Dean\'s Update – 9/21/2021
09/21/2021, 08:05:01 PM
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Sept. 21, 2021


I hope you and your families fared OK during Hurricane Nicholas last week. The literal and metaphorical storms of late are truly testing our resilience.

As Provost Short announced Saturday, we will move to full density in-person instruction (resuming previously agreed upon teaching formats) on Monday, Sept. 27. Based on the reports I’ve received, I’m glad to hear that students generally are following the guidance to wear masks.

As we look to center ourselves amid the chaos, these comments from two of our students can remind us of the important role we play in facilitating connection and engagement:

“Being a first-generation student during a pandemic has not been easy. There is no book with tips and tricks to this situation. However, the University of Houston has been extremely supportive in every aspect necessary.”

“Moving to a new state during the pandemic was terrifying. As recommended, I remained in isolation for months and began missing friends and family. As soon as I (virtually) met my cohort, I felt at home.”

Please look out for emails from our College Committee to Advance Equity, Justice, and Belonging about some important upcoming events.

Onward and tested,


Banner: Who said first day of school photos were only for students? Pictured: Tiffany J. Davis (ELPS; EJB committee co-chair)


  • A Conversation Examining Antisemitism — Virtual talk featuring research fellow Caroline Kaufman. Sponsored by CheckED. Friday, Sept. 24. Noon – 1 p.m. RSVP here.
  • CRT Panel Discussion — Sponsored by the COE Committee to Advance Equity, Justice, and Belonging. Thursday, Sept. 30. Noon – 1 p.m. Farish Hall, Room 218 or virtual. Details to follow. RSVP here.
  • School-to-Prison Pipeline Panel Discussion — Virtual event sponsored by COE and the Committee to Advance Equity, Justice, and Belonging. Thursday, Oct. 21. 4 – 5 p.m. Details and RSVP information to follow.


  • Jane Sidwell is now officially our HDFS major and minor advisor. She also advises minors in special populations and Asian American studies. Thanks to all our advisors for guiding students during this especially busy time!
  • Our PEEPS program is partnering with the Texas Tamale Company and Literacy in the Bag to collect new or gently used books for K-8 students at Title I schools in Houston ISD and Fort Bend ISD. Please visit Literacy in the Bag or their Amazon Wishlist for suggested books. Please bring books to Farish 160 or connect with Laura Lee at Placing a sticky note on the inside cover to indicate the grade level of the book will help with sorting.


Jeylan Yassin

After earning a B.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing from UH, Jeylan Yassin found her passion as an academic advisor. Now leading a team of advisors as the College’s director of undergraduate programs, Yassin earned the College’s Staff Distinguished Service Award for 2020-21.

How long have you worked at UH?
I’ve heard the dean say, “Jeylan grew up here.” I started at UH at age 26, and I feel very committed to the University, to the College of Education. I feel like it’s my home.

How do advisors help students succeed?
Everyone has a story of a teacher who changed their lives, and it’s usually about mentoring and not necessarily ‘she taught me how to factor in math.’ Someone cared about them, and that encouraged them to accomplish what they wanted. Our office is incredibly dedicated to making a difference for our students.

What do you do for fun?
I write. I’ve written some novels. I just started water coloring; it is forcing me to learn patience.

Read the full Q&A.


Curriculum & Instruction


  • Bulent Dogan. “Impact of informal learning environments on STEM education — Views of elementary students and their parents,” School Science and Mathematics.
  • Melissa A. Gallagher, Travis Weiland. “Making Word Problems Meaningful,” Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12.
  • Melissa A. Gallagher. “Better understanding of hydrologic process through data-driven learning facilitated by collaborative open web-based platforms,” Hydrological Processes.
  • Sheng Kuan Chung, “Promises and Challenges of Teaching Interactive Media Arts,” International Journal of Arts Education.

Book Chapters

  • Melissa A. Gallagher. “Supporting students’ critical literacy: Mathematical modeling and economic decisions,” Exploring Mathematical Modeling with Young Learners.


  • Conra Gist was selected for the Student Experience Research Network Midcareer Fellows Program focused informing policy through equity-centered research on the student experience.

Community Engagement

  • Bulent Dogan directed and hosted four summer camps at UH focused on STEM and coding.
  • Sheng Kuan Chung’s painting “Pride” was included in the 2021 annual juried exhibition at Archway Gallery in Houston.

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies


  • Join us in wishing a bittersweet farewell to program manager Yonelly Gutiérrez, whose last day is Sept. 24, as she heads to her next great professional adventure as an IT program manager.


