Current Students

PhD Students

Andersen, Amanda
Amanda AndersenAmanda is a doctoral student and researcher at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Amanda uses an intersectionality and disability justice lens to investigate what students in higher education demand of their institutions for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion. Amanda also enjoys hiking, meditating, caring for plants and spending time at the Isla Vista Food Forest and other community gardens, cooking plant-based meals with local ingredients, and playing backgammon and other games with friends and family.


Andrade Martínez, Fátima
Fatima Andrade MartinezFátima Andrade Martínez is a second-year Ph.D. student with interests in language identity and literacy development within Indígena populations. She is co-advised by Diana Arya and Rebeca Mireles Rios. After receiving her BA in Latin American and Iberian Studies at UCSB, she worked in the Center for Educational Partnerships at UC Berkeley for two years as a College Adviser for the Boost@BerkeleyHaas Program. As a graduate student, Fátima is currently working with the McEnroe Reading & Language Arts Clinic under Dr. Arya's supervision.Currently, she's interested in the way that multilingual students use language to identify with each other and the navigational and social capital students use to negotiate different expectations in and outside the classroom. Fátima can be reached at

Arch, Dina Naji
Dina ArchDina is a fourth-year doctoral student emphasizing in quantitative methods in the social sciences under the guidance of Dr. Karen Nylund-Gibson. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from UC San Diego and minored in Business. She later earned an M.A. in Psychological Research, focusing in quantitative methods, from California State University, Fullerton, and an M.A. in Education from UCSB. Her current research interests include latent variable analyses, data visualization methods, and data science. She can be reached at


Balos, Noreen
Noreen Balos is a doctoral candidate with interests in STEM education, culture in STEM, and access & equity in STEM. Her faculty advisors include Dean Jeff Milem, Dr. Judith Green, Dr. Sharon Conley, and Dr. Gustavo Fischman. Noreen’s work has included issues or concepts in identity and discourse, industry and university partnerships, qualitative research and reasoning, and diversity and inclusion. Her specific interest is in higher education academic and support services to underrepresented, minority and first-generation students. Noreen can be reached at   

Barrera Alcazar, Juan
Juan Barrera AlcazarJuan is a doctoral student in the Department of Education, working with Dr. Sattin-Bajaj, with an emphasis on policy, program evaluation, and research methods. He received a BA in psychology with a minor in education from UC Berkeley. His research interests include the retention of at-promise students in higher education and the educational experiences of immigrant college students. He currently works as an academic advisor at UCSB’s College of Letters and Science. Juan can be reached at


Bennett, Matthew
Matthew Bennett is a Ph.D. student in Science and Math Education, but his specific interests are in science education in high school settings and in teacher education. His advisor is Dr. Danielle Harlow. Prior to starting at GGSE, Matthew taught high school science (mostly physics) for five years, which naturally has geared his research interests toward high school settings. Currently, he's interested in exploring how preservice secondary science teachers provide opportunities for students to engage in connection-making as a means for learning (generally, connecting old and new knowledge together in a way that facilitates transfer of learning). Matthew has also been involved in TAing for courses in the Physics department (6AL, 6BL) and the Education department (ED 191W Health and Wellbeing). Feel free to email Matthew at

Candieas, Travis
Travis CandieasTravis Candieas is a second-year Ph.D. student in education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Candieas’s research focuses on quantitative and mixed methods for policy analysis and program evaluation. Candieas earned his bachelor’s degree at UC Davis with majors in international relations and history with an education minor. Candieas’s framework conceptualizes how policy impacts organizational change and the spillover effects of program implementation on political and economic development within the United States. His interdisciplinary research focuses on the political and structural aspects of educational institutions and their relationship to public policy at local, state, and federal levels. This research addresses questions of racial/ethnic and income inequalities within the United States in addition to furthering knowledge related to public policy analysis and evaluation. He can be contacted via email at

Carter, Delwin
Delwin CarterDelwin Carter is a doctoral student in the GGSE Department of Education emphasizing quantitative methods working under Karen Nylund-Gibson. He received his B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Experimental Psychology at California State University, Northridge as well as an M.A. in Education at University of California, Santa Barbara. His broad interests include latent variable mixture modeling, measurement, pedagogy, and data visualization. Substantively, Delwin has collaborated on several projects. He has worked with Dr. Jill Sharkey on several evaluations of state programs in collaboration with Santa Barbara County Probation including California Public Safety Realignment and Drug Court. He has also worked with Dr. Mike Furlong and Project Covitality where he has contributed to numerous projects and publications focusing on Social Emotional Health among California pre-teen and teenage students. Methodologically speaking, Delwin developed a novel technique to estimate effect sizes in mixture modeling and has established measurement equivalence among various health related scales for underrepresented populations. His current research involves mixture modeling with an emphasis of cross validation techniques, treatment of distal outcomes, and current practices in latent transition analysis. Pedagogically, Delwin has been a teaching assistant for numerous graduate and undergraduate level statistics and research methods courses. Delwin can be found @ and reached @

Castro, Isaac
Isaac CastroIsaac is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education under the Policy, Leadership and Research Methods emphasis. Working with advisors Dr. Jeff Milem and Dr. Sharon Conley, his research focuses on equity and higher education more broadly, and diverse university leaders more specifically. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology in 2010 prior to serving in Americorps through Communities in Schools of Greater Phoenix. He then returned to the SF Bay Area to lead an after school program before making the shift to higher education as the PPIA Director and Student Services Advisor at the Goldman School of Public Policy. Isaac has also received MAs in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership from Fresno State and Education (Policy, Leadership and Research Methods) here at UCSB. Currently, he works as a graduate research assistant for Dean Jeff Milem and Dr. Rebeca Rios, as well as a teaching assistant in the departments of Sociology and Education. His latest research takes a critical approach to understanding how university leaders preside over institutions with diverse student bodies. Isaac can be reached at

