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Meet Our Staff

We bring together a team of scientists, educational technologists, educators, and career development experts for this project, Project eSPAC3, to create an innovative learning experience.





Dr. Perla Myers, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education

Perla Lahana Myers, Ph.D., is a Professor of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego (USD), where she has been on the faculty since 1999. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Houston with Honors, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Myers is passionate about achieving equity in education and diversifying the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and feels that one step towards these goals is changing the reaction people have when they hear the word mathematics to a smile.

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Dr. Lisa Dawley, Ph.D.

Senior Innovation Fellow, Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education

With over 30 years of experience in educational technology, Dr. Lisa Dawley provides leadership in the award-winning research, design and entrepreneurship of innovative learning technologies and organizations. Dr. Dawley is a Senior Innovation Fellow, and former Executive Director, of the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego. Dr. Dawley is committed to creating access for inclusive innovation among teachers and learners, and co-invented Pactful, a social good innovation app for teenagers. 


Dr. Wanli Xing, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Wanli Xing's research focuses on how emerging technologies can deeply transform STEM education and online learning. He creates learning environments using cutting-edge technologies, such as computer simulations and modeling, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and augmented reality to support learning in diverse classrooms and online environments. He also designs and applies data mining and machine learning to understand, assess, and optimize the learning process and the environments in which it occurs.

Research and Program Team Members

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Adan Escobedo Sanchez, Ph.D.

eSPAC3 Project Director, Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education

Dr. Escobedo Sanchez is an educator with passion for supporting underrepresented communities with STEAM projects. He has over 10 years of experience in imaginative program design , develops online curriculum for alternative education institutions, and utilizes educational technology. Dr. Escobedo Sanchez has won the San Diego County Office of Education's STEM Champion award two years in a row, as well as the San Diego Squared STEAM educator award.


 Dr. Lisa Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Research,  Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education

Dr. Lisa Smith holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with specializations in Research Methods & Statistics and Gifted Studies from Ball State University. Before coming to the University of San Diego, she was a Postdoctoral Associate with the Research & Evaluation team at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. Her primary research interests include how learners adapt their self-regulated learning processes to meet task demands, including how students respond to challenge.


Sandra Y. Candler-Wafer

Family and Community Engagement Supervisor, Cajon Valley Union School District

Sandra Candler Wafer, Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. From her early career in Information Tech and serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Sandra has always been a leader with a desire to help those around her. After achieving a B.S. in Organizational Leadership and transitioning to Community Organizing and Engagement, she continues to thrive. Currently, her role within the Cajon Valley Union School District with 14 itinerant Bilingual Community Liaisons is the most rewarding.  


Zifeng Liu

Peducational research and technology development, University of Florida

Zifeng is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Technology at the College of Education, University of Florida. She holds a Master's degree in Computer Software and Theories, which she earned at Beijing Normal University, China. Zifeng is passionate about educational games and researching how technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be used to support teaching and learning.

Advisory Team

Project Partners

External Advisory Board


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