Introducing New Faculty for 2021-2022

Sept. 29, 2021

The College of Education welcomes faculty starting this fall for the 2021-2022 academic year. We are thrilled to be joined by faculty who bring new areas of expertise and interests that will bolster our research, teaching, and leadership as we work together to Reimagine Education.

  • Kizzy Albritton
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    Kizzy Albritton

    Associate Professor, School Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology

    What was your previous role?

    Prior to UT, I was an assistant professor of School Psychology at Kent State University.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    My current research agenda involves examining current practices and expanding the role of school psychologists working in early childhood settings, exploring the implementation benefits and challenges of multi-tiered frameworks in early childhood settings, and improving the educational outcomes of children and youth from minoritized and marginalized backgrounds.

    What sparked those interests?

    As a doctoral student, I had the opportunity to work within a research team focusing on providing professional development to early childhood educators. I already had an interest in working with teachers prior to entering my doctoral program. However, this opportunity as a doctoral student provided a new focus that I had not previously considered. As I continued my doctoral studies, I began to realize the extremely limited focus on early childhood populations within the field of school psychology and therefore wanted to focus my research efforts on this area.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I am excited about joining a university, college, and school psychology program that is committed to increasing the diversity of the field and that has a rich history of innovative programming to prepare school psychology professionals and academics who are able to serve an increasingly diverse preschool and school-age population.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    This position offers me the opportunity to contribute to the training of school-based mental health professionals and academics while also continuing to develop and expand my scholarship with colleagues who share similar research interests.

  • Adam Crawley
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    Assistant Professor, Language and Literacy Studies, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

    What was your previous role?

    Before coming to UT Austin, I was an assistant professor of Literacy Education at Oklahoma State University for three years (2018-2021) after completing my doctorate at the University of Georgia.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    My research, teaching, and service focus on the use of literacy and literature to foster socially just, critical, and inclusive learning spaces. Specifically, I study depictions within, approaches to the teaching of, and stakeholders’ responses to LGBTQ+ inclusive texts in elementary schools. Currently, I’m exploring the potential for – and enactment of – reading instruction that fosters students’ fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary while also being LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming in K-5 public school classrooms.

    What sparked those interests?

    Growing up in the U.S. Southeast, I saw many aspects of my identity (e.g., white, cisgender, man) reflected in books and school curriculum. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that I saw my queer sexuality reflected in children’s literature and other educational contexts. Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and elementary teaching career, I remained largely closeted and often felt isolated and vulnerable for being gay. Research shows that I am not alone in these experiences and that youth continue to be verbally and physically harassed in schools for their actual or perceived LGBTQ+ identities. Meanwhile, research also shows there is a dearth of LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming teaching in K-12 schools, particularly at the elementary level. Knowing the importance and benefits of such teaching for all youth – while also recalling the pressure I often felt as a classroom teacher regarding curricular standards and assessment – I want to support pre- and in-service teachers’ instruction so that it can accomplish all of these aims.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I have long been inspired by the strong commitments to research, teaching, and service by students and faculty at UT Austin, especially in relation to social justice. Considering the College’s efforts to “Reimagine Education”, I am excited about the collaborations occurring within and across disciplines; partnerships with teachers in local school districts; mentorships among faculty and students; and growing prevalence of LGBTQ+ inquiry and initiatives across the college, university, and community. I look forward to my involvement in all of these areas.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I am honored to join the UT Austin faculty and hope to contribute to the impactful social justice research, teaching, and service occurring in the college and larger community. Particularly, I want to draw from my experiences as a queer person, teacher educator, and former elementary teacher to support, learn from, and extend upon existing LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming educational efforts in the college, Austin, and surrounding school districts.

  • Stella Flores
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    Stella Flores

    Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy (Higher Education) and Curriculum and Instruction; Director of Research for the Educational Research Center

    What was your previous role?

    I was an associate professor of Higher Education and associate dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    Public policy in higher education – college access and success for underserved students.

    What sparked those interests?

    I came from a rural, low-income high school with very high potential students. My parents were products of the civil rights and financial aid reforms of the 1960s. These policies helped their access and gave me opportunity despite living in a low-income area. I wanted to learn how to extend those opportunities to others.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I’m an alumna of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and had a very important experience at UT Austin. My research is primarily on Texas students. I am thrilled to come back and try to employ what I’ve learned and learn much more about the state I was raised in. I want to contribute to the educational good of UT Austin and the state of Texas through evidence-based research.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I hope to contribute what I’ve learned to date on educational access for underserved students to the state and the UT community. I received some of the best mentorship from faculty here over my educational journey. I hope to be able to provide some assistance to others.