Chagolla, Diana
Diana Chagolla is a doctoral student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, specializing in the area of Culture and Development; her advisor is Dr. Laura Romo. Diana obtained her bachelors degree in Sociology from San Diego State University (SDSU). While in San Diego, she worked with community-led organizations to address educational and human rights concerns in her community. At UCSB, she has served as a graduate mentor for first generation undergraduate students participating in the New Heights Mentoring Program offered through the Chicano Studies Institute (CSI). Diana continues to mentor undergraduate students via her role as a graduate student research assistant at the CSI Center for Research in Latino Health and Adolescent Development. Her research interests are health education and health psychology as it pertains to Latinx/a/o adolescents, families, and communities. Her current research focuses on how Latina mothers communicate with adolescent daughters about healthy lifestyles, while providing messages that encourage healthier eating and exercising habits, and messages cautioning daughters about chronic health diseases. Diana can be reached at:

Chen, Huay
Huay is a fifth-year doctoral student working with Dr. Jin Sook Lee. She completed her B.A. at UCLA in Linguistics & Asian Languages and Cultures and her M.A. in Elementary Education at NYU Steinhardt. After teaching elementary school in the NYCDOE for three years, Huay went back to NYU to complete a post-MA advanced certification program in Bilingual Education. At UCSB, she has served as the lead coordinator for the McEnroe Reading Clinic, a SKILLS (School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society) instructor, and has TAed for the Linguistics, Asian American Studies, and Education Departments. Her interests lie in bilingualism, language acquisition, and heritage language speakers. Huay is a Gates Millennium Scholar. She can be contacted at

Christman, Devon M.
Devon ChristmanDevon (she/her) is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate working under the mentorship of Dr. Danielle Harlow. Devon received her B.S. in Physics from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2019 and her M.A. in Education from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2021. At UCSB she is currently a program coordinator for University Community Links Youth Summit. Devon’s research interests center around informal STEM education with a focus in physics, computer science, and quantum computing at the K-6 level. Devon can be contacted at or reached through her website

Dexter Torti, Cameron
Cameron Dexter TortiCameron Dexter Torti is a doctoral student in the Department of Education, working with Dr. Sarah Roberts and emphasizing in Teacher Education and Professional Development. He graduated with a B.A. in History from CSU Channel Islands before enrolling in the single subject teaching credential program at the school. After graduating with his teaching credential, Cameron spent the next eight years working at the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education as a teacher. He taught in California, Texas, and Louisiana. While in Texas, Cameron earned his M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction from Baylor University, working with Dr. Brooke Blevins. His thesis research focused on the characteristics and contexts surrounding multilingual learners in their schools and communities, and his current work focuses on the ways in which teacher education and professional development affects multilingual learners in classrooms. Cameron's research interests include multilingual language learners, teacher education, equity and education, and empowerment through instruction and curricula. He can be reached by email at:

Downey, Jonathan
Jonathan is a Ph.D. candidate studying Educational Measurement. His research investigates the valid usage of instruments employed by large international assessments (e.g., PISA, TIMSS, and TOEFL) to measure socioeconomic status and vocabulary proficiency. He also helps university instructors design and present online course materials for UCSB’s GauchoSpace learning management system. Prior to arriving at UCSB, he studied Spanish Literature and Economics at Tufts University in Boston (B.A.) and Language Acquisition at the University of the Basque Country in Northern Spain (M.A.) He has worked as an ESL instructor in Europe and the Middle East, and as a high school Spanish teacher in Colorado. You can contact him at:

Fahler, Valentina
Valentina FahlerValentina is a doctoral candidate in the Education department with an emphasis in language and literacy working with Dr. Karen Lunsford and Dr. Charles Bazerman. She received her B.A. in Letters (with a focus in Linguistics) from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 2015, a specialization degree in Education Policy from the Universidad Torcuato di Tella (Argentina) in 2017, and a M.A. in Education from UCSB in 2019. Her research focus is undergraduate writing, and her dissertation project investigates the experiences of undergraduate students who published their work in academic venues. Prior to arriving at UCSB, Valentina was an initial literacy teacher at the Fundación Franciscana, a non-governmental organization. She was also part of a research group from the Universidad de Buenos Aires that focused on undergraduate student writing in the humanities. Feel free to contact her at

Franitza, Mary
Mary FranitzaMary is a fourth year M.A/Ph.D. student under the advisement of Professor Jin Sook Lee. Her research focuses on mentorship, social and linguistic justice education, and informal learning spaces such as summer camps and after school programs. Before attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, Mary worked in early childhood education and as a camp professional where she developed leadership programs and curriculum. She continues to consult with summer camps looking to implement diversity and equity training and hate/bias intervention tactics. Currently, Mary is the student coordinator for School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society Program (SKILLS), co-coordinates GSAE's Intercohort Mentorship Program, and serves as the President for the Graduate Student Association in Education. Mary can be reached at or via Twitter @thefritz_97.

