Dr. Wackerle-Hollman (school psychology) is an educational psychologist whose research addresses both development of early literacy and language measures for preschool age students, as well as the design and evaluation of parent education programs.

Erin Lease received her Ph.D. from the Department of Educational Psychology and is the Director of Research Innovation in the lab. Her research focuses on cost-effective, scalable solutions to promote school readiness and close achievement gaps.

Kelsey Will received her Ph.D. in the Psychological Foundations of Education program in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her interests include early literacy and language development and assessment, supporting early childhood teachers with data-based decision making, early childhood policy, and teaching psychology in higher education. 

Laura Sergeant is a project coordinator at Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. Her research interests include education, mental health, and substance use disorders.


Scott McConnell Headshot

Dr. Scott McConnell is an IGDI Lab Co-Founder and Professor Emeritus in the department. His research focuses primarily on preschool-aged children, and the skills and competencies that will enable them to learn and participate in school and other settings. Dr. McConnell is currently the Director of Assessment Innovation at Renaissance Learning.

Dr. Rodriguez is the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development and a professor of educational psychology (quantitative methods in education) at the University of Minnesota. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Measurement & Quantitative Methods from Michigan State University.

Lillian Durán is an Associate Professor and the Associate Dean for the College of Education at the University of Oregon. Dr. Durán is the Co-Principal Investigator on Spanish IGDI projects and her research is focused on improving instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs).

Lori Erickson is the Assistant Director of the Office of Early Learning in St. Paul Public Schools and the Co-Principal Investigator on the Hmong IGDI projects. Dr. Erickson’s background is in elementary education, literacy and early childhood education. Dr. Erickson manages state-funded early learning scholarships and early childhood family education.

Aimee Yang is the educational assistant for the Hmong IGDI grant in the Office of Early Learning in Saint Paul Public Schools. Her educational background is in Teaching English as a Second Language. Her interests outside of education include floristry, photography and sewing. 

Gao Vang is the Hmong IGDI grant specialist in the Office of Early Learning in the Saint Paul Public Schools. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, Master’s in Education in Teaching and Learning, K-12 ELL licensure, and Age 3-K Pre-Primary licensure. Previously, she was the Curriculum Coordinator for the first Hmong Dual Language Program in the nation and in the Saint Paul Public Schools.

Graduate students

Kory works with the Hmong IGDIs. His research interests are in the validity and reliability of test scores with an emphasis in using various statistical methods to minimize measurement error. He has a strong focus on making testing, in general, more fair and appropriate for all students, especially students from under-served communities.

Charly Vang is a graduate student in the Public Health Data Science program at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. His research interest focuses on health and educational disparities among underrepresented communities. Currently, he is working on the Hmong IGDI project as a research assistant. 

Molleysa Yang is a dual-degree student pursuing her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her interests include education, health, and mental wellbeing. Currently, she is serving as a graduate research assistant to support the Hmong IGDIs Lab.

Liz is a graduate student in the Child and Adolescent Development program at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Her research interests include exploring ways to maximize equity, diversity, and inclusion in the child psychology field, particularly by focusing on equitable access to mental health services for underrepresented populations.

Alondra Vélez Cabrera is a graduate student in the Community Health Promotion Master of Public Health program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research interests include education and health equity, with a special emphasis on reducing disparities within underrepresented and underserved communities. Currently, she is working on the CASA and APEL Español projects as a graduate research assistant. 


We are lucky to have worked with so many graduate students who have moved on to exciting new endeavors. See our alumni here.

Collaborative Partners

Robin Hojnoski (Lehigh University)

Kristen Missall (University of Washington)

Anthony Albano (University of Nebraska)