Doctoral Student Research

Sara Tamsukhin

Sara Tamsukhin is a doctoral student in Educational Studies with a concentration in Curriculum and Teacher Education.  She completed her undergraduate degree in dietetics and has been a licensed and registered dietitian since 2005.  In 2007, she completed a master’s degree in Nutrition and has taught as a part time nutrition instructor since 2009.  Her academic interests include student motivation, the transfer of science knowledge into health care practice, curriculum development and analysis in professional preparation, and program assessment and evaluation.  Her mentor is Dr. Helen Meyer.

Charles Schwartz

Charles Schwartz- Charlie Schwartz has worked in education for over 10 years, with a primary focus on the internationalization of higher education through admissions and enrollment. He is currently the Associate Director of International Admissions at the University of Cincinnati, where he is responsible for leading a team to increase international undergraduate enrollment. He is pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies with a concentration in Educational Policy and Higher Education. His areas of specialty include strategic planning, international marketing and communication, agent management, and operational efficiency. He holds an MBA from the University of Cincinnati and a BA in Economics and French from Ohio University.

Zhiwen Song

Zhiwen Song is a doctoral student from Second Language Studies track under the Educational Studies program. She earned her master’s degree in International Language Education at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology after she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in law and English language and literature. Her research interests include (but not limited to) sociolinguistics, critical discourse analysis, Systemic Functional Linguistics, and academic literacies. 

Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste

Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste is pursuing a doctoral degree in Education and Community-Based Action Research. She is one of UC’s own faculty in the American Sign Language and Deaf Studies program. She has been a nationally certified interpreter since 2001 and has overseas experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, a Fellow with Discovering Deaf Worlds in the Philippines, and as an interpreter-educator in Kenya.

She has a Bachelor's degree in Sign Language Interpreting, a Master's degree in Adult Education and Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Her academic areas of interest include approaches to teaching critical thinking, service learning, interdisciplinary curriculum for improved interpreter education, discourse analysis, ethical decision-making, closing the school-to-work gap, cross-training of spoken and signed language interpreters, and international experiences as a key element to interpreter education.

Nan Yang

Nan Yang is a first-year doctoral student in Educational Studies with a concentration of Second Language Studies, advised by Dr. Hye Pae. Nan received her Master’s degree in TESL from the Pennsylvania State University and was teaching Chinese for a few years before joining the UC family. Currently her research interest lies in how cross-cultural elements interact with people’s language use. Specifically, how are the cultural norms, social beliefs, and value systems being carried and reflected by children’s literature in different cultures.

Courtney Fox

Courtney Fox received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada; she is currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Cincinnati.  Courtney has been teaching math and science for over 12 years from Virginia to Nevada and most recently in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a passion for integrating mathematics and the sciences in her lessons; she strives to help her students see the connections in the classroom and beyond.  Students leave her classes ready to take on STEM careers where mathematics and the sciences are very much integrated. 

Alicia Boards

Alicia Boards is a native of Georgetown, Kentucky. Alicia graduated with her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from Western Kentucky University. She spent the last eight years working at Ohio University as the Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center and the Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Studies program with a concentration in Higher Education and Policy. Her research interests include multiracial identity development, first-generation college students of color, active learning and critical pedagogy practices in higher education, and African American women in tenure track faculty positions at four year public higher education institutions.

Sandra Beam

Sandra Beam is a PhD candidate in Educational Studies with a concentration in Literacy, advised by Dr. Cheri Williams. Sandra is Associate Professor and Education Department Chair at Cincinnati Christian University. She holds an Ohio Teaching License in Early Childhood Education and a Masters of Education in Reading. Sandra's dissertation research examines the use of Information and Communication Technologies to mediate writing instruction with young children.

