Fall 2020 New Faculty and Staff

Al-Thasser photo
  • Dr. Thouraya Al-Nasser
  • Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor, Applied Behavior Analysis, ICL; Director of UMBRELLA (Autism clinic on campus)
  • Previous Position: Dr. Al-Nasser received her PhD in Psychology with emphasis on Behavior Analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno where she served as the Director for the on-campus clinic for adults diagnosed with Autism or/and Intellectual disability.
  • Fun Fact: She is a great cook and bakes the most delicious pita bread yet cannot bake a cake if not from a box
  • Teaching Focus/Research Interests: Staff and Parent training and investigating implicit and explicit bias attitudes utilizing Mixed-Trial Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (MT-IRAP) and (IRAP).


  • Dr. Ashley Batastini
  • Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology, CEPR
  • Previous position: Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi
  • Fun Fact: Ashley has 20 tattoos (and counting).
  • Teaching Focus: Dr. Batastini enjoys teaching courses on psychological assessment to include testing of cognitive abilities and personality functioning.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Batastini's research focuses on developing and exploring innovative intervention strategies for criminal justice-involved populations that aim to improve mental health, behavioral, and systemic factors associated with continued antisocial conduct.
  • Dr. Frances Ellmo
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Counseling, CEPR
  • Previous position: Graduate Research Assistant and Doctoral Student at the University of Memphis
  • Fun fact: Frances is a big animal lover. She's fostered and helped find homes for dozens of stray dogs!
  • Teaching Focus: Dr. Ellmo enjoys teaching clinical counseling courses as well as supervising practicum and internship students through their fieldwork experience courses.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Ellmo's research revolves around the intersection of trauma, addiction and the criminal justice system. She focuses on intervention outcomes for justice-involved individuals, as well as counseling student beliefs, knowledge and skills when working with justice-involved clients.
  • Dr. Anna Falkner
  • Assistant Professor of Elementary Social Studies, ICL
  • Previous position: Assistant Instructor for Elementary Social Studies Methods
  • Fun Fact: Anna loves reading fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction.
  • Teaching Focus: Culturally sustaining pedagogy, student inquiry, collaboration & student agency.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Falkner's research examines how young children learn about critical social issues such as race/racism and intersects with critical civics education. She uses critical, multi-vocal video-cued ethnography to explore how children understand their civic roles.
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  • Dr. Eli Jones
  • Assistant Professor, CEPR
  • Previous position: Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, Leadership & Counseling, Columbus State University
  • Fun Fact: Eli has five kids, all boys, and together they've amassed an extensive Lego collection.
  • Teaching focus: Research methods, quantitative data analysis and statistics, assessment and measurement.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Jones's research centers on performance assessments and evaluation in education, rater-mediated assessments, psychometric properties of educational measurements, polytomous item response theory models, and Rasch measurement.
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  • Dr. Sandra Nichols
  • Professor and Chair, ICL
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  • Dr. S. Mia Obiwo
  • Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, ICL
  • Previous Position: Previously served as a PhD Candidate, Graduate Research Assistant, and Adjunct Professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
  • Fun Fact: Mia is a self-proclaimed thrift and bargain connoisseur.
  • Teaching Focus: Dr. Obiwo's teaching focuses on socio-cultural child development, PK-3 education, early literacy & culturally responsive pedagogy.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Obiwo's research centers around teacher preparation and support for urban schools, urban teacher dispositions, school-university partnerships, humanistic education and racial educational equity.
Robinson photo
  • Dr. Nichelle C. Robinson
  • Director of Teacher Education and Clinical Practice
  • Previous Position: Associate Professor and SOE Diversity Officer, University of Mississippi.
  • Fun Fact: Nichelle's retirement job is yoga instructor.
Salem photo
  • Dr. Wesam Salem
  • Clinical Instructor, ICL
  • Previous position: Adjunct Instructor at the University of Memphis
  • Fun Fact: Students in the first Physics class she taught were only three years younger than her.
  • Teaching Focus: Preparing students to teach elementary and middle school math conceptually through high leverage practices and equity and social-justice oriented activities.
  • Research Interests: Dr. Salem's research focuses on examining students' mathematics identity development through sociopolitical context, teaching mathematics with equity and social justice orientation and postcolonial and posthuman qualitative research.
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  • Dr. Crystal White
  • Clinical Instructor of Human Development, CEPR 
  • Previous Position: Adjunct Professor,  Clinical Site Supervisor, and Doctoral Candidate at the UofM. Also previously served as a middle and high school ELA teacher.
  • Fun Fact: Crystal enjoys writing poetry, creating Hip Hop songs, playing chess, and traveling. She once lived in Munich, Germany as an ambassador.
  • Teaching Focus: Human Development, the Psychology of Sex, Hip-Hop Based Education and Urban Education.
  • Research Interests: Arts-Based Research, Critical Race Feminism, Critical Social Media Literacy, Ethnic Identity Studies, Hip-Hop Feminism and Qualitative Research Studies.

New Position

Eric Platt
Dr. Eric Platt
Chair, LEAD