The College of Education's faculty members are actively engaged in research and other scholarly activities, including service to the university, the community and the field of education. Learn about the accomplishments and achievements of our faculty and staff during the Summer 2021 semester.
To submit information for a future issue of College of Education Faculty and Staff Notes, please contact Elizabeth Engasser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Vonzell Agosto, PhD, organized three professional development interactive sessions in collaboration
with members of Outcast Theatre Collective, a theatrical ensemble in Tampa Bay focused on the intersection of art and social
The sessions were conducted as part of a research project Dr. Agosto is leading with Pinellas County that aims to understand how educators in community organizations and educators in various types of schools talk with youth about race/racism (i.e., The race talk) and therefore contribute to racial socialization, collaboration, and educational health and well-being. Additional research team members include LaSonya Moore, EdD, from USF’s St. Petersburg campus and Amber Peretz, a doctoral student in USF’s Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Program.
Professor Vonzell Agosto, PhD, was featured in a podcast episode titled “What is Critical Race Theory and why is everyone talking about it?” In the episode, Dr. Agosto served as an expert about the role of Critical Race Theory in civics education. The episode was published in June by Bay News 9.
Professor Vonzell Agosto, PhD, and Associate Professor Dana Thompson Dorsey, PhD, were invited to serve as panelists at a “Critical Race Theory Forum” hosted by the NAACP’s Lakeland Branch in July. Dr. Frederick Held, superintendent for Polk County Public Schools, also served as a featured panelist.
Professors Michael Berson, PhD, and Ilene Berson, PhD, are serving as members of a Pinellas County Schools Curriculum Review Task Force that was featured in a news story published by Bays News 9. The task force includes students, school staff and other stakeholders who are tasked with determining whether district-assigned books and curriculum are culturally appropriate and provide the best perspective for K-12 students.
Professor Alejandro Brice, PhD, received High Honors of the Association awarded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The Honors of the Association recognizes members for their distinguished contributions to the discipline of communication sciences and disorders and is the highest honor the Association bestows.
Instructor Elizabeth Doone, PhD, was featured in Zippia's Future Of The Job Market Report. In the report, Dr. Doone discusses trends in the teaching labor market during the coronavirus pandemic, what skills stand out on resumes and where aspiring ESE educators can find employment openings.
Professor Lyman Dukes III, PhD, was awarded the Ronald E. Blosser Dedicated Service Award by the Association on Higher Education and Disability, an international professional organization for individuals committed to equity for persons with disabilities in higher education. The Ronald E. Blosser Dedicated Service Award honors individual members who have given extraordinarily outstanding and selfless dedication and service to the Association on Higher Education and Disability and whose service to the organization has consistently been of the utmost quality. The award is the highest recognition of service to the Association and the Association on Higher Education and Disability’s highest honor.
Assistant Professor Jenifer Hartman, EdD, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Kenya for the 2021-22 school year. While in Kenya, Dr. Hartman will serve as a visiting professor in the School of Education Social Sciences at Kenya Methodist University (KeMU). She will be engaged in teaching and research activities focused on culturally responsive education leadership practices in diverse communities to promote student success and will mentor university students who are orphans on scholarship at KeMU.
Associate Professor Jennifer Jacobs, PhD, co-authored a new book about teacher education, titled “(Re)Designing Programs: A Vision for Equity-Centered, Clinically Based Teacher Preparation.” The book explores the equity-based challenges faced in K-12 schools and the need to flip teacher learning upside-down. Dr. Jacobs co-authored the book with Rebecca West Burns, PhD, a faculty member at the University of North Florida and former faculty member at USF.
Assistant Professor Stacy-Ann January, PhD, was awarded the prestigious Lightner Witmer Award by the American Psychological Association’s Division of School Psychology for her significant early career contributions to the field. Each year, the Division of School Psychology presents the Lightner Witmer Award to a young professional or academic school psychologist who demonstrates scholarship that merits special recognition.
Professor Lisa López, PhD, received a research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to support a multi-year project that will explore the heterogeneity of Latino dual language learner (DLL) populations within Florida’s Head Start programs. The IES is the nation's leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics. The Institute invests in high-quality research that sparks innovative solutions to real-world challenges in education.
Instructor Nicholas Martinez, PhD, was featured in an article published by WFLA News Channel 8 titled “Putting mental health first: How Biles’ withdrawal could change sports.” In the article, Dr. Martinez is featured as an expert in mental performance and stress management and discusses how athletes like Simone Byles are creating change within the sports industry related to how athletes take care of their mental well-being.
Assistant Professor Alexandra Panos, PhD, was featured in a podcast published by the Journal of Language & Literacy Education in an episode titled, “Less than One Percent is not Enough: How Leading Literacy Organizations Engaged with Climate Change from 2008 to 2019.” In the episode, Dr. Panos discusses her scholarship, which explores how literacy educators can guide students through the study of climate change and how the literacy field can take an active role in addressing climate justice moving forward.
