

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The purpose of this webinar is to identify risk mitigation opportunities for achieving equitable outcomes in artificial intelligence (AI) adoption in K-12 education. Panelists will explore existing technologies and new concepts in order to develop and prioritize adoption strategies at the federal, state, and local levels.

Welcoming Remarks:

Kenneth TobinKen Tobin, Ph.D.
Vice President & Senior Research Officer, Research & University Partnerships Office, ORAU

Kenneth W. Tobin serves as vice president of Research and University Partnerships. In this role, he enhances ORAU’s scientific research opportunities and expands partnerships with universities, national laboratories and private industry. Under his direction, the University Partnerships office provides awards to ORAU member universities, identifies and promotes funding opportunities by facilitating inter-institutional relationships, and leverages relationships with other organizations to support increased funding for scientific research and education. Prior to joining ORAU, Tobin served as director of the office of institutional planning at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Samuel VisnerSam Visner
Technical Fellow, MITRE Corporation

Samuel Sanders Visner is a Technical Fellow at the MITRE Corporation. MITRE technical fellows have reached the most senior level of technical leadership at MITRE. MITRE fellows contribute directly to solving the most difficult challenges of MITRE’s sponsors and partners, making extraordinary contributions to mission outcomes. Visner served previously as the Director of the National Cybersecurity Federally Funded Research and Development Center (MITRE), sponsored by the National Institute of Science and Technology (appointed October, 2017), focused on the cybersecurity of the nation’s business and critical infrastructures.

Visner was appointed in 2020 as a member of the Board of Directors of ORAU and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Visner also serves as member of the Cyber Council of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, and the Cyber Committee of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. Visner is an adjunct professor of Science and Technology in International Affairs at Georgetown University, where he teaches a course on cybersecurity policy, operations, and technology.

Visner is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Atlantic Council and is a member of the Intelligence Community Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences, serving the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Visner served previously as a member of the Army Science Board. Visner also served previously as Senior Vice President at ICF (General Manager, Cybersecurity and Resilience), Vice President at CSC (General Manager, CSC Global Cybersecurity), Senior Vice President at SAIC, and as Chief of Signals Intelligence Programs at the National Security Agency, from which he received the Agency's highest award for civilian service in recognition of work done to transform the Agency’s signals intelligence infrastructure following 9/11. Visner also served as a member of the Board of Directors, CVG/Avtec (2008-2010).

Visner holds a bachelor’s degree in International Politics from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Telecommunications from Washington University. Visner served twice on the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force of the Defense Science Board, and has published articles on national and cybersecurity in World Politics Review, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and the Defense Intelligence Journal. Visner is cleared TS/SCI.


Chuck Howell

Chuck Howell
Chief Scientist for Responsible Artificial Intelligence, MITRE Corporation

Chuck Howell is focused on adapting tools and techniques from high-assurance systems engineering and from various risk management frameworks to apply to consequential AI (particularly, machine learning) systems. These tools and techniques can help organizations address concerns about AI system properties such as fairness, operational risk, safety, and credibility. Howell has more than 30 years of experience working in High Assurance Systems Engineering and AI. Howell chaired the First Annual Assurance Case Workshop in Florence, Italy, and co-chaired the Fall 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) national workshops on Cognitive Assistance in Government and Public Sector Applications.  

Jennifer Tyrell

Jennifer Tyrell
Senior Education Project Manager, ORAU

Jennifer Tyrell is a senior education project manager for K-12 STEM workforce development programs at ORAU. She dedicates her career to enhancing STEM education for students across the country through programming for both students and their teachers. Prior to coming to ORAU, Jennifer taught high school AP biology and biology I at Jefferson County High School in Dandridge, Tennessee. Her career as a teacher began through Teach for America, an AmeriCorps program that selects promising young leaders to teach for two years in under-resourced schools.


Ryan BakerRyan Baker, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Ryan Baker is Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Penn Center for Learning Analytics. His lab conducts research on engagement and robust learning within online and blended learning, seeking to find actionable indicators that can be used today but which predict future student outcomes.

Baker has developed models that can automatically detect student engagement in over a dozen online learning environments, and has led the development of an observational protocol and app for field observation of student engagement that has been used by over 150 researchers in seven countries. Predictive analytics models he helped develop have been used to benefit over a million students, over a hundred thousand people have taken MOOCs he ran, and he has coordinated longitudinal studies that spanned over a decade. He was the founding president of the International Educational Data Mining Society, is currently serving as editor of the journal Computer-Based Learning in Context, is associate editor of the Journal of Educational Data Mining, was the first technical director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center DataShop, and currently serves as co-director of the MOOC Replication Framework (MORF). Baker has co-authored published papers with over 400 colleagues.

Tracey Beckendorf-EdouTracey Beckendorf-Edou, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Cascade (Wash.) School District

Tracey Beckendorf-Edou is the Superintendent of Cascade School District, a beautiful rural school district located in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Prior to her arrival in Cascade, she was Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for Oak Ridge Schools in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She has also worked as a classroom teacher, a Peace Corps Volunteer, a math coach for the Microsoft Math Partnership, an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, and a senior project manager for science education programs. Beckendorf-Edou has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in math education, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. Beckendorf-Edou has particular interests in STEM education, organizational structure, continuous improvement, professional development, and increasing access to opportunities for children.

