CoEