Family STEM Learning Researcher

Smirla Ramos Montañez

Program/Areas of Interest

  • Informal STEM education 
  • Family learning 
  • Program Evaluation 
  • Culturally responsive research and evaluation 
  • STEM identity development 
  • Early childhood education 
  • Interest Development
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods 


Smirla Ramos Montañez, PhD is a bilingual (Spanish/English) and bicultural (Puerto Rican/American) researcher and evaluator focusing on culturally responsive studies related to informal STEM learning. During the last five years Dr. Ramos Montañez has led and supported a variety of projects, including program and exhibit evaluation as well as STEM education research to provide accessible, culturally relevant, and engaging experiences for diverse audiences. Currently, she is working with Dr. Scott Pattison to better understand family interest pathways and how to foster long-term interest in the engineering design process. 

Dr. Ramos Montañez in PI on the new project, Diálogos, an NSF AISL project that will engage parents as research partners to explore how we can leverage informal family engineering activities to support the development of executive function skills for preschool-age children from Latinx families.

Dr. Ramos Montañez did an interview with the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) about what led her to work in STEM Identity research in informal contexts. The interview can be read here.


  • B.S. Biology, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, 2003 
  • Ph.D. Microbiology, Indiana University, 2010 

Highlighted Publications

Pattison, S. A., Svarovsky, G., Ramos Montañez, S., López Burgos, V., Santiago, A., & De Los Santos, S. (2023). Family-Centered Research: Reflections From a Zoom-Based Recording Method of Families Learning Together at Home. Educational Researcher, 0(0).

Pattison, S., Ramos Montañez, S., Svarovsky, G., & Tominey, S. (2022). Engineering for equity: Exploring the intersection of engineering education, family learning, early childhood, and equity.

Pattison, S., Rubin, A., Benne, M., Gontan, I., Shagott, T., Francisco, M., Ramos Montañez, S., & Dierking, L. (2018). The impact of facilitation by museum educators on family learning at interactive math exhibits: A quasi-experimental study. Visitor Studies, 21(1), 4–30. 

Pattison, S., Gontan, I., Ramos Montañez, S., & Moreno, L. (2018). Identity negotiation within peer groups during an informal engineering education program: The central role of leadership-oriented youth. Science Education, 102(5), 978–1006. 

Pattison S, Gontan I, Ramos Montañez S. (2019) The Identity-Frame Model: A Preliminary Framework to Describe Situated Identity Negotiation for Adolescent Girls Participating in an Informal Engineering Education Program. In Review. Journal of Learning Sciences.