  • Kmt Shockley. “Ain’t I got a right to the tree of life: Examining special education through an African centered lens,” Philosophical Inquires in Education.
  • Virginia Snodgrass Rangel. “Mechanisms of matriculation: the role of professional counselors in the college choice processes of Latino men,” Professional School Counseling. “The motivations of STEM mentors,” Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning.
  • Jorge Gonzalez (PHLS), Yali Zou, Gayle Curtis. “They are going to forget about their mother tongue: Influence of Chinese beliefs in child home language and literacy development,” Early Childhood Education Journal.


  • Dave A. Louis has been named a 2021 Outstanding Alumni honoree for the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University.
  • Kristi Santi has received The President’s Volunteer Service award from AmeriCorps for her work to better the educational outcomes of students with disabilities.

Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences


  • Weihua Fan, Margit Wiesner, Consuelo Arbona. “Adapting the Utrecht-Management of Identity Commitments Scale (U-MICS) to assess engineering identity formation,” Journal of Engineering Education.
  • Leslie Frankel. “Psychosocial Effect of Newborn Genomic Sequencing on Families in the BabySeq Project: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA Pediatrics.
  • Jorge Gonzalez. “Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in school psychology: Be the change,” School Psychology Review. “Comparing behavioral and emotional strengths of students with and without emotional disturbance,” Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. “The future of school psychology: Combining MTSS and community mentor programs,” School Psychology Review. “Social validity of shared book reading and DLL’s vocabulary outcomes,” Early Education and Development.
  • Jorge Gonzalez, Yali Zou (ELPS), Gayle Curtis (ELPS). “They are going to forget about their mother tongue: Influence of Chinese beliefs in child home language and literacy development,” Early Childhood Education Journal.
  • Kara Hurt-Avila. “Teachers’ perceptions of teacher-child relationships, student behavior, and classroom management,” Journal of Educational Research & Practice. “Professional development needs of mental health professionals in a predominantly rural state,” Journal of Counseling Research and Practice. “Teaching counseling research and program evaluation through problem-based service learning,” Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.
  • Milena Keller-Margulis. “Model Specification and Empirical Validation of the Not-So-Simple View of Writing,” Reading and Writing Quarterly.
  • Milena Keller-Margulis, Jorge Gonzalez. “Associations Between Social Skills, Inattention, and English Vocabulary Skills of Preschool Latinx Dual Language Learners,” Journal of Research in Childhood Education.
  • Milena Keller-Margulis, Sarah Mire. “School readiness for children with autism spectrum disorder: Critical gaps and call for research,” Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.
  • Allison Master. “Gender stereotypes influence children’s STEM motivation,” Child Development Perspectives. “Expectancy-value theory & preschool parental involvement in informal STEM learning,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
  • Sarah Mire. “Treatment acceptability in parent-mediated interventions: Considerations for maximizing outcomes for children with autism,” Practice Innovations.
  • Sarah Mire, Milena Keller-Margulis. “Measuring parental perceptions about causes of autism spectrum disorder: An investigation using principal components analysis,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Sarah Mire, Hanjoe Kim, Milena Keller-Margulis. “Comparing fathers’ and mothers’ perspectives about their children’s autism diagnosis,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  • Rosena Murillo, Isabel Martinez Leal, Lorraine Reitzel. “Perceptions and barriers to physical activity in childhood and adulthood among Latinas,” Health Behavior and Policy Review.
  • Norma Olvera. “Feasibility and efficacy of the FUNPALs Playgroup intervention to improve toddler dietary and activity behaviors: A pilot randomized controlled trial,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. “Exploring qualities of ethnically diverse parents related to the healthy home environment of toddlers,” Appetite. “Hispanic parents’ views of family physical activity: Results from multi-site focus group investigation,” Children.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, Ann Chen, Isabel Martinez Leal. “Factors Associated With Breast Cancer Screening Adherence Among Church-Going African American Women,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, Ann Chen, Kayce Solari Williams. “UHAND – A National Cancer Institute Funded Partnership to Advance Cancer Health Equity through Scholar Training,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, Ann Chen, Marcel de Dios, Virmarie Correa-Fernández. “Sociodemographic Determinants of Nonadherence to Depression & Anxiety Medication among Individuals Experiencing Homelessness,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, Ann Chen, Virmarie Correa-Fernández, Ezemenari Obasi. “Organizational-level moderators impacting tobacco-related knowledge change after tobacco education training in substance use treatment centers,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, Isabel Martinez Leal, Virmarie Correa-Fernández, Ezemenari Obasi, Ann Chen. “Addressing Smoking Cessation Among Women in Substance Use Treatment: A Qualitative Approach to Guiding Tailored Interventions,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Brad Smith, Hanjoe Kim, Jorge Gonzalez. “Comparing Three Overnight Summer Camp Experiences for Marginalized Middle School Students: Negative, Neutral, and Positive Results,” Journal of Experiential Education.
  • Margit Wiesner. “Intergenerational associations in crime for an at-risk sample of U.S. men: Factors that may mitigate or exacerbate transmission,” Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology.

