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Undergraduate Research

Be part of The Knowledge Generation. As an undergraduate in the College of Education, you'll be advancing education and educational practices through evidence-based research. Our internationally recognized faculty mentors undergraduates from hypothesis generation to proposal development to data collection and analysis. Be part of The Knowledge Generation. Be part of research that has an impact. apply now or Learn More about open positions 

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Undergraduate Faculty Researchers

Dr. Leticia Alvarez Gutierrez (Honors) -- View Profile  Dr. Leticia Alvarez

Dr. Leticia Alvarez Gutierrez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society. Her research focuses on the educational experiences of BIPOC and Latinx youth, especially those that have been racially profiled and academically tracked. Dr. Alvarez Guiterrez is committed to teaching and service to improve access to and the quality of education for Black, Indigenous, other young people of color (BIYOC), and Latinx youth. 

Research Interests: Activism as Social Justice Practice in Educational Spaces; Youth Development and Youth Programs; Critical Multicultural Education, Family-School-Community Partnerships; Participatory Action Research; Teacher Education and Praxis.

Student Projects: Glenda Palomino Ventura, Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: Educators' Pedagogical Support for Elementary Undocumented/Mixed StatusStudents.

Laren Barth-CohenDr. Lauren Barth-Cohen (Honors & OUR) -- View Profile

Dr. Lauren Barth-Cohen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Barth-Cohen’s research focuses on student learning in science, with a special focus on translating that research in ways useful to K-12 teachers. She studies student learning of challenging science concepts that are foundational to the scientific enterprise and central to science education. In her research, she designs and implements learning environments aiming to scaffold such conceptual learning.

Research Interests: STEM Education, Teacher Education, Preservice Teachers; Mathematics Education, Climate Change Education, Cognition, Science Education, Precollegiate Education -- Science or Mathematics 

Student Projects: 

Dr. Cynthia BenallyDr. Cynthia Benally (Honors) -- View Profile

Dr. Cynthia Benally is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society.

Research Interests: Underrepresented Students and Communities; Teacher Education; Native American History; Native Americans; Indigenous Epistemologies; Critical Indigenous Research; American Indian Education Policy

Student Projects: Mary Smith

Mary BurbankDirector of the Urban Institute for Teacher Education Mary D. Burbank (Honors) -- View Profile

As Director of the Urban Institute for Teacher Education and Associate Dean of Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Engagement for the College of Education, Professor Mary Burbank is focused on high-quality teacher preparation and licensure programs, including accreditation and evaluation. Professor Burbank works closely with key stakeholders across the University of Utah campus, school districts, and community partners to advance educational practices and foster community engagement in Utah's future educators. 

Research Interests: Inclusion and Montessori Education; Family Partnerships for PK Education; Accreditation and Licensure; Educator Professional Development; Supervision and Mentoring 

Student Projects: Burbank has worked with undergraduate student Madeleine Kelly (ELE) on project, Frameworks for Social Justice Education in Montessori Classrooms: Educator Perceptions and Implementation. She also worked with Carol N. Castaneda (Secondary Education) on project, Integrating Social Justice Lessons in a Spanish High School  Classroom to Increase Motivation in Learning Spanish as a Second/World Language; Samantha Laubacher, International Comparisons in Education: The Finnish Model; and Tammy Haddad (ELE) on project, Using the University Innovation Fellows Program to Improve Teacher Retention in Utah

Dr. Erin CastroErin Castro (Honors, Undergraduate Studies) -- View Profile

Dr. Erin CastroDr. Erin L. Castro is an Associate Professor in the College of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, Associate Dean of Access and Community Engagement in Undergraduate Studies, and Director of the Research Collaborative on Higher Education in Prison. Her current research traces nationwide postsecondary education in prisons throughout the U.S. and analyzes the use of criminal history in college admissions.

Research Interests:Education in Prison; Pathways to Higher Education; Criminal Histories in College Admissions; Educational Equity and Access; Pell Grants in Prison

Student Projects: Alessandra Cipriani-Detres (Political Science, Honors student). Alessandra is now a grad student in a master's program in Higher Ed. Administration at Boston College.

Dr. Tracy DobieDr. Tracy Dobie (Honors) -- View Profile

Dr. Tracy Dobie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. Dr. Dobie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University and a PhD in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. She conducts research focused on student engagement, equitable learning opportunities, and teacher professional development in K-8 mathematics education. In particular, Dr. Dobie explores questions regarding what kind of math learning is useful and meaningful for students, how to connect classroom learning with out-of-school experiences, the affordances and constraints of digital platforms for teacher professional development, and how to encourage productive discourse in teacher learning communities.  

Research Interests: Mathematics Education; Educational Equity; Motivation; Elementary Education; Teacher Education; Professional Development; Preservice Teachers; Classroom Belonging and Engagement; Identity 

Student Projects: Dobie is currently working with Alyssa Lee on on a project focused on the relationship between students’ definitions of mathematics and ideas about the usefulness of mathematics. The title of the project is: Middle school student-generated ideas about mathematics: Definitions and utility.

Aaron FischerDr. Aaron Fischer (OUR) -- View Profile

Dr. Aaron Fischer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Psychiatry. Dr. Fischer’s research interests follow two distinct lines of inquiry that are directly applicable to the fields of school and pediatric psychology and applied behavior analysis. First, he is interested in creating and evaluating effective strategies for psychologists engaging in consultation while incorporating cutting-edge technology. Currently, he is evaluating telepresence robot problem-solving consultation as a strategy to increase access to consultative services with teachers and school staff in remote or underserved schools. 

Research Interests: School Psychology, Pediatric Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, Technology in Psychology

Student Projects: Mickenzie Fleming, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 


Dr. Jose Francisco GutierrezDr. Jose Francisco Gutierrez  (Honors & OUR) -- View Profile

Dr. Jose Francisco Gutierrez is an assistant professor of educational studies, a mathematics education scholar, and a community member. He studies culturally sustaining and community-based approaches to mathematics education, best practices for teaching mathematics to multilingual students, and the history of mathematics education policy. He is interested in understanding how the state uses mathematics education as a tool of oppression and, conversely, how mathematics education can sustain and revitalize diverse cultures and identities. Dr. Gutiérrez is the Principal Investigator of the “Signs of Power and Dominance” project and has ongoing research studies with mentees Mary Smith and Luke Kim.

Research Interests: Math Education; Teacher Education; History; Critical Theory 

Student Projects: Luke Kim and Mary Smith, Mathematical Reservations 


Dr. Alex HyresDr. Alex Hyres (Honors) -- View Profile 

As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society, Dr. Alex Hyres is a historian of US education. He studies the African American experience, student and teacher activism, the American high school, and curriculum and pedagogy. In particular, he is interested in the relationship between education and social change during the 20th century in the United States. Hyres' first book project, "Protest and Pedagogy," traces the contours of high school teachers' and students' activism within the Black freedom struggle of Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to teaching and research, Hyres is a research affiliate for the Teachers in the Movement Project

Research Interests: African American Experience; Student and Teacher Activism; the American High School; Cirriculum and Pedagogy

Student Projects: Callie Avondet, a History major/Honors student. Callie is a senior and will graduate in May 2023. Callie's thesis is on the history & purpose of Black education at the turn of the 20thcentury. She will be presenting a version of this paper at the History of Education annual meeting in October in Baltimore, MD. 

Dr. Sharlene KiuharaDr. Sharlene A. Kiuhara  (Honors) -- View Profile

As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education, Dr. Sharlene A. Kiuhara researches interventions that improve teaching practices and learning outcomes for K-12 students who have high incidence disabilities. Her work investigates the effects of using the Self-Regulated Strategy Development framework (a strategic approach for developing written expression skills and self-regulation of the writing process) for constructing arguments within a multi-tiered system of instructional supports in language arts, math, and science classrooms.

Research Interests: High Incidence Disabilities, Language Development, Metacognition, Writing, Self-Regulation, Learning Disabled Education; Self-Regulated Strategy Development; Critical Thinking and Writing; Elementary and Secondary Education; Teaching and Curriculum Development; Professional Development; English as a Second Language

Student Projects: Katherine Mynar, The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Teachers: A Case Study 

Dr. Lauren LiangDr. Lauren Liang  (Honors) -- View Profile

Dr. Lauren Liang, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, researches the interrelated areas of selection and evaluation of children's literature and K-12 students’ understanding and engagement with specific texts. Within the overlap of the two, she investigates educational uses of children’s literature to support meaning-making processes, text characteristics as related to children's and teens' responses and comprehension of texts, and the role of children’s literature in teacher preparation programs. 

