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About the Researchers

Kennedy Institute

About the Researchers

Douglas H. Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning

Doug ClementsDouglas H. Clements is a Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning; Executive Director, Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy; and Professor at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. He was previously a SUNY Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Buffalo, SUNY. Previously a preschool and kindergarten teacher, his present research interests are in the areas of the learning and teaching of early mathematics and computer applications. He has published over 100 research studies, 8 books, 50 chapters, and 250 additional publications. His latest books detail research-based learning trajectories in early mathematics education: Early childhood mathematics education research: Learning trajectories for young children and a companion book, Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach (Routledge). Dr. Clements has directed 20 projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Dept. of Educations, Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Currently, Dr. Clements is Principal Investigator on two large-scale randomized cluster trial projects (IES). He is also working with colleagues to study and refine learning trajectories in measurement (NSF). Dr. Clements was a member of President Bush's National Math Advisory Panel, convened to advise the administration on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics and coauthor of the panel's report. He was also a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Early Mathematics and co-author of their report. He is one of the authors of NCTM's Principles and Standards in School Mathematics and Curriculum Focal Points. Dr. Clements teaches courses on early childhood mathematics, early childhood educational technology, and the cognitive foundations of early childhood education. In addition, he works with over 350 teachers in three current projects that include professional development and collaborative research.




Julie Sarama, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Technology

sarama and clements Julie Sarama is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Technology and Professor at the University of Denver. She was previously a Professor of Mathematics Education at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). She conducts research on young children's development of mathematical concepts and competencies, implementation and scale-up of educational reform, professional development models and their influence on student learning, and implementation and effects of her own software environments in mathematics classrooms, published in more than 50 refereed articles, 4 books, 30 chapters, and 60 additional publications. She has been Principal or Co-Principal Investigator on five projects funded by the National Science Foundation, including Building Blocks—Foundations for Mathematical Thinking, Pre-kindergarten to Grade 2: Research-based Materials Development and Planning for Professional Development in Pre-School Mathematics: Meeting the Challenge of Standards 2000. She is co-directing two large-scale studies funded by the U.S. Education Department's Institute of Educational Studies (IES). The first is a Phase II project, Scaling Up TRIAD: Teaching Early Mathematics for Understanding with Trajectories and Technologies was just awarded by the IES. The second is Increasing the Efficacy of an Early Mathematics Curriculum with Scaffolding Designed to Promote Self-Regulation. Sarama was previously the lead co-PI at the Buffalo site on another IES-funded project, A Longitudinal study of the Effects of a Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics Curriculum on Low-Income Children's Mathematical Knowledge (IES). This is one of seven national projects conducted simultaneously at the local and national levels (combined data) as part of the IES's Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research project. Dr. Sarama has taught secondary mathematics and computer science, gifted math at the middle school level, preschool and kindergarten mathematics enrichment classes, and mathematics methods and content courses for elementary to secondary teachers. She designed and programmed over 50 published computer programs, including her version of Logo and Logo-based software activities (Turtle Math, which was awarded Technology & Learning Software of the Year award, 1995, in the category "Math").



Graduate Research Assistants

Laura Ascherl-Morris

Laura Ascherl-MorrisLaura Morris is a 4th year PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on mathematics education.  Her research interests include finding patterns of teacher questioning strategies to increase mathematical discourse in the classroom. This passion comes from her previous job; an instructional coach for high school mathematics teachers in Houston Texas. Laura came to DU with a B.S. in Mathematics and a M.Ed. in Mathematics from Texas State University. During the first two years of her Graduate Research Assistantship for the University of Denver's Marsico Institute, she was a coach for pre-k teachers implementing the interdisciplinary Connect4Learning curriculum, collecting data and suggesting revisions to the curriculum. Currently, Laura is working on the DREME project; researching the relationship between mathematical learning and executive functioning.

danica balslev

Danica Balslev

Danica is currently a sophomore in the undergraduate program majoring in Psychology. She is doing her work study at the Marsico Institute and working as a Junior Operations Assistant. She loves being out in the nature and hiking or running. She was on the track and cross country team for her last three years of high school with one of the best 800 meter times but now she runs in her free time. She is Danish and lived in Denmark for 8 years and tries to go back to visit her family every summer. Since she lived in Europe she is lucky to say she has been able to travel to over 10 countries. Because of that, she has fallen in love with traveling and experiencing different cultures, foods, locations, and the experience as a whole. She loves art, she took AP photography in high school and has been drawing her whole life. She really enjoys going to art museums and some of her favorite artists are: Ansel Adams, Dan Flavin, and Joseph Kosuth.