Book Chapters

  • Sarah Mire. “Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Developmental Psychopathology.


  • Norma Olvera was elected chair of the Nutrition Education Beyond Weight Division of the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Community Engagement

  • Norma Olvera is helping organize the 2021 virtual Latino Health Summit presented by the Hispanic Health Coalition.


  • Check out the latest media clips, featuring Virginia Snodgrass Rangel (ELPS), Ruth M. López (ELPS), Duncan Klussmann (ELPS), Cathy Horn (ELPS) and Ezemenari Obasi (OOR/PHLS).


Ruth Lopez

Ruth María López (ELPS) recalls her schools suffering from crowded classrooms and outdated facilities while others appeared flush with resources. Today, she promotes equity in education as a professor of school leadership. A UH Teaching Excellence Award recipient for 2020-21, López discusses instruction in the College’s new Q&A series, “Let’s Talk Teaching.”

Why did you become a professor?
I’ve always valued teaching. I have a memory of dressing up for career day as a teacher in elementary school. My mom is from El Salvador, and her godmother was a teacher, and her sisters, my two aunts, were teachers there.

What is your teaching philosophy?
I feel like everybody brings experiences and knowledge to the table. I’m not there to impose what I know on a group of people. My philosophy is evaluating knowledge and experiences and seeing how we can learn and grow, creating spaces where people can be critically reflective.

Read the full Q&A.



  • Ezemenari Obasi has been named associate vice president for research administration with the UH Division of Research, a part-time role held while maintaining his other duties.


  • Taking Texas Tobacco Free among substance users within community-based healthcare settings in rural and medically underserved areas across Texas. CPRIT. $1,998,572 (incl. 5.26% IDC). Lorraine Reitzel (PHLS), PI; Ezemenari Obasi, Virmarie Correa-Fernández, Ann Chen, Isabel Martinez Leal, co-investigators (PHLS).
  • Counteracting Stereotypes to Boost Girls’ Interest and Participation in Computer Science. NSF. $499,397 (incl. 55% IDC). Allison Master (PHLS), PI; Weihua Fan (PHLS), co-PI.
  • Community Teacher Equity Development. New Venture Fund. $50,346 (incl. 15% IDC). Conra Gist (CUIN), PI.
  • Investigating SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Hesitancy in Houston. NIH/Minority Health and Health Disparities. $711,773 (incl. 55% IDC). Ezemenari Obasi (PHLS), PI; Ann Chen, Isabel Martinez Leal, co-investigators (PHLS). (amount and names corrected from June 2021)
  • Helping Everyone Achieve a Life-Time of Health – Future Addiction Scientist Training. National Institute on Drug Abuse. $1,011,631 (incl. 8% IDC). Ezemenari Obasi, Lorraine Reitzel, multi-PIs (PHLS); Ann Chen (PHLS), co-investigator. (amount corrected from June 2021)

Awards (via Advancement)

  • Advancing Community Engagement and Service (ACES) Institute – multiple projects. $1 million (The Brown Foundation); $500,000 (Cullen Foundation); $250,000 (The Powell Foundation); $170,835 (Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation). Anne McClellan (Dean’s Office).
  • Dyslexia and Mental Health Identification Certification Training Program. The Powell Foundation. $150,000. Jacqueline Hawkins (ELPS); Amber Thompson (CUIN).


