Dr. Amato-Wierda formally changed her research activities in 2009 to the area of cognition and how it impacts learning of STEM concepts. She is interested in exploring the learning mechanisms necessary for students to develop their conceptual understanding of key concepts in chemistry and physics from k-16. Dr. Amato-Wierda spent her Fall 2010 Sabbatical period at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, visiting the laboratory of Dr. Kurt Fischer and learning his Dynamic Skill Theory, as well as other state-of-the-art models and theories of human cognition. During this time, she also met Dr. Theo Dawson, CEO and President of Developmental Testing Service, Inc, as well as Zachary Stein, Deputy Director and Senior Analyst at DTS, Inc.
Dr. Amato-Wierda has developed two new general education science courses for non-STEM students. The Science of Stuff is an introductory course in materials science that demonstrates how atomic structure influences the properties and function of matter.Nanoscience and Energy explores nanoscience and its role in providing energy for society in the future.
Additionally, Dr. Amato-Wierda has served as PI for these previously NSF funded curriculum improvement efforts: (1) General Chemistry Investigations: An Interdisciplinary, Research Team Laboratory, and (2) Implementation of a Materials Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory Component Across the Undergraduate Science and Engineering Curriculum. Dr. Amato-Wierda also played an active role in developing the new graduate program in Materials Science at the University of New Hampshire.
Dr. Amato-Wierda is the faculty advisor for the UNH Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. She served on the New Hampshire Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers from 2001-2011, and currently serves on the Air Resources Council for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.