The College of Education (COE) has once again harvested some of the most talented young scholars in the nation to join its faculty.  The work of the faculty always gives expression to the main qualities and strengths of the College and I am confident that we have put the future accomplishments of the COE on a firm footing with this newest group of professors.  It is safe to say that our students will benefit from their considerable expertise and that the quality and the reach of the research and service work conducted in the College will continue to amplify by a sizeable measure.

Peter Hlebowitsh, Dean

Dr. Ammie Akin
Clinical Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership

Akin joined the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies (ELPTS) as Clinical Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership. She is the newest member of the leadership for character team, which is part of the Center for the Study of Ethical Development at The University of Alabama. She joins the team as a leadership facilitator where she will develop programs for aspiring and current principals and superintendents. Dr. Akin will also assist with The University of Alabama Superintendents’ Academy. Dr. Akin’s professional experience spans all levels, from elementary to high school and college. She has served as a teacher, an administrator and as an assistant superintendent. Throughout her career, her greatest strength has been mentoring teachers to leadership roles. Dr. Akin completed her undergraduate training at the College of Education at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She earned a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Samford University. Her dissertation consisted of an independent research study in the area of constructivist mathematics and student engagement. Current research interests include trauma informed education and transitional services for adults with special needs.

Dr. Marissa Filderman
Assistant Professor, Collaborative Special Education

Marissa Filderman, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities at the University of Alabama. Filderman’s research focuses on intensive reading interventions for students with or at risk for reading difficulties, as well as supporting teacher implementation of these interventions. More specifically, she is focused on examining teacher use of data and developing best practices for teachers to integrate data to intensify intervention. She received the Council for Exceptional Children Division for Learning Disabilities’ Candace S. Bos innovative research grant for her dissertation research, a randomized controlled trial that explored varying levels of data use to individualize a multisyllabic word reading intervention. Filderman previously taught elementary special education, where she worked with students with mild to moderate disabilities in inclusive and resource settings. She completed her Master of Education with a focus on Literacy at American University, and her PhD in Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a doctoral scholar with the Office of Special Education Programs.

Dr. Joni Lakin
Associate Professor, Educational Research

Dr. Joni Lakin studies educational measurement issues, including test validity and fairness, and promotes the effective use of test data by classroom teachers. She also studies STEM education and interventions that promote STEM retention along the academic pipeline. As part of this work, she collaborates with engineering faculty to create opportunities for students from underrepresented groups to be engaged in an engineering career pathway. She is a co-author of the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT(TM), Form 8) which is taken by millions of K-12 students every year. Prior to joining the university, she was on the faculty at Auburn University for nine years in the Department of Educational Research, Methods, and Analysis. She received her Ph.D. at The University of Iowa in Psychological and Quantitative Foundations.

Dr. Kristen Lamb
Assistant Professor, Special Education and Multiple Abilities

Lamb’s research focuses on issues related to policy and equity in advanced and accelerated academics, the role of creativity in talent development of high ability students, and classroom conditions conducive to developing creative thinking and advanced academic achievement. She is the co-author of Developing Creativity in the Classroom: Learning and Innovation for 21st-Century Schools, and she has published a number of articles and invited book chapters on the topics of creativity and gifted education. Lamb is the recipient of national awards from leading journals and organizations in the field of gifted education. Prior to coming to UA, she served as public school educator in Texas and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington. Lamb earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Gifted Education and Creativity at the University of North Texas.

Dr. Joon-Ho Lee
Assistant Professor, Educational Research

Lee studies quantitative methods in educational research, with a focus on multilevel and longitudinal modeling, modern approaches to causal inference, and quantile regression. His methodological research centers on understanding and measuring treatment effect heterogeneity in experiments and quasi-experiments in education. His applied research uses the quantitative methods to explore why, or through what processes, new school funding typically fails to narrow student achievement gaps. Lee is a 2019-2020 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Dissertation Fellow and his scholarship has been supported by the National Science Foundation. He earned his Ph.D. in Quantitative Methods and Evaluation at the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Matthew Myers
Instructor, Music Education
Myers’s research provides practitioner-focused guides to the choral works of underrepresented communities. Works studied include Jocelyn Hagen’s amass, an ecumenical oratorio which amalgamates texts from a variety of world faith traditions, and Imant Raminsh’s Five Latvian Folk Songs, a choral setting of melodies vital to Latvia’s struggle for independence throughout the twentieth century. Myers earned his DMA in choral conducting with a cognate in music education at Louisiana State University.

