Maria C. Olivares

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Olivares is an artist, poet, and research scientist whose work explicitly acknowledges and challenges the role of race and racism as obstacles for achieving equity in STEM through research, practice, professional development, mentoring, and outreach activities for youth and communities of color. Through design-based research, she works with youth, teachers, and researchers to design formal and informal learning environments that support expansive understandings of STEM. Her research includes examining forms of attunement toward intercultural ways of knowing and being, and re-conceptualizing representation and dissemination of scholarship to include multiple forms of art and humanistic expression. Her work sits at the intersection of critical relationality, social justice, equity, intellectual authority distribution, making cultures and practices, and the role of computation and new learning technologies in STEM identity development.

Dr. Olivares is originally from South Central Los Angeles, the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first in her family to gain access to higher education.

Some of Dr. Olivares’s current and past projects include:
    • 2021-2025: Developing a Network to Coordinate Research on Equity Practices and Cultures in STEM Maker Education ($499,985)
      • PI (with Co-PI Eli Tucker-Raymond and Co-PIs Edna Tan, University of North Carolina Greensboro; Jill Castek, Universtiy of Arizona, and Cynthia Graville, Saint Louis University). National Science Foundation. Advancing Informal STEM Education
    • 2020-2023: STEM Literacies, Identities, and Learning through Cascading Models of  Near-Peer Mentoring ($1.15M)
      • Co-PI (with PI Eli Tucker-Raymond and Co-PI Katherine Frankel, Boston University). National Science Foundation: EHR Core Research. DRL #2000511.
    • 2017-2020: Collaborative Research: Integrating Computational Making Practices in STEM Teaching ($685,941)
      • Co-PI (with PI Eli Tucker-Raymond and Co-PIs, TERC & Amon Millner, Olin College of Engineering). National Science Foundation: STEM + C (Computer Science). DRL #1742091 & #2021180.
          • Including:
            • 2019: Supplement: Research Experiences for Undergraduates on Collaborative Research: Integrating Computational Making Practices in STEM Teaching ($13,402)  DRL #1932802
            • 2018:  Supplement: Research Experiences for Undergraduates on Collaborative Research: Integrating Computational Making Practices in STEM Teaching ($51,512) DRL #1841777.
            • 2018: Supplement: Research Experiences for Undergraduates on Collaborative Research: Integrating Computational Making Practices in STEM Teaching ($13,190) DRL #1831156.

Ph.D. Education--Social Sciences & Comparative Education, University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

M.A. Education--Social Sciences & Comparative Education, University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

B.A. Chicana/o Studies & History, University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Olivares' work seeks to actively and iteratively disrupt the saliency of race-based inaccessibility institutionalized via policies, structures, and legacies of exclusion. As such, her work involves designing for critical relationality in formal and informal learning environments that center and elevate creative, integrated, and transdisciplinary STEM-inquiry.

Visit Dr. Olivares' Faculty Profile

Philip, T.M., Rocha, J., & Olivares-Pasillas, M. C . (2017). Supporting Teachers of Color as they Negotiate Classroom Pedagogies of Race: A Case Study of a Teacher’s Struggle with “Friendly-Fire” Racism. Teacher Education Quarterly 44 (1), 59-79.

Philip, T.M., Olivares-Pasillas, M.C. , & Rocha, J. (2016). Becoming Racially Literate about Data and Data Literate about Race: Data Visualizations in the Classroom as a Site of Racial-Ideological Micro-Contestations. Cognition & Instruction 34 (4), 361-388.

Philip, T.M. & Olivares-Pasillas, M.C. (2016). Learning Technologies and Educational Equity: Charting Alternatives to the Troubling Pattern of Big Promises with Dismal Results. Teachers College Record , Date Published: August 24, 2016 http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21616.

Olivares, M.C. (2019). Critically Relational Methodologies for Humanistic Fieldwork. Invited speaker for course entitled Design of Qualitative Research, Boston College. Boston, MA.

Olivares, M.C. (2019). ReMaking STEM. Invited Talk, The STEM Center, University of Texas, Austin. Austin, TX.

*Authors listed in alphabetical order by first name. Bien, A., Rosebery, A., Warren, B., O’Connor, C., Olivares, M.C., Gadd, R., Arnold, S. (2019). Understanding Ecologies of Textured Relations in Teacher Learning: Classroom Discussion as Participative Thinking. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Olivares, M.C., Tucker-Raymond, E., Gravel, B.E. (2019). Intellectual Humility: Desettling Teacher-Student Relationships to Knowledge in STEM. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Baltimore, MD.

Kirchgasler, K.L. & Olivares, M.C. (2019). Health Interventions as Sleeping Police: How Science|Health Education Produces and Regulates Racialized Others. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Baltimore, MD.

Philip, T.M, Olivares Pasillas, M.C., & Rocha, J. (2014). Learning About Big Data for Democratic Participation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia, PA.

Philip, T.M, Rocha, J., & Olivares Pasillas, M.C. (2014). The Inadvertent Consequences of Curricular Reform in Urban Schools That Cursorily Appropriates Social Justice Frameworks. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia, PA.

Olivares Pasillas, M. C. & Lucero, I. (2012). Como te ven, te tratan: A critical race analysis of Chicana eyebrows and “masked” resistance. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Vancouver. BC, Canada.

Olivares Pasillas, M. C. & Lucero I. (2011). A critical race analysis of Chicana eyebrows and “masked” resistance. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mujeres Activas En Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), Los Angeles, CA.

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