Becky chance

Becky Chance

Becky Chance is a second-year doctoral candidate in the Educational Curriculum and Instruction Program (Ed.D) with a concentration in ELLs and Special Education.  She holds a BS in Applied Learning and Development (UT Austin) and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction (TX State University).  Becky has held a successful career in EC-5 Title 1 public schools (TX) as an ESL classroom teacher, special education teacher, reading specialist, and special education instructional coach.  Her research interests involve working with ECE- 8th second language learners, students with learning and behavior/emotional disabilities, and underprivileged populations.  Becky is currently working on the Development and Research in Early Mathematics and Education (DREME) Network grant.

Sayani das chaudhuri

Sayani Das Chaudhuri

Sayani Das Chaudhuri is a third-year doctoral student in the Child, Family, and School Psychology program at the University of Denver. She taught for six-years, and obtained her MA in Instruction and Curriculum, with a concentration on urban education and working with linguistically diverse learners. Sayani's research interests are around student engagement, the role of consultation in supporting novice teachers, and culturally responsive pedagogy and partnership across home and school settings. Sayani is currently working on the Development and Research in Early Mathematics and Education (DREME) Network grant, as a part of the Making More of Math team.


Courtney Collins

Courtney Collins

Courtney is a third-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program, and also starting her third year with the Marsico Institute, working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. She is interested in implementing and creating curriculum that honors students' passion and genius. She is enthusiastic about developing classrooms into places for inquiry, discovery and creativity across every P-20 learning environment.




Menglong cong

Menglong CongMenglong (Jason) Cong is a first-year doctoral student in the Research Method and Statistics at the University of Denver and is currently a member of the team working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. Menglong holds a bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology and a master's degree in Educational Psychology. During his educational psychology graduate program, Menglong worked for two years as an Evaluation and Research Assistant at a program evaluation center at California State University, Long Beach. Additionally, he has served as a clinical psychological counselor and special educator in China. His research interest include student achievement in higher education, international students' acculturation, and program evaluation in higher education.

Jouanna crossland-wells

Jouanna Crossland-Wells

Jouanna Crossland-Wells Jouanna Crossland-Wells is a first-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program, and is a member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics team. Jouanna also works as a Field Manager for the Denver Teacher Residency program where she coaches and supports Mentor Teachers and their Residents in implementing effective teaching strategies. She has also served as an Assistant Principal in a Denver Public Schools high school. Her passion and research interests focus on early mathematics and special education, specifically identifying gaps at the foundational levels of mathematics.


Bethdalie Cruz

Beth Cruz

Beth Cruz is currently completing a doctoral degree in the field of School Psychology. This decision was based on three years of work as a school psychologist, where she encountered notable limitations in policy and practice, as well as a desire to expand her knowledge from fieldwork to research. As a result, she is interested in evaluation at the identification and intervention level, specifically those components that apply to students with emotional disabilities. Ultimately, she is determined to identify better ways in which these populations of students, with their unique cultural backgrounds and experiences, can grow and thrive. Beth currently works with the DTL Zero to Three program.

Erica gleason

Erica GleasonErica Gleason is currently completing a master's degree in Child, Family, and School Psychology at the University of Denver. Erica obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While in Milwaukee, Erica was a clinical research assistant on the Pediatric Emergency Medicine research team at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Erica's research interests are broadly around youth contact with the juvenile justice system. Particularly, examining to what degree social, emotional, and academic needs of youth are being addressed during the rehabilitation process. Erica hopes to hold a university faculty position as well practice as a psychologist in alternative schools and juvenile corrections settings. At the Marsico Institute, she is a member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics grant project. In her free time, Erica's enjoys exploring Colorado with her dog, reading the latest thriller novel, and anything that involves good food.

