Dr. Aria Razfar is Associate Professor of Language, Literacy & Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests are grounded in sociocultural theories of language, learning, and human development. In particular, he draws on linguistic anthropological perspectives such as language socialization and language ideologies for the purposes of understanding learning and development in urban schools. He teaches courses in the Bilingual/ESL program as well as doctoral courses in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Dr. Razfar's work is anchored in communities whose language practices have been historically marginalized in many formal and official spaces of society; thus, there is an explicit social justice character to his research. He currently serves as a principal investigator or co-PI on several nationally funded grants aimed at improving teaching and learning for English Language Learners in urban contexts. He is director and principal investigator of Transforming Literacy, Science, & Math through Action Research (Project LSciMAct) and English Learning through Math, Science, and Action Research (Project ELMSA), both funded by the U.S. Department of Education and principal investigator for the Center for Mathematics Education of Latinas/os (CEMELA), funded by the National Science Foundation.
Dr. P. Zitlali Morales is Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research focuses on how English Learners (ELs) learn best in dual language contexts. In particular, she examines how language ideologies affect the context of schooling for immigrants and ELs, and studies classroom interactions through the use of qualitative methods. She views language acquisition from a sociocultural perspective as participants learning to use language in the context of cultural practices. Her current research focuses on better preparing teachers to meet their students’ needs in both primary language and sheltered English contexts by leveraging the language and cultural knowledge that students bring to the classroom.
Adrian Allen is a doctoral student in Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has taught linguistics and action research classes at UIC and at Elmhurst College. After studying linguistics and education at the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, she taught Latin for five years and developed a social justice curriculum with her students on the west side of Chicago. Her research interests include literacy and language acquisition, language variation and multi-lingualism in the classroom, and urban teacher preparation and development.
Marcine Adams is a doctoral student in the Curriculum Studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a former tutor highly recognized in the area for her student’s success. Her previous research included using discourse to examine how mainstream editorials build teacher identity. She also developed a course, called Brianiacs, which studied the impact educational interactive game-play had on students' learning. Her research interests include developing well-constructed curriculums to help English Learners (ELs) in the classroom. In specific, how discourse can provide a better understanding on "what is" and "what should be" done for ELs. When away from the university she enjoys spending time with her spoiled pooch Marley who is just as curious and clumsy as the dog in the movie Marley and Me.
Alex Carstensen is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Before pursuing his doctorate, he was a researcher in a pharmacology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After leaving the lab, he spent three and half years teaching high school science in Chicago Public Schools. Alex’s research interests center on how students and teachers learn science through conceptual change models. Additionally, his experiences in the classroom have prompted an interest in working with urban students and ELs. He is also a basketball fanatic who enjoys both playing and following the sport.
Joanna V. Maravilla-Cano is a doctoral student in the curriculum studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a founder and chair of The Anhelo Project, a non-for-profit organization in Chicago, that aims to close the academic opportunity gap for underrepresented youth. She previously worked as a Program Assistant in the Latina and Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University. Joanna’s professional career in higher education began as an academic advisor for UIC’s Latin American Recruitment and Educational Service (LARES) Program. Her research interests are rooted in working with Latin@ students, in examining how curriculum and language ideologies impact academic success for English Language Learner’s (ELL) within public schools.
Jing Wang is currently in the doctoral program of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She received her master's degree in Educational Studies from UIC in 2014. She worked at an international high school for 3 years in China and taught English to Chinese English speakers before attending UIC. Her research interests focus on second language acquisition, bilingualism, transitional period in English learning, and how to assess and evaluate students' English proficiency.
Norma Noriega is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She plans on specializing in Mathematics and Bilingual Education and is interested in the urban school experience for English Language Learners. She currently serves as an undergraduate research specialist for the English Learning through Math, Science, and Action Research (ELMSA) program, and serves as the liaison for social media.
Beverly Troiano is an assistant professor at Elmhurst College. She has worked on Project LSciMAct since 2007 as the project coordinator. For over ten years, Beverly taught kindergarten through high school ESL/EFL and German in Germany and Chicago Public Schools. Her research interests include teacher education professional development grounded in sociocultural theories of language and learning. Her work uses discourse analysis as a tool for teachers to study their practice and develop curriculum. Beverly has taught courses in the bilingual/ESL program at UIC and continues her work at her new academic appointment.
Joe Rumenapp received his PhD in Literacy, Language, and Culture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has previously worked as a research assistant on several projects, including LSciMAct and ELMSA. He is currently an assistant professor of literacy education at Judson University, teaching courses in linguistics and research methods. He brings several years of in-school and out-of-school instructional experience to inform his research and teaching. His research focuses on the development of teachers of English learners through action research, disciplinary literacies, and the social identities of students. Apart from his responsibilities at the university, Joe spends time tutoring and mentoring youth in Chicago.
Ambareen Nasir obtained a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies at the University of Chicago at Illinois. As a former middle school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools district, she developed an interest to study Bilingual and/or ESL teacher education, professional development, action research, and a multidisciplinary focus of English Learners in the content areas of math, science, and literacy. She previously has been a graduate researcher in Project LSciMAct for five years and now coordinates the program. She has served as program co-chair in section Division B for the American Education Research Association.
Zayoni Torres received her PhD candidate in the Curriculum Studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a former research fellow for the NSF funded project the Center for Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA) and the current Project Coordinator for ELMSA. Her research interests are grounded in sociocultural and feminist perspectives in exploring the teaching of mathematics and science literacy for English Learners. In specific, she focuses on how teachers' language, gender, and racial ideological stances mediate curriculum and instructional practices.
Adriana Servin is a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago pursuing an M.Ed. degree in Instructional Leadership with Project ELMSA. She graduated from UIC in 2015 with her B.A. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Science, and is currently a fifth grade teacher at Calmeca Academy. She is a Golden Apple Scholar, and through this program she gained early experiences working in a variety of high-needs school settings within the city of Chicago. Her interests are learning about the implementation of effective teaching practices, especially towards English language learners. She has been a research assistant since 2011, starting with the Transforming Literacy, Science, and Mathematics through Action Research (LSciMAct) project and continuing to work with English Learning through Math, Science, and Action Research (ELMSA).
Syeda Raza is currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Although majoring in Neuroscience, Syeda’s interests and research focuses on issues in education such as exploring how social justice-based, culturally relevant, and linguistically competent pedagogies can be implemented to support students of color, especially in science education. Also, with experiences including an internship at the Latino Policy Forum and immigration advocacy work with the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Syeda has developed a passion for community engagement. In fact, in addition to serving as an undergraduate research assistant for Project ELMSA, Syeda is also an E3! (Educate, Engage, and Empower) Ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and a fellow for UIC’s Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement’s Urban Public Policy Fellowship Program.
Diala David is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She is endorsed in Mathematics and Middle School. She currently serves as an undergraduate research assistant for the English Learning through Math, Science, and Action Research (ELMSA) program.