Affiliated Students


Hannah Cooke is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Science Education at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include critical, antiracist science teaching that works to dismantle systems of oppression. Currently, she is a research assistant on the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Discovery Research K-12 (DRK12) project COVID Connects Us: Nurturing Novice Teachers’ Justice Science Teaching Identities, which uses design-based research to develop justice-centered ambitious science teaching practices with in-service science teachers. In addition, she is working in the Education Leadership department exploring the implementation of the ethnic studies mandate in Connecticut high schools. Her former role as a high school science teacher and facilitator of the school’s Green Team led her to grapple with the role science educators play in advancing environmental justice. She holds a MA in Curriculum and Instruction and a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Connecticut.


Kiah DeVona is a doctoral candidate in the Neag School of Education's Leadership and Education Policy PhD program. Kiah's research aims to inform policy and influence systemic change in outdoor experiential education and camp programming. Her current work focuses on the impact of gender stereotypes on women's experiences as camp leaders. She is also an active researcher on the Connecticut State Department of Education's Summer Enrichment Program, which empowers camps to promote social-emotional wellbeing, social justice and equity, and strong school-camp partnerships throughout the summer. Prior to her doctoral work, Kiah earned her BA in education and her MA in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut. She has worked as an elementary and middle school special education teacher in the Connecticut public school system, and has over a decade of experience as a camp leader in summer and school-year outdoor education programming. Kiah can be reached at 


Julia Oas is a doctoral student in the Research Methods, Measurement and Evaluation program at the University of Connecticut. She works to bridge gaps between research, school practice, and education policy, emphasizing the reformative change required to achieve equitable and empowering school experiences for all children. Julia’s research interests include research methods attuned to the needs of under-resourced school settings and causal inference within the field of education. In particular, she is motivated to study education policies and practices that improve the capacity of teachers to employ anti-racist, inclusive, and emotionally supportive pedagogies. Prior to her time at UConn, Julia taught for over five years in K-8 public schools as a classroom teacher and a math interventionist. She holds a B.A. in elementary education and sociology from the College of William and Mary, and an M.S.Ed. in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania.   


Kenya Overton is a current doctoral candidate in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Having earned her BA and MS in Mathematics from Westfield State College and the University of Mississippi respectively, and 6th Year in Ed Leadership from UConn, Kenya is passionate about ensuring that Black students have access to a high-quality mathematics education. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. in Secondary Mathematics Education, Kenya devoted nearly 20 years in public education as an administrator, teacher, and mentor in schools across the country, including states like; Connecticut, Tennessee, New York, and Massachusetts. She has also taught mathematics at the Community College and University levels. Her research interests include secondary schools' policies and practices that promote success in mathematics for Black learners, developing equity-minded mathematics educators, and empowering Black learners of mathematics through Hip-Hop pedagogy.


Kelly Schlabach (she/they) is a current PhD student in the Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy program at the University of Connecticut and works as a Graduate Assistant in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Kelly received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Ohio University in 2016 then went on to receive her Master of Arts in Higher Education at the University of Denver in 2018. During their time at the University of Denver they wrote a capstone entitled “Recommendations for Colorado Policy Makers Considering Education for Students who are Incarcerated.” Kelly’s research interests include deconstructing whiteness in educational systems through examining policies and structures that maintain whiteness, and more specifically, how educators and policies act as policing agents of whiteness.


Taylor Strickland is a doctoral student and graduate assistant in the Neag School of Education’s Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Program. She holds a bachelor of science in Public Policy from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She previously taught 10th grade geometry in Atlanta, Georgia. Taylor uses sociological and organizational theories to frame her research. Her research interests include: teaching as a profession, impacts of policy on the work of teachers, understandings of teacher duty time, and the impacts of the intersection of these topics on teacher attrition and issues of equity in under-resourced schools. She can be reached at


Amanda Sutter is a doctoral student in Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation (RMME), specializing in evaluation. Amanda has worked as a professional evaluator for 15 years and her interests are focused on methodologies that center equity. She is especially focused on research on evaluation to explore how these methods can be applied within evaluation practice to help improve implementation of educational, health, and human services programs and ultimately create more equitable outcomes for everyone.


Elizabeth Zagata is a doctoral candidate in Neag's special education program and a fellow with the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention. She is interested in the intersection of research, policy, and practice, especially as it relates to improving outcomes for students with diverse learning needs. She has worked on state and federal policy issues as an intern for the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), WestEd, and the Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE). Elizabeth completed her undergraduate degree in elementary and special education at SUNY Geneseo and her master’s degree in curriculum and teaching with a focus on giftedness at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Over her 15 year teaching career in both general and special education, Elizabeth taught in both large and small districts in urban, suburban, and rural settings, covering every grade from preschool to high school. She serves as adjunct faculty for courses on assessment and special education law, policy, and ethics at both UConn and Sacred Heart University.