Fried, Bradford
Bradford Fried is a doctoral student in education working with Dr. Dorothy Chun and Dr. Jin Sook Lee. His emphases are in applied linguistics and cognitive science where he is researching the relationship between language, memory, and education, specifically the phonological working memory of Mandarin tones. Bradford grew up playing in the creeks and forests of Northern Virginia outside DC and has been vegan since 1999. He graduated from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a BA in philosophy during which he did a semester with NOLS and spent two terms in Guilin, China. After graduation, he moved back to Guilin where he taught EFL for the next 13 years, served as the director of international staff at Guangxi Normal University for five years, earned a master’s degree in teaching Chinese, and in 2009 founded the Chinese Language Institute (CLI) with his youngest brother to share their love of Chinese language and culture. Bradford can be reached at:

Galisky, John
John GaliskyJohn is a fourth year doctoral student working with Drs. Julie Bianchini and Danielle Harlow. He earned a B.A. in Physics and Astrophysics from U.C. Berkeley and an M.Ed. from UCSB. For 25 years John taught Physics, Earth Science, Electronics & Robotics and Space Science at Lompoc High School, next to Vandenberg Space Force Base. In 2000, he established the Space, Technology and Robotic Systems (STaRS) Academy, an engineering program that integrates core academics in Math, Science, and Language Arts with elective courses in Drafting, Engineering Design, Electronics, Robotics, and Manufacturing. John was a member of the State Superintendent’s STEM Task Force which culminated in the publication of “Innovate: A Blueprint for STEM Education” and he helped rewrite the California Science Framework to address Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In 2017, John was awarded an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship in Washington, DC. During his fellowship year, John worked in a congressional office as a legislative assistant on issues related to education, science and technology, energy and environment, immigration, labor, and gun control. John’s research focuses on integrating science with literacy and language development, especially in the elementary grades. Contact John at

Garcia, Liliana
Lillian GarciaLiliana is a third-year doctoral student interested in STEM Education under the guidance of Julie Bianchini. She earned her B.S in Physics and obtained a single subject teaching credential through CalTeach at UC Irvine. Liliana previously worked with Upward Bound Trio Programs at Occidental College, preparing under-represented youth for successful pathways into college and work environments. Her experiences as a first-generation low-income student and as an educator in the Upward Bound program have shaped her research interests to include a culturally equitable curriculum in science for students in minority communities and science identity for under-represented groups. Her research interest also focuses on female students in STEM classrooms and their sense of belonging and motivation to pursue a STEM pathway in higher education. Liliana welcomes email correspondence at

Gribble, Jim
Jim is a doctoral student with an emphasis in technology at the elementary school level. His advisor is Dr. Danielle Harlow. He is interested in researching the impact computer coding has on the communication skills of children with autism. Prior to arriving at UCSB he was a Kindergarten teacher with TeachForAmerica in Charlotte, a founding 2nd grade teacher at an environmental start-up school in Chicago, technology coordinator and teacher at an IB PYP school in London and a 2nd grade Science and Coding teacher in San Francisco. He wrote the programming curriculum (based on Scratch language) for a school founded by the Chief Scientist of Twitter and founded a company dedicated to teaching children how to code in after-school and one-on-one contexts. Jim taught teachers how to code in the Design Lab at the Sonoma County Office of Education. He earned a B.A. in Psychology at Marquette University, an elementary teaching credential at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and an M.Ed. at San Francisco State University. Feel free to email Jim at:

Gutierrez-Serrano, Gabby
Gabby Gutierrez-SerranoGabby is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education with an emphasis in Culture and Development working with Dr. Laura Romo. Her research examines the factors influencing Latina first-generation STEM majors’ motivation to persist to degree completion and aspire to STEM-related careers. Gabby received her Chicana/o Studies with a minor in Education and M.A. in Education from UC Santa Barbara. As a graduate student, she has been a Teaching Assistant in the departments of Education and Chicana/o Studies, graduate student researcher at the Chicano Studies Institute, and assistant program coordinator at the Promise Scholars Program. Gabby can be reached at

Hailati, Munila (Munira)
Munila HailatiMunila (Munira) Hailati is a second year doctoral student with program emphasize on Culture, Language, and Human Development. Her advisor is Dr. Amy Kyratzis. Munira received her MA degree with the focus on Education Policy in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her bachelor degree of Administrative Management at Beihang University of China. Munira’s research interests broadly lies on children’s language socialization and language practices in multilingual migration communities. She’s also interested in school districts and parents’ cooperations on developing family-based literacy program. Before Munira started pursuing studies in education field, she worked as an external fundraising associate partner in the nonprofit migrant school, as well as a literature teacher in international schools. She could be reached at

Harris, Samantha
Samantha HarrisSamantha (she/her) is a doctoral candidate studying language and literacy education. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland College Park and an M.A. in TESOL  from Georgetown University. She taught English as a Second Language at community colleges in Maryland before coming to UCSB. Her research focuses on the intersections of language, race, immigration and education with a specific focus on heritage language learners and students classified as English Learners. She currently works as an instructor for the School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society (SKILLS) Program and is part of the Migration Initiative at UCSB. Samantha can be reached at