  • Denisa Gándara
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    Denisa Gándara

    Assistant Professor, Higher Education Leadership, Educational Leadership and Policy

    What was your previous role?

    I was an assistant professor of higher education at Southern Methodist University.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    Generally, I study higher education funding and policy using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods approaches. A focus of my research is on equity in both policymaking processes and the effects of policies. Currently, my research topics include:

    • the differential effects of free college (or Promise) programs on students and higher education institutions,
    • the development and effects of performance-based funding and other accountability policies for higher education,
    • varying notions of equity and adequacy in state funding of public higher education,
    • methods for incorporating fairness in predictive analytics used in higher education,
    • the use of research evidence in higher education policymaking, including the engagement of scholars of color in higher education policymaking, and
    • racial discourse in higher education policymaking.

    What sparked those interests?

    My initial interests in researching higher education funding and policy were motivated by several experiences as an undergraduate at UT. First, I was first exposed to academic research through my participation in the McNair Scholars program. Through that program, I learned about an opportunity to intern in the U.S. Congress through a program sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education.

    I first became interested in policy through that congressional internship. Upon returning from Washington, D.C., I interned in the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee. That experience crystallized my interest in understanding the implications of higher education funding policies.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    Coming back home to the Forty Acres! I graduated from UT’s College of Liberal Arts in 2011. I am also thrilled to be able to work alongside esteemed scholars in UT’s College of Education.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I am most looking forward to working with students at UT. I would also be honored to lend my expertise to policymakers working on issues related to higher education funding, college access, student success, and related topics. On a more personal note, one day, I might renew my Zumba certification and relive my days as a TeXercise instructor.

  • Michael Goodman
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    Michael Goodman

    Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, Co-coordinator of the Program in Higher Education Leadership (PHEL).

    What was your previous role?

    I was most recently working full-time as a student affairs practitioner at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). At UMD, I served as the associate director of Advising and Programming in the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    My research interests and area of specialty involve college student involvement, specifically, college student government and sorority and fraternity life. I have also done research on graduate students and new professionals (GSNP), and am interested in supporting GSNP equity and fair labor practices in higher education.

    What sparked those interests?

    I have been passionate about student involvement since as far back as I can remember, running for 7th grade class representative in middle school. It was in high school when I understood that student involvement allowed me to thrive as a leader, and the opportunity to do leadership (for and with my peers; my community) enabled me to see personal and community change as a young adult. In college, I served as student body vice-president and student body president. During my second year as a doctoral student, I served as the president of the graduate student assembly. I research student government and sorority/fraternity life because they are unique dimensions of higher education (and student affairs), and areas where students are developing as leaders and engaging in leadership in unique and important ways.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I care deeply about higher education and student affairs, and the future of this industry. I am excited to be at UT teaching some of the most brilliant emerging scholars and practitioners and working along seasoned and talented minds in both academic and student affairs units. The energy on campus is contagiou, and I am elated to be part of the Longhorn community!

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I am excited to bring my perspectives on teaching and learning with me into the classroom and the UT/Austin community and to work with students to develop their practitioner and scholar (and scholar-practitioner) identities. I am also excited to develop queer learning and community spaces for faculty, staff, and students in the College of Education.

  • Karen Haas
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    Karen Haas

    Clinical Director of the Master’s Program in Educational Counseling, Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Educational Psychology

    What was your previous role?

    Visiting Instructor, faculty member in the Educational Research and Administration Department Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction and Director of the Master’s Program in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of West Florida.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    The development and facilitation of graduate counseling students’ professional identity; the exploration of psychological hardiness in Latino graduate counseling students.

    What sparked those interests?

    My work as director of the School Counseling Program at the University of Central Arkansas with K-12 teachers who were transitioning their careers from teacher to school counselor and my work as director of the Educational Counseling Program at California State University, Bakersfield with primarily Latino first generation graduate counseling students.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I am excited to collaborate with my colleagues in the Educational Psychology Department, to make strong connections with the AISD schools and the community mental health agencies, and to teach graduate counseling students who are working to acquire their LPC.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    As Clinical Director of the Counselor Education Program, I hope to build strong partnerships with the Practicum and Internship sites and to continue to collaborate with my colleagues in the other graduate programs.

  • Laura Quiñones Camacho
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    Laura Quiñones Camacho

    Assistant Professor, Human Development, Culture and Learning Sciences, Department of Educational Psychology

    What was your previous role?

    Prior to this appointment, I was a postdoctoral scholar in the Child Psychiatry Division at Washington University in Saint Louis, School of Medicine.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    My specialty is in Human Development and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. I am particularly interested in identifying neurobiological markers of risk for mental health problems in early childhood. Additionally, my research explores how contextual and family factors can exacerbate this risk. To investigate this, I use techniques such as psychophysiology and neuroimaging as well as experimental and longitudinal approaches.