Research Interests: Children’s and Young Adult Literature; Reading; Literacy; Education; Comprehension; Social-Emotional Learning

Student Projects: Carlie Haacke, Young Readers' Interactions with Storybook Apps; Mercedes Jorgensen, "Popular" vs. "Award-Winning" Literature for Children; Sasha Bodell, Addressing Chronic Absenteeism in an Elementary School; Avery Reynolds, Principles for Effective Middle School Mathematics Teaching in Utah: A Guide for Novice Teachers; Rose Kemp, A Checklist for Outstanding Teaching of First Grade Literacy; Kaitlyn Shumway, Meeting the Standards: What Exemplary Early Literacy Teaching Looks Like in Practice.

Dr. Monika LohaniDr. Monika Lohani (OUR) -- View Profile

Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Dr. Monika Lohani, earned her MA in Cognitive Science from the University of Allahabad and her MA and PhD in Social Developmental Psychology from Brandeis University. Dr. Lohani directs the Affective and Cognitive Regulation (ACR) Lab at the University of Utah, which integrates basic and applied perspectives to understand the effective regulation of affect and cognition in real-world contexts (e.g., emotionally distressing situations, daily stressors, and education and work settings). Furthermore, the ACR lab focuses on developing evidence-based interventions and utilizing technology to facilitate healthy self-regulation, psychological well-being, and performance.

Research Interests: Affect Regulation; Applied Cognition; Human Factors; Lifespan; Evidence-Based Interventions; Psychology

Student Projects: 


Dr. Laurence ParkerDr. Laurence Parker (Honors) -- View Profile 

Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, Dr. Laurence Parker, researches how race and racism influence educational policy and leadership in the K-12 and higher education context, how social and political change impacts schools, and the effects of neoliberalism on educational leadership and the politics of education. 

Research Interests: Race and Racism; Educational Policy and Leadership; Society and Education; Neoliberalism; Politics of Education

Student Projects: Chase Hans Gesteland (Mech. Engineering/Honors). Chase's thesis was entitled, "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Engineering Education: The Need for Progressive Pedagogical Frameworks and Social Justice Perspectives." Chase has since started a master's of engineering program at UC Berkeley.

Ariel Flores Menia (Business major/Honors). His thesis title was "Working Identity and Critical Race Theory: The Latino Student Experience in Schools of Business," and he is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley's law school.

Dr. Paula SmithDr. Paula Smith -- View Profile

Dr. Paula Smith is Chair of the Utah Prevention Research Group, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, and Principal Investigator on a Utah Division of Substance Use and Mental Health grant aimed at developing infrastructure at state and public colleges for mental health needs in student populations.

Research Interests: Structural Design; Substance Use Prevention; Mental Health Prevention and Support 

Student Projects:

Dr. Claire SonDr. Seung-Hee Claire Son (Honors, OUR) -- View Profile

Dr. Seung-Hee Claire Son   is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. Dr. Son leads the EARLY Labfocusing on early language and literacy development of at-risk children with social or economic disparities. Her work seeks to identify important predictors of early childhood literacy learning in the home, school, and community environments; further, she has actively conducted research studies on the role of children's own socioemotional capabilities, including their attention, engagement, motivation, and self-regulation, and how these capabilities can be supported by multimedia technologies to promote literacy learning.

Research Interests: Early Literacy and Language Development and Intervention; Reading Engagement and Motivation; Multimedia Literacy; Home and Community Literacy; Early Childhood Education

Student Projects:

Lee, H., Multimedia Vocabulary LearningTaylor, A.,  Young Children's Interest, Engagement Level, and Science Vocabulary Knowledge (2021); Anderson, D.,  Examining Access to Books in Preschool Classrooms: Book Genres and Child Reading Outcomes (2020); Castillo, M. C., Why Evaluate Narrative Development in Head Start Students (2019); Aalia Fields, The Relationship Between Preschools' Engagement in Book Reading and Self-Regulation

Undergraduate Research Projects

See a comprehensive list of all Undergraduate research projects


Last Updated: 3/7/24