Hire our award-winning doctoral candidates
These doctoral candidates are on the job market. Learn about their dissertations and research interests.
Heather P. Abrahamson, Ph.D. in Social Studies Education , Kipchoge Neftali Kirkland Social Justice Award recipient and Outstanding Graduate Research Award Paper recipient
Thesis: "Essential Voices: The Lived Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Individuals in a Rural School.”
I am a social studies educator that has been teaching in a rural school for 27 years. During that time I have earned two masters degrees and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, history and social studies curriculum and instruction. My degrees are from St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota. In addition to my full time teaching in a public school, I also work, and have worked, as an adjunct instructor in social studies education at Augsburg University and St. Cloud State University. My research interests are in LGBTQ lived experiences and rural spaces.
Foster Graif, Ph.D. in STEM Education , AMTE Susan Gay Conference Travel Scholarship recipient
Thesis: “Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Proof in Secondary Mathematics Teacher Preparation.”
My primary research interests lie in mathematical proof and teacher preparation. Specifically, my MA work was a case study of a geometry teacher's beliefs and practice in the area of proof. My dissertation research explored how proof is addressed in secondary teacher preparation. This was done using the "mathematical knowledge for teaching" framework as a lens. Further research will explore opportunities in teacher preparation to support the development of knowledge of content & teaching and knowledge of content & students in the area of proof. Additional work in the area of teacher preparation has centered on error-handling during mathematics discussion.
Younkyung Hong, Ph.D. candidate in Elementary Education, Doctoral Dissertation Fellow
Thesis: “A Phenomenological Exploration of the Hegemonic Insider-Outsider in Teacher Education.”
My research interests include situating and challenging Western/Eurocentric perspectives in the context beyond the US. I have been developing my work on topics related to elementary education, social justice education, teacher education, social activism, discourse analysis, and narrative inquiry with an intercultural phenomenological perspective.
Kevin Lally, Ph.D. in Literacy Education
Thesis: "Race Talk in the Classroom: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Antiracism".
As a high school English teacher, I’m curious about how young white people make sense of whiteness and racism. I have found racial histories, both social and personal, and emotion to be central to making sense of young white people’s raced experiences. I’m interested in how liberal understandings of whiteness, especially white guilt, can get in the way of antiracism, and how different approaches to race talk can lead to more generative conversations about race. My current work includes developing comprehensive antiracist curricula for predominantly white high schools.
Contact Kevin Lally
Cory Mathieu, Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education, Doctoral Dissertation Fellow
Thesis: "Redesigning Materials for Content and Language Integration in Secondary Dual Language and Immersion: A Design-Based Research."
My research focuses on dual language and immersion pedagogy and teacher education. In particular, I am interested in how various types of professional development can better support dual language and immersion teachers in integrating content and language in their instructional practices. I am especially passionate about research projects that are grounded in the complex realities of the classroom and whose outcomes directly support teachers’ practices. Additional interests include research on how language teaching/learning materials are used in the classroom, student language development in dual language and immersion, and teacher knowledge for content and language integration.
Áila O'Loughlin, Ph.D. candidate in Culture and Teaching , Leadership in Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (LEID) Fellow
Thesis: "Teaching and Learning Gender: What must teachers know and do when it comes to gender, sex traits and sexual orientation?”
My research centers the question--what must teachers know and do when it comes to gender, sex traits and sexual orientation? This central question demands consideration for both the ethics and praxis of teaching. For my dissertation, I interviewed focus groups of fellow lgbtqia2+ teachers this past spring and now am weaving together their narratives to produce scholarship that will inform teacher education. When I went through my own teacher training program 8 years ago, I learned so much from an importantly critical program, rooted in critical race theory and an understanding of schools as vehicles for social class stratification. In that program however, teacher-candidates discussed gender and sexual orientation for only one class period over the course of two years, and for less than thirty minutes. I hope to interrupt the normalization of this silence regarding gender in the classroom.
Ryan Oto, Ph.D. candidate in Social Studies Education , Doctoral Dissertation Fellow
Thesis: "‘Why work here? This place is so ghetto’: Portraits of teaching with and for racial justice in an urban school.”
Currently I am exploring anti-racist pedagogies as a framework to repair the relationship between schools and communities. Specifically, I aim to theorize the relationship of belonging in a school community as a foundational element of civic education, teaching, and learning. I am also interested in intersectional analyses of students’ lived experiences in schools, how we work from anti-oppressive theory toward justice and liberatory-centered practices, and understanding the shift away from racial liberalism toward a framework of racial literacy in education. Additionally, I explore the power of youth participatory action research in fostering space for youth participation in troubling oppressive decision-making.
Maria Schwedhelm, Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education , Leadership in Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (LEID) Fellow
Thesis: "(Re)imagining and enacting language reclamation through embodied arts-based pedagogies”.
My research and praxis as an educator focuses on exploring the possibilities of embodied, arts-based pedagogies to (re)imagine equitable multilingual spaces and create and enact processes and practices of language and culture reclamation with pre-service language teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Currently I am also working on co-developing projects with community-based organizations in Mexico and Minnesota to promote the teaching and learning of Indigenous languages through academic and artistic activities with the goal of fostering intercultural and intergenerational dialogue and help build solidarity across difference while creating culturally sustaining and revitalizing practices in education.
Leah Shepard-Carey, Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education , Doctoral Dissertation Fellow
Thesis: “Sustaining Multilingualism in English-Medium Elementary Classrooms: A Collaborative Exploration of Translanguaging Literacy Pedagogies.”
As a former elementary and early childhood language educator, my research focuses on the intersection of language and literacy learning with emergent bilingual children. My current research focuses on the ways teachers can integrate emergent bilinguals’ home and community languages during literacy learning, specifically in English-as-an-additional language contexts. Additional research interests include teacher-researcher collaboration, multimodal and critical discourse analyses of language and literacy learning, and the training of critically-conscious educators.
Caleb Zilmer, Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education
Thesis: “Social and Cognitive Factors in Spanish Interlanguage: Form-meaning Relationships Present Tense Indicative Verbal Inflectional Morphology.”
As a former high school ESL and Spanish teacher, my research focuses on second language acquisition (SLA), and related language teaching methodological approaches. My dissertation research is focused on how learners acquiring Spanish as a second language in a communicative language teaching (CLT) high school classroom use present tense verb forms, specifically indicative inflectional morphology (i.e., conjugations), during meaningful interaction. My research interests also include language teacher training and professional development; ways in which multiple languages can be integrated across the curriculum, including in content area instruction; and how increasing multilingualism can be a vehicle for promoting social justice through closing opportunity gaps.