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Investigators

Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, joined Southern Methodist University in January 2012 as Professor of Teaching and Learning in the Simmons School of Education & Human Development, and was named the Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair in Teaching and Learning in 2014. Previously, she was an Associate Professor at the Florida State University and was on faculty at the FCRR. She received her Ph.D. in 2000 in Human Development from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University; prior to that, she was a special educator in the United Arab Emirates. She enjoys teaching graduate courses in literacy, special education, assessment, response to intervention and mentoring doctoral students.

Dr. Al Otaiba's has published over 120 journal articles and book chapters related to her interests. She has developed reading curricular materials. Her line of research has been supported by grants from IES, NIH, and OSEP. She currently serves as President of the Division of Learning Disabilities for the Council for Exceptional Children, as Editor of the Journal of Learning Disabilities, and as an Executive Board member for the International Dyslexia Association. In 2017, she received the Distinguished Career Award from the Special Education Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association.

Kenn Apel, PhD, CCC-SLP, is professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. For over 30 years, Dr. Apel has been conducting research in the areas of spoken and written language and working with children, adolescents, and adults who have language-based learning deficits. Dr. Apel’s current research focuses on the underlying linguistic components that support the development of word-level reading and spelling, with a particular focus on orthographic knowledge and morphological awareness. He currently is the principal investigator of an IES- sponsored grant to develop a morphological awareness assessment. Dr. Apel is the former Editor-in- Chief of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (2007- 2009). Dr. Apel is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association and a recipient of that Association’s Honors Award.

Dr. Carol Conner is a Chancellor's Professor School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on examining the links between children’s language, literacy, mathematics, cognitive and self-regulation, and social-emotional development from preschool through the elementary grades. Understanding these reciprocal and interacting connections may illuminate reasons for the perplexing difficulties children who are atypical and diverse learners have developing basic and advanced reading, writing, and mathematics skills. Most recently, my research interests have focused on children’s learning in the classroom – from preschool through fifth grade – with particular focus on reading comprehension, children living in poverty, and how technology might improve the instruction they receive. This line of research is revealing how the effectiveness of specific instructional activities depends on the language, self-regulation, and reading skills children bring with them to school; these child-by- instruction interaction effects are evident as early as preschool and continue at least through third grade for a number of child language and literacy outcomes. As part of the Reading for Understanding Center at FCRR I conducted a series of basic research and development studies, and randomized controlled field trials investigating the reasons children fail to achieve proficient reading comprehension skills and the causal implications of child-by- instruction interaction effects on student achievement, specifically investigating the effect of individualizing language arts, social studies, and science instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade based on students’ language and early reading skills (see Content Area Literacy Instruction – CALI, and the Word Knowledge e- Book study). Results have revealed that instruction that takes into account children’s individual differences generally leads to stronger outcomes and that we can strengthen students’ content area literacy and comprehension monitoring, which positively impacts their reading comprehension skills.

My research is aimed at understanding the relationship between language and other aspects of cognition. One line of research concerns what has been called embodied cognition, or the idea that cognitive processes are grounded in our bodies’ systems of perception and action planning. Here, we explore the role that the neural systems responsible for perception and motor control play in the understanding of language. We have also extended this approach to the development of the Enacted Reading Comprehension intervention that is part of the RFU project. A second line of research examines the way that we adapt our linguistic behavior (e.g., choice of sentence structures) to a changing linguistic environment. Here, we explore the role that implicit and explicit memory processes support our ability to change our language use based on the language we hear around us.

Young-Suk Grace Kim, Ed.D., is a professor at University of California, Irvine, and a faculty associate at the Florida Center for Reading Research. She received her Ed.D. from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology with a concentration on Language and Literacy, and a minor concentration on Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education. She holds Master’s degrees in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) as well as in Human Development and Culture. She was a former classroom teacher at the primary and secondary schools, and community college in San Francisco, California.

Professor Kim’s primary research areas include development in language, cognition, and literacy acquisition and instruction across languages and writing systems, including dyslexia and dysgraphia. She examines how various factors co-develop and interact each other; and their implications for instruction. Her research has been supported by the Institute of Education Science, U. S. Department of Education, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Dr. Kim received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama; and the Developing Scholar Award and University Teaching Award at Florida State University. She currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Educational Psychology, and editorial board for several journals including Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of School Psychology, School Psychology Review, and Educational Researcher.

Christopher J. Lonigan is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology and an associate director of the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University. Dr. Lonigan received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1991 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Lonigan was awarded a two-year NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center at Vanderbilt University. His research interests include the development, assessment, and promotion of preschool early literacy skills and self-regulation. His current research projects include early identification of reading disability, effectiveness of Response to Instruction models in preschool, assessments for Spanish-speaking English learners, preschool curriculum evaluation, the development of reading comprehension, and the interaction between the development of self-regulation and academic skills.

Dr. Beth M. Phillips is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at the College of Education at Florida State University and a faculty associate of the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR). Her research interests include the overlap between early literacy, language and behavioral development, early childhood curriculum and instruction and professional development, and parental influences on learning. She has been PI, co- PI or Co-I on six grants funded by IES, including the RFU Network Grant and a Goal 3 project to further evaluate RFU interventions for prekindergarten and kindergarten. Dr. Phillips has been an investigator on multiple five-year Learning Disabilities Research Center grants and a co-investigator on two five-year funding cycles of the Southeast Regional Education Lab at FSU; she is PI on a grant from the Spencer Foundation investigating language environments in preschool classrooms. Within RFU, Dr. Phillips led the development of LIM and collaborated on the development of COMPASS. She led the development of the integrated LIM-CALI second grade intervention and the associated professional development and fidelity studies. Dr. Phillips has received numerous grants from the Florida Office of Early Learning related to professional development for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program.

Dr. Radach is a Professor of General and Biological Psychology at the University of Wuppertal, Germany. His current research interests include reading development, reading comprehension, acquired and developmental dyslexia, visual attention and oculomotor control, and reading and learning with electronic media. Dr. Radach reports that he like being a professor at a large public university. He finds the University of Wuppertal a productive research environment with highly motivated young colleagues which makes teaching there ‘just plain fun’. His goal is to make significant contributions to cognitive and biological psychology, especially helping to solve the mysteries of reading development and reading deficits. Basically, he spends his days wondering about the miracles of the human mind and brain. The things he is most fascinated about are visual perception and language; therefore, most of his research is on how we read.

Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate is an Associate Professor at Missouri State University in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD). Her primary scholarly interests include school-age language and literacy, cultural and linguistic diversity/cultural competency, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Dr. Thomas-Tate’s current project, Ujima, is a collaborative project with Missouri State University’s CSD Department, Springfield Public Schools, Greene County Libraries, and Springfield NAACP Reads. Ujima Programs, which include family literacy nights, summer literacy camps, and Saturday Academy Workshops, aim to increase the number of CLD students who meet kindergarten readiness expectations at school entry, and reading proficiency standards by 3rd grade.

Dr. Chris Schatschneider is a Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research. His research interests include educational psychology, learning disabilities, quantitative methods and research design, and reading and language comprehension. My current research focus centers on individual differences in reading skill development. Specifically, I am interested in the identification of skills that are related to the acquisition of reading ability and the use of these skills to identify children who are at-risk for early reading problems. I also have a strong interest in research design, measurement, and statistical methodology with a particular focus on multi-level modeling and item response theory, and I am also working in test construction and the use of IRT models in the context of building computerized adaptive testing.