Mel S. Sabella

Professor of Physics

Mel Sabella

Dr. Mel S. Sabella


B.S., State University of New York at Binghamton
Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
Postdoctoral, University of Washington, Seattle

Research Interests

Physics Education Research, Investigating student problem solving and conceptual understanding, identifying the specific needs and resources of the urban student, curriculum development, preparation of pre and inservice teachers.

Selected Presentations and Publications


  • The Teacher Immersion Course Model: A Reform-Oriented Early Teaching Experience that Capitalizes on Collaborations Between High Schools and Universities, Sabella, M.S.,  Robertson, A.D, Van Duzor, A.G., In E. Brewe & C. Sandifer (Eds.) Effective Practices in Preservice Physics Teacher Education: Recruitment, Retention, and Preparation, College Park, MD, American Physical Society.
  • Not just Great Science Teachers ... Great Chicago Science Teachers: The role of local communities in diversifying the Physics Teaching Workforce.. Sabella, M.S.,Van Duzor, A.G.
  • Cultural toolkits in the urban physics learning community. Sabella, M. S., & Van Duzor, A. G. (2013, January). In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 1513, p. 34)
  • A collaboration between university and high school in preparing physics teachers: Chicago State University's Teacher Immersion Institute, Sabella, M. S., Van Duzor, A. G., Passehl, J., & Weisenburger, K.. 2012, The Physics Teacher, 50(5), 296-300.
  • Providing support to inner-city students and teachers through the Physics Van Inservice Institute, Sabella, M.S., Phys Teach. 45, 80-84 (2007).
  • Knowledge organization and activation in physics problem-solving, Sabella, M.S. and Redish, E. F., Phys. Educ. Res., Am. J. Phys. Suppl. 75, 1017 (2007).
  • Preparing urban students to teach in the urban classroom: Chicago State University's PhysTEC Program, Sabella, M., Van Duzor, A. G., & American Physical Society, 2011, (


  • Improving Science Teacher Preparation through the APS PhysTEC and NSF Noyce Programs, American Physical Society and PhysTEC Conferences, Sp 2013, Baltimore, MD
  • Supporting Collaboration between Two Year Colleges and Universities through a Learning Assistant Program, May 2014, PhysTEC Conference, Austin TX
  • Reflections on Early Physics Teaching Experiences in the CSU Teacher Immersion Course, May 2014, PhysTEC Conference, Austin TX
  • The role of community and professionalism in the preparation of physics teachers for the urban learning environment, Sabella, M. S., Passehl, J., & Weisenburger, K. to be presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Conference, Philadelphia, PA July 28-August 1, 2012.
  • The cultural toolkit of physics students on the Southside of Chicago, Sabella, M. Presentation for Florida International University PER Seminar, Miami, FL, April 2012.
  • Implementing PhysTEC at an Urban Comprehensive University, Sabella, M. Presented at Spring 2011 PhysTEC Conference, Austin Tex
  • Using Physics Education Research to Build an Understanding of Student Thinking, Sabella, M. Invited talk at MRSEC education directors meeting in Chicago, IL.  September 2011.


Member of Executive Committee on the APS Forum on Education, APS

Member of Physics Education Leadership Organizing Council, AAPT

Past President, Chicago Section of the AAPT

Member of Planning Committee for Chicago Symposium Series on Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science

Physics Advisor and Assessment Coordinator, CSU

Recent Invited talks

Reflecting On the Experiences of LAs in an Evolving, Collaborative, Teacher Preparation Effort, Invited talk at 2013 Summer AAPT Meeting: Portland, Oregon

The Influence of Student Culture on Physics Learning Environments, Invited talk at Illinois State University PER Seminar, Nov. 2013

Developing a Physics Learning Assistant Program to align with specific needs, resources and goals in the Urban Environment, May 2014, Invited talk at Purdue University PER Seminar

Building on Learner Resources in Urban Pre-service Teacher Professional Development, Van Duzor and Sabella, Invited talk at National AAPT Meeting , MN 2014

A summary from two opportunities to explore the Intersection of Biology and Physics: Research and Education,  Sabella and Lang, Invited talk at national AAPT, MN 2014

Using STEM Education Research to guide instructional innovation and promote student understanding, Invited talk at Roosevelt University STEM Seminar, Chicago 2014

Using Physics Education Research (PER) as a lens to understand and guide assessment in the STEM fields, Invited talk at Morton College Faculty Development Day, Cicero, IL 2014


Recent Grants and Funding

2015, PI, NSF-$159,882.00- “Collaborative Research: Scaling Undergraduate STEM Transformation and Institutional Networks for Engaged Dissemination (SUSTAINED)," (National Science Foundation, 2015-2019) Co-PIs: Kim Coble, Andrea Van Duzor, and Amber Wise.

2014, Co-PI, NSF S-STEM - $611,692, Increasing Chemistry and Physics Graduates at Chicago State University (National Science Foundation, 2014-2018)

2013, PI, NSF - $48,400, GRC-Physics Research & Education: The complex intersection of Biology and Physics (National Science Foundation, 2014)

2010, PI, PhysTEC- $74,838 - "Physics Teacher Education Coalition Pilot Site at Chicago State University" (National Science Foundation/ American Physical Society, 2010-2013.

2009, Co-PI, NSF- $133,625 - Supplemental for Noyce Internship Support "Establishing a Supportive Environment for the Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention of the Urban Science Teacher" (National Science Foundation, 2009-2013)

2008-Co-PI, NSF- $670,962 - Establishing a Supportive Environment for the Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention of the Urban Science Teacher, (National Science Foundation, 2008-2013)

2007- Creating Innovative Physics Learning Environments in the Urban Classroom (National Science Foundation: CCLI, 0632563, 2007-2009)

2006- Creating Research-Based Single Concept Question Sequences for In-Class Polling Systems (National Science Foundation: CCLI, 0618128, 2006-2009)