Samantha Lindgren, M.Ed.

Sam’s expertise is a mix of science and engineering, and education. After receiving an undergraduate degree in Astrophysics, she entered a teacher education program and taught high school Physics and Environmental Science for a decade in public schools in Minnesota, California, and Florida. Her early teaching experiences were spent in alternative and rural education settings including the Australian outback and at an Ojibwe Native American school. It was in these settings that her commitment to rural STEM education was born, and the belief that through a strong foundation in science and environmental education, youth are agents of change for sustainability.

Her current research aims to broaden our understanding of the role of youth in advancing improved energy in rural households. Specifically, she examines whether children’s attitudes about energy affect household behaviors such as the adoption of improved cookstoves or solar cookers, or decisions about fuel selection and use. She works with informal educators at camps in rural Illinois and in Namibia to assess how youth’s attitudes about these topics change after participating in activities that are focused on conservation and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Elsewhere on campus, she is the Coordinator of STEM Teacher Development at the Office for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education in the College of Education, a role in which she delivers professional development workshops for K-12 science teachers, and develops curriculum for a variety of projects in the Colleges of Education and Engineering. Her expertise is in designing standards-based curriculum for science classrooms that formally incorporate environmental education methods. Lindgren is currently a Co-PI on a Illinois State Board of Education Math-Science Partnership grant that partners rural teachers with colleagues in urban areas and with collaborators on campus to develop Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curricula. She is a 100kin10 project leader co-directing a multi-institutional team that will be conducting a nationwide survey to better understand rural schools’ needs for sustainable professional learning communities with research institutions and industry. She is also the PI on an NSF proposal that will design and implement an outdoor science classroom and laboratory for use in each grade across a rural Illinois school district, and works with the Illinois EPA on some of their outreach efforts.

Research Topics:

  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a framework for engaging youth in international engineering and sustainability projects
  • The role of youth in advancing sustainable energy choices and behaviors within rural households
  • Formal Environmental Education (EE) and place-based pedagogy utilizing outdoor classrooms in rural science curricula


  • Lindgren, S., Jahnke, K., Alonso, M., & Elliott-Litchfield, B. (January 18, 2017). Maintaining Traditional Cooking With Stored Solar Thermal Energy. Poster presentation for the 6th Annual Solar Cookers International World Conference, Gujarat, India.
  • Lindgren, S., Sebestik, J., & Valocchi, A. (June 28, 2016). Using An Aquifer Simulation to Investigate Relationships Between Groundwater, Human Activity, and Drought. Presentation for the American Society for Engineering Education, New Orleans, LA.
  • Sebestik, J., & Lindgren, S. (June 28, 2016). Using Stickers and Copper Tape to Prototype and Explore Electrical Circuits. Presentation for the American Society for Engineering Education, New Orleans, LA.
  • Hu, Y., Valocchi, A. J., Lindgren, S. A., Ramos, E. A. and Byrd, R. A. (2015), Groundwater Modeling with MODFLOW as a Web Application. Groundwater.
  • Lindgren, S., Jahnke, K., Alonso, M., Floess, E., Bond, T., Elliott-Litchfield, B. (November 12, 2015). Cooking with Stored Solar Energy. Poster presentation for the Nutrition, Health and Gender in Sub-Saharan Africa, Urbana, IL.


  • PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in progress
  • Ed. in Science Curriculum and Instruction, University of Minnesota, 2007
  • S. in Astrophysics, University of Minnesota, 2002


  • ComEd Female Founder Award
  • Gulfstream Navigator Award
  • Cozad New Venture Competition Energy Award