About Us

Dr. Rebecca Callahan’s research interests and expertise are in the areas of educational research from a sociological perspective and educational linguistics. In particular, her work with the growing immigrant, language minority population addresses demographic issues of Educational Inequality and Opportunity. Callahan’s research to date has examined the academic and civic preparation of immigrant, language minority adolescents as they transition from high school into young adulthood, and currently she is exploring the academic and linguistic development of elementary age bilingual and English learner (EL) students. Her latest inquiry focuses on teachers’ EL and STEM efficacy as a determinant of bilingual EL students’ academic and linguistic proficiency. This work draws from prior psychological and cognitive research on bilinguals’ problem advantage to better optimize elementary bilingual students’ STEM achievement and integration through engineering design and problem solving.

Dr. Richard H. Crawford is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and is the Earl N. & Margaret Brasfield Endowed Faculty Fellow. Currently, his research interests have him working in four areas: (1) research in computer representations to support engineering design, analysis and manufacture; (2) research in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, including geometric processing, control, design tools, manufacturing applications; and (3) development of structured methods to support conceptual engineering design. He has also been involved in the development of a “Design Technology” curriculum for elementary schools. This program, called DTEACh, exposes K-12 students to fundamental engineering concepts, such as materials science, mechanisms, power transmission, and automation and control, through a series of lessons and projects. The curriculum emphasizes design-based learning of applied mathematics and science and represents a departure from traditional approaches to teaching these subjects. More recently, DTEACh was adapted into DTEEL, a curriculum for elementary schools that incorporates the same engineering concepts as DTEACH but with a focus in English language acquisition for bilingual English Learner (EL) students.

Having worked as a middle school mathematics teacher, elementary math specialist, and instructional coach, Jasmine Welch-Ptak has witnessed the social and emotional costs and student-teacher disconnection that many of our students, especially those belonging to disadvantaged populations, suffer throughout their K-12 (mathematics) experience. This, in part, encouraged her to become an advocate of mathematics education policies that take into account the mental and emotional well-being of both students and teachers. Her recommendations include greater consideration of the impact that these standards have on schools, teachers, and students, as well as, re-evaluations of current mathematical standards to better equip graduates from public high school programs with the mathematics they will need to access a wide variety of employment options, and participate as knowledgeable consumers in our economy. Jasmine believes that teachers should have a greater sense of agency in the creation and implementation of their mathematical curriculum as they see best fits the needs of their students. She works to equip mathematics teachers with a variety of instructional tools to help them accommodate to the students’ differing learning needs in an effort to eliminate achievement gaps, and ultimately, underrepresentation of disadvantaged student populations in advanced STEM courses and occupations.

Luis Fernandez, doctoral student in STEM Education, has a deep desire to make a lasting impact on the education community at all levels. Growing up bilingual in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Luis has a particular interest in working to identify instructional programs and practices that increase the quality of mathematics education for emergent bilingual (EB) students. Specifically, he is interested in creating materials and providing professional development opportunities for educators to help them use EB skills to promote English acquisition and content understanding simultaneously. He is also interested in causes of apparent gaps in college students’ mathematical abilities (i.e. need for developmental courses), and the increasingly rigorous expectations of public high schools with regard to mathematics achievement.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (1503428-PI, Callahan). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.