2021-2022 Academic Year

 Sixth-Year Students

Laura Willoughby


My current research interests revolve around the use of real world contexts when learning math.  I have lived in 5 different states in the last 10 years and each state has unique experiences and lifestyles for the students.  The students’ experiences will inevitably shape their perspectives on the contexts they are exposed to.  Because of this,  I am interested in exploring the extent to which current context-based curricula motivate students to learn the intended mathematics with an ultimate goal of improving the learning experience for all students.


Fifth-Year Students

Julien Corven

After ten years of teaching middle and high school mathematics in the Baltimore City Public School System, I decided to pursue my Ph.D at the University of Delaware in order to become a mathematics teacher educator. My second-year qualifying study examined developmental trajectories of prospective elementary teachers’ (PTs’) specialized content knowledge for teaching division during a mathematics content course. I hope to extend this work for my dissertation by investigating how PTs develop diagnostic competences for analyzing and evaluating student solutions to division story problems. Using mixed methods, I plan to develop a framework for stages of evaluative tendencies that PTs may progress through and clarify the extent to which these competences depend on PTs’ content knowledge and knowledge of student thinking about division.

Kwaku Edusei

As a former math teacher in the NYC Department of Education, I noticed that students often struggled with being motivated to learn math. Being a lifelong gamer, I decided to try including video games as part of my math instruction. This “experiment” led to what I noticed was a large increase in engagement from students. I therefore decided to learn more about game-based learning, and in particular, how these games are designed, so that they afford students a chance to learn something conceptual, or at least require them to critically think, all while enjoying themselves. I have written extensively about video games and educational game design at www.gamerslearn.com. Take a look!

Matthew Melville

I decided to enroll in the PhD program at the University of Delaware to become a teacher educator and research methods for teachers to use to help them improve their craft of teaching.  I am currently studying about teachers’ planning practices while using an international comparative method of research for improvement.  I am interested in Japanese teachers’ teaching practices.  After living in Japan, and conducting my Master’s Thesis about Japanese teachers’ planning practices (Kyozaikenkyu), I am looking at what tools or methods are successful and how to adapt them for U.S. teachers to benefit from using them.


Fourth-Year Students

Amanda Mohammad Mirzaei

After earning my M.S. in Mathematics here at UD, I chose to get my Ph.D. in math education because of my curiosity about the teaching and learning of mathematics, especially at the postsecondary level. For that reason, my research interests lie in the instruction alignment and differences across the secondary-tertiary transition, specifically through the teaching and learning of introductory calculus. I have been lucky enough to work on several projects during my time in this program, including research on computational thinking in higher education, engagement in high school mathematics classrooms, and the history and implications of RTI (response to intervention) programs in high school mathematics programs.

Third-Year Students

Casey Griffin

After graduating from UD with a B.A. in Secondary Mathematics Education, I taught high school math in New Jersey for two years, and earned my M.A. in Mathematics from Villanova University with a graduate assistantship. I began the PhD in Education program, specializing in mathematics education, with plans of teaching math and postsecondary math instructor education at the college level. I am interested in implementing teaching practices that enable active learning into college math courses as a way to retain more STEM majors (especially women), and supporting instructors and graduate student TAs with college-level teaching interests.



Ethan Smith

After working for nine years as a teacher and mathematics specialist in rural Mississippi, I am excited to pursue a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. My past experiences have given me opportunities to see how different groups of students are (or are not) positioned as mathematically competent, and how that impacts these students’ orientation towards school mathematics. My research interests focus on this intersection between a teacher’s beliefs and instructional decisions and students’ mathematical self-efficacy. I am especially attentive to the role that literacy and discourse practices play in developing student self-efficacy towards school mathematics.

Kateri Sternberg

After graduating from the Univeristy of Scranton with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, I decided to pursue my interest in teaching in McAllen, TX where I taught middle school math while earning my M.Ed. from the Univeristy of Notre Dame. I am excited to begin a new adventure as I pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education here at UD. My interests range from blended learning, to fractional reasoning, to math-confidence. I hope to focus my research on middle school grades, but am open to where within that age range my interests may take me.

Second-Year Students

Crystal Collier

I graduated from Florida A&M University in 2001 with a B.S. in Actuarial Science and, after some time in the insurance industry, I decided to pursue Education as a career. In 2011, I was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and earned an M.A.T. from the University of Indianapolis in 2013. After graduation, I taught Algebra and Precalculus at an early college high school. During that time I wrote and implemented several open ended project and problem based lessons which emphasized real-world situations. My current research interests include the impact of student-teacher relationships on mathematical achievement. Specifically, how teachers use caring practices to support mathatical learning and encourage positive student attitudes towards math. I am also interested in the impact of context-based  relevance on student achievement. My goal is to help teachers who already engage in mathematical care with their students better understand the impact of those practices and to expand the ways math teachers talk about and use care in their classrooms.

