Biography

Beat A. Schwendimann
My first name, Beat, is derived from the latin word beatus ("blessed"). I grew up in the German speaking part of Switzerland. 
After completing my junior college degree in economics, my interest in the complexity and diversity of life lead me to an M.Sc. in biology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland) where I had the opportunity to learn from two Nobel Prize laureates. By coincidence, I attended the same junior college and then university as Albert Einstein one hundred years prior.

In my bi
ology studies, I was most interested in genetics, evolution, immunology, and behavioral studies. For my master thesis, I conducted a study in psychoneuroendocrinology about the relationship between stress and self-assessment in humans. During that time, I worked as a tutor for gifted children and created several gifted programs for schools. This work lead to the foundation of the Mindscouts project, a support group for gifted children that focuses on social interaction. The Mindscouts group existed for ten years and served as the model for several other programs for gifted children.

My master thesis and my work with gifted children made me aware of my passion for education. I enrolled in the teacher credential program for junior college biology at ETH and received a master in advanced studies in secondary and higher education (MAS-SHE). I gained extensive teaching experience with a wide range of learners during my work as a biology teacher in several high schools, junior colleges, and a school for adults.

I got accepted to the AIESEC student exchange program and spent six months working for the non-profit organization CLT in India. I worked as a project leader of the science club in which local village children and their families learned about water cleaning and water saving methods. I initiated the construction of a large clay model of the water cycle to illustrate the water cycle. Students documented different local water sources and created a multimedia documentary. The CLT project center was funded by the Intel Computer Clubhouse initiative.

My work in India opened my eyes for the important role technology can play in science education. I applied for a Fulbright scholarship to conduct a Ph.D. in a US research group that focuses on technology-enhanced science education. I was one of only five recipients in Switzerland to receive a Fulbright scholarship that year. I decided to accept the offer from the University of California to work in the learning sciences research group of Professor Marcia C. Linn, one of the pioneers in technology-enhanced science education. For my Ph.D. in science education, I became a research fellow at the Center for Technology Enhanced Learning of Science (TELS) where I developed an evolution curriculum using the web-based inquiry science environment (WISE). I received a third master degree (M.A.) in education from UC Berkeley. I completed my Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education at UC Berkeley in 2011. My dissertation is entitled "Mapping biological ideas: Concept maps as knowledge integration tools for evolution education" (See "Publications"). For my dissertation, I developed and implemented a novel form of concept map, called Knowledge Integration Map (KIM).

From 2011 to 2013, I worked as a postdoctoral research associate in Professor Peter Goodyear's Laureate Fellowship project at the Centre for Computer-Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) at the University of Sydney. I worked on identifying and creating conceptual and technological tools that support collaborative work in teams of teachers involved in designing networked learning environments.

From 2014 to 2017, I worked as a research scientist in Professor Pierre Dillenbourg's DUAL-T project at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne (Switzerland). The DUAL-T project develops and implements innovative learning technologies that can help vocational students bridge the skill gap between what they learn in vocational school and their workspaces. The goal of DUAL-T is to develop multiple learning technologies (which can be hardware and/or software) that enable teachers to conduct rich learning activities.

In 2016, I served as the Executive director of the seat of the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) and as a research scientist at the IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education in Kiel (Germany).

In early 2017, I worked as the education program leader for the biotechnology startup company Nanolive. I researched and developed inquiry-based learning activities for biology education using the Nanolive 3D tomographic microscope. I enjoyed working closely with K-12 schools and conduct workshop for students and teachers. 

Since late 2017, I am working at the Swiss teacher federation (Dachverband Lehrerinnen und Lehrer Schweiz LCH) as a member of the executive board and as the head of the pedagogy group. LCH represents over 50'000 teachers from all school levels and is one of the largest professional organisations in Switzerland. As the head of the pedagogy group, I am investigating a broad range of topics related to education. As a member of the executive board, I am involved in the management and strategic decision-making of the teacher federation. I build connections between teachers, other unions, government groups, media, teacher training institutes, and researchers. My goal is to improve the work conditions of teachers and contribute to the further development of the Swiss education system.