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 Melanie  Stegman, Ph.D.

Melanie Stegman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor & Lead Developer for CAELT

Dr. Melanie Stegman graduated from the University of Chicago in 1992, and received her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology in 2004, from the University of Cincinnati. As a graduate student, Dr. Stegman used biochemistry, Drosophila melanogaster genetics and cell biology to determine the role of proteins involved in Human embryonic development and cancer.  As a post doc at Weil Cornell College of Medicine, Dr. Stegman designed a strategy to screen for novel chemical inhibitors of DNA repair in the Human pathogen, Tuberculosis mycobacterium.

In 2008, Dr. Stegman joined the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and served as the Director of the Learning Technologies Program from 2010 – 2014.  Dr. Stegman won a competitive research grant from the NIAID/NIH to study the video game, Immune Attack.  She conducted a 3-year, large scale, controlled study of learning and confidence gains in 6th – 12th grade students. Her data demonstrates that the game Immune Attack teaches molecular cell biology and imparts self efficacy to students who had no prior instruction in the material. 

In 2014, Dr. Stegman started a game studio, Molecular Jig Games, and released Immune Defense, a real time strategy game, based on her research on Immune AttackImmune Defense was shown at competitive indie game expos in Seattle, DC, and Baltimore.  Dr. Stegman also worked as a Unity3d/C# developer in several small game studios.

At HU, Dr. Stegman serves as the Lead Developer in the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technology (CAELT) and as Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Program.  Dr. Stegman teaches Project 2 Studio, which provides a team based, job-like experience for IMED and CISC students that meets their project 2 or internship requirements.  Dr. Stegman supervises student projects in the IMED and INSC programs as well. 


NIH Bibliography, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar

Current work

I create games for science communication to the public and/or education for students aged 10 through 22.  I design and assess innovative technologies with the goal of providing scaffolding for a deeper understanding of molecular science.  I have several projects underway, and undergraduate, graduate, Co-Op, intern students and collaborators are welcomed. 

Projects involve public health, science communication, science education, game play analytics, networking/MySQL, C#, Unity3d, graphics, 3D art, UI/UX and games user research.

In collaboration with HU Chemistry faculty, we have identified a set of fundamental principles required for first year chemistry students to understand acid and base reactions.  We are developing a game that allows players to manipulate molecules, guess their behaviors and try various strategies to produce various reactions.  We are using principles of game design to create molecular models that reveal characteristics of molecules, such as electronegativity, so that students can begin to associate these characteristics with behavior. 

In collaboration with Penn State College of Medicine, I have developed a learning management tool that allows the creation of interactive textbooks containing videos, images and text. Students are paired, can communicate through text and notes, each seeing see their own set of media. The first book to be tested is a simulation of 5 years of a patient’s life of chronic pain and opioid dependency.

VR Molecular Cell Biology
I am interested in creating familiarity with molecular cell biology.  I am building games using innovative tools for Unity3d, a video game engine.  The tools include CellPAINT_VR (see this video: here), UnityMol, and neat game on Steam is Nanoscape.

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