Dean\'s Update - 12/8/2020
12/08/2020, 03:45:01 PM
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Dec. 8, 2020


The finish line is in sight. You’ve overcome the 18-mile wall of our virtual marathon this semester. The holiday break, the Zoom break, the “you’re on mute” break, is almost here.

I encourage you to reflect on the strength you’ve built in 2020, the skills you’ve learned, the students and colleagues you’ve helped, the bad days you’ve survived and the tenacity you’ve displayed. The lessons learned, the muscle memory gained and the hope for effective vaccines will help carry us through a new year.

As we plan for spring semester, I’m pleased to announce that Sesa Edgar will remain in her role as associate dean of undergraduate studies, working with her team of advisors to continue supporting student success. In addition, Clinical Professor Jahnette Wilson of CUIN will assume the role of director of accreditation for the College. Jahnette, a former K-12 teacher, math specialist and Spring ISD assistant principal, joined the faculty in 2009 and has been instrumental in our teacher education program.

I hope you have a safe and joyful holiday break!

Onward without Zoom,


Elsa Gonzalez Succeeding in STEM
Assistant Professor Elsa Gonzalez (ELPS) has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study Latina STEM majors and the factors that contribute to their success. Of all STEM graduates in the country, about 3% are Latinas. “If we can identify what strategies those students put in place, we can … integrate them into policies at higher education institutions around the country.”
Nathan Grant Smith Promoting PRIDE
PHLS Chair Nathan Smith has expanded his Project PRIDE research project, helping young gay, bisexual and queer men better manage stress from discrimination. “We can’t change homophobia, but we can engage in adaptive coping strategies that change the way we feel about it,” Smith said. Overall, men in the pilot study reported increased self-esteem and decreased depression, loneliness and substance use.
Justin Burris Timely Teaching
When his student teachers were thrust into teaching online, Clinical Assistant Professor Justin Burris (CUIN) quickly adapted his course to give them guidance and practice in a safe space. “I knew that principals were going to need the new teaching workforce to be capable of teaching in a virtual environment,” said Burris, whose efforts were recently spotlighted.


  • Winter Break — Thursday, Dec. 24 – Friday, Jan. 1
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday — Monday, Jan. 18
  • First day of spring classes — Tuesday, Jan. 19



  • Reminder: Staff must complete the revised 2020 Performance Evaluation one-pager by Wednesday, Dec. 16. Managers must complete their portion by Friday, Jan. 29. Senior managers must sign by Friday, Feb. 19. Managers must upload the document and assign the applicable rating in PASS by Monday, March 8.


  • The following advisor changes are in place through mid-February:
    • Greta Ralston — HDFS majors
    • Ana Morales — Minors in HDFS, special populations or Asian American studies
    • Anitra Wright — Teaching majors or education minors, last names A-Ce and P-Z
    • Kaitlyn Dempsey — Teaching majors or education minors, last names Cf-O


Editor’s note: External grant awards are listed under Office of Research. For publications, additional authors are not included. Please email Ericka Mellon with any questions.

Curriculum & Instruction


  • Sissy Wong, Jie Zhang, Heather Domjan. “Oh Deer! Using Socioscientific Issues to teach inquiry-based lessons with English Language Leaners,” Science Scope.
  • Carrie Cutler. “Preservice Teachers’ Mathematical Mindsets During Pandemic-Induced Pivot to Online Learning,” Frontiers in Education (special issue editor: Jane Cooper). 

Book Chapters

  • Jeannette Alarcón, Jen Chauvot, Susie Gronseth, Carrie Cutler. “Applying Critical Pedagogy and UDL to Synchronous Online Instruction to Equip Preservice Teachers for Number Talks,” Online Learning in Mathematics Teacher Education.
  • Jane Cooper. “Discovering stories data might be telling: Collaborative research as leadership, and lessons learned in promoting a culture of evidence” and “Sustaining critical practice in contested spaces: Teacher educators resist narrowing definitions of curriculum,” Cross-Disciplinary, Cross-Institutional Collaboration in Teacher Education.