Grant Goble

Grant GobleGrant is a second year Ph. D. student in the Curriculum and Instruction program. Grant received a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Texas Christian University. Grant taught and directed high school theatre arts in Plano, Texas for 10 years prior to moving to Denver to continue his academic career. Grant's interests lie in arts education, the implications of arts education, specifically theatre arts, for diverse learners and the use of theatre arts in the awareness of social issues. Grant currently works with the DTL Zero to Three program.


Emily Hanrehan

Emily Hanrehan

Emily is a first year undergraduate student as The University of Denver. She will be assisting LT Studies and LT2 as a work-study student, while working towards her TEP Dual degree in the Morgridge College of Education. She is interested in learning about the research that contributes to curriculum creation rather than just the teaching component. In her senior year of high school Emily student taught in a second grade classroom through the Quest K-8 School in Aurora, Colorado.




Aaron Hudyma

Aaron Hudyma

Aaron Hudyma is a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology program. He received an M.S. in Counseling from South Dakota State University and a B.A. in Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Prior to attending DU he worked in web development, digital marketing, and college counseling. His clinical experience includes college counseling centers, private practice, forensic settings, and neuropsychological assessment. His main areas of scholarship are college student mental health and well-being, career decision making, and anxiety disorders. Aaron is currently supporting technology and application development across a range of our projects. He has previously worked on the CREMAT Project and the Children's Measurement Project.  

Ellen Joseph

Ellen Shupe

Ellen Joseph is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program. She is interested in pursuing a career in integrated care, where she can support clients with the intersectionality between physical and mental health. Her research interests include the impact of positive psychology interventions on women's health issues, particularly cancer survivors. Ellen has clinical experience working in community mental health and school settings with adolescent and adult clients with a wide range of presenting concerns. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, Ellen worked for four years at an elementary charter school in Washington, D.C. as a special education teacher and special education coordinator. At the Marsico Institute, she is currently a member of the Children's Measurement project and the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project, where she is involved in evaluating the effectiveness of learning trajectories on early childhood mathematics instruction.

Becky kelleman

Kayanne Klipka

 Becky Kelleman is a first-year doctoral student in the Research Methods and Statistics program. Becky has earned a Master's of Public Policy from Rutgers University and a Bachelor's of Arts in International Studies from The College of New Jersey. Becky is interested in supporting nonprofit organizations in building data literacy, evaluating social programs, and providing recommendations for improving implementation. Becky has most recently worked with the Marsico Institute on the evaluation of the JeffCo Prosperity Project and Lyrics 2 Learn. This upcoming Fall, Becky will be continuing with the DREME project as a support for its data coding and analysis needs.


Brooke Lamphere

Brooke Lamphere

Brooke Lamphere is a third-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program. As a graduate research assistant in the Marsico Institute, Brooke is a member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics grant project. Some of her duties include conducting pre- and post- assessments evaluating mathematics skills and knowledge in young children, facilitating instruction targeting math skill development, data collection, data management, qualitative coding and analysis. Outside of her work with the Marsico team, Brooke's research focuses on intersections between health and positive psychology, specifically the role of positive psychology constructs in facilitating health and well-being in populations struggling with chronic mental or physical health issues. Her clinical experiences include cognitive and psychological assessment, integrated primary care, eating disorder treatment, and work with sport and performance populations. Brooke completed her Master of Arts in Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Denver in 2013. In the future, Brooke hopes to work in an integrated care facility or academic medical center. In her free time, Brooke enjoys exercising or playing sports, spending time with family and friends, and is an avid Denver Broncos fan.

Ali manion

Ali Manion

Ali Manion is a first-year doctoral student in the Child, Family and School Psychology program, and is currently a member of the team working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. She holds a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities and a master's degree in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in child development. Ali was a classroom teacher for the six years, primarily working with early childhood and early elementary populations as a pre-kindergarten, first grade, and visual art teacher. She has also worked as an educator and facilitator at the Denver Art Museum. Her research interests include strategies for inclusion in early childhood classrooms and promoting methods for teacher effectiveness. She is also interested in supporting learners with developmental and learning disabilities in early childhood settings. Outside of work, Ali enjoys traveling, enjoying Colorado's amazing outdoors, painting and SCUBA diving. 

sophie marsh

Sophie Marsh

Sophie Marsh is an undergraduate student in her senior year at University of Denver with majors in Psychology and Philosophy, and a minor in Communication Studies. She enjoys working with children at her job in the Little Pioneer Place childcare center on campus, and has also enjoyed being a Research Coordinator at the University of Denver Autism Humanoid Robot Research Study. She also spent a semester abroad during her junior year in Suva, Fiji. For her senior thesis, as part of the Psychology Departmental Distinction program, she is completing a research project at the Marsico Institute. Working on the DREME project, she is conducting observational coding of various aspects of teacher-child interactions. She will be working with LexisNexis upon graduation, and plans to go to law school within the next five years. She spends her free time babysitting, snowboarding, hiking, camping, and cooking. 

