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Stacy Ochoa


As a teaching faculty member my research is focused on investigating teaching and mentoring practices that can improve the experience and success of undergraduates in science majors, particularly underrepresented students. I focus on evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of student-centered and active learning pedagogies. In addition to these strategies, research has indicated that a student’s self-identity and self-efficacy can increase student persistence in STEM. Students’ feelings, perceptions and how they fit in (e.g., class, major, and community) can have a large effect with negative perceptions associated with decreased student retention and persistence. I investigate if inclusive active learning strategies and/or student-centered activities would have a positive effect on self-identity and self-efficacy. Can inclusive interventions in curriculum, department or campus life improve a sense of belonging?

My career and research experiences have established a lifelong commitment to promoting student centered learning through inquiry based and active learning, as well my dedication to promoting educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities and low socioeconomic communities.

Current Projects:

One ongoing project is the STEM Pathways program. STEM Pathways is a supportive mentored program committed to helping students navigate how to transition from community college to a 4-year university, explore STEM careers, and pursue a career that best fits their interests. The STEM Pathways program is built upon San Diego State University’s (SDSU) commitment to inclusive excellence and implements a mentored and applied experience for STEM majors. It begins at one of the partnering community colleges, Southwestern College & San Diego City College (City), continues through SDSU and on to graduate school and/or STEM career path. With a target audience of Latinx students, STEM Pathways is committed to bridging the access gap for minoritized communities and increasing the numbers of Latinx STEM professionals entering the workforce. STEM Pathways is committed to cultivating a supportive environment to foster and grow a diverse community of STEM professionals, while identifying and removing roadblocks to student transfer and post-transfer success. For more information see the STEM pathways SDSU site.

Select Publications

  • Segura-Totten, M., Dewsbury, B., Lo, S.M., Bailey, E.G., Beaster-Jones, L., Bills, R., Brownell, S.E., Caporale, N., Dunk, R., Eddy, S.L., Garcia-Ojeda, M. E., Gardner, S.M., Green, L.E., Hartley, L., Harrison, C., Imad, M., Janosik, A., Jeong, S., Josek, T., Kadandale, P., Knight, J., Ko, M.E., Kukday, S., Lemons, P., Litster, M., Lom, B., Ludwig, P., McDonald, K.K., McIntosh, A.C.S., Menezes, S., Nadile, E.M., Newman, S.L., Ochoa, S.D. Olabsisi, O., Owens, M.T., Price, R.M., Reid, J.W., Ruggeri, N., Sabatier, C., Sabel, J.L., Sato, B.K., Smith-Keiling, B.L., Tatpudy, S.D., Theobald, E.J., Tripp, B., Pradhan, M., Venkatesh, M.J., Wilton, M., Warfa, M., Wyatt, B.N., and Raut, S. A. (2021) Chronicling the Journey of the Society for the Advancement in Biology Education Research (SABER) in its effort to become antiracist: From Acknowledgement to Action. Front. Educ.
  • Ochoa, S.D*, Dores, M.R, Allen, J.A, Tuan, T., Osman, M. +, Vazques-Castellanos, N.P+, Trejo, J., Zayas, R.M. (2019) A modular laboratory course using planarians to study genes involved in tissue regeneration, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education Corresponding author, +Undergraduate authors
  • Ochoa, S.D.*, Wang, S.*, Khaliullin, R.N.*, Gerson-Gurwitz, A., Hendel, J., Zhao, Z., Biggs, R., Chisholm, A.D, Desai, A., Oegema, K., and Green, R.A. (2019) A high-content imaging method for monitoring C. elegans embryonic development. Development dev.174029 *Equal contribution
  • Khaliullin RN, Hendel JM, Gerson-Gurwitz A, Wang, S., Ochoa, S.D, Zhao, Z., Desai, A., Oegema, K., and Green, R. A. (2019) A Semi-high- throughput Imaging Method and Data Visualization Toolkit to Analyze C. elegans Embryonic Development. J Vis Exp. doi:10.3791/6036
  • Woodruff, J. B., Wueseke, O., Viscardi, V., Mahamid, J., Ochoa, S. D., Bunkenborg, J., Widlund, P. O., Pozniakovsky, A., Zanin, E., Bahmanyar, S. Zinke, A., Hong, S., Decker, M., Baumeister, W., Andersen, J., Oegema, K., and Hyman, A. H. (2015). Centrosomes. Regulated assembly of a supramolecular centrosome scaffold in vitro. Science 348, 808–812.
  • Wang, S., Wu, D., Quintin, S., Green, R. A., Cheerambathur, D. K., Ochoa, S. D., Desai, A. and Oegema, K. (2015). NOCA-1 functions with γ-tubulin and in parallel to Patronin to assemble non-centrosomal microtubule arrays in C. elegans. Elife 4, e08649.
  • Lander, R., Nasr, T., Ochoa, S.D., Nordin, K., Prasad, M. and C. LaBonne, (2013). Interactions between Twist and other core EMT factors are controlled by GSK3- mediated phosphorylation. Nature Communication 4, 1542.
  • Ochoa, S.D., Salvador, S., LaBonne, C., (2012). The LIM adaptor protein LMO4 is an essential regulator of neural crest development. Dev Biol 361, 313-325. Rivard, L., Srinivasan, J., Stone, A., Ochoa, S., Sternberg P. W. , and Loer, C., (2010) A comparison of experience-dependent locomotory behaviors and biogenic amine neurons in nematode relatives of Caenorhabditis elegans. BMC Neuroscience 11:22


Stacy Ochoa received her Ph.D. at Northwestern University where she studied neural crest development followed by her postdoctoral research at UCSD where she collaborated on generating a systems-level view of embryogenesis. Along with developmental biology research, she took a great interest in science education research during her postdoc. Her foundation for a career in teaching and science education was established while attaining her M.Ed. and teaching middle school science through a partnership with Teach for America in South Los Angeles. Before joining faculty at UCSD in 2024 she was the College of Sciences Director of Advising and a lecturer in the Biology Department and at San Diego State University.