Victoria Dickman- Burnett

Victoria Dickman-Burnett is a former humanities scholar turned Action Researcher in the 2nd year of the ECAR track of the Educational Studies PhD. Victoria has four years of professional experience teaching composition at the university level and one year of experience running a high school writing center. After receiving a Master's degree in Critical Theory from Ohio University, Victoria turned her focus to feminist sexual assault prevention education, drawing on years of past activist work with Take Back The Night. Victoria's research interests are in feminist educational interventions in high schools to reduce sexual assault, particularly using young adult literature and Youth Participatory Action Research to generate nuanced discussions about sexual assault with the aim of creating whole-scale culture shifts around attitudes towards sexual assault. Victoria is also interested in research methods, particularly the intersection of transformative/ social justice mixed methods and participatory methods. Upon completing her PhD, Victoria would like to work in a full time research role to explore the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention education programs with an eye toward policy implications.

Lori Cargile

Lori Cargile is a native Cincinnatian. She is an Ed.D. candidate in the Curriculum and Instruction Department (mathematics education) under the advisement of Dr. Shelly Sheats Harkness. Her dissertation will focus on the impact of project-based learning and the free online tutorial Khan Academy on student motivation to do mathematics.

Kyle Cox

Kyle Cox is a longtime resident of Cincinnati and taught 6th grade math in the Mason City School District for eight years before pursuing graduate studies full-time.  He is a second-year student in the Educational Studies Ph.D. program focusing on quantitative research methods and is advised by Dr. Ben Kelcey.  Kyle's research interests include multilevel mediation, research design, teacher quality, and mathematics education.  He is currently working on multilevel mediation models to study the impact of teacher development on student achievement in mathematics. 

Carol Fabby

Carol Fabby is a Ph.D. candidate in Physics Education Research as part of the Educational Studies program and is advised by Dr. Kathleen Koenig.  She received her B.S. and M.S. in Physics at the University of Cincinnati and was a three-year recipient of a Hazel F. Gabbard Doctoral Research Associate Scholarship.  Carol’s research interests include exploring how to improve decision making through reasoning and critical thinking skills in college-level students enrolled in physics courses.  Her dissertation research involves investigating statistical reasoning in the introductory physics course.

Ahmed Fahad

Ahmed Fahad is a third year doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati in the Second Language Studies department. Besides teaching at the University of Cincinnati Center for English as a Second Language, he is also a Graduate Assistant for the Online Learning and Licensure program. His research interests are in computer assisted language learning (CALL), sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis.

Lori Foote

Lori Foote is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Studies’ department, with an emphasis on Curriculum Studies.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Educational Foundations.  Having taught elementary education for nearly two decades, she has a passionate interest in uncovering systematic barriers to student success.  Her research includes a combination of methodological approaches that can be used to illuminate conditions that limit students’ potential, while simultaneously offering practical, relevant ways to address those barriers now.

Elizabeth Faulhaber

Elizabeth Lowrance Faulhaber is in the EDST Second Language Studies program and is also seeking a graduate certificate in Developmental Learning Sciences. Her research interests include studying the language acquisition and literacy development, particularly writing, of early childhood learners who are simultaneously learning their home language as well as English. Elizabeth earned a Master's of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Science from Brigham Young University. She has spent most of her career working with children in a variety of educational and social services settings, and has also lived and worked in Estonia, Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Sheva Guy

Sheva Guy, a Cincinnati Native, obtained both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the Educational and Community-Based Action Research (ECAR) Program, and her advisor is Dr. Lisa Vaughn. Her research interests revolve around gender equality in STEM fields. She is currently working with POWER (Participatory Opportunity for Women Emerging Researchers in STEM), a participatory action research group that explores the experiences of undergraduate women conducting and/or actively seeking research in STEM fields at UC in order to inform program development. Sheva is passionate about instigating and inspiring change at institutional levels in regards to gender equality and women’s rights.

Kristen Haddad

Kristen Haddad is a native New Yorker who received her B.S. and B.A. from the University of Cincinnati. She is now a first-year doctoral student in Educational Studies with a concentration in Educational and Community-Based Action Research. Her research interests encompass health disparities and social determinants of health, particularly for low-income and minority populations. Kristen is interested in using Community-Based Participatory Research to understand, prevent, and reduce health disparities in marginalized communities. She currently partners with the Youth Council for Suicide Prevention at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to enhance the suicide screening process while empowering youth to become leaders in suicide prevention.

