FACULTY, POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLARS AND GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCHERS
EMILY SOLARI, Director, Reading and Academic Development Center; Associate Professor, School of Education
Emily Solari, PhD, is an associate professor in the School of Education. Her research focuses on language and literacy development in both Spanish-speaking English learners and students considered at-risk for reading failure. Solari came to UC Davis from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston where she was one of just a few researchers throughout the nation exploring the details of how children’s reading difficulties can interfere with comprehending both oral and written language. Her current research project stems from a $3.5 million dollar grant from the Institute of Education Sciences testing the efficacy of Reading RULES—a program developed for first-grade students who are at risk for reading difficulties in word reading and comprehension—in the classroom. Recently, she also received $25,000 dollars in seed funding through the UC Davis Committee on Research to test the applicability of Building Vocabulary and Early Reading Strategies (EAGER BVERS) for use with elementary school-age children with autism spectrum disorders at-risk for comprehension difficulties.
PETER MUNDY, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Personnel and Research, School of Education
Peter C. Mundy, PhD, is Professor and Lisa Capps Endowed Chair of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Education in the School of Education and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is also Director of Educational Research at the UC Davis MIND Institute. A developmental and clinical psychologist, Mundy has been working on defining the nature of autism and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years, and he is an expert in the education and development of children with autism. An author of the Early Social Communication Scales, which was selected by Autism Speaks as a recommended measure for clinical trials, he is associate editor of Autism Research and serves as an editorial board member or consulting editor for numerous other journals.
NICOLE SPARAPANI, Assistant Professor, School of Education
Nicole Sparapani, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Education, and she also holds a faculty appointment at the UC Davis MIND Institute. Her research interests center around the development and evaluation of effective educational practices for students with autism. Sparapani practiced as a certified speech-language pathologist on an interdisciplinary team serving preschool children with autism for several years before pursuing her PhD in Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University and postdoctoral training at Arizona State University. Her approach to research emphasizes the important influence of the dynamic classroom learning environment. She has developed and been involved in the development of several classroom observation tools that measure teacher, child and environmental characteristics that relate to learning and development in students with autism or other diverse learning needs.
NANCY CALHOUN MCINTYRE, Postdoctoral Scholar & Clinical Director
Nancy McIntyre, PhD, is a credentialed teacher turned researcher who has worked with children of diverse backgrounds and educational needs in preschool through high school settings. Her research focuses on children with developmental differences and how they learn and grow in academic settings. She earned a PhD from the University of California, Davis in Education, with an emphasis in Learning and Mind Sciences. Her research interests include attention development, reading and language comprehension development, educational assessment and intervention for children with autism, and the early detection of (and intervention for) reading disabilities in all children.
RYAN GRIMM, Postdoctoral Scholar
Ryan Grimm, PhD, is a former special education teacher who worked with students experiencing learning and behavioral challenges. He earned a PhD in Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2015 and completed a master’s degree in Research Methodology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. His primary research interest focuses on the acquisition of reading comprehension in at-risk readers and English language learners (ELL) in early elementary school, assessment of students with reading difficulties, and researching quantitative methodology, particularly structural equation models and mixture models.
MATTHEW ZAJIC,PhD Candidate– Education (Learning and Mind Sciences)
Matthew Zajic is a doctoral candidate in Education with an emphasis in Learning and Mind Sciences and a designated emphasis from the University Writing Program in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. His research focuses on the writing development of, the assessment of, and interventions for school-age children with neurodevelopmental and learning difficulties—specializing in children with autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow, he is also interested in general assessment and measurement principles for special populations. His work helps inform educators how to help children with autism or ADHD improve their writing skills by considering how evidence-based practices in writing instruction can help address specific writing difficulties observed in children with autism or ADHD. He earned a BA in Sociology with minors in Education and Professional Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012.
ALYSSA HENRY,PhD Student – Education (Learning and Mind Sciences)
Alyssa Henry is a doctoral student who earned a BS degree in Psychology from Fordham University in 2015. Her research interests include reading development, social cognitive processing, and autism. She is a fellow of the Northern California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, which seeks to train practitioners and family members on best practices for autism and related developmental difficulties.
JANAY BROWN-WOOD, PhD Student – Education (Learning and Mind Sciences)
Janay Brown-Wood is a doctoral student in Education with an emphasis in Learning and Mind Sciences. Her research interests include investigating the best practices and methods to support the academic skills of at-risk children, especially through building literacy and reading proficiency. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007 and a master’s degree in Child Development from California State University, Sacramento in 2011. She is a children’s book author and published her first book Imani’s Moon in 2014. She is currently working on a second book, Grandma’s Tiny House, due out in 2017.
DEANNE CASTANEDA, Project Coordinator
Deanne Castaneda is a project coordinator and intervention coach for the Reading RULES project at the UC Davis Reading and Academic Development Center. She has 28 years of experience in the field of education and has served as a classroom teacher, Language Arts Resource Teacher, English Learner Resource Teacher, and Student Support Teacher for the North Sacramento and Twin Rivers unified school districts. She received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of California, Davis and her teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento.
ELISE SPANG, Project Coordinator
Elise Spang is a literacy coach and project coordinator for the Reading RULES project at the UC Davis Reading and Academic Development Center. She also serves as a regional literacy specialist and presenter for the Superkids Reading Program and Zaner-Bloser. Previously, she served as a reading specialist and an elementary school teacher in New York, Massachusetts and abroad. She has been trained in Reading RULES, Superkids, Wilson Reading, Wilson Fundations, and the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in Language and Literacy with a reading specialist credential from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
KATHERINE LACY, Research Analyst
Katherine Lacy earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development from UC Davis in 2016. She helps coordinate all of our undergraduate research assistants and reading tutors, administers assessments, and assists with writing for formal reports. Previously, she served as the lead research assistant for the RAD Center supervising other undergraduate research assistants involved with multiple projects.
AKEMI JOE, Administrative Assistant
Akemi Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UC Davis in 2014. She brings with her an extensive knowledge of the campus from her previous work at the School of Education Student Services, Office of the Chancellor and Provost, and Design and Construction Management. She manages the front office and communicates with interested families. She handles all of the initial inquiries and assists with community outreach to advertise the center’s clinical services.