Hirst Bernhardt, Christine
Christine Hirst BernhardtChristine Hirst Bernhardt is a passionate STEM educator and teacher leader from Southern California. She has taught STEM and astronomy in middle, high school and college, as well as to teachers through NASA’s Endeavor STEM Leadership program. Christine’s commitment to propelling the intersectional needs of STEM education have resulted in her appointment as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator, the Thomas J. Brennan award for Excellent Astronomy Teaching, participation aboard NASA’s SOFIA mission and travel to Chile as an educational ambassador. She is also an Emerging Teacher Educator fellow with the California Teacher Education Improvement Network. Christine is the lead for the U.S. Astronomy Education team and has worked for several curricular companies and advisory boards. As an educator, Christine utilized project-based learning to promote agency and equity in STEM through relevant and culturally applicable phenomena, which she plans to develop into her doctoral research at UC Santa Barbara. She developed a unique and regionally famous high altitude balloon experiment program, student space symposium and international space camp. Christine loves all things adventure; she raced mountain bikes until 2016, won two national championships, and founded the first all-women’s professional gravity mountain bike team to advance women in a male dominated industry. She holds an M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota and an M.A. in Science Education from CSU Northridge.  Her research centers on the intersections of STEM/Astronomy and Social Justice and international STEM/Astronomy education and teacher professional development. She can be reached at & @SpaceyProfessor

Hoerberg, Destiny
Destiny HoerbergDestiny is a doctoral student with an emphasis in Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies, under the advisory of Dr. George Singer and Dr. Andrew Fedders. Destiny holds an M.A. in Education from UCSB, a B.A. in Psychology from CSU Channel Islands, and is currently working on completing her supervision hours to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Previously, Destiny has worked with children with disabilities and their families as both an in-home behavioral interventionist and as a paraeducator in a variety of special education classrooms and therapeutic learning centers. Destiny’s occupational and educational experience has led her to explore new ways to enhance current behavioral parent training programs, to increase both treatment adherence and clinical outcomes. More recently, Destiny’s current involvement in a communication training study involving NICU nurses has inspired her to draw from empirically derived training programs to promote more compassionate care and therapeutic communication in the field of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) for both behavioral analysts and parents as they interact with one another and the child. Destiny welcomes opportunities to collaborate and connect & can be reached at

Hong, Damhee "Dee Dee"
Dee Dee HongDamhee "Dee Dee" Hong is a doctoral student working with Dr. Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj. Dee Dee obtained her bachelor's degree in Political Science - International Relations from UC San Diego, and her master's degree in Higher Education Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Prior to starting at Gevirtz School of Education, Dee Dee worked as an English teacher in South Korea, a Peace Corps volunteer in Indonesia, an International Student Services Specialist at Santa Monica College, and a Conduct Coordinator at University of Hawai'i at Manoa. These experiences in various sectors of education led Dee Dee to her current research interests in the interaction between culture and education policy and in minoritized students' pathways to higher education. Dee Dee can be reached at

Hyun, Faith
Faith HyunFaith is a doctoral student with research interests in science education, working with Dr. Diana Arya and Dr. Julie Bianchini. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her major research interest is how different learning environments/cultures influence students' science learning and their motivation to learn science. She would like to study further how collaborative engagement and interactions in a science classroom enhance student learning. Faith can be reached at


Jessop, Raheem
Raheem is a third-year PhD student in the department of education with a concentration on Culture and Development. His research will look at college decision-making among African American high school students and analyze the factors that make them choose between a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and a Historically Black College or University. Raheem graduated from Morehouse College in 2017 and he uses his experience of Black education to pursue his passion and ensure Black students receive the best education and experience a school has to offer.

Karimi, Honeiah
Honeiah KarimiHoneiah Karimi is a doctoral student in Education with an emphasis in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences. She is co-advised by Dr. Andrew Maul and Dr. Diana Arya. Her research interests include data science, QuantCrit, and language learning in Virtual Reality. Currently, Honeiah works as an Applied Data and Research Fellow for Common App. Honeiah can be reached at



Kim, Haewon
Haewon KimHaewon is a doctoral student in the Department of Education working with Dr. Jin Sook Lee. She received her B.A. in Elementary School Education from Gyeongin National University of Education and an M.A. in English Education from Seoul National University. Prior to coming to UCSB she worked as an elementary school teacher in South Korea. She also served as a graduate instructor in SKILLS (School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society). Her current research interests lie in bilingual education, heritage language speakers, and applied linguistics. She can be reached at

Kwong, Wai-Yee Ann
Ann Wai-Yee Kwong is a Ph.D. student in the education program with the emphasis of Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies advised by Dr. Wang. She received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education from UC Berkeley as a Gates Millennium scholar. Prior to her attendance at UC Santa Barbara, she worked as an education technician intern in Washington DC disaggregating student suicidality data and analyzing its negative impact on both student and school excellence. Ann testified at the U.S. Senate hearing in 2014 to advocate for herself and others, informing policy makers of the attitudinal and tangible societal barriers which limit the potentials of people with disabilities. Her research interests include: creation of innovative workforce development curriculum for transition age youth with disabilities, self-determination, and cultural implications of professional and family partnerships. She is currently collaborating with UCP Work Inc. on designing and implementing curricula to increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities and their families; she recently concluded a project with the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) on implications of cultural reciprocity with the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and pre-employment transition services. In addition, Ann co-founded Survive or Thrive where she designs and facilitates workshops as well as mentors youth with disabilities and their families. In a professional capacity, she also serves on various boards including the California Department of Rehabilitation's Advisory Committee and the Association on Higher Education and Disability. Through her research and advocacy, Ann hopes to continue empowering others to envision, define, and achieve their future aspirations. She can be reached at:

La Joy, Jonna
Jonna La Joy is a doctoral student with an emphasis in Science and Mathematics Education. Her advisor is Dr. Yukari Okamoto. Jonna received her M.A. in Child and Adolescent Development from San José State University in 2013 and received her B.A. in Psychology from Sonoma State University in 2009. Her research interests include mathematics and science education, quantitative research methodology, educational psychology, child and adolescent development, and cognitive science. Her current research is on fractions and the influence of procedural and conceptual knowledge on mathematical self-efficacy and attitudes about mathematics.   or review her professional work at:

Langlo, Tatzia
Tatzia Langlo is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Education in the research focus area of Cultural Perspectives and Comparative Education, working with Professor Jenny Cook-Gumperz and Dr. Tine Sloan as her advisors. Langlo’s research interests reach into the development of global learning-teaching communities and the need for increased communication, cultural awareness, and contextual competencies involved with interacting as citizens on the stage of the global world. As a scholar and researcher she works with a non-profit organization based on principles and practices of civil participation, service-learning, and education assistance through development of local and global relationships. She maintains interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphases in Global Studies and Language, Interaction, and Social Organization.

