Knowles is committed to change that is backed by research and based on a long-term, comprehensive approach to teacher development. We work with our network of Teaching Fellows to bring new approaches to the teaching of math and science that engage students and make real-world connections to their lives.”

Nicole’s Story

As the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Knowles Teacher Initiative, Dr. Nicole Gillespie leads Knowles in its efforts to strengthen the teaching profession and improve the state of US STEM education. Nicole previously directed the Knowles Teaching Fellowship, the foundation’s signature program that supports Teaching Fellows in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education nationwide. She joined Knowles in 2004 and has helped develop several of the foundation’s key initiatives, including its Research and Evaluation Program and Senior Fellows (formerly Alumni) Program.

Nicole’s experience in STEM education includes teaching science and mathematics at Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder High School and the Upward Bound Program at Napa Valley College, as well as working with the Seattle Public School System to introduce inquiry-based science curriculum in elementary grades. She has taught science and education courses to undergraduate and graduate students and to pre- and in-service teachers at the University of Washington; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Pennsylvania.

Nicole received a B.S. in mechanical engineering with a minor in Russian from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in 1990 and served five years as an active duty naval officer after graduation. She earned an M.S. in physics from the University of Washington in 1999 and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She was awarded the 2004 Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for her research on collaborative argumentation and model-based reasoning among physics students.

Nicole has given presentations on supporting and sustaining beginning STEM teachers and developing teachers as leaders to the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society and the National Science Teaching Association, among others. She is on the advisory boards of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership and the joint project of The National Writing Project (NWP) and the Association of Science‐Technology Centers (ASTC) integrating science and literacy. A recognized spokesperson on the issues of beginning teacher recruitment and retention, she appears regularly in the media including USA TodayThe Washington Post, Bloomberg Radio and NPR, among many others.


Curriculum Vitae