Nicole Hammons

L. Nicole Hammons, a native of Alabama, taught secondary mathematics in Tennessee before moving to Cincinnati 10 years ago. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Developmental and Learning Sciences strand of the Educational Studies program. Within Nicole’s research interest of parent involvement, she has researched conflict resolution between parents and teachers, parent involvement in math homework, and parent math workshops. Advised by Dr. Rhonda Brown, Nicole’s dissertation will explore how parents influence their children becoming self-regulated learners.

Joseph Hart

Joseph (Ryan) Hart is a Tulsa native and double alum of Oklahoma State University.  Ryan is a doctoral student in the Quantitative track of the Educational Studies program, advised by Dr. Chris Swoboda.  His research interests include multiple imputation, data analytics, meta-analysis of health topics, and the use of capacitive accelerometry to examine associations among physical activity patterns and cardiovascular disease.  He is currently Evaluation Project Manager for the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training, and he previously worked five years in physical activity research at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences.

Tracy Hermann

Tracy Herrmann is a doctoral student in Educational Studies with a concentration in Educational Policy and Higher Education.  She also earned her Master’s degree in Health Promotion and Education from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services.  She is a tenured Professor of Radiologic Technology in the Allied Health Department at UC Blue Ash College where she teaches at the Associate and Baccalaureate degree levels both in person and on-line.  Her current research is related to the underrepresentation of African American students in healthcare programs, such as medical imaging, and in the healthcare workforce.  Other research interests include cultural humility, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the curriculum.

Tom Highley

Tom Highley, a native of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, has lived in Cincinnati since 1987 and is a veteran middle school language arts instructor. Tom earned his master’s degree in instructional technology from UC in 2002. Currently ABD, Tom is a doctoral candidate in the Literacy and Second Language Studies program, advised by Dr. Connie Kendall Theado. Tom’s research interests include the examination of sociocultural influences on schooling. His dissertation study examines how middle level students and teachers from focal urban, suburban, and rural schools conceptualize the utility and value of blended learning as a platform for learning and literacy.

Qinghua Huang

Qinghua Huang came to the university from China.  She is enrolled as an Ed.D. student in the Urban Educational Leadership program. Her research interests focus on Chinese immigrant students in the United States and involvement of  Chinese immigrant parents in their children’s education, as well as educational leadership in the context of diversity.  Qinghua’s dissertation research is focused on the adjustment experiences of Chinese ESL adolescents, and educational leadership in collaboration.

Leslie Kochanowski

Leslie Kochanowski worked as an early childhood educator for nearly ten years before pursuing her Masters and now her Ph.D. in Educational Studies at UC. She is in the Developmental and Learning Sciences strand and holds a graduate assistant position through the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center. She has worked closely with her mentor, Dr. Victoria Carr, on various research projects, including a grant funded by the National Science Foundation which studied children’s informal science learning in nature playscapes. She is currently the managing editor of Children, Youth and Environments, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed research journal.  Her personal research interests include: play, creativity, intrinsic motivation, and the design of learning environments for young children.

Fran Larkin

Fran Larkin is a Cincinnati native and Program Coordinator in the UC Center for Community Engagement. His service through the AmeriCorps programs City Year and VISTA, and experience in the Center for Community Engagement, led him to the Educational and Community-Based Action Research program where he is advised by Dr. Mary Brydon-Miller. Fran’s research interests include anchor institutions’ relationships with the communities they serve, experiential learning in higher education, and the intersection of housing and educational success in urban communities.

Lorelle Lentz

Lorelle Lentz, a native of California, has lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for the past nine years. She is an Ed.D. candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Instructional Design and Technology, and is advised by Dr. Sally Moomaw. Her research interests include parental mediation and decision making regarding young children’s use of technology under the age of five. Future research interests include the effects of technology use on children’s social, emotional, and intellectual development.