Levine, Somer Ayala
Somer LevineSomer Ayala Levine is a third-year doctoral student focusing her research in critical reading instruction and assessment, and family literacy in Latinx school communities. She is advised by Dr. Diana Arya and Dr. Karen Lunsford. Somer is a first-gen college student, the only teacher in her family, and the first in her family to pursue a doctoral degree. She earned a B.A. in English and Spanish minor from UC Santa Barbara (2006), an M.A. in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University (2008), and an Ed.M. in Reading Education from Boston University (2012). Somer holds a Reading Specialist credential, single subject credential in English, a Bilingual Authorization in Spanish, and a Preliminary Administrative Services credential. For 14 years, Somer enjoyed various teaching roles in Title I public schools. Somer is currently a Visiting Instructor of Teaching & Director of Clinical Practice in the Teacher Education Division at Pepperdine University. Somer’s family is her pride and joy. She and her husband are parents to two young children and one bearded dragon. Somer welcomes your email at

Lilly, Robin
Robin LillyRobin Lilly is a Ph.D. student interested in the role schools play in human flourishing. Her particular interest is in the intersection between teacher well-being and student well-being and how professional development experiences may support teachers as they create conditions that help all students thrive holistically. Philosophical as well as practical questions about learning, writing, equity, measurement, mindfulness, compassion, and engagement keep her working full-time as a learning and development coordinator for a network of charter schools while she attends school full-time and is a full-time mom to two children. A recovering perfectionist, Robin is practicing the art of “good enough” so that meditation, exercise, and sleep are also prioritized. Feel free to reach out for a walking discussion; she values personal connection and the perspectives of her peers. Some personal, professional and intermittent writing can be read at, and she loves to receive feedback so please reach out via comments or email to

Lin, Yixin
Yixin Lin is a doctoral student with an emphasis in Special Education working with Dr. Mian Wang. She received her B.A. in Business Administration from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China. In the meantime, she worked as a volunteer teacher in a special education school for three years. Then she received an M.S. from Columbia University in Social Work. During her graduate study, she also worked as an intern in Hamilton-Madison House Childcare Center and the Association to Benefit Children in New York.  Her research interests include: autism ,developmental delay, inclusive education in both United States and China, and cross-cultural special education. Though her research interests are relatively broad, she is currently involved in research about an autism app design with her advisor. Her longer term research purpose is to further study on inclusive education of children with autism and developmental delay. Yixin can be reached at

Magana, Diana
Diana MaganaDiana Magaña is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara with an emphasis in Culture and Development; her advisor is Dr. Laura Romo. Diana received a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Education Sciences from UC Irvine and an M.A. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was an Administrative Assistant for a TRIO Upward Bound program for a year prior to coming to UCSB. Her research interests largely revolve around the postsecondary experiences of first-generation Latinx college students, with a specific focus on understanding the relationship between social and institutional influences and the postsecondary experiences of historically marginalized students. She seeks to understand how systems of support, whether they be social or institutional, influence the postsecondary experiences of first-generation Latina/o/x students and their eventual success. Her current research focuses on the relationships between first-generation Latina students and their parents and the manner in which manifestations of familial support arise and play a role in undergraduate postsecondary optimism and persistence. Diana can be reached at:

Martinez Maier, Desirae
Desirae Martinez MaierDezi is a doctoral student in the Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies program. After receiving her Education Specialist Credential from the UCSB Teacher Education Program, Dezi worked as a special education teacher for five years in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria before returning to UCSB. Dezi has research interests in supporting strong family-professional partnerships in special education, as well as in supporting and improving teacher education. Dezi may be reached at


McMillen, Konnor
Konnor McMillenEducation email:
Interests: SEL for high school students, equity and access to education, professional development, experiential learning, project based learning




McNish, Donald
Donnie is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara with an emphasis in STEM education. His advisor is Julie Bianchini. His particular areas of interest are related to how teachers and students work collaboratively in the digital environment and how changes to education technology shape students experiences in science class, particularly students from traditionally underserved communities. He is also interested in teacher education and the changes to professional training and development within science education in the 21st century. Prior to coming to UCSB, Donnie worked as a high school Chemistry and Physics teacher in Los Angeles. He has a BA and MA in Geoscience from Cal. State Northridge as well as a Master's in Science Education from CSUN as well. He can be reached via email at

Meier, Valerie
Valerie Meier is an Education doctoral student working with Dr. Jin Sook Lee. She holds a BA and BFA from Tufts University, an MA in Composition from San Francisco State University, and an MA in Second Language Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. In addition to having taught a wide range of reading and writing classes at US universities, she has also taught English in Japan and Laos. Her research interests broadly include academic literacies, second language acquisition, and language-in-education policies; her current focus is on better understanding how teachers can capitalize on their students’ bilingual resources in order to promote the acquisition of academic literacies in one or more languages. You can contact Valerie at

