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Our Team

Our team of experts have decades of experience in all aspects of English Learner education. Leading the Center's work, the University of Houston is collaborating with a research team from multiple universities and NGOs: 


David Francis, Ph.D.

Director, Principal Investigator

Dr. Francis is the Director of the Center for the Success of English Learners (CSEL) as well as the Director of Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston.

Social Studies Team

Social Studies Strand

The social studies strand is committed to improving social studies outcomes for English learners in the secondary grades through the development and testing of interventions. The social studies interventions will draw upon instructional elements identified as effective in improving content expertise among English learners, including team-based learning, formative assessment, and foregrounding content to support language learning. With the support experienced educators of English learners, the social studies research team will create a fully developed and tested set of instructional lessons that teachers can implement with their students in Grades 6 and 9. 

Sharon Vaughn, Ph.D.

Associate Director;

Lead Investigator, Social Studies Strand

Sharon Vaughn is the Associate Director of the center as well as Director of the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas at Austin. She is working with the intervention team to design practices for improving language and literacy in social studies.


M. Suzanne Donovan, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator, Curriculum Development

Suzanne works with the science and social studies curriculum development teams to adapt SERP materials for English Learners, and supports the use of those materials in study classrooms.


Leticia Martinez, Ph.D.


Leticia Martinez, part of the UT Austin team, will co-lead the development of the social studies curriculum for English learners in grades 6 and 9. She will collaborate with teachers in Texas to test the efficacy of the instructional practices in secondary classrooms.


Philip Capin, Ph.D.


Philip supports the development and implementation of the social studies policy strand.

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Science Strand

Science Strand

Catherine E. Snow, Ph.D.


Catherine advises on the science and the social studies materials adaptations to ensure that the central pedagogical features of Word Generation are preserved and enhanced for DLLs.


Diane August, Ph.D.


Diane is a co-principal investigator of the research center and in charge of developing the science intervention

Policy Team

Policy Strand

The policy team will investigate the barriers that English learners face in accessing the general curriculum and advanced course-taking. Using analyses of multiple large state and local datasets as well as original survey data and policy document analyses, we will explore: (1) the extent of tracking that English learners face, (2) the predictors of tracking (including educator attitudes and beliefs, implementation of policies), and (3) the outcomes associated with tracking (including achievement, English language proficiency, graduation, and post-secondary enrollment). 

Michael J. Kieffer, Ed.D.


Michael leads the policy and systems-level studies strand as well as co-leads the New York University subcontract.


Jeremy Miciak, Ph.D.


Jeremy is a co-investigator on the policy strand and co-directs the implementation in Houston, Texas.


Lorena Llosa, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator, Formative Assessment

Lorena leads the line of research on formative assessment and co-leads the New York site team.

Coleen Carlson


Coleen is a co-investigator on the policy strand.

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Outreach / Events

Joel Gómez, Ph.D.

Leadership & Outreach

Joel provides leadership and guidance for CSEL's outreach, events, and communications activities.

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