Allison Gantt


After teaching mathematics in secondary contexts for seven years, primarily in Wilmington, Delaware, I developed a strong interest in transformative experiences that can occur in the mathematics classroom. I joined the Ph.D. program at the University of Delaware to pursue my interests in the study of the school mathematics experience. My research interests focus on how teaching and learning connect, and I am currently exploring how students experience opportunities to learn mathematics.


Yue Ma

Working as a secondary school math teacher encouraged me to purse my M.A. in Educational Studies from University of Michigan. Then I started the PhD program in mathematics education because I am especially interested in how teachers and materials can better support student learning. My current research focuses on how teachers direct students’ noticing by observing the teacher’s words, gestures, and the interaction with the materials. I am still open to any other related topics on mathematics education.

First-Year Students

Srujana Acharya

As I was completing my MSc in Mathematics from India in 2020, I started teaching high school students due to my interest. For the past year, I taught at various levels (elementary school to undergraduate courses), trained students for various competitions (including the International Mathematics Olympiad), and worked with high school teachers to adapt themselves for virtual teaching (introducing them to GeoGebra, Desmos, etc.). As I worked more, I saw the necessity of understanding more about mathematics education and the opportunities that could open up to work on a broader scale, which led me to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics education at UD. My current research interests include examining how various variables affect students’ mathematical understanding, understanding different learning methods, and investigating the role of the curriculum.

Sümeyye Kurutaş

After graduating from Bogazici University with a bachelor’s degree of Mathematics Education, I worked as assistant teacher in Italy for six months. Then I got my M.S. in Secondary School Science and Mathematics Education. During my master’s study, I got the chance to study in Finland for a semester and take a variety of courses including qualitative research methods, educational leadership, and international education policy and practices. My master’s thesis was about exploration of effective professional development characteristics from the perspective of PDcoordinator, facilitator, and participants. After finishing my master’s study, I worked as math teacher in an international school for a year. Since I was so excited for doing research, I wanted to pursue my Ph.D. study here in UD. I am interested in learning more about how we can reinforce teacher learning, how their learning turns into practice, and learning environment design.

Amber Webster

I graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Elementary Education and concentration in middle school mathematics, then attended Penn State Harrisburg earning my M.A. in Teaching and Curriculum with a specialization in mathematics. Following graduation, I had the opportunity to teach 7th grade math at a local middle school which provided me with a lot of insight on mathematics education and the students that attended the middle school. My previous experiences as a student and as a teacher led me to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics education at UD. My experiences also helped shape my current research interests, which include the beliefs of teachers and students in relation to mathematics and the teaching and learning of mathematics to elementary students.

Former Students

Dr. Kelly Curtis – Instructional Specialist, Mathematics, Professional Development Center for Educators, University of Delaware

Dr. Kristin McKenney – Teacher, Dickinson High School

Dr. Jenifer Hummer – Assistant Professor, West Chester University

Dr. Tony Mixell – Adjunct Professor, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Joe DiNapoli – Assistant Professor, Montclair State University

Dr. Siobahn Suppa – Assistant Professor, Stockton University

Dr. Emily Miller – Associate Professor, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Ali Marzocchi –  Associate Professor, California State University in Fullerton

Dr. Erin Meikle –  Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Heather Gallivan – Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Dr. Susana Molitoris-Miller – Associate Professor, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Taffy McAneny – Assistant Professor, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Jathan Austin – Associate Professor, Salisbury University

Dr. Rob Wieman – Associate Professor, Rowan University

Dr. Nancy Dyson – Research Associate, University of Delaware

Dr. Eric Sisofo – Assistant Professor, University of Delaware

Dr. Corey Webel – Associate Professor, University of Missouri

Dr. Brian Bowen – Associate Professor, West Chester State University

Dr. Christine Phelps-Gregory – Professor, Central Michigan University

Dr. Delayne Johnson – Associate Professor, Delaware State University

Dr. Sandy Spitzer – Professor & Director of M.S. in Math Education, Towson University

Dr. Lauren Goggins – Teacher, William Penn High School

Dr. James Beyers – Professor, The College of New Jersey

Dr. Rodney McNair – Professor, Delaware State University (retired)

Dr. Stephen Hwang – Research Associate, University of Delaware

Dr. Nicola Edwards – Associate Professor, Delaware State University

Dr. Yuichi Handa – Professor, University of California, Chico (retired)

Dr. Julie Cwikla – Professor, University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Margaret Smith – Professor, Iona College

Dr. Theresa Grant – Professor, Western Michigan University

Dr. David Slavit – Professor, Washington State University




Header Photograph: “Longwood Gardens” by Dr. Amanda Jansen