Mendoza, Monica
Monica MendozaMonica Mendoza is an American Latina Ph.D. student, specializing in mathematics education. She enjoys researching higher education mathematics teaching and learning and spatial visualization, mentoring undergraduate student research, and working towards school-work-life balance along with her husband and 3 children. Inspired by several mentors and advisors, she aims to continue their shared work and legacy in creating opportunities for diversity within the mathematics and education communities. She is the 2019 recipient of the NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) HSI Alliance fellowship. Monica can be reached by e:

Muller, Alexandria
Ali is a fifth-year doctoral student working with Dr. Danielle Harlow. She received her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona in 2017. She has worked with informal science institutions for the past 9 years, including The Chandler Museum, Tucson Children's Museum and Biosphere 2. Currently, her research interests are facilitator training and curriculum development within informal science environments as well as Research- Practice Partnerships to benefit the local community. She would love to receive emails at  For more information about current projects and interests, please visit
Linkedin: and

Nazaryan, Sos
Sos Nazaryan is a graduate student working with Dr. Betsy Brenner. His research interests include community engagement, university-community partnerships (UCPs), program sustainability, strategic partnerships, and capacity building. His latest research project focused on understanding some of the practices that promote sustainability in UCPs. From 2014 until 2019, he coordinated an afterschool computer program at a local community organization that aims to develop literacy, digital literacy, and critical thinking skills for more than 100 local elementary-aged students from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds. Since 2016, he has also regularly served as a teaching assistant in the Education department. Sos received his B.A. in Sociology from UC Santa Barbara in 2014 and explored parent involvement in two-way dual language immersion programs as part of his undergraduate honors thesis. Sos is always open to collaborating and can be reached at

Ng, Caitlin
Caitlin NgCaitlin is a second-year doctoral student interested in transfer student success, and the phenomenon known as "transfer-shock." Her advisor is Dr. Tarek Azzam, and she aspires to examine how higher education policies impact transfer student experiences. Prior to coming to UCSB, Caitlin earned her B.A. in Sociology with an Emphasis in Science and Medicine from UC San Diego. There, she completed an honors thesis on transfer students, inspired by the challenges she noticed as a board member for UC San Diego's All-Campus Transfer Association. Additional research that Caitlin has collaborated on focuses on Asian American college student activism with Dr.Samuel Museus, Director of the National Institute for Transformation and Equity. She can best be reached at or her LinkedIn.

Nguyen, Dana
Dana Nguyen is a doctoral student in the Special Education, Disabilities and Risk Studies program working under Dr. Mian Wang. She received her B.A. from University of California, San Diego in 2007 where she studied Psychology and was involved in research at the Autism Clinic.  She continued work in the field of autism as an applied behavior analyst before starting her doctoral program here at University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012. Currently, she is interested in studying disability through a family systems approach and looking into parent training and resources available for families, especially those from culturally diverse backgrounds.  Emails are welcome at

Pacheco, Fabian
Fabian Pacheco is a fifth year doctoral student. As an alumnus of the University of California Los Angeles, he graduated with departmental honors in Chicana/o Studies and Sociology, and is currently working under the guidance of Professor Mireles-Rios. Fabian is a strong advocate for ethnic studies both in the K-12 and college-level setting. He enjoys being actively involved in his community of Boyle Heights as a mentor and coach. For his MA thesis, he is looking at the racial socialization practices Latino parents engage with their children during a time of anti-immigrant sentiment. Additional research interest include, but are not limited to, access to higher education, creating a college going culture, and examining various aspects of student experiences that impact their educational attainment and pursuit. Currently, he is a teaching assistant in the Department of Black Studies and can be reached at

Penner, Kaitlynn
Kaitlynn is a doctoral student with an emphasis in Special Education, Disability, and Risk studies, under the guidance of Dr. George Singer. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and a clinician at the Koegel Autism Center where she works with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.  Her research interests include improving the cultural relevance of interventions for children with ASD, improving accessibility of evidence-based practices to underserved populations, particularly on an international level, and neurodiversity and increasing the use of the autistic perspective in improving interventions. She is currently leading a project that combines the positive strategies of multiple intervention models to better support young children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders in the preschool setting. Kaitlynn can be reached at

Poyser, Samantha
Samantha Poyser is a fifth-year student with an emphasis in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies. Her faculty advisors are Dr. Robert Koegel and Dr. Ty Vernon. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2015, she worked as a Program Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club before returning to UCSB for her doctorate. She is a clinician at the Koegel Autism Center, where she provides evidence-based treatments to children and adults on the Autism Spectrum. Her research interests include academic motivation for children with disabilities, as well as collaborating with stakeholders in education to create more inclusive educational and community settings for students with disabilities. Samantha can be reached at

Rios Arroyo, Daniel Ulises
Daneil Rios ArroyoDaniel Rios Arroyo is a doctoral student focusing his research on social and educational justice in K-12 through the higher education pipeline; his advisor is Dr. Richard Duran. Daniel earned his B.A. in Sociology with Education studies minor from UC Los Angeles. His current research focuses on Latina/Latino students' transition from high school to college with a primary interest in Latina/Latino English language learners' educational experiences. As a graduate student, Daniel has gained teaching experience by being a TA in the Black Studies Department and the Spanish department. Daniel is also involved with SKILLS (School Kids investigating Language in Life and Society) as an instructor teaching high school English language learners. Daniel has also joined  UCSB's Promise Scholars program as a Time Management Associate. Daniel can be reached by email at:

