Faculty Promotions and New Faculty

by John Conroy

Faculty Promotions
Rick Donato has been promoted to a full professor in the Department of Instruction and Learning. He was previously an associate professor and will continue his duties as department chair. A Pitt faculty member since 1989, Donato is part of the foreign language education program and has secondary appointments in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures and Department of Linguistics. Donato has given presentations and conducted workshops both nationally and internationally on foreign language learning. As department chair, Donato sees his role as a facilitator of faculty and staff as they collaborate to develop the department’s vision. His personal interests include traveling outside the United States, learning Professor in the Department of Instruction about languages and cultures other than his own, and and Learning “being in the company of people who offer me unique perspectives on life.”
Douglas E. Kostewicz has been promoted from assistant to associate professor in the special education program in the Department of Instruction and Learning. Prior to joining the School of Education, Kostewicz completed his doctoral work in special education at Pennsylvania State University. Kostewicz has worked as both a special educator and a behavior analyst in child welfare, and he initially examined the academic and social difficulties experienced by students with learning and behavioral disabilities. He expanded his research to include investigating the support given to students with and without disabilities in inclusive settings via interventions for educators. Currently, his research interests include fluency-based academic interventions and improving professional development associated with Associate Professor in the Department of the effects of teacher-initiated classroom interactions Instruction and Learning of students with special needs. He has recently published articles in Education & Treatment of Children, Exceptionality, and Contemporary Educational Psychology. In his free time, Kostewicz enjoys spending time with his family, attending his son’s activities, and frequenting local cultural and sporting events.
Jennifer Lin Russell has been named an associate professor in the Learning Sciences and Policy program in the School of Education in addition to her continued position as a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center. She was previously an assistant professor, and her research examines policy and other educational improvement initiatives through an organizational perspective. Russell’s recent work examines two primary issues: how schools create social and organizational structures that support reform and how interorganizational collaborations and networks can be structured for educational improvement. She is currently engaged in a large-scale collaborative research effort with Pitt colleagues and the Tennessee Department of Education to understand how the supports teachers get from colleagues, administrators, and coaches influence their mathematics teaching and their students’ learning. Russell also is collaborating with colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to identify essential capacities and design considerations for the formation of networks aimed at improving persistent problems of education practice. In her spare time at home, she enjoys a good meal and playing Candy Land with her 3-year-old daughter, Zoe.
Ming-Te Wang has been promoted to associate professor in the Department of Psychology in Education. He had been an assistant professor, and he continues to focus on research that emphasizes the interplay of developmental processes among adolescents—whether they are academic, career-related, social, emotional, or behavioral— and based on family, school, and community contexts. He received his doctorate in human development and psychology from Harvard University. Wang’s work has been published in a range of leading psychology and education journals, including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Psychological Science, the Journal of Research on Adolescence, and the American Educational Research Journal. His work has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Spencer Foundation. Prior to entering graduate school, he was a school counselor in a rural middle school. In Wang’s free time, he enjoys jogging, mountain climbing, and playing with his 5-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son.
New Faculty
Lori Delale-O'Connor has joined the School of Education’s Center for Urban Education as its associate director of research and development and a research assistant professor of education. Delale-O’Connor graduated from Northwestern University in 2011 with a PhD in sociology. At Northwestern, she also was a certificate fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences, an Institute of Education Sciences-funded predoctoral training program. Delale-O’Connor also holds an MEd in secondary education from Boston College and taught social studies in the Boston Public Schools. Prior to joining the School of Education, Delale- O’Connor was a research scientist at Child Trends, a nonprofit research center focused on improving the well-being of children across the life span. Her research explores topics such as youth transitions to college and career, parent involvement in education, and school choice. She and her husband, Jason, are native Pittsburghers, and they are excited to move back to the city with their two daughters, Anna and Alexandra.
Gina Garcia is an assistant professor of higher education management in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, where she teaches master’s and doctoral students pursuing degrees in higher education and student affairs. Garcia received her PhD in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests center on issues of equity and diversity within higher education, with an emphasis on the organizational culture and identity of Hispanic-Serving Institutions and the retention, success, and identity development of Latina/o college students. While at UCLA, Garcia was a research analyst at the Higher Education Research Institute, where she examined the experiences that foster success for students of color pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees. In her spare time, Garcia teaches group exercise classes, including body pump, body combat, turbo-kick, and boot camp. She has two small children, Jovan and Jaren, who also keep her active.
Elizabeth Hufnagel has joined the Department of Instruction and Learning as a visiting assistant professor of science education. Hufnagel earned her PhD in curriculum and instruction from Pennsylvania State University in 2014. She brings a decade of experience in education in a variety of settings. While at Penn State, she worked with a team of science and education faculty members to develop a science content course for preservice elementary teachers and taught courses on science methods and philosophy of education. She was a high school science teacher and professional development instructor at the Urban Ecology Institute, both in Massachusetts. Her work with in-service teachers focused on preparing science teachers to implement urban field studies using geospatial technologies. Before she was a teacher, Hufnagel was an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member and worked as an environmental scientist. Her current research centers on the intersection between emotions and learning about environmental science topics using discourse analysis. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, biking, yoga, and a good satire.
Lindsay Page joined the faculty as an assistant professor of research methodology and a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center. Previously, Page served as a lecturer in statistics and a researcher at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, where she earned an EdD in quantitative policy analysis in education as well as master’s degrees in statistics and administration, planning, and social policy. Page’s research interests are in the areas of quantitative methods and their application to questions regarding the effectiveness of educational policies and programs. Much of her recent work has focused on investigating potential solutions to summer melt, the phenomenon of students’ not transitioning from high school to college even though they had intended to go to college in the fall. This body of work has received financial support from funders, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, and Heckscher Foundation for Children.
Laura Roop is a new assistant professor and director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (WPWP), a teacher-centered professional development program hosted by the School of Education. Roop earned both her PhD in English and education and an MA in English at the University of Michigan. Before joining WPWP, she directed the Oakland Writing Project, a Michigan-based National Writing Project site. Her recent experience also includes working at the University of Michigan School of Education as coordinator of school-research relations and as an intermittent lecturer. In her new position, Roop will develop and promote core WPWP programs; offer outreach and professional learning opportunities to writing project teacher fellows; raise funds on behalf of WPWP; and develop partnerships with various organizations. Roop has plans to publish her second book, Making and Doing: The Road to Authentic Literacies in spring 2015. With her husband, she enjoys visiting her children and grandchildren in California, Washington, Mississippi, and Michigan.
Sharon Ross has joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity. Ross’ research focuses on physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in children, with a special interest in Hispanic/Latino populations. She recently received a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to develop and evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a home-based Latino child obesity intervention program that uses Latino community health workers, or promotoras, to deliver the programming. Ross received her PhD and MS degrees in biobehavioral health from Pennsylvania State University. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group, directed by Russell Pate, in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, she likes to play with her daughter, Annalise, and ride her road bike.