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies


  • Elsa Gonzalez, “An Asset-Based Approach to Advancing Latina Students in STEM” (Routledge).
    • And kudos on the $1.3 million NSF grant (mentioned above)!

Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences


  • Lorraine Reitzel, Ann Chen. “Understanding the Associations Between Smoking-Related Risk Perception, Interest in Quitting Smoking, and Interest in Lung Cancer Screening Among Homeless Adult Smokers,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. “Mental Illness and Youth-Onset Homelessness: A Retrospective Study Among Adults Experiencing Homelessness,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
  • Consuelo Arbona, Norma Olvera, Marcel de Dios. “Intolerance of uncertainty and DSM-5 PTSD symptom severity among trauma exposed Latina college women,” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.
  • Norma Olvera. “Mealtime resistance: Hispanic mothers’ perspectives on making healthy eating change within the family,” Appetite. “The evolving family mealtime: Findings from a focus group study of Hispanic mothers,” JIR Pediatrics and Parenting.

Book Chapter

  • Sarah Mire. “Differential diagnosis between autism spectrum disorder and obsessive compulsive and Tourette’s disorders,” Differential Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.


  • Allison Master. “Rewriting the story: Counteracting stereotypes to boost girls’ interest in STEM,” invited presentation given remotely at the Uppsala Child & Baby Lab, Uppsala University, Sweden. 


  • Check out the latest media clips featuring Elsa Gonzalez (ELPS), Rachael Whitaker (PHLS), Duncan Klussmann (ELPS), Amber Thompson (CUIN) and Kelli Drenner (PHLS).


Shelley Townsend

As a mother of a daughter with special needs, Shelley Townsend brings a personal touch to her role as director of the grant-funded program Families CAN.

What services do you provide for families?
Our grant allows us to provide family support services, which promote community inclusion for families of children with disabilities. Families can miss out on recreational activities because of other financial obligations. They call us, and we address their concerns and provide support for them.

How has your work been impacted by COVID-19?
We learned how to do Zoom workshops. Originally, parents needed child care so they could attend our in-person meetings, but now they are online. Resources are more accessible through Zoom. I think these virtual meetings will continue so we can reach more families.

What do you miss most about working on campus?
I miss seeing the staff and student life, but it’s nice being home with my daughter. I spent so many years leaving her to go to work, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy this time with her.

Read the full Q&A.



  • School Safety and Security Grant. TEA. $25,000. Patricia Paquin, PI (Charter School).
  • CARES ACT ESSERF GRANT. TEA. $24,537. Patricia Paquin, PI (Charter School).
  • 2020-2021 Coronavirus relief fund (CRF) operation connectivity bulk-purchase local match reimbursement program. Harris County. $965. Patricia Paquin, PI (Charter School).


  • Action in Community: Translating Research Evidence into Health Equity. NIMHD. $2,806,826 (55% IDC). Norma Olvera, PI (PHLS).
  • Examination of Model Fit when there are multilevel missing data on ordinal measures in education research. National Academy of Education (NAED). $70,000. Yu Liu, PI (PHLS).
  • English Transformation Center for Sustainable and Scalable Success. University of Louisiana-Lafayette/U.S. Dept of Education. $35,000 (8% IDC). Melissa Gallagher, other (CUIN).
  • Building capacity for equity focused student-centered coaching in teacher education: Exploring the usefulness of Mursion simulation experiences. US PREP. $99,191 (10% IDC). Jeannette Alarcón, PI (CUIN), Amber Thompson, co-PI (CUIN), Shea Culpepper, co-PI (CUIN), Jahnette Wilson, co-PI (CUIN).
  • Enabling Autonomous Systems for Man-Machine Interface, Knowledge Networks, Deception and Automatic Assessment at UH. U.S. Department of Defense. $599,946 (55% IDC). Susie Gronseth, co-PI (CUIN).
  • The Racial Reimagining of Preservice STEM Undergraduate Education: Building a Design Collaborative for Community Teacher Equity Development. NSF. $1,300,000 (55% IDC). Conra Gist, PI (CUIN), Jennifer Chauvot, co-PI (CUIN).

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