Romo-González, María Guadalupe
María Guadalupe Romo-GonzálezMaría Guadalupe is a second year doctoral student with an emphasis in Policy, Program Evaluation, and Research Methods; she is advised by Dr. Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj. María obtained her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley, where she minored in Chicanx/Latinx studies and public policy. Prior to coming to GGSE, María had the opportunity to work with the PUENTE Project and New America, where she conducted research on higher education policies and practices. Broadly, she is interested in the experiences of immigrant and immigrant-origin students and families navigating the U.S. education system. She can be reached at

Sanosa, David
David Sañosa is a doctoral student emphasizing in Learning, Culture, and Technology under the advisory of Dr. Richard Durán and is broadly interested in the research and development of technology-based learning environments and strategies. He received his B.S. in Biopsychology from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UCSB where he assisted investigations in the use of virtual models for chemistry education. He has also worked as a research assistant on validity studies for NAEP digitally based science assessments and as a developer at a virtual reality software company located in downtown Santa Barbara. He currently assists makerspace activities at a local teen center where he has worked with youth in constructing creative projects using digital and electronic platforms such as Scratch and Arduino. His current research interests focus on the use of technology to engage youth in processes such as computer programming and digital music production (and by sheer coincidence, he enjoys these activities in his personal time). In addition, he is currently developing an application for Scratch-like visual programming within an immersive virtual reality environment. Email:

Schuck, Rachel
Rachel SchuckRachel Schuck (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student in the Education Department with an emphasis in Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies. Her research interests center around exploring the social validity of intervention and education programs for those on the autism spectrum, particularly from the autistic perspective. She is also interested in parent involvement in educational activities for children with disabilities and works as a clinician at the Koegel Autism Center. Prior to starting at UCSB in 2019, she earned a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2011 and an MA in Special Education from San Jose State in 2017 and worked for over five years in the Autism & Developmental Disorders Research Program at Stanford. She also really loves cats! Rachel can be reached at

Shackley, Matthew
Matthew ShackleyMatthew Shackley is a fourth year doctoral student in Education, working with Dr. Julie Bianchini and pursuing emphases in Science Education and Cognitive Science. He received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2014 and a M.S. in Teaching and Learning from Colorado State University in 2017. Prior to entering the graduate program at GGSE, Matthew taught middle school science in Las Vegas, Nevada. His research interrogates how students' socially and culturally developed identities influence scientific literacy, particularly as it relates to controversial or politicized issues. This work also looks at the role teachers and their beliefs play in (re)constructing these identities. Matthew also teaches courses on child and adolescent development in UCSB Teacher Education Program. You can find more information on his work at He also welcomes email correspondence at:

Skinner, Ron
Ron SkinnerRon Skinner is a doctoral student in STEM education working with Dr. Danielle Harlow. His current research projects focus on training informal STEM facilitators and engaging museum visitors in the practices of science and engineering. He is specifically interested in understanding how children engaged in engineering design challenges respond to and learn from design failure.  Prior to becoming a student again later in life, he taught physics, astronomy, and general science in formal settings to audiences from kindergarteners to graduate students in the schools of the Lucia Mar School District, and at Cornell University, University of California, Irvine, and Santa Barbara City College. He worked in informal STEM education at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and was the founding Director of Education at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.  His science research experience includes marine science fieldwork along the Northern California coast; plasma physics research at the University of California, Irvine; and nanotechnology research at Sandia National Laboratory.  He gained practical engineering experience as a patent reviewer for Lenker Engineering and a software engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Visual Solutions, Inc. For 14 years he owned and operated an organic farm, where he developed and directed a yearlong apprentice program in sustainable agriculture, ran informal education programs both on the farm and as outreach in local schools, and designed and fabricated small-scale farming equipment. He holds a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University and an M.S. in Physics from the University of California, Irvine. Ron can be reached at

Simon, Odelia
Odelia SimonOdelia (Lia) Simon is a doctoral candidate exploring equity in education through quantitative methods including latent variable analysis, structural equation modeling, mixture modeling and measurement invariance. She is particularly interested in group differences in the experience of K-12 math education and teacher support, focusing on gender, racial and ethnic differences. Lia received her BA from Barnard College and her M.S.Ed in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Lia is studying under the guidance of Karen Nylund-Gibson and Rebeca Mireles-Rios. She can be reached at

Solis, Bertin
Bertin Solis is a first-generation college graduate from UCSB where he completed a Bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in Educational Studies and a Master’s in Education. He is currently working on completing his doctoral program in the Gevirtz School of Education. His doctoral research examines the college and career pathways of Latinx community college transfer students. Solis is also interested in studying immigrant families' literacy and civic engagement practices. His research aims to develop insights on how educational institutions can transform their practices to better serve historically underserved students and communities. During his free time, he enjoys growing and caring for his plants or going for an evening walk to the ocean. If you'd like to connect email Bertin:

Su, Jing
Jing SuJing is a doctoral student in education working with Dr. Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj and Dr. Mian Wang. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in Accounting and Finance concentration from Purdue University and a Master of Global Affairs from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar. Jing holds a national teaching credential in China, and has been a volunteer teacher in different parts of China and a leader of a youth development program in both China and the U.S. For her master’s thesis, Jing conducted a study on migrant children’s education in Beijing that confirmed her passion in promoting educational equity through impactful research and policy making. Jing is currently the president of Graduate Student Association in Education (GSAE) and a teaching assistant for multiple undergraduate courses at UCSB. Jing’s research interests include student mental health and well-being, parent-child interactions, family-school-community collaboration, program evaluation, and inclusive education to promote education equity for students with diverse needs. Jing can be reached at

