I’m Amanda Bongers, a chemist and researcher studying how people learn.

I am an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University, where I lead a research laboratory. Before this, I did educational and neuroscience research as a post-doc at uOttawa & the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Institute. I have a PhD in organic chemistry and a BSc in biochemistry.

Latest Posts

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  • Update 2022

    Update 2022

    Here’s what we have been up to The group welcomed three new graduate students this Fall: Will Lawton (Neuroscience), Zoe Lord (Chemistry) and Shauna Schechtel (Chemistry). Phung Nguyen completed her M.Sc. in October 2022! Her thesis is titled “Exploring how encoding modality affects memory performance in organic chemistry“ She is now working as a tutor…

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  • 3-Minute Thesis 2022

    3-Minute Thesis 2022

    1 slide, 3 minutes, no props! Phung gave an excellent presentation at this year’s 3-Minute Thesis #3MT competition. Learn more here: 3 Minute Thesis | Queen’s University (queensu.ca)

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  • Closing the divide between ‘green’ and ‘organic’ chemistry

    Closing the divide between ‘green’ and ‘organic’ chemistry

    Over the summer, our group has been working on a new project: developing ‘plug-and-play’ organic chemistry modules that connect the classic topics (e.g., Michael additions) with green and sustainable chemistry. This project will create an Open Educational Resource (OER) that addresses both organic chemistry and green chemistry learning outcomes. We’re making the content so that…

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Chemistry, Cognition, and Learning

Amanda’s research group studies how chemistry is taught and how people learn. Our lab is interdisciplinary and bridges the social sciences with cognitive science and neuroscience.


When people learn, they are processing information: encoding, retrieving, and using information to make decisions. Research in our lab explores how people learn in chemistry, where we rely on models and diagrams since molecules are invisible to the eye. We ask questions like:

  • How do novices encode diagrams, and what does this reveal about learning?
  • What neural processes are involved?
  • What skills are needed to learn in chemistry, and do they overlap with other sciences or the arts?
  • How can educators design materials or activities to help students learn?

Learn more about our team

A woman points to a computer screen showing eye-tracking fixations overlayed on a chemical structure.

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