Feng Liang

Feng Liang is currently a Ph.D. student in the Second Language Studies concentration. As a Cantonese native speaker, he is passionate about Cantonese maintenance and development. He has previously taught Mandarin, Cantonese, and ESL. He received his master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor's degree at Hunan University (China). His current research mainly focuses on immigrant families’ attitudes and practices toward heritage language maintenance and English language acquisition in North American countries.

Sara Neyer

Sara Neyer is in her first year of Educational Studies Ph.D. with an ECAR concentration.  She comes to the program with a background in non-profit management.  She worked with non-profits and private schools on capacity building, fund development, board development and strategic planning.  She has a B.A. in Communication from Depauw University and an M.Ed. from Xavier University. She is currently working on a participatory program evaluation of a home literacy promotion program and in the development stage of a participatory project to develop a parent home literacy education program for a low SES community.  She is very interested in inclusive and participatory program development and evaluation.

Lindsay Owens

Lindsay Owens is a Ph.D. candidate in the Educational Studies program in the Curriculum Studies strand and is advised by Dr. Kathleen Koenig.  Prior to attending the University of Cincinnati, she received both a B.S. and M.S. in Physics from Wright State University.  Lindsay’s research is focused on physics education, particularly in writing physics laboratory curriculum which targets scientific reasoning skills.  Her dissertation focuses on creating a learning progression of causal reasoning skills as well as writing assessment items to measure causal reasoning on the Inventory for Scientific Thinking and Reasoning (iSTAR).  

Selena Ramanayake

Selena Ramanayake is an eastside Cincinnati native though she now considers herself a Northern Kentuckian.  After working in elementary education for two years, Selena earned her Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language at UC, where she also taught academic writing to international students.  She is in the Educational Studies Ph.D. program, specializing in Second Language Studies. Her dissertation study is a mixed methods study on the imagined communities of adult language learners.  Other research interests include preservice high school teachers’ engagement in English Language Acquisition content, online language learning, imagined communities and its use as a pedagogy, and how language learners develop voice and identity through their linguistic choices in writing.

Amy Rector-Aranda

Amy Rector-Aranda received her B.A. in Philosophy before coming to UC to earn her M.A. in Educational Studies. She is currently in her third year of the PhD Educational Studies program working in the Educational and Community-based Action Research strand. Her previous work has inquired into: student agency and voice in an online role-play simulation; the teaching of philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics in pre-college classrooms; and promoting methods that support more robust ethical reflection and action in research settings. Her current research and dissertation study focuses on the relational aspects of teaching and learning with pre-service teachers, wherein she studies how the factors of critical pedagogy, authentic caring, and social justice-centered curriculum can influence her students' sense of empowerment and social influence.

Richara Richardson

Richara Richardson is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. Richara graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degrees degree in English Literature and in African-American Studies and she received a Master's degree in Educational Administration. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Urban Educational Leadership. She works as a Community Resource Coordinator for one of the Cincinnati Public Schools where she serves as liaison between the school and its community partners, of which she recruits to help meet the needs of individual students, impact school success, and reflect community interests. Her research interests include African-American male retention in high school, and looking at resources and best practices to promote academic success for students in urban schools.

Anne Straka

Annie Straka is a third year doctoral student in the Educational Studies, Educational and Community Based Action Research (ECAR) track and is advised by Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth. Annie is a Cincinnati native with a background in communication. She works as a faculty member and administrator in the Division of Professional Practice and Experiential Learning (ProPEL) at UC. Annie’s research interests are focused on practitioner inquiry in higher education.

stephanie talbot

Stephanie Talbot works as an instructor for the Communication Department at UC. She is a Ph.D. student in Educational Studies, focusing on the social and cultural foundations of education. Her dissertation explores the meaning of study abroad and service learning for First-Generation College Students. She is currently researching the impact of media on youth identity. Stephanie’s other research interests are centered on the topics of gender, race and minority populations.

