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Meet Our New College of Education Faculty

by Office of Communications / Aug 17, 2022

Seven New Faculty in the College of Education at Illinois

Please join us in welcoming these seven new Education faculty members who bring fresh perspective and expertise to our top-ranked programs. This group of scholars adds capacity for research and instruction within the College in areas ranging from organizational education and disability inclusion, student motivation, engagement, and development—especially as it relates to STEM curriculum—and the intersection of students' purpose and mental health.

New Faculty for AY 2022-23

Curriculum & Instruction

Mari AltshulerMari Altshuler
Teaching Assistant Professor

Mari Altshuler aims to support young children (and their teachers) in believing that they are capable math learners and thinkers. She studies how early elementary school students form relationships with mathematics, and her research highlights the importance of making space in math classrooms for students to exercise agency. Altshuler recently completed her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, where she worked with in-service and pre-service elementary school teachers to notice and explore students' complex mathematical ideas. Previously, she taught Kindergarten through third grade in Chicago and Houston Public Schools.

Education Policy, Organization & Leadership

Lorenzo BaberLorenzo Baber

Lorenzo Baber returns to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign after serving as a tenured faculty member at Loyola University Chicago (2019-2022) and Iowa State University (2015-2019). He will serve as the new director of the College’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership. In 2021, Baber was elected to a term as President of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges, the largest scholarly association dedicated to research on community colleges, headquartered at OCCRL. Baber's scholarly interests broadly examine equity and social justice in postsecondary education. His research foci include leadership within community college contexts, experiences of minoritized students in postsecondary STEM education, and use of critical social theory to inform higher education policies and practices. Prior to his faculty career, Baber served as a university administrator in various unit areas including undergraduate admissions, multicultural affairs, and residence life. He holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies from Pennsylvania State University.

Chang-kyu KwonChang-kyu Kwon
Assistant Professor

Chang-kyu Kwon received his Ph.D. in Learning, Leadership & Organization Development from the University of Georgia in 2019 and his M.A. in Organizational Behavior & Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University in 2015. Prior to joining Illinois, Kwon was an assistant professor of human resource development in the Department of Organizational Leadership at Oakland University. He is a certified diversity professional with subject matter expertise in disability inclusion. Kwon’s research is informed by adult learning and development theories and seeks to create whole person organizational systems in which people with minoritized identities can be fully themselves in their work and career. His research continues to show the potential of this new form of authentic inclusion for challenging many “-isms” permeating organizations and has been recently recognized by the Academy of Human Resource Development’s 2022 Richard A. Swanson Research Excellence Award.

Educational Psychology

Jessica GladstoneJessica Gladstone
Assistant Professor (beginning January 2023)

As a first-generation college student, Jess Gladstone received her B.S. and M.S. in Applied Psychology from the University of West Florida. She then went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, specializing in both Developmental Sciences and Educational Psychology. Most recently, Gladstone has worked as a postdoc at New York University and Virginia Commonwealth University, exploring student motivation from different theoretical and methodological perspectives while developing her own research skills and interests as an early career researcher. Her current research programmatically examines students' STEM motivation and engagement, the impact of socializers on this, and the ways that motivation and engagement can predict achievement.

Aixa MarchandAixa Marchand
Assistant Professor

Aixa Marchand joins the Department of Educational Psychology after completing her Ph.D. in Psychology and Education with certificates in African American and Diasporic Studies and Graduate Teaching from the University of Michigan. Prior to graduate school, Marchand taught middle school science and served as an instructional coach in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the same district where she attended high school. Her bachelor’s degree is in psychology, with minors in Africana studies and anthropology, and her Ed.M. concentrated on Education and Social Change—both from the University of Miami. Marchand’s main line of research applies an interdisciplinary lens to the societal, contextual, and cultural factors that shape the academic achievement of students of color, with a focus on working with Black parents. More specifically, her research focuses on the attributions that Black parents make about educational inequities and how these attributions may relate to their school engagement.

Kaylin RatnerKaylin Ratner
Assistant Professor

Kaylin Ratner received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University with concentrations in Social and Personality Development, Developmental Psychopathology, and Applied Statistics. Prior to attending Cornell, she earned M.A. (Clinical Psychology) and B.S. (Psychology, honors) degrees from the University of Central Florida. Ratner studies how adolescents and young adults reconcile their senses of identity, purpose, and meaning in life, and how these psychosocial processes interface with mental health. Specifically, Ratner’s research can be described as mapping (1) how achievements and disruptions in identity, purpose, and meaning inform well-being; (2) how experiences with psychopathology affect one’s senses of who they are and where they are going in life; and (3) how educational contexts and experiences (e.g., the transition to and through college, out-of-school time programs like GripTape and 4-H) shape psychosocial development.

Special Education

Michele SchutzMichele Schutz
Assistant Professor

Michele Schutz earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in 2022. A native Illinoisan, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Illinois State University and her master’s degree in Multiple Disabilities and Secondary Transition from the University of Illinois Chicago. She previously taught high school students with disabilities and worked as a transition specialist connecting students to postsecondary opportunities. Schutz’s research interests center on the transition of youth with significant disabilities from high school to adult outcomes, especially meaningful employment. She is particularly interested in (a) the roles that various school staff play in facilitating career development for students with disabilities; (b) their collaborations within and beyond their school systems; and (c) building staff capacity to capitalize on the resources and networks of their local communities to connect students with significant support needs to work experiences, particularly in rural communities.

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