Al S. Byers, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, STEM Education

Al S. Byers, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Systems Design, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • M.A.E. in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Research interests

STEM education, online and blended teacher professional learning, online communities of practice.

Career highlights

  • TERC STEM Teacher Leadership Network (NSF grant funded). Senior Advisory Panel. 2018-2019. Video:
  • Appointed Governor Ralph Northam's Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math . 2019-2020.
  • Principal Investigator, , three-year $447,747. 2019-2022. NOAA B-WET Grant: NA19NMF4570081.
  • Principal Investigator, Aces over ACSE: A Winning Combination for Advancing Computer Science Education in Virginia (AOAVA), three-year $375,000. 2020-2022. Virginia Department of Education Grant.
  • Co-Principal Investigator, Development of a Blueprint for the Virginia STEM Ecosystem, one-year $44,481. 4VA Grant.  2019-2020.
  • Principal Investigator, K12 Curriculum Mapping Project, one-year $44,890. 2019-2020. Virginia Department of Education Grant.
  • , Boeing Starliner Passenger Capsule CST-100 Orbital Test Flight Launch, December 2020.
  • AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship National Selection Committee, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2019-2020.
  • Principal Investigator, Army Education Outreach Program Cooperative Agreement, e-Cybermission Competitions and Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science, $4,300,000/yr three-year grant. National Science Teachers Association, 2015-2018. US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). Army Grant W911SR-15-2-0001.
  • Principal Investigator, Igniting Student Interest and Learning in Engineering: Integrating Northrop Grumman R&D with NSTA Professional Learning Solutions for Teachers, $662,000 two-year award. Northrop Grumman. 2015-2017.
  • Co-Principal Investigator, NSF $399,564 three-year grant: Use of Web 2.0 Technologies to Build Distributed Communities of Practice among K-12 Science Educators (Solicitation: NSF 11-501: Virtual Organizations). 2011-2013.

Selected publications/presentations

  • Byers, A. Panel Moderator. Panelist: English, C., Kitten, L., Manglicmot, M., Toma, C., Savage, J. Westlake , G. A Look Across a State STEM Education Ecosystem: Virginia Revealed. Building a STEM Leadership Alliance Summit, Loews Portofino Hotel, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL. July, 2018.
  • Byers, A. Invited speaker. More Powerful Than We Can Imagine: Blended Learning Management Systems, Council of State Science Supervisors Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, March, 2017.
  • Karam, R., Straus, S. G., Byers, A., Kase, C., and Cefalu, M. (Sept 2017). The role of online communities of practice in promoting sociotechnical capital among science teachers. Education Technology Research and Development.
  • Byers, A., & Mendez, F. (2016). Blended professional learning for science educators: The NSTA learning center. In A. Hartley, C. Dede & A. Eisencraft (Eds.), Professional Development and Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Models related to STEM Education. Boston: Harvard Press.
  • Byers, A. Blended Professional Learning for Pre-Service and In-Service Science Educators: The NSTA Learning Center. National Science Foundation, Online Teacher Professional Development Summit, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, November 2014.
  • Perez-Lopez, K; Cambridge, D; Byers, A. Simple and Computational Heuristics for Forum Management in the NSTA Learning Center: A Role for Learning Analytics in Online Communities of Practice Supporting Teacher Learning. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Maui, Hawaii, January, 2012.
  • Sherman, G., & Byers, A. (2010). Electronic portfolios in the professional development of educators. In D'agustino, Steven (Ed.), Adaptation, Resistance, and Access to Instructional Technologies: Assessing Future Trends in Education.


Dr. Byers is an expert in STEM education driving proven solutions for districts and universities across his 20+ year career. With over 15 years at the National Science Teachers Association, Dr. Byers developed and evaluated large scale sustainable solutions for teacher professional learning across a myriad of STEM content areas and delivery modes including self-directed web modules, webinars, virtual conferences, teacher academies, MOOCS, and micro-credentialing systems in collaboration with government agencies, foundations, and universities. His impact via the NSTA Learning Center is well documented: [view archived website].

Dr. Byers has served in many leadership capacities, serving as Principal Investigator or Project Director on over $40M of competitively awarded grants focused on blended teacher professional learning and student STEM competitions from NASA, NOAA, NSF, the US Department of Education, the US Army, as well as in collaboration with foundations that include ExxonMobil, GE, Shell, DuPont, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Prior to Dr. Byers tenure at NSTA, he was an Aerospace Education Specialist for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and an instructor for Oklahoma State University, where he designed and delivered teacher professional development and student programming to thousands of individuals across the US. He also worked closely with the departments of education as the state systemic liaison to Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire helping to coordinate NASA’s high impact STEM education opportunities. At the beginning of his career he was an award-winning middle level science educator at Robious Middle School in Chesterfield, Virginia.

He currently serves and has served on advisory boards for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the US Department of Education, and TERC for an NSF effort focused on teacher leadership and online community networking. Dr. Byers also sits on expert review selection panels that include NSF’s Discovery Research PreK-12, the NSF K12 STEM for All Video Showcase, SIIA’s Best Corporate/Workforce Learning Solution, and Best Learning Capacity-Building Solution, the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Competition, and NSF STEM Ambassadors initiative. He is a guest lecturer in e-learning and online professional learning communities for Harvard University and has been interviewed multiple times by the US Department of Education regarding online learning and professional learning communities. See:

Curriculum Vitae