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tl;dr version:

My name is Courtney Ngai. The g is silent, so Ngai is pronounced like "Nye" as in Bill Nye the Science Guy (I make this association deliberately, as I think that guy is a total rockstar). 

According to Clifton, my strengths include input and learning. This shows up in almost everything I do, from reading "just one more" article for a lit review to compiling lists of activities along with their reviews for my family's vacations. It explains why interviews are one of my favorite forms of data collection, and why I am currently on a nonfiction kick. 

If you spend time with me, you'll learn that I generally like to sit back and listen, but become passionately engaged in conversations about anything related to science and education. I also prefer tea over coffee (green, no sugar please) and am willing to try almost any outdoor activity at least once.

If you're like me and like input, scroll down to learn more. Otherwise, click around my site and please contact me with any questions!


Professional experience

Empowered Consulting LLC

2020 - present


As an independent consultant, I provide support for individuals and teams who are working to improve education. Services I offer through Empowered Consulting include facilitation for teams or events, support in developing, implementing, and evaluating education research projects, and customized plans for building team culture. Please check out my website,, for more information.

Colorado State University
Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Artistry (OURA)

2021 - present


​At OURA, we are dedicated to increasing student engagement in undergraduate research and artistry experiences. Since starting this role, I have managed the OURA Lab, which provides foundational lab and research experience for CSU students. The activities and environment in the OURA Lab follow best practices for culturally responsive pedagogy and focuses as much on building confidence and identity as it does lab skills. Since starting this position, I have supported more than 100 students, 8 undergraduate learning assistants, and 7 graduate assistants.

Colorado State University
Research Scientist

2019 - 2021


​As a researcher for an NSF-funded project at Colorado State University, I focus on analyzing qualitative data to characterize Departmental Action Teams (DATs) and understand how they work within the DAT model. This includes developing and testing a theory of change to outline the logic of the DAT model for formative and summative evaluation purposes. I am also responsible for leading the development and dissemination of products related to the DAT project, including developing and conducting workshops about the DAT model, authoring manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, and managing the writing and publishing of a book on DAT facilitation. This role is housed in The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) at Colorado State University. At TILT, we are united in improving the experience for all students at CSU. We also believe in taking breaks to do team squats and push-ups in the main office, because self-care is important too!



Agilent Technology
Implementation Specialist Intern

​2011 - 2012


As part of the Implementation Specialist team, I worked with customers who had purchased Agilent instruments to ensure they were prepared to receive, set up, and begin using the instrument. This role involved coordinating with both the customer as well as other Agilent employees (sales force, engineers, schedulers) to provide customers with a smooth and positive experience. 


Colorado State University
Postdoctoral Researcher

2017 - 2019


For the Departmental Action Team (DAT) project, I took on roles as a facilitator and a researcher. As a facilitator, I supported DATs in their project work by helping to cultivate a collaborative environment, sharing education literature and resources, providing assistance on obtaining and analyzing relevant data, and guiding teams in planning for change. The DATs worked on a range of goals, including increasing sense of belonging amongst their underrepresented students, increasing the recruitment and retention of women in a program, and designing measures to collect data for accreditation. I served as the lead facilitator for three departmental teams and co-facilitated six unique teams. For the research component of this project, I co-developed and refined the DELTA survey to collect quantitative data regarding departmental culture. I utilized responses to the DELTA in conjunction with interviews and other forms of data to inform and assess the impact of change efforts.​


University of Massachusetts Boston
Doctoral candidate

​2012 - 2017


​I completed my graduate work at University of Massachusetts Boston, in the chemistry department. I completed the course and exam requirements for the biological chemistry track, while my research was focused in chemistry and biochemistry education. During this time I collaborated with K-12 Boston Public School teachers to investigate chemical thinking and teaching practices in the classroom, with visiting scientists to explore active learning, and with undergraduate students on developing green chemistry labs. While primarily a qualitative researcher, I have had exposure to quantitative methods (such as item response theory).

University of Delaware

2007 - 2011

I obtained a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Delaware. During this time, I was exposed to different types of active learning (POGIL and PBL), which inspired me to pursue graduate work in chemistry education. I am forever grateful to the hard-working professors who dedicated time and energy (and snacks!) to making sure we received a quality education.

Teaching experience

Pedagogy for Learning Assistants, Instructor
Colorado State University


For this course, I supported 30+ new Learning Assistants. We covered relevant literature on pedagogy and the science of learning as well as strategies for inclusion and building a sense of belonging. In-class time was spent primarily on small group discussions and activities, and was a blend of in-person classes and virtual instruction to model both learning environments for students.  

MCAT Chemistry review course, Instructor
Colorado State University


This review course covered all of the chemistry content for the MCAT. The sessions were four hours long and consisted of lecturing and group problem solving. There were four sessions in total, with ~30 students in the course.

General chemistry lab, Teaching Assistant
University of Massachusetts Boston


As one of the teaching assistants for the general chemistry lab, I oversaw two lab sections per semester. Each section had up to 34 students enrolled, and I was responsible for providing in-lab instruction, grading, and holding office hours.

Problem-based learning, Tutor
University of Delaware


The introductory biochemistry course was taught entirely in a problem-based learning format. Students were assigned groups, and one tutor was placed in each group. As a tutor, I had facilitate students' conversation as they worked through the research articles that were assigned in class. This required that I have knowledge of the biochemical content that was necessary to understand the articles along with the pedagogical knowledge of how to explain these concepts and facilitate a conversation.

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