Sultana, Sabiha
Sabiha SultanaSabiha is a third-year doctoral student focusing her research in critical reading assessments under the guidance of Dr. Diana J. Arya and Dr. Andrew Maul. She earned her B.Ed. (Honors) from University of Dhaka in Language Education. She later received her M.Ed. in Bilingual/English as a Second Language/Multicultural concentration from University of Massachusetts, Amherst as a Fulbright scholar. Being an education civil servant, she served as a faculty of education at the Government Teachers’ Training College Mymensingh, Bangladesh and at the education team of a2i programme, Government of Bangladesh. As a graduate student, Sabiha is currently working as the assessment development and analytic coordinator at Community Based Literacies to contribute to the development of a more culturally inclusive and relevant assessment approach that will benefit school communities and the children that they serve. Her research interests encompass educational assessments; multiliteracies; ESL/EFL; critical media literacy; technology embedded curriculum and instructions; multimodal pedagogies for reading and writing; and teachers' professional development. She can be reached at and her publications are available here.

Tanous, Chelsea
Chelsea Tanous is a doctoral student with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO) working with Dr. Amy Kyratzis. Chelsea received her B.A. in French and Spanish at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011, after which she spent one year working as an interpreter and translator while teaching a high school French independent study course. She received her M.A. in French and Applied Linguistics from the University of Alabama in 2014, where her thesis research project explored the communicative strategies of undergraduate and graduate students of French in classroom and informal contexts. Her current research focuses on issues in second language learning, including language socialization, intercultural communication, issues of culture and community, and the negotiation of identity in interaction. Chelsea currently teaches French language courses through the Department of French and Italian at UCSB and works as an instructor in the McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic. She can be reached at To review Chelsea’s current research and teaching projects, please visit her website at:

Olarte, Royce
Royce TolarteRoyce is a second-year Ph.D. student with an emphasis in Mathematics Education. He is working with Dr. Sarah Roberts and broadly, his research interests are in the intersections of mathematics education, cognitive science, equity, and professional development in higher education. Royce received his BS in Mathematics from La Sierra University in 2017, and his MS in Mathematics for Teachers from Portland State University in 2018. There, he worked on curriculum development for multivariable calculus that integrated technology and active learning. Prior to attending UCSB, Royce was an adjunct mathematics professor, primarily teaching courses in pre-calculus, calculus, and data science. Please don't hesitate to contact him! He can be reached at

Valenzuela, Jackie
Jackie ValenzuelaJackie (She/Her | Ella) is a second-year doctoral student specializing in Culture and Development; her advisor is Dr. Rebeca Mireles-Rios. Jackie received her B.S in Statistics and Data Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include community college transfer and first-generation college student experience, underrepresented minority students in STEM education, and quantitative methods. Feel free to contact Jackie at:


Valinsky, Frances
Frances ValinskyFrances is a doctoral student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education under the advisement of Dr. Richard Duran. She earned her B.S. in Early Childhood and Childhood Education with a concentration in Human Development from SUNY Geneseo in 2019. Her research interests broadly focus on learning and identity building in informal education settings, as well as successful pathways to/in higher education for first generation students. Currently, she is the site coordinator at St. George Youth Center working with our undergraduates and the teens in Isla Vista. She is also a Graduate Assistant in the Dean of Students office and will be a TA in our Teacher Education Program this year. Frances can be reached at

Vazquez Arroyo, Yessica
Yessica Vazquez ArroyoYessica is a second year MA student with research interests pertaining to the academic experiences of students from underserved communities, specifically analyzing college going rates and rates of academic retention. Her faculty advisor is Dr. Rebeca Mireles-Rios. Yessica was born in Santa Barbara, CA and earned her BA degree in Sociology from UCLA. Shortly after graduating, she joined the Gaucho family as an admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions, where she worked for 5 years before moving on to the College of Letters and Science Academic Advising office, where she now advises undergraduates on the pre-health track. Outside of work, she also campaigns for and volunteers as a mentor for children and teens in local United Way programs. Yessica also loves music and partakes in multiple musical and dance activities in the community. When she is not making or dancing to music, she loves to spend quality time with her toddler and husband. Yessica can be reached at

Wang, Chang
Chang WangChang is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Education with an emphasis in Culture and Development, under the guidance of Dr. Rebeca Mireles Rios. Her research interests include peer influence and study motivation. Chang earned her B.A. in two majors: psychology and Chinese literature from Beijing, China in 2020. During her undergraduate studies, she has been researching the influence of peer groups on college students’ learning motivation, and the research results based on China gave her a lot of inspiration and thoughts to go into this topic and explore it in-depth. Chang can be reached at:

Ye, Yuan
Yuan YeYe is a doctoral student working with Dr. Jin Sook Lee and Dr. Amy Kyratzis. She earned her B.A. in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages from Beijing Language and Culture University in China, and her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the University of Southern California. Ye is also a certified Montessori teacher. Before attending UCSB, she worked as a bilingual preschool teacher for two years. Currently, her research interests lie in bilingualism, heritage language maintenance, second/foreign language acquisition, and the use of technology in language learning. Ye would love to receive emails at

Zhang, Hui
Hui ZhangHui is a fourth-year Ph.D. student working with Dr. Diana Arya in her research. In 2002, she earned a bachelor's degree in accounting, and in 2006 and 2009, she earned two master's degrees in law. Since 2019, she has volunteered for parent support programs in the United States and China. Currently, her research interests include immigrant parents of children with special needs advocacy and social science studies in the field of special education. is her preferred way to receive an email.