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Cynthia Finelli
(734) 764-0244 4413 EECS Building
  • A group having fun at the ASEE ERM Brouhaha

The Finelli Lab

The Finelli Lab aims to influence the practice of engineering education by (1) researching faculty teaching practices and their impact on student learning and (2) establishing a more inclusive ecosystem for undergraduate engineering education. The lab fosters a supportive and flexible environment in which students develop their skills as researchers by designing research projects; collecting and analyzing data; exploring issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion; writing and critiquing manuscripts; presenting work to the group for feedback; and mentoring masters and undergraduate student researchers. Ideal lab members should be self-directed, self-motivated, and curious; should embrace diversity and inclusion; should be open to learning new ideas about engineering education research; and should be eager to explore multiple perspectives.

This document, The Finelli Lab: Improving the college experience for STEM students, provides answers to some frequently asked questions about the lab, work expectations, communication and feedback, funding and research choice, graduation time, and professional development.

Current team members

Lea Marlor

Lea Marlor, EER PhD Candidate; Sept 2019 – present

Xiaping Lei

Xiaping Li, EER PhD Candidate; Sept 2021 – present

As a member of Finelli’s research group, Xiaping has participated in projects applying change theories to explore STEM instructors’ adoption of active learning in online settings, studying the role of teaching practices in neurodiverse engineering students’ college experiences, and investigating how a digital tool supports inclusive teamwork in engineering. Holding degrees in Hydrology, Water Resources Engineering, Geological Sciences, and Educational Studies, she is passionate about photography, multimedia design, travel, handcraft arts, and delicious food.

Nolgie Oquendo-Colón (he/him), EER PhD Candidate; Jan 2022 – present

Nolgie has a B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Nolgie’s current research focuses on the academic success of STEM college students with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Oquendo-Colón is also a member of the ASEE Student Division, serving as Best Paper Chair and Vice-president of the ASEE Chapter at the University of Michigan. 

Serena Fan, undergraduate; Dec 2023 – present

Serena is a third year B.S.E. student majoring in computer science with special interests in DEI in engineering education, emotion AI technologies, and creative writing. 

Musabbiha Zaheer, undergraduate; Dec 2023 – present

Musabbiha is a second year undergraduate student majoring in computer engineering with special interests in computer architecture, engineering education, and system software. 

Former team members

  • Postdoctoral researchers
    • Maartje Van den Bogaard (2021-2022). Now Associate Professor of Teacher Education at University of Texas El Paso.
    • David Reeping (2020-2021). Now Assistant Professor at University of Cincinnati.
    • Aaron Johnson (2016-2019). Now Assistant Professor in Aerospace Engineering at University of Michigan
    • Jessica Swenson (2018-2019). Now Assistant Professor at University at Buffalo
    • Laura Hirshfield (2014-2016). Now Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at University of Michigan
    • Golnoosh Rasoulifar (2015)
    • Julianne Vernon (2014-2015)
  • Graduate students research assistants
    • Gracie Judge, electrical and computer engineering (2021 – 2023)
    • Gabriel Draughon, civil engineering (2017-2023). Now Assistant Teaching Professor of Engineering Fundamental at Michigan Technological University
    • Laura Carroll, engineering education research (2018-2023). Now Education Research and Assessment Analyst in the Trefny Institute at Colorado School of Mines
    • Caroline Crockett, electrical & computer engineering (2017-2022). Now Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Engineering at University of Virginia
    • Vanessa Holmes, higher education (2020)
    • Rachel Vitali, mechanical engineering (2016-2019). Now Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at University of Iowa
    • Jessica Hernandez, higher education (2019)
    • Shivani Sakri, aerospace engineering (2019)
    • Matt DeMonbron,  higher education (2013-2018). Now at Southern Methodist University
    • Sarah Bork, electrical and computer engineering (2017-2018)
    • Jessica Cañas, higher education (2015-2016)
    • Rob Bielby, higher education (2010-2012)
    • Matt Holsapple, higher education (2008-2012)
    • Brian Burt, higher education (2010-2012)
    • Eunjong Ra, higher education (2010-2011)
    • Ethan Eagle, aerospace engineering (2011)
    • Kelly Walczak, higher education (2009-2010)
    • Janel Sutkus, higher education (2007-2008)
    • Honor Passow, higher education (2003-2005)
    • Matt Mayhew, higher education (2003-2004)
  • Undergraduate students
    • Elizabeth Strehl, biomedical engineering (2020)
    • Max Blackburn, electrical and computer engineering (2017-2019)
    • Candace Wiwel, naval architecture and marine engineering (2017-2018)
    • Magel Su, materials science engineering (2017)
    • Julia Kerst, electrical and computer engineering (2016)
    • Hanna Pfershy, biomedical engineering (2016)
    • Charlotte Sawyer, industrial and operations engineering (2014)
    • Ameen Al-Khafaji, electrical and computer engineering (2011-2012)
    • Martha Neubauer, chemical engineering (2011-2012)