    What sparked those interests?

    During my undergraduate studies, I joined a research lab that studied neural markers of depression in adolescents. While working in that lab, I became interested in understanding how early life experiences influence risk for mental health problems. That led me to pursue a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, specializing in mental health in young children.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I am excited to join such an impressive community of scientists and to be able to work with a highly diverse group of students.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I am excited to contribute my expertise in developmental cognitive neuroscience and socioemotional development in childhood to the existing expertise in the College of Education. Additionally, I look forward to using this expertise to maximize the healthy development of the children in the Austin region.

  • Natasha M. Strassfeld
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    Natasha M. Strassfeld

    Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Special Education, Equity and Diversity in Special Education Program

    What institution were you most previously with and what was your role?

    Most recently, I was a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Special Education at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in the Department of Teaching and Learning. In addition, I had an affiliation at NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as Associated Assistant Professor of Public Service.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty? 

    My research interests include juvenile justice and special education, disproportionate representation of minoritized youth within special education placements, and parent involvement in special education. 

    What sparked those interests? 

    My research is at the intersection of special education and law. Education law and policy governs instruction and services that children, particularly children with disabilities, receive. Yet, at that important intersection of special education and law, we also get a sense of education disparities—both in terms of disparities between law’s intent for education and actual practice and between the outcomes of children with disabilities and those who are not identified as having a disability. My interest in wanting to know more about the intertwined education and legal disparities for youth—namely students with disabilities and students within the juvenile justice system has motivated me as a scholar.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    First and foremost, I am tremendously excited and honored to be a member of the Department of Special Education, and it is incredibly gratifying to be housed within the Equity and Diversity Program. In addition, I look forward to engaging with the tremendously talented students at UT.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I am excited to meet new colleagues at the College of Education, and I look forward to getting a cup of coffee and discussing new ideas and future cross-disciplinary collaboration. I am also looking forward to getting to know colleagues engaging in research in the area of juvenile justice and special education.  

  • Sarah Woulfin
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    Sarah Woulfin

    Associate Professor, Cooperative Superintendency Program and the Education Policy and Planning Program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

    What was your previous role?

    Prior to moving to Austin and joining the College of Education, I was an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Connecticut.

    What are your research interests or area of specialty?

    My research uses organizational sociology and qualitative methods to answer questions about the implementation of education policy. I am particularly interested in how district and school leaders interpret and enact reforms aiming to change the nature of teaching and learning. By illuminating under what conditions leaders and teachers respond to policy, my scholarship takes seriously the role of context for learning and change.

    I care deeply about how infrastructure and leadership matter for educational change. For more than ten years, I have not only studied the role of coaching in reform but also the implementation of coaching policy itself across several states. Further, I am concerned with whether and how structures, routines, practices, and beliefs enable leaders and teachers to reach equitable outcomes. Much of my work uses a research-practice partnership approach to formulate relevant questions, engage with practitioners in substantive ways, and transform practice.

    What sparked those interests?

    Questions about the inequitable, racist structures of school funding, district boundaries, and curriculum adoption drove me to become an educational researcher. While serving as a Reading First coach in California, I noticed how professional development facilitators and system and school leaders framed policy as well as research regarding reading instruction. I became curious how education policy shapes teachers’ working conditions, classroom practice, and students’ experiences. As a graduate student at the University of California-Berkeley, I dove into institutional theory and appreciated how it provided concepts and tools for understanding multiple components of organizations and levels of organizational change. I continue to apply lenses from sociology and political science to understand persistent dilemmas of educational change.

    What are you excited about for your new position at UT?

    I am excited to collaborate with the stellar faculty, students, and staff in the College of Education, study the educational practices, contexts, and policies in Texas, and support the development of aspiring leaders and researchers. I feel honored to have the opportunity to partner with an array of districts in Texas, especially as they respond to the COVID chasm and work to re-engage students and families. I am eager to contribute to the Cooperative Superintendency Program, helping to develop scholarly practitioners who can serve as equity-oriented system leaders and drive deep change across the state.

    What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

    I plan to contribute my dedication to bridging theory, research, and practice to UT, the College of Education, and the broader Austin community. I hope this will include teaching courses on how to use theory to drive data collection and analysis as well as forging partnerships with educators to delve into timely issues of educational reform.

    I will bring a coaching lens to my teaching and advising in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP). Thus, I model stages of the research process, listen to students, and strongly support students’ development by considering individual goals and celebrating milestones. Additionally, I will contribute my passion for demystifying aspects of academia, including submitting IRB proposals, writing (and publishing!) articles, and networking at conferences, by explicitly teaching its hidden curriculum.