Dr. Feiya Luo
Assistant Professor, Instructional Technology

Luo’s research focuses on elementary computational thinking (CT) integration and computer science (CS) education using creative educational technologies, such as robotics and block-based programming tools. Her research in CT and CS involves creating entry points, sustaining learning across grades, and promoting teacher education at the elementary level. Her prior research experience involved examining how elementary students develop and apply CT in math-CT integrated problem-solving from the learning trajectory perspective. Luo earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Educational Technology from the University of Florida.

Dr. Kaiwen Man
Assistant Professor, Educational Research

Kaiwen Man’s research explores questions on the boundaries and interactions of the educational statistics, biometrics, and behavioral research literature with particular attention to models for eye-tracking data, responding process data, Bayesian statistics, and data mining. Furthermore, his projects have been externally-funded by the ETS Harold Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellowship program. Kaiwen earned his Ph.D. in Measurement, Statistics and Evaluation at the University of Maryland, College Park, and double Masters’ degrees in Economics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also earned his double Bachelors’ degrees in Economics and Psychology at Lanzhou University (China).

Dr. Jacob Mota
Assistant Professor, Exercise Science

Mota’s research focus involves the non-invasive assessment of neuromuscular function, with emphasis on: 1) understanding the role of neuromuscular function in older adults, 2) determination of the neuromuscular mechanisms associated with resistance training induced improvements in muscle strength, and 3) investigating the potential for an improved neuromuscular system to positively augment the health and performance of tactical athletes (i.e., firefighters, law enforcement officers). He earned his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Human Movement Science program within the School of Medicine.

Dr. Casedy Thomas
Assistant Professor, Secondary Mathematics Education

Casedy Thomas’s research focuses on linking research and practice for culturally responsive teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics education, the development of ambitious instruction with mathematics teacher candidates (with an emphasis on opportunities to learn), and oral histories of segregated Black education during the Civil Rights Movement. Thomas comes to us from the University of Virginia, where she earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Mathematics Education.

Dr. Kimberly Tomeny,
Clinical Assistant Professor, EIEIO

Dr. Tomeny’s clinical and research areas focus on coaching early childhood professionals, using telehealth in the Part C system, and supporting families of infants and toddlers with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She serves as Program Director for EI@UA, a model site for the Routines-Based Model of Early Intervention. Dr. Tomeny partners with Alabama’s Early Intervention System on professional development initiatives related to use of the Routines-Based Model via telepractice and the creation a sustainable system of care for families of young children with ASD. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from The University of Alabama.

Picture of Sara SandersDr. Sara Sanders
Clinical Research Assistant Professor, SPEMA

Dr. Sanders’ research is primarily with students and youth with and at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders in residential treatment facilities and secure juvenile justice facilities. Dr. Sanders’ research foci are: (a) the use of self-regulation strategy development for teaching reading and writing, with a particular emphasis on increasing the intensity of the academic and self-regulation components; (b) behavioral and social/emotional interventions for youth in alternative education settings; and (c) the implementation of mental health supports for both the youth and the staff that work with them. She earned her Ed.D. in special education from Kansas State University and was a postdoctoral fellow here at the University of Alabama for the past two years.

Dr. Yurou Wang
Clinical Assistant Professor, Educational Research

Wang’s research agenda coalesces around large-scale assessment, developmental psychology and the usage of advanced quantitative statistical modeling, specifically how students internalize learning motivations and beliefs to influence their persistence and self-regulation, particularly within different cultural contexts. She endeavors to uncover cultural differences among Western and East Asian student’s learning motivation, as well as the degree to which students internalize different learning motivations. I developed a measure to identify various stages of internalization within Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory framework. It is essential because this measurement is new and will help us understand how students internalize the value of learning motivation, and which types of internalization can promote learning persistence the most and how can teachers form an environment that can help students develop an ideal internationalization. She encompasses experiments on learning persistent, creativity, and tracking micro-facial expressions with K-12 STEM learners. She also aims to integrate technology, such as micro-expression tracker or fMRI to understand the internalization process of students’ learning motivation.

Dr. Sheunghyun Yeo
Assistant Professor, Elementary Mathematics Education

Sheunghyun’s research areas include the development of fractional understanding through the use of dynamic technology, the impact of teacher’s expertise on student achievement, the enhancement of preservice teacher’s high-leverage teaching practices, and the analysis of mathematical tasks. Prior to joining UA’s faculty, he served as an elementary school teacher in both urban and rural areas in South Korea. He earned his Ph. D. in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum and a certificate in Qualitative Research Methods from the University of Missouri-Columbia.