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Katie Hinko, Ph.D.

Katie  Hinko
  • Assistant Professor
  • Physics
  • Department of Physics & Astronomy
  • Pronouns: she/her
  • Holmes Hall, E-25C
  • 919 E. Shaw Lane
  • East Lansing, MI 48825


  • LB 273/274 - Physics 1 and 2: Briggs Life Science Studio (BLiSS) for the Life Sciences
  • LB 492 - Senior Seminar: Science Identity and Informal Learning
  • LB 492 - Senior Seminar: Thinking about Race, Gender and Physics through Art and Culture


I am interested in how learning physics in both informal and formal environments can encourage individuals’ interest and support their identities. We all have multiple identities that need to be nourished so we can thrive as whole humans. For folks who experience marginalization, oppression, and discrimination in physics, science more broadly, or in society at large, it is especially important to listen to their experiences and design systems to support them. In my research, I investigate how participating in groups that do public science engagement can support university undergraduate and graduate students. Physics departments, national organizations, and national labs devote significant time and resources to communicating about physics to public audiences – I also research this landscape with an eye to the institutional structures and cultural practices that affect the functionality, inclusive practices, and impact of informal physics environments. In my teaching, I blend physics with biology and chemistry as well as art, computation and community engagement, in order to support all students towards their goals in learning physics.


  • Ph.D., Biophysics, University of Texas
  • B.S., Physics, The Ohio State University


PI: Research in Service to Practice: Determining the Landscape of Informal Physics Programming in the United States, NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning, #1713060 ($700K) 2017-2022

Senior Personnel: Big Astronomy in Chile through Dome+, NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning, #1713060 ($2M) 2018-2022

PI: Hidden Value: Investigating the Physics Demonstration as Aesthetic Experience, S3 Award, Michigan State University, co-PI M. Halpern ($10K) 2018-2020

PI: NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning, #1423496 ($300K) 2014-2018 Pathways: Measuring the Impact of Participation in Informal STEM Programming on University Students


  • Bennett, M. B., Hinko, K. A., & Izadi, D. (2021). Challenges and opportunities for informal physics learning in the COVID era. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 17(2), 023102.
  • Prefontaine, B., Mullen, C., Güven, J. J., Rispler, C., Rethman, C., Bergin, S. D., Hinko, K. & Fracchiolla, C. (2021). Informal physics programs as communities of practice: How can programs support university students’ identities?. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 17(2), 020134.
  • Chicago Fracchiolla, C., Prefontaine, B., & Hinko, K. (2020). Community of practice approach for understanding identity development within informal physics programs. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(2), 020115.
  • Hyater-Adams, S., Fracchiolla, C., Williams, T., Finkelstein, N., & Hinko, K. (2019). Deconstructing Black physics identity: Linking individual and social constructs using the critical physics identity framework. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(2), 020115.
  • Hyater-Adams, S., Fracchiolla, C., Finkelstein, N., & Hinko, K. (2018). Critical look at physics identity: An operationalized framework for examining race and physics identity. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 14(1), 010132.
  • Hinko, K. A., Madigan, P., Miller, E., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2016). Characterizing pedagogical practices of university physics students in informal learning environments. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1), 010111.