GSOE welcomes five new faculty

Riverside, Ca –

The Graduate School of Education is delighted to welcome five new faculty to its ranks: Drs. Kinnari Atit, Asha Jitendra, Lorena Gutiérrez, Catherine Lussier, and Wesley Sims. 


Dr. Kinnari Atit

Assistant Professor Kinnari Atit received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Temple University. After receiving her doctorate, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University and also at Northwestern University. Her research aims to better understand how to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. More specifically, she is interested in bolstering and developing grade school and undergraduate students' spatial skills, a set of cognitive skills found to be critical for success in STEM domains. Additionally, she examines how to promote STEM learning and engagement through the integration of making and engineering design activities into K-12 classrooms. At the GSOE, she heads the STEM Teaching and Learning Lab.



Dr. Asha Jitendra

Professor and Peloy Chair in Learning Disabilities Asha K. Jitendra served as Rodney Wallace Professor for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota for 10 years and on the faculty of Lehigh University for 14 years. Dr. Jitendra is the recipient of the Special Education Research SIG’s Distinguished Researcher Award from the American Educational Research Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Oregon, the Excellence in Research award, and the President’s Distinguished Faculty Mentor Recognition from the University of Minnesota. She is a Research Fellow of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities. Her scholarly contributions include over 100 publications in high impacts outlets, and she has published two research-based mathematics curricula and the IES Practice Guide, "Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 through 8."  Dr. Jitendra has been the associate editor of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. Her research focuses on instructional design, specifically mathematics problem solving and reading interventions for students with learning disabilities, assessment, and textbook analysis.


Dr. Lorena Gutierrez

Assistant Professor of Teaching Lorena Gutiérrezreceived her Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education from Michigan State University. Her research highlights the ways Latinx migrant and seasonal farmworkers thrive in their educational pursuits in spite of the inequities they face in K–12 schools. In her three-year ethnographic study, “Use my name, they need to know who I am!”: Latina/o Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Youth at the Interstices of the Educational Pipeline, she examined the schooling experiences of Latina/o migrant farmworker youth in K-12 schools and a high school equivalency program in the midwest. Her research contributes much needed asset-based research on the schooling experiences and agency of migrant and seasonal farmworker youth in pursuit of education within, and beyond, K-12 schools. Most recently, Dr. Gutiérrez was a postdoctoral scholar in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside where she examined Latinx excellence in K-12 schools in Southern California’s Inland Empire with Dr. Louie Rodriguez and the Collaborative Research for Equity & Excellence in Our Schools (CREER) research team. Dr. Gutiérrez’s research is rooted in learning with migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the Midwest, her own experiences in growing up bilingual in Colton, California, and the heritage of farm work that her grandfather cultivated in Jalisco, Mexico.


Dr. Catherine Lussier

Assistant Professor of Teaching, Learning, and Behavioral Sciences Catherine (Cathy) Lussier received her Master’s degree in Psychology from Cal State University Fullerton and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCR with a dissertation focusing on stress and its impact on memory and cognition. In the past, she has been the project director for two U.S. Department of Education-Institute of Education Sciences grants (one focused on problem solving interventions for mathematics and working memory, and the other focused on literacy and cognition in English Learners). Prior to that she was the co-director of The Copernicus Project, a U. S. Department of Education, Office of Post-Secondary Education grant aimed at STEM education development. As part of this research she has co-authored articles in publications such as the Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Special Education, and Learning Disabilities Research and Practices, and won the Samuel A. Kirk award for journal writing excellence. She has also taught at UCR for more than 10 years and has been awarded the Dia del Maestro Teacher of the Year. Currently, she is a full time assistant professor of Teaching, Learning, and Behavioral Sciences at UCR in the Graduate School of Education where she teaches courses on cognition and learning, literacy, educational policy, teacher training, and STEM methodology. In her spare time and during the summer, she partners with NASA as a faculty leader in their Minority Education Institute and K-12 teacher development workshops.


Wesley Sims

Assistant Professor in School Psychology Wesley Sims received his Ph.D. in Educational, Counseling, and School Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2016. Dr. Sims’ research interests include assessment and intervention to improve tiered service delivery in schools, implementation science in educational settings, motivational interviewing in schools, and a multi-tiered system of educator support. Dr. Sims began his career as a practicing school psychologist in 2005. As a practitioner, he has served a variety of schools and populations, and has garnered extensive experience facilitating school-wide, as well as individualized support services within tiered service delivery models such as PBIS, RtI, and MTSS. Dr. Sims is a former School Psychologist of the Year and state association President in Missouri.