Irene Lee is a research scientist at the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade. She is the founder and program director of Project GUTS: Growing Up Thinking Scientifically and Teachers with GUTS. The programs she develops enable participants to create computer models and use them to gain a scientific understanding of the world around them. Lee’s research focuses on students’ and teachers’ understanding of complex adaptive systems and their development of computational thinking skills. She served as the chair of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Computational Thinking Task Force and as a lead writer of the K-12 Computer Science Frameworks and the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (of 2011). Lee is a past president of the Supercomputing Challenge and the Swarm Development Group, and was previously the director of the Learning Lab at Santa Fe Institute.
“I have had a lifelong fascination with natural forms—their use of space and patterns of growth. As a child, I drew trees based on branching rules and loved to generate ripple patterns based on interference. In the early days of computer graphics, I saw the potential of computers as tools to understand and mimic the natural world through animation and simulation, and thus began a long quest to understand patterns in nature through modeling and simulation.”