Natalie Milman

Natalie Milman, Ph.D.
The George Washington University

Natalie B. Milman, Ph.D. is professor of educational technology and director of the Educational Technology Leadership Program at The George Washington University. She is a member of the interdisciplinary Human-Technology Collaborations Ph.D. program and research lab. She is also a member of GW’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers and winner of the 2017 Bender Teaching Award. Her research focuses on the design of instruction and models for the effective leadership and integration of technology at all academic levels; online student support needs, engagement, and learning; issues of diversity, inclusion, digital equity; and the use of digital portfolios for professional development.

She serves as the co-editor of the Current Practice Section of "Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education" and has published numerous journal articles, including in "Computers in the Schools," "Journal of Research on Technology and Education," "Journal of Technology and Teacher Education," "Online Learning," and the "Quarterly Review of Distance Education." She presents frequently at conferences and has co-authored several book chapters and books. Her most recent book is titled, "Teaching Models: Designing Instruction for 21st Century Learners."

Pati RuizPati Ruiz, Ed.D.
Researcher, Digital Promise

Pati Ruiz is a researcher at Digital Promise on the Learning Sciences Research team. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Ruiz spent 16 years as a high school and middle school computer science teacher, Spanish teacher, and administrator. Ruiz has taught public school leaders and pre-service teachers in both the U.S. and Mexico and has helped design online learning experiences for computing and information technology faculty focused on diversifying undergraduate computing programs. Ruiz is interested in emerging technologies and how they apply in learning contexts. Recently, her work has focused on promoting equity and accountability in artificial intelligence (AI). She is particularly interested in the consequences (intended and unanticipated) of emerging AI technologies on historically excluded students, specifically Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and students with disabilities. Working with the Center for Integrative Research on Computing and Learning Sciences (CIRCLS), Ruiz has seen work ranging from Intelligent Tutors to the development of pedagogical agents and robots. She believes that as AI continues to gain attention in learning environments, it is essential to listen to educator's voices in order to make the most of these powerful new AI-mediated learning experiences.

Jennifer StimpsonJennifer Stimpson, Ed.D.
Educator, Innovator, Scientist

Blending science, substance and style, Jennifer Stimpson is a veteran science teacher, entrepreneur, and community leader, serving students through practice and innovative programming. Stimpson stands by the philosophy that teachers inspire students to become active lifelong learners.

Stimpson, an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator and Black female scientist, an HBCU, Big 12, and Ivy League alumna, has a statue of her likeness honoring her STEM education career. Stimpson’s global vision to advance science literacy for middle school girls mirrors her community, civic and public mission, and advocacy promoting science education equity. Her fellowship experience on Capitol Hill has advanced state and federal STEM education policy.

With sharpened wit and wisdom, Stimpson introduces girls to STEM wonders and possibilities, inspiring them to become STEMinist women. Her community service has garnered local, state, and international awards and recognition.

Technological Advancements to Enhance Weather System/Climate Change Research and Understanding

In case you missed it, watch the second webinar in a series below that was originally presented on June 9, 2021.

The purpose of this webinar is to promote more in-depth dialog on the current and future evolution of data science; strategies to strengthen the pipeline of diverse data science professionals; and discuss how the combination of being a data educator, a data scientist, and a data policy maker are critical to advance data science.

Welcoming Remarks:

  • Ken Tobin, Ph.D., ORAU
  • Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma


  • Mark Yeary, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma


  • Christopher Fiebrich, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  • Berrien Moore, III, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  • Jeff Kelly, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  • David Bodine, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  • David S. Ebert, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

HBCUs/MSIs – Strengthening Communities through Data Science

In case you missed it, watch the second webinar in a series below that was originally presented on April 14, 2021.

The purpose of this webinar was to promote more in-depth dialog on the current and future evolution of data science; strategies to strengthen the pipeline of diverse data science professionals; and discuss how the combination of being a data educator, a data scientist, and a data policy maker are critical to advance data science.

Welcoming Remarks:

  • Larry Robinson, Ph.D., Florida A&M University
  • Ken Tobin, Ph.D., ORAU


  • Charles Weatherford, Ph.D., Florida A&M University


  • Steven Morey, Ph.D., Florida A&M University
  • Tarik Dickens, Ph.D., Florida A&M University
  • Jason T. Black, Ph.D., Florida A&M University

The Future of Data Science: Its Role, Impact and Responsibility to the Advancement of Scientific Research and Public Understanding

In case you missed it, watch the first webinar in a series below that was originally presented on Dec. 2, 2020.

The demand for data science in making business, research and policy decisions continues to explode, as does the need for data scientists. ORAU is hosting this webinar, along with the University of Virginia, to drive more dialog on key factors that shape the current and future evolution of data science, promote more in-depth discussions on current trends; and what it means to be a data educator, a data scientist, and a data policy maker and why all three are critical to advance data science.


  • Philip E. Bourne, Ph.D., FACMI, University of Virginia


  • Sallie Ann Keller, Ph.D., University of Virginia
  • Renée Cummings, University of Virginia

Opening Remarks:

  • Ken Tobin, Ph.D., ORAU
  • Dean Evasius, Ph.D., University of Virginia