Sinem Toraman

Sinem Toraman had worked as a science teacher in elementary schools for five years, before pursuing her Master’s in Science Education and her Doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction (ABD) in Turkey. She is now in her second year of Educational Studies Ph.D. degree in Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies concentration. Sinem is interested in mixed methods research and was awarded with a Graduate Student and Faculty Research Mentoring Grant in her first year. Her current project mainly focuses on the trends of mixed methods research within the field of education and she is advised by Dr. Vicki L. Plano Clark. She is currently Evaluation Project Manager for the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training and also serving as American Educational Research Association (AERA) Mixed Methods Research Special Interest Group Graduate Student Representative and Co-Outreach Coordinator of Graduate Association for Teaching Enhancement. Her research interests include methodological aspects of international assessments such as TIMSS and PISA and to what extent and how researchers use mixed methods research.

carrie Turpin

Carrie Turpin is a doctoral student in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education strand of the Educational Studies Program.  Originally from Kansas City, she worked as a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist in Missouri and Cincinnati.  Her interest in language has shifted away from deficit remediation toward understanding the social and cultural contexts of language use that influence how children from diverse backgrounds differentially experience schooling.  Her current research, advised by Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth, focuses on classroom conversations around the topics of success, failure, and competition.

Susan Tyler

Susan Tyler, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan College and her Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.  She was recruited to the University of Cincinnati as the Director of Continuing Medical Education in the College of Medicine, and elected to work toward her doctoral degree in addition to working full time at the CoM.  She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Educational Studies program and her advisor is Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth.  Susan’s research interests include qualitative, mixed methods, and action methodologies, and her current topics of interest are physician readiness for change and mentorship in professional healthcare settings. Her dissertation study focuses on academic physician readiness for change in professional practice settings.

Ashley Vaughn

Ashley R. Vaughn, a native of Cincinnati, is a Ph.D. student in Educational Studies with a concentration in Developmental and Learning Sciences.  Ashley is a second year student advised by Dr. Marcus Johnson.  With an M.A. in Education and M.S. in Biology, and experience teaching biology in secondary and undergraduate classrooms, her research focus is conceptual change in science.  Currently, Ashley is researching first year teachers’ conceptions of influenza and the influenza vaccine.  Her future research interests include conceptual change in the undergraduate science classroom and among the general public.

Brian Verkamp

Brian Verkamp is the Assistant Dean for Innovative Technology for the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) at the University of Cincinnati. He provides strategic direction for all information technology, learning design, and marketing efforts in the College. He is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Studies program with a concentration in Higher Education and Policy.  His research interests are focused on the practice of delivering skill-based, hands-on instruction over distance and how it can (or cannot) be done effectively.

Heather Vilvens

Heather Vilvens is a native of the Cincinnati area and currently is a full-time Assistant Professor in the Allied Health Department at UC Blue Ash College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University (Athens) in Psychology and her Masters of Education degree from the University of Cincinnati in Health Promotion & Education. She is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Studies program here at UC. Her area of concentration is Educational and Community-Based Action Research (ECAR) with interests in community-based participatory action research, youth participatory action research, health communications, and social and cultural factors related to health. She is currently working with her advisor, Dr. Lisa Vaughn, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on a safe sleep research project which aims to gain a better understanding of the types of messaging that will effectively motivate high risk families to increase their likelihood of making a positive behavior change related to safe sleep practices.

Vanessa White

Vanessa White is a native of Cincinnati. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Educational Studies Program. Vanessa’s research interests include exploring educational leadership, particularly in the area of policies and practices that result in systems improvement. Her dissertation study focuses on exploring the transformative leadership practices of superintendents to better understand the markers of success in school district leaders’ responsibilities and accountabilities that have the most significant impact on student achievement when guiding complex system-level change.


Rose Yang

Rose (Na) Yang is from the city Changchun in the north of China. She taught at a Cincinnati public high school for three years before joining the Educational Studies Ph.D. program at UC.  Rose is advised by Dr. Haiyang Ai. Her research interests include silent reading, reading rate, individual differences, and inner speech.  Her current research is on the relationship between inner speech and silent reading rate.


Weiqi Zhao is currently a PhD student in the Second Language Studies program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from Beijing Union University and a master’s degree in Basic Psychology from Beijing Language and Culture University. She is interested in psycholinguistics, the Chinese reading process in particular.