Professor Steve Permuth, PhD, was featured in a WUFT/PBS article titled “Debate About Masking in Florida Schools Continues.” The article explores mask mandates in Florida schools and the legal implications of this issue. Dr. Permuth is an expert in education law and policy and has published research on topics ranging from negligence and copyright law to freedom of speech and religious freedom.
Associate Professor Michael Sherry, PhD, and Assistant Professor Mandie Dunn, PhD, received a USF Creative Scholarship Internal Grant for a project, titled “Cultivating Anti-racist Writing Teachers through the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project.” Through the project, the research team will promote anti-racist writing teaching through the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project, one of 175 National Writing Project sites that prepares more than 2,000 new teacher-leaders each year through a rigorous Summer Leadership Institute.
Associate Professors Ruthmae Sears, PhD, and Dana Thompson Dorsey, PhD, are part of a USF research team that is one of four groups chosen nationwide to participate in a new National Science Foundation (NSF) pilot program called All-ABOARD, which stands for “Alliance-Building Offshore to Achieve Resilience and Diversity.” The goal of this two-year program hosted by Columbia University is to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) initiatives in STEM.
Associate Professor Ruthmae Sears, PhD, was invited to present as a lead speaker at a virtual workshop hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on September 22. The workshop will be part of the Association’s SEA Change initiative focused on “Transforming Institutions: Systemic Change for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” Dr. Sears’s presentation will explore systemic change initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) within higher education institutions.
Associate Professor Patriann Smith, PhD, was a recipient of USF’s Outstanding Research Achievement Award in August. Presented by USF Research and Innovation, this year’s awards recognized 22 faculty members for their achievements in research productivity. The largest internal recognition of its kind at USF, the annual nominations are submitted by deans, department chairs, center and institute directors and associate deans of research. The nominations are reviewed by members of the USF Research Council.
Associate Professor Dana Thompson Dorsey, PhD, was featured in a news article published in May by multiple media outlets, titled “Attempts to ban teaching on ‘critical race theory’ multiply across the U.S.” In the article, Dr. Thompson Dorsey discusses her expertise in educational equity, access and opportunities for minoritized and underserved populations in various educational contexts. Dr. Thompson Dorsey also serves as the endowed chair of education innovation and director of the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Instructor Cindy Topdemir, PhD, was elected Chair of the Florida School Counselor Association. The Florida School Counselor Association is a state-wide organization that expands the image and influence of professional school counselors through advocacy, leadership, collaboration and systemic change by empowering professional school counselors with the knowledge, skills, linkages and resources to promote student success in schools, the home, the community and the world.
Associate Professor Nathaniel von der Embse, PhD, received a research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to support a multi-year project that will explore multi-informant assessment solutions that improve mental health outcomes of middle school students. The IES is the nation's leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics. The Institute invests in high-quality research that sparks innovative solutions to real-world challenges in education.
The following College of Education faculty members were awarded tenure and/or promotion
for the 2021-22 academic year:
Faculty Awarded Tenure:
- Evan Dart, PhD — School Psychology, Department of Educational and Psychological Studies
Faculty Awarded Tenure and Promoted to Associate Professor:
- Susan Bennett, PhD — Early Childhood Education, Department of Language, Literacy, Ed.D., Exceptional Education and Physical Education
- Karina Hensberry, PhD — Mathematics Education, Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Learning
- Patriann Smith, PhD — Literacy Studies, Department of Language, Literacy, Ed.D., Exceptional Education and Physical Education
Faculty Promoted to Full Professor:
- Vonzell Agosto, PhD — Educational Leadership, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Lifelong Learning
- Yi-Hsin Chen, PhD — Educational Measurement and Research, Department of Educational and Psychological Studies
- Darlene DeMarie, PhD — Educational Psychology, Department of Educational and Psychological Studies
- Amber Dumford, PhD — Higher Education and College Student Affairs, Department of Leadership, Policy and Lifelong Learning
- Lisa López, PhD — Educational Psychology, Department of Educational and Psychological Studies
- David Rosengrant, EdD — STEM Education, Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Learning
Six faculty and staff members in the College of Education were awarded the Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award in May by the College’s Undergraduate Program Committee. The Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award celebrates College of Education faculty members who strive for excellence in teaching undergraduate students both within the College and throughout the USF community.
This year’s recipients of the award are:
- Deanna Bullard, PhD — Assistant director of academic advising in the College of Education at USF’s St. Petersburg campus
- Paula Cate — Instructor, Department of Educational and Psychological Studies
- Mandie B. Dunn, PhD — Assistant professor of English education
- Sophia Han, PhD — Associate professor of early childhood education
- Cindy Lovell, PhD — Adjunct instructor at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus
- Alexandra Panos, PhD — Assistant professor of literacy studies