Bethany Edwards

Teachers College, Columbia University- Master of Arts in Education Policy

Texas A&M University- Bachelor of Science in Political Science

Research interest(s): The effect of early childhood education (ECE) on lifelong learning and outcomes, as well as how ECE can be used to minimize racial inequities in the American education system.

Professional experience:  Worked as a Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS) Coordinator for WestEd before transitioning to my current job as a Research and Policy Associate at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, a research center affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley.


Emily McClelland

Bowling Green State University, Masters of Education Kinesiology

Research interest(s): Biomechanical basis of sport performance. Athletic metrics and their application to training programs. Biomechanical explanations of sex difference in sport performance.  

Current research fellowship: This year in the Locomotor Performance Laboratory I have been working on projects related to vertical jumping movement and force application patterns, with Dr. Weyand and staff.  

Professional experience: Prior to entering this program, I worked as a full-time strength and conditioning coach, and adjunct faculty member at BGSU in Ohio. I lead training for 7 of the 18 intercollegiate sports and assisted with intern mentorship. I also taught EXSC 2390, Applied Sport Science and supervised interns within the Exercise Science undergraduate program.


Veronica Mellado De La Cruz


Southern Methodist University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Research interest(s): Reading, assessment at the intersection of bilingualism and high-incidence disabilities (i.e., LD, EBD), research to extend evidence-based practices in data-based instruction to dual language learners, contributions of behavioral and psychosocial factors in learning.

Current research fellowship: Veronica is a National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention scholar (OSEP Grant #H325H140001; Veronica’s research fellowship under advisor Stephanie Al Otaiba has allowed her to engage in data collection and analysis, project meetings, presentations, writing, and other scholarly activities in support of Projects FOCUS, ELM, and Passport to Literacy (

Professional experience: Veronica returned to SMU after a seven-year career in early childhood intervention (Part C, IDEA). Her experience fostered two orientations: a strengths-based perspective in working with historically underserved populations; school-based services as a key entry-point for early intervention. Graduate coursework and research support as an interventionist to struggling readers helped Veronica broaden her knowledge and experience to the K-12 setting.

Ashley Moorshead 

Ashley Moorshead

Cal State, Dominguez; M.A. Special Education

Research interest(s): I am interested in working with the special population of struggling readers, with an emphasis on the impact of school-based reading interventions that target adolescent learners in the area of discipline literacy.

Current research fellowship: I am working on Project Intensity with Jill Allor and Stephanie Al Otaiba, developing reading curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities. My role with this grant is project coordinator.

Professional experience: Prior to entering this program, I acted as the Chair of Developmental Studies at the Community College of Aurora.

Robyn Pinilla

Southern Methodist University, Master of Education in Educational Leadership

The University of Texas at Arlington, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Research interest(s): Problem solving capacity development in early childhood and elementary age children, and the impacts of mathematics instruction and intervention models on advancing adaptive reasoning capabilities. 

Current research fellowship: I am working with Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Dr. Lindsey Perry on the Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills (MMaRS) project. Our purpose it to develop a universal screening tool that examines Kindergarten - 2nd grade students' Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning skills and assess its validity. The tool will help teachers determine what students may be at-risk so that they may employ early interventions and prevent later difficulty.

Professional experience: I served the Dallas Independent School District as a Special Education Teacher, Assistant Principal, and Interim Principal between 2010 and 2019. I also worked in private industry as an Inside Sales Associate and Regional Sales Manager in Education Technology solutions, including assessment services and paperless document management systems.

Lauren Stevenson

University of California Los Angeles, Graduate

Research interest(s): My primary research interest is on methods of professional development as they pertain to impacting the retention of effective high quality teachers in urban and suburban public school systems. This research interest stems from my background in secondary education mathematics, where I witnessed the detriment of work conditions to experiencing the full benefits of positively impactful professional development and tools to increase secondary mathematics achievement.

Current research fellowship: Currently, I am working with Dr. Patricia Mathes on the OSEP grant evaluating the most effective methods of coaching teachers and their correlation with student academic growth. My role as a research assistant is three-fold: developing and presenting writing strategies materials for practitioner use, analyzing previous literature to enhance program materials, and assessing students with special literacy needs.

Professional experience: I taught high school Algebra 1 - AP Calculus (some project-based learning) for 7 years while also doing curriculum writing and development for the district and outside sources.

Claire Trotter

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs- Master of Science in Biology

Southern Methodist University- BA Psychology and BS Applied Physiology and Health Management

Research interest(s): Alterations to muscle sympathetic nerve activity in individuals with multiple sclerosis during exercise and heat stress and at rest; Large artery stiffening in individuals with multiple sclerosis.

Current research fellowship: I work under advisement of Scott L. Davis, PhD in the Integrative Physiology Laboratory. I am funded by a Fairess Simmons Graduate Fellowship, a University PhD Fellowship and a graduate teaching assistantship in the Department of Applied Physiology.

Professional experience: Prior to entering this program, I completed a Master’s of Science in Biology at University of Colorado- Colorado Springs where I worked as a graduate teaching and research assistant. My thesis research investigated the effects of skin temperature on the ability to tolerate blood loss in individuals who had previously been exercising in hot environments. 

Ann Marie WernickWernick

University of Notre Dame, Master of Education

University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Research interest(s): Practice-based teacher education, teacher induction, coaching models, teaching quality, teacher evaluation systems, and mixed-reality simulations.

Current research fellowship: I currently work with Dr. Paige Ware on Project CONNECT: Creating the Ongoing Network Needed to Engage Communities and Teachers (Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition). I engage with the project as a protocol developer, data collector, and data analyst. Additionally, I collaborate in development of online modules and pre-/post-testing measures using mixed reality simulation and reflection.

Professional experience: Prior to entering this program, I served as a classroom teacher and instructional coach for seven years. During that time, I taught middle school English Language Arts and History. I also worked as a coach for pre-service teachers and a curriculum writer.

Sumei Wu

Southern Methodist University, M.Ed. with Specialization in ESL Education

Hainan Normal University (in China), Bachelor of Arts in English & Japanese

Research interest(s): I am interested in working with English Language Learners and exploring evidence-based instructions to facilitate their second language acquisition and literacy development. I also have great passion for computer-assisted language learning, multimedia literacy, and teacher professional development via technology.

Current research fellowship: I am working as a research assistant for Dr. Paige Ware and Dr. Karla del Rosal. I am currently cooperating with Dr. Karla del Rosal and Dr. Annie Wilhelm on teacher social network and trust research. I am also participating in a telecollaborative project with Dr. Nancy Montgomery to involve our pre-service secondary teachers in an online partnership with teachers in Taiwan. The project aims to help develop our teachers’ multicultural communication competence and enhance their abilities to design appropriate instructions to address the needs of culturally diverse learners.

Professional experience:Prior to entering this program, I worked as an ESL instructor for two years in China and in Dallas for a year. I taught elementary ESL learners and secondary ESL learners. I also volunteered to teach adult ESL learners with Literacy Instruction for Texas. During my masters program at SMU, I served as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Paige Ware on creating the Project CONNECT website as an ongoing network for teachers and students with instructional resources.