Meet the PDPD Team

The PDPD Team in Nashville, TN for PME-NA 44, Nov. 17-20, 2022 (Front row: Courtney Vahle, Faustina Baah, Amber Candela, Zandra de Araujo; Back row: Mitchelle Wambua, Paul Wonsavage, Maria Stewart, Sam Otten)

Principal Investigators

  • Zandra de Araujo, Ph.D. – University of Florida
  • Samuel Otten, Ph.D. – University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Amber G. Candela, Ph.D. – University of Missouri at St. Louis

PDPD Team Members

  • F. Paul Wonsavage, Ph.D. – University of Florida
  • Mitchelle Wambua – University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Maria Stewart – University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Courtney Vahle – University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Faustina Baah – University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Bridget Murphy – University of Missouri, Columbia
Dr. Zandra de Araujo started her career as a high school mathematics teacher. Currently, she is the Chief Equity Officer and Math Principal at the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning. Her research focuses on teachers’ curriculum use, particularly with English learners. She is an NCTM board member, the author of numerous mathematics education publications, the creator of the Mathematically Educated blog, and the co-creator of the Two-Minute Teacher’s Guide.
Dr. Samuel Otten is an associate professor of mathematics education and the chair of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2012. His research centers on student participation in mathematical practices and incremental approaches to professional development for secondary mathematics teachers. He is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and he now lives in mid-Missouri with his wife, Chelsea (a music teacher), and their four children, John, Harvey, Ruth, and Maggie. Sam and Chelsea have designed ambigrams for each of them.
Dr. Amber Candela is an associate professor of mathematics education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL) and has been in this role since 2014. She currently teaches mathematics methods classes for prospective teachers at UMSL.  Previously she was a middle school mathematics teacher in Charlotte, NC and in New York City.  Her research is focused on the professional development of mathematics teachers. Dr. Candela received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education from St. Bonaventure University, a master’s degree in mathematics education from Appalachian State University, and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of Georgia.
Dr. Paul Wonsavage serves as a postdoctoral research associate on the PDPD project. He is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research is focused on getting educational research into the hands of K-12 mathematics district leaders and building their capacity to engage with it. He previously worked as a high school mathematics teacher for 7 years before beginning graduate school in 2015 and joining a state-wide research-practice partnership between NC K-12 mathematics educators, NC universities, and the NC Department of Public Instruction. His wife, Brittni, is a registered nurse and together they have two boys, Carter (4.5 years) and Davis (6 months). In their spare time, Paul and his wife like to travel to new cities and eat at local (off the beaten path) food spots.
Mitchelle Wambua is a mathematics education doctoral candidate in the Learning Teaching and Curriculum department at the University of Missouri–Columbia. She serves as a research assistant on the PDPD project. Her research focuses on secondary students’ mathematics experiences and ways of supporting them to become more agentive learners. She received a masters’ degree in mathematics education from Syracuse university, New York, and a bachelors’ degree in Mathematics from Kenyatta University, Kenya. Prior to coming to the US, she taught high school mathematics for two years in Nairobi, Kenya.
Maria Stewart is a doctoral student in the Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum program at the University of Missouri – Columbia with a focus on Mathematics Education. Her research focuses on the experiences of secondary, novice mathematics teachers and ways to support them as they transition from preservice to inservice teachers. Prior to coming to Mizzou she worked as a ninth grade Algebra teacher for three years in Ohio. Maria lives in Columbia with her husband James, an elementary school teacher, and their two cats Jimmi and Geordi. In their free time, James and Maria like to explore small towns in Missouri and find good local eats.
Courtney Vahle is a mathematics education doctoral student at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She serves as a research assistant on the PDPD project and her professional interests include mathematics curriculum and working with teachers. She received her master’s degree in mathematics with a postsecondary mathematics education specialization and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical studies, both from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). Prior to this, she was a middle and high school mathematics teacher for three years. She lives in the St. Louis area with her husband Brennan, and pets Ellie and Shimmer. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and playing board games with friends.
Faustina Baah is a doctoral student in mathematics education in Learning, Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She serves as a graduate research assistant on the PDPD project. Currently, her research interests include the effects of gamification on secondary algebra learning and also, ways of supporting underserved groups of students in advanced mathematics courses. She lives in Columbia with her husband, Solomon and their son Darius. She enjoys watching K-drama series during her free time.
Bridget Murphy is a Senior Evaluator in the Assessment Resource Center at the University of Missouri.  She holds a Master’s degree in sociology from Kansas State University and has more than ten years experience conducting program evaluation at ARC.  Bridget lives in Columbia with her husband Dean, her two dogs Banksy and Walden, and her cat Taj.  She has two grown children, Sam and Nora.  Bridget is a retired Ultimate frisbee player and now enjoys cooking and disc golf.