Neba Nfonsang

Neba NfonsangNeba is a PhD student in the Research Methods and Statistics Program. He holds master's degrees in Educational Leadership and Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. He also completed two undergraduate degrees, in Physics and Business Administration. Prior to obtaining his master's degrees, Neba taught high school physics for seven years, high school math for one year, and college chemistry for one year. He recently taught Python for Business Analytics as well as Business Modeling and Analysis at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. Neba is very interested in research and data analysis and has a special interest in Data Science and Machine Learning. He is currently working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics projects at the Marsico Institute. Outside of work, he enjoys playing the guitar, singing and reading.

Sarah o'neil

Sarah O'Neil

Sarah O'Neil is a second-year Master's student in the Research Methods and Statistics program. She is currently working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. Sarah moved to Denver after spending three years on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota working for Saint Francis Indian School and the Boys and Girls Club of Rosebud. She is interested in program evaluation and data driven education.




Aleis Pugia

Aleis Pugia

Aleis Pugia is a second year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program. She is interested in working with underserved clients and providing greater access to multicultural therapy for diverse, low income families. Aleis worked in education for five years prior to coming to DU, teaching middle school and coaching first and second year teachers. She also has her M.Ed. in Secondary Education and her MA in Counseling Psychology. At the Marsico Institute, she is currently working on the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) project to create an interactive website for teachers, parents, and children. The website focuses on providing a research-based teacher preparation and professional development tool for educators who teach mathematics to young children.

Julia ratchford

Jessica Morganfield

 Julia Ratchford is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program and a graduate of DU's Counseling Psychology Master's program. After completing her MA, Julia worked as an outpatient therapist with severe and persistent mental health populations in a community mental health setting. Broadly, her research focuses on the intersection of health psychology and social justice, with a primary interest in cultural responsiveness among providers in integrated health care settings. Prior to her graduate education, Julia obtained her undergraduate degree in Educational Studies from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, where she interned as a teaching assistant in a third grade classroom. Additionally, Julia has worked with early childhood learners and toddlers in other professional capacities throughout her educational experiences. At the Marsico Institute, Julia is currently a research team member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. In her free time, she enjoys live music, cooking and baking, all things outdoors, college and NFL football (Go Panthers!) and riding dirt bikes with her partner. 

Dan Riordan

Dan Riordan

Dan is a third year PhD student in the Curriculum and Instruction program. He also teaches in the Department of Teaching and Learning Sciences as an adjunct faculty member. Before enrolling at DU, he taught middle school and high school English in Minnesota and Wisconsin. During his teaching career, he also served as a boys' and girls' high school basketball coach. He earned a BA in English from Saint Mary's University and an MST in English from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His research interests include studying risk and authenticity and their relationship with teacher identity. At the Marsico Institute, he is currently working on the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) project to update the LT2 website, which allows teacher to access instructional activities aligned with the learning trajectories.

Taryn Robertson

Taryn RobertsonTaryn Robertson is a second-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program, focusing on English Language Learners. She holds a BA in Secondary English Education from Southwestern University, and a M.Ed. in Advanced Literacy and Reading Comprehension from Concordia University. As a graduate research assistant in the Marsico Institute, Taryn is a member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project. Taryn taught 11th and 12th grade English, and secondary ESL exclusively in Title 1 schools in Fort Worth and Midland, Texas before moving to Colorado to pursue her doctorate. Taryn's research interests revolve around how the classroom environment, specifically positive student teacher relationships and student self-motivation, impact second language acquisition for secondary English Language Learners. Upon completion of her doctoral program, Taryn hopes to pursue an academic career working in teacher education. In her free time, Taryn enjoys hiking, being with her dog Harrison, running, riding bikes, reading, traveling, and attempting to re-create Tex-Mex!

Yvonne sell

Yvonne Sell

Yvonne Sell is in her final semester for the Law School and the MS for Legal Administration here at DU. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, KS and my AA from Morgan Community College, Fort Morgan, CO. Yvonne has worked as an intern for a solo practitioner in education law with a focus on children with disabilities, and a solo practitioner in family law, who is a Respondent Parent's Counsel in Dependency and Neglect cases, as a law student. After she graduates, she hopes to open her own law firm with an intellectual property, or real property, focus. At the Marsico Institute, Yvonne supports the process and logistics of the Marsico Institute as the Operations Assistant. 

Marisa Simoni

Marisa Simoni

Marisa Simoni is a doctoral student in the Child, Family, and School Psychology program with a concentration in Early Childhood. Marisa has previously attended Grand Valley State University and received a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology. During her time in Michigan and during her first two years in Colorado, Marisa worked with school psychologists in Grand Rapids and Denver school districts where her work in assessment and data analysis focused on early childhood and middle school students. Marisa is currently working for the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) with high needs populations that include social/emotional needs along with learning and developmental disabilities doing brief therapy, curbside consults, and assessment. Her interests involve working with youth who have developmental disabilities and youth from underprivileged populations, specifically in early education. Marisa is currently working on the Development and Research in Early Mathematics and Education (DREME) Network grant. She works on the mathematics and executive function project, paying critical attention to the role of executive function in mathematics and how executive function and math are linked to a wide range of important, long-term academic outcomes. 

Lexi sliva

Lexi Sliva

Lexi Sliva is a first-year doctoral student in the Child, Family, and School Psychology program. She also completed her MA in Child, Family, and School Psychology at DU in 2017. Lexi attended the University of Wisconsin - River Falls for undergrad, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. While completing her BS, Lexi worked as a nanny, and taught preschoolers and infants in a daycare setting. She also helped conduct research exploring the impact of a parenting course for new parents during her undergraduate degree. After completing her doctorate, Lexi would like to pursue a position in education policy or work with families on military bases around the world. Some of her current research interests include how the training that school police receive impacts student outcomes. She is currently working on the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics team in the Marsico Institute. When she has free time she enjoys hiking, reading non-academic books, and exploring new pockets of Denver. 

Ariel stenger

Ariel StengerAriel Stenger is a first year MA student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies focusing on International Security and Water Management. After teaching in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, Ariel became passionate about rural education and the necessity for sustainable resource management. Then through a Fulbright grant to Thailand, Ariel worked with a variety of students from regional Hill Tribes (Hmong, Lisu, Karen) and with Burmese refugees. Combining these experiences with her current studies in the International school at the University of Denver, she will be working with the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project at Marsico and is excited to support innovative math instruction. After graduation next year, Ariel hopes to join the US Foreign Service as a Cultural Affairs Officer for the Department of State working to support educational and resource management initiatives globally.

Jose teniente

Jose Teniente

Jose Teniente is a first year student in the Child, Family, and School Psychology Ed.s. program.  Jose earned his bachelors degree in Psychology from Texas Tech University. While at TTU, he also worked as an instructional therapist and researcher at the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research for two years, where he taught students' social skills from grades K-12 and collected data for other research projects.  He plans to use his graduate degree to help students from all backgrounds, ages, and experiences reach their full potential.  Jose is currently a Research Assistant on the Babies Ready for College and DREME projects.

jared Utley

Jared Utley

Jared Utley is a doctoral student in counseling psychology. He is starting his second year as a member of the Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics project team in the Marsico institute, where he has focused on instructing children on evidence-based math learning trajectories in the field. His current research interests outside of the Marsico Institute include exploring experiences of people with intersecting or multiple identities, both visible and invisible, as well as the experiences of international adoptees. Jared graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in psychology in 2012.  Prior to seeking a graduate degree, he worked as a sports coach, a research assistant in multiple psychology labs, and as a rehabilitation counselor for populations with special needs. His graduate practicum experiences have included working as a student therapist in a college counseling center, outpatient community mental health, and the federal bureau of prisons. After completing his doctoral degree, Jared plans to work in a therapeutic or academic role. His extracurricular interests include: taking vacations and visiting new places, running, hiking, camping, playing sports, and watching movies.