Education, Ph.D.
(Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies)

Students

Elizabeth M. Allen

Elizabeth M. Allen is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Liz is a licensed math educator (6-12) and special education teacher (K-12). She worked at the American School of Yaounde, Cameroon, where she taught middle and high school mathematics and served as special education coordinator and teacher Pre-K-12. Her research interests center around racially just praxis with a focus on understanding how educators sustain white racial domination (Leonardo, 2004) in the classroom. Specifically, she uses a Critical Whiteness Studies lens to explore how teachers utilize "elements of whiteness" (Matias, 2016) in the classroom and the experiences of students in relation to these manifestations of whiteness, with a focus on learning and cognition.

Kelly Barber-Lester

Kelly Barber-Lester is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Kelly completed a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies (2006) also at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is an experienced teacher, having taught upper elementary grades exclusively in public, low-income schools. She has experience teaching in both traditional and bilingual (English/Spanish) classrooms. She has also taught in both urban and rural settings. Kelly has experience in educational program development, implementation and supervision. She currently works with Dr. Sharon Derry on a research project developing middle school project-based science curricular materials. She is motivated by the pursuit of educational equity for students from marginalized groups, specifically racially minoritized students. Some current specific topics of interest include the following: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, social justice education, critical pedagogy and how culturally relevant educational theories and scholarship can be and are taken up in practice.

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Kerry Bartlett

Kristin Bedell

Brian Cartiff

Brian Cartiff is a first-year doctoral student in the LSPS Program. He has over 20 years of experience teaching high school Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Science, and Theory of Knowledge (ToK). He has been a National Board Certified teacher since 2007. Brian has worked for the UNC/GlaxoSmithKlein Science in the Summer Program and the Duke University Talent Identification Program (teaching Intro to Western Philosophy). He was awarded Duke’s Sawyer Teaching Fellowship in 2004 and was an NC State University Kenan Fellow in 2014-2015. He worked with Dr. David Muddiman’s analytical chemistry team at NC State from 2014-2016. At UNC he is a member of the CLICK group under adviser Dr. Jeffrey Greene, and his interests are epistemic cognition and the Nature of Science (NoS).

Dalila Dragnic-Cindric

Dalila Dragnic-Cindric is a second-year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Education. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, and minor in Mathematics, with Summa cum Laude honors, from North Carolina Central University, as well as a Masters of Engineering Management Degree from Duke University. Prior to her doctoral studies, Dalila has worked in medical physics in cancer research and in the high tech industry. Her research focuses on the effective use of technology in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to support inquiry-based teaching and learning. She is also interested in how science teachers’ beliefs and self-efficacy shape their science teaching practice and in turn impact students’ learning. In 2016 she was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellowship.

Rebekah Duke

Rebekah Duke is a second-year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She previously completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology at Virginia Tech (2013). Before coming to UNC, Rebekah worked as a Senior Research Specialist at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute studying how teens learned to drive and the factors increase crash risk for teens. Additionally, Rebekah was an Undergraduate Research Assistant at Virginia Tech for one year on a project that brought after-school, integrative STEM programs to middle-school students in rural Virginia. Her interest in the nature of science, critical-thinking, and hands-on learning led her to the Learning Sciences program. Rebekah’s research interests include argumentation, epistemic cognition, public understanding of science, student collaboration, video analysis, and science education.

Mary (Molly) Ewing

Rebekah Freed

Rebekah Freed is a second year in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Sciences PhD program. She has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Educational Psychology. She has taught courses in Human Development and Psychology. Her research interests include First Generation College Students and the role of Volition in Self Regulated Learning.

Audra Kosh

Audra Kosh is a fourth year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (LSPS) program. Prior to coming to UNC Chapel Hill, Audra earned a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a M.A.T. in Secondary Mathematics from American University in Washington, D.C.. Audra previously taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, and Geometry to eighth graders at a public school in Prince George’s County. Her love of mathematics continues to her current research interests in mathematics education and measurement.

Nikki Lobczowski

Nikki Lobczowski, M.Ed., is a third year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (LSPS), School of Education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She previously completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (2006) and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at Virginia Polytechnic Institution and State University (2005). Nikki’s research focuses on socially shared regulation of learning in collaborative groups. Thus far, her studies have led her and another LSPS student to create a collaborative app that is currently being implemented in a pilot study at UNC’s School of Pharmacy. The app was designed to provide students working in groups with just-in-time strategies to help them regulated their learning as a group. She is currently working as a research assistant for the Finish Line Project and will be teaching a transition course for the program in Spring 2017.

Kayley Lyons

Lana Minshew

Lana Minshew is a fourth year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (LSPS) program, School of Education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She previously completed a Masters in Educational Psychology (2012) from the University of Houston, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education with a minor in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas (2006) in Houston, TX. Prior to attending UNC-CH, Lana spent seven years as a middle and elementary school science teacher in Houston, Texas. Lana’s research interests include science, technology, collaboration and student learning, which focuses on engaging students and teachers with new and emerging technologies surrounding science. Technology rich environments strengthen student learning and supports a lush science-learning environment. The current research projects that she is involved in reflect these interests. These projects include the iPadagogy, Biosphere projects. Lana is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant on the NSF-Funded Biosphere project, which involves the development of project-based learning science curriculum for middle school students.

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Terrell Morton

Terrell Morton, MS, is a fourth year doctoral student in the Learning Science and Psychological Studies Department (LSPS), School of Education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He previously completed a Masters of Science in Neuroscience (2013) at the University Of Miami, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (2011). Terrell’s research interests are: Black racial identity expression, STEM identity development, STEM retention, retention and matriculation in postsecondary education, and college attainment. Thus far, his work involves understanding social and cultural influences of students’ various identities, college attainment, retention, and matriculation. Terrell is a graduate research assistant with the Finish Line Project at UNC, is involved in multiple research projects, and an active member of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association.

Amanda Swearingen

Amanda Swearingen is a second year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (LSPS) strand in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She previously completed two Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Art History at Duke University (2008). Amanda’s research interests include how technology can be used to improve learning and motivation in science education, particularly for disadvantaged populations. Additionally, Amanda has focused on developing strong instructional design skills. As part of developing these skills, she has worked with Dr. Kelly Ryoo to develop and revise visualization-rich inquiry units for middle school physical science classes. She has also worked with Kaplan, Inc. in developing curriculum and teaching materials for Medical College Assessment Test (MCAT) courses.

Emily Toutkoushian

Michael Wolcott