ACTNext is proud to announce the addition of senior research scientist Vanessa Simmering, senior director of strategy implementation and operations Ada Woo, and research scientist Lu Ou to the ACTNext team.

Vanessa earned her BS and PhD from the University of Iowa Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. In her new role as senior research scientist for the Advanced Psychometrics team she will aid in developing mechanistic models of learning that can be applied across content domains and age groups.

She looks forward to applying her expertise in early childhood and developmental theory to extend the mission of ACTNext to K-12 education.

Before joining ACTNext, she was a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Her research focuses on understanding the relation between cognitive representations and behavior using computational modeling.

Using her expertise in child development her prior work examined how memory capacity improves to support increasingly complex behaviors during early childhood.

Ada received her PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington. In her new role as senior director of strategy implementation and operations, Ada is responsible for managing day-to-day operations and the achievement of strategic initiatives and programs for the ACTNext division, including managing all aspects of the ACTNext strategic plan and ensuring connectivity between externally-focused priorities and internal operations.

Ada’s research interests include adaptive testing, technology enhanced item types and assessment of decision-making as it relates to job performance.

Preceding her employment with ACTNext, Ada was director of measurement and testing at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). At NCSBN, she led the psychometric and research staff on the development of nursing and allied health testing programs.

In addition to her work in psychometrics and research, Ada is an active member in the assessment industry. She has served as chairs of the National Council of Measurement in Education outreach committee and the Association of Test Publishers certification and licensure division.  She is currently a member of multiple testing organization technical advisory groups.

Lu received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics from Zhejiang University in China, as well as a Master of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a Master of Science degree in Statistics, both from Penn State.

As a research scientist with ACTNext, she will conduct research on developing models for learning and collaboration, and, additionally, computational statistical techniques for adaptive learning and assessments. She is particularly interested in the dynamic feature of learning and collaborative processes, and will work on modeling knowledge and abilities from a dynamic perspective.

Before joining the ACTNext team, Lu completed thesis research which focused on developing, applying, and evaluating statistical and computational estimation techniques for mixed-effects nonlinear differential equation models. During her graduate career, she worked on the development and improvement of the dynr R package for multivariate time series analysis and applications of dynamic models and data mining techniques to dyadic co-regulation and emotion regulation.