Current Ph.D. Students


Gregory Boldt Gregory Boldt is a third-year doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. He received his B.A. (Hons) from the University of Winnipeg before completing his M.Ed. through the University of Calgary. He has worked in various educational and healthcare settings assessing and supporting children with developmental disabilities and behavioural exceptionalities. His research focuses predominantly on the creative process, but also includes broader elements of 21st century learning and talent development.   Advisor: James Kaufman.
Photograph of John Burrell John Burrell is a second-year doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. He received his BA in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in GLBT studies from the University of Minnesota. John earned his Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with endorsements in high school physics and middle school science. He taught math and science for seven years before coming to UCONN.  John has continued to serve on the faculty of the Phillips Academy Andover Summer program. As a Graduate Assistant, John is working on Project EAGLE, which explores dynamic approaches to identifying gifted English Learners (ELs) in the math classroom. John also spends ten hours per week on independent research as an educational psychology fellow. John’s research interests include mathematical education, executive functions, and the evolution of academic and cultural conceptions of giftedness and talent development.  Advisor: Del Siegle.
Rachael Cody Rachael Cody is a Ph.D. candidate in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program at the University of Connecticut and has worked as a graduate research assistant for Project LIFT and Thinking Like Mathematicians: Challenging All Grade 3 Students. She is currently a graduate research assistant for Project 2e-ASD: Strategies for Gifted Students with ASD. She graduated with a B.A. in Secondary Education and English and an M.A. in Special Education from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Rachael worked as a substitute teacher and a long-term substitute for the Spokane Public Schools. Her research interests involve agency, qualitative research methods, and underserved populations with an emphasis on the twice-exceptional population and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  Advisor: Catherine Little
Julie Delgado Julie Delgado is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut dual majoring in Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development and Special Education. She is currently serving as a graduate research assistant on Project 2e-ASD, conducting research on the impacts of professional learning for secondary educators working with academically talented students with autism spectrum disorder. Delgado received her BA from the University of Montana in Elementary Education with areas of emphasis in Mathematics and Psychology (2005) and her MA in Curriculum and Instruction with a Mathematics Major (2013) from the University of Texas, Arlington. She taught elementary general education in Montana for 15 years before beginning her Ph.D. programs. Her research interests involve underserved populations, emphasizing students who are twice-exceptional and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Advisor: Sally Reis
Photo of Talbot Hook Talbot Hook is a third-year doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. He received his BA in History and East Asian Studies and his Master of Arts in Teaching with endorsements in World History, Chinese, and English as a Second Language. He worked for six years at a rural Iowan school, teaching courses in technology, Spanish, and ESL, prior to matriculating at UCONN. He previously worked on Project Bump Up, but now currently splits his GA hours between the Center’s acceleration study and TA work for EPSY 5710: Introduction to Gifted Education and Talent Development. His research interests are in mindfulness, technology, and conceptual issues in gifted education. Advisor: Del Siegle
Sarah Luria Sarah R. Luria is a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on the relationship between creativity and equitable thinking with a particular interest in human rights education. Prior to beginning her PhD program, Sarah taught secondary mathematics Durham, North Carolina where she created and piloted elective courses in human rights. She also led service learning projects, designed professional development opportunities, and served as a new teacher mentor. Sarah completed graduate programs in special education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and gifted education at Duke University and graduated with honors from Smith college with a B.A. She recently received the PEO Scholar Award and a research grant from the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut for work focusing on equity mindset and human rights orientations. Sarah hopes to become a professor in an education department dedicated to student learning and a culture of social justice and equity. Advisor: James Kaufman
Photo of Shana Lusk Shana Lusk, M.A., is a doctoral student serving as a research assistant on Project Focus and Project LIFT (Learning Informs Focused Teaching). She received her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in English as a Second Language from Arizona State University. Shana has worked as a speaker for the non-profit notMYkid educating students about Safe Dating and Healthy Relationships. She is a former classroom teacher with experience meeting the diverse needs of general education students and English learners as well as serving as a site coordinator for gifted pull-out services. She has worked to ensure that the strengths of English learners are recognized and accounted for. During her time as a teacher, she was selected as a Javits-Frasier Scholar (National Association for Gifted Children) to advocate for and develop the gifts and talents of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Shana's research interests include text analytics and sentiment analysis, culture, indigenous populations, gifted English learners, perceptions, teacher preparation, and longitudinal outcomes.  Advisor: Catherine Little
Photo of Shannon McDonald Prior to enrolling in UConn’s Educational Psychology: Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development doctoral program, Shannon McDonald was both a middle and high school English/Language Arts educator.  She received her B.A. in English Literature and M.A.T. in Gifted Education & Equitable Instruction.  Shannon’s research interests center around the talent development process and the desire to explore avenues through which parents and educators can best support children’s acquisition of cognitive and psychosocial skills.  She is also interested in exploring the intersection of media literacy and talent development. Advisor: Catherine Little
Luis Ferreira Luis Ferreira is a third-year PhD student of University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education. The psychologist obtained a Master's degree in Human Development and Health at the University of Brasília, focused on talent development studies. The researcher is centrally interested in comprehending the role of psychosocial factors in the trajectories of talented people. He investigates possible psychosocial and technical impacts of the use of Psychological Support Training. Luis has experience researching and applying the interfaces between elite performance, psychology, motor learning and human development. Advisor: Del Siegle
Pam Peters Pam Peters is a sixth-year doctoral student focusing both on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development and Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation. She is interested in issues of equity in both general and gifted education, including equitable identification in gifted education. Pam is also the chair of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Parent and Community Network. Advisors: Catherine Little and D. Betsy McCoach
Shuyu Wang is a first-year Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development Program doctoral student. She received her M.A. from Hainan Normal University in Curriculum and Instruction and her M.S. from Missouri State University in Educational Technology. She had one and a half years of work experience in ICT-supported instructional design and teacher training programs. Her research focuses on educational equity and creativity. Advisor: James Kaufman
Kenneth Wright Kenneth Wright is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. For his dissertation he is exploring how to meet the academic needs of advanced students in mixed ability classrooms. He has a BA in social science teaching, a masters degree in school counseling, an endorsement in gifted education, and an extensive background in performing arts. He taught at the secondary level for 16 years. His research interests include differentiating content for advanced learners, co-teaching, and how curiosity and interest impact learning. He is a graduate assistant on project BUMP UP. Advisor: Del Siegle
Lihong Xie Lihong Xie is a doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. She obtained her M.A. in Social Studies Education from the University of Connecticut. She is currently working as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Creativity. Her research focuses on creativity and humor as coping skills, investigating how they correlate with each other and one's self-efficacy and identity. Her research interest also lies in the development of creative problem-solving skills in the computational thinking curriculum. Advisor: James Kaufman
Mei Zheng Mei Zheng is a third-year doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. She received her M.A. from Pace University in General Psychology. She is a research assistant for the NCRGE’s Subject Acceleration study and currently works collecting information about subject acceleration practices across various districts. Her research focuses on people's beliefs about creativity and cross-cultural differences. She is also interested in the relationship between meaning and creativity. Advisor: James Kaufman