  • Exploring Toddlers’ Socially Coordinated Visual Experiences as a Potential Bio-Behavioral Marker for Autism. NIH. $426,250 (incl. 55% IDC). Sarah Mire (PHLS), co-investigator.
  • Promoting STEM Persistence through Culturally and Community Relevant Research Experiences. Spencer Foundation. $499,993 (incl. 15% IDC). Consuelo Arbona, Norma Olvera (PHLS), co-PIs.
  • Evaluation of High-Quality Instructional Materials and Implementation. Texas Education Agency. $566,104 (incl. 8% IDC). Toni Templeton (ELPS), PI; Cathy Horn (ELPS), co-PI.
  • English Transformation Center for Sustainable and Scalable Success. University of Louisiana-Lafayette/U.S. Dept of Education. $40,000 (incl. 8% IDC). Melissa Gallagher (CUIN), PI.
  • Examining racial inequalities and resilience of Latinx medical students within the medical education system at Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Texas. Spencer Foundation. $75,000. Elsa Gonzalez (ELPS), PI.
  • Potential Realized Project. HISD (US DOE - Student Service Department). $6,0180,950 (incl. 8% IDC). Anne McClellan (Dean’s Office), PI; Ruth López (ELPS), co-PI; Vincent Carales (ELPS), co-investigator.
  • Racial Disparity in College Students’ Mental Health due to COVID-19 Pandemic: Using Latent Class Analysis. Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC). $4,000. Jungeun Lee (PHLS), PI.
  • UH African American Child and Family Research Center. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families. $6,158,562 (incl. 55% IDC). Kmt Shockley (ELPS), PI.
  • CAREER: Racial Equity: Measuring Teachers’ Implicit Linguistic Biases in Their Interpretations of Native Spanish-Speaking Students’ Mathematical Thinking. NSF. $1,148,259 (incl. 55% IDC). Melissa Gallagher (CUIN), PI.
  • CAREER: Supporting Mathematics Teachers in Developing a Critical Statistical Literacy for Doing and Teaching Statistics. NSF. $1,165,821 (incl. 55% IDC). Travis Weiland (CUIN), PI.
  • Exploring Mental Health Effects of a Community-Based Social Skills Intervention on Youth with Autism. Organization for Autism Research (OAR) - Applied Research Competition. $40,000. Sarah Mire (PHLS), PI; Jorge Gonzalez, Hanjoe Kim, co-investigators (PHLS).
  • Understanding the Influence of Medium (paper vs. digital reading) on Reading Comprehension of Bilingual Children. NSF. $486,623. Miao Li (CUIN), PI.
  • Microaggressions Experienced by LGBTQ+ Clients in Counseling Relationships: A Phenomenological Investigation. Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Research Award. $300. Jungeun Lee (PHLS), PI.
  • #StopAsianHate: AAPI counselors’ anxiety, stress, self-efficacy and resilience. American Counseling Association Foundation. $500. Jungeun Lee (PHLS), PI.
  • Science Comprehension through Hands-On Learning for Autistic Students through Augmented Realities. NSF. $1,500,000 (incl. 55% IDC). Sissy Wong (CUIN), PI; Sarah Mire (PHLS), Kristi Santi (ELPS), co-PIs.
  • Assessing the Simple View of Writing on school-aged students with ADHD. Woodcock Foundation. $49,949. Michael Matta (PHLS), PI.
  • Cross-Cultural Adaptation of Automated Approaches to Scoring Writing. Spencer Foundation. $49,949. Michael Matta (PHLS), PI.
  • Scaffolded Pathways to Success in Computer Science (SPSCS) through Freshmen and Transfer Student Collaborative Learning Communities. NSF. $299,949 (55% IDC). Allison Master (PHLS), co-investigator.
  • UH iPHIT Program: Developing diverse health informatics workforce for improved and equitable healthcare. Office of the National Coordinator. $9,999,798 (incl. 33% IDC). Ezemenari Obasi (PHLS), multi-PI; Virmarie Correa-Fernández, Chakema Carmack, Kayce Solari Williams, Ann Chen, co-investigators (PHLS).
  • Transforming STEM Professionals into Culturally Responsive STEM Teachers. NSF. $1,199,921 (incl. 55% IDC). Elsa Gonzalez (ELPS), co-PI.
  • The Role of Middle Schools in Texas High School Endorsement Trajectory. Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education. $1,333,056 (incl. 55% IDC). Toni Templeton (ELPS); Cathy Horn (ELPS), Mimi Lee (CUIN), co-PIs.
  • Understanding the influence of COVID-19 on Postsecondary Admission, Enrollment and Retention Patterns in Texas. Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education. $1,439,519 (incl. 55% IDC). Toni Templeton (ELPS), PI; Cathy Horn (ELPS), Mimi Lee (CUIN), co-PIs.
  • University of Houston-Advancing Language Literacy with Relevant Investigations in Science Education – UH-All Rise). NSF. $2,202,997 (incl. 55% IDC). Sissy Wong (CUIN), PI; Jie Zhang, Alberto Rodriguez, co-PIs (CUIN); Laveria Hutchison (CUIN), co-investigator.


Melissa Gallagher

Melissa A. Gallagher (CUIN) discusses her recent article, co-written with Travis Weiland (CUIN), on math word problems, published in Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12.

What is the purpose of the article?
The purpose is to really help teachers see how they can leverage literacy strategies that students are already using and help them see math in the same way they comprehend stories. We do this by focusing on four key literacy strategies: visualizing, retelling, making connections and asking questions.

What are the broader social implications of this article?
We know that understanding fractions predicts how students succeed in algebra. If you take algebra in eighth grade, you’re predicted to earn much more money each year once you graduate. So, if we’re disadvantaging students from getting on that track because we have a test that’s based on word problems, and we haven’t given them access to those, then we’re holding people back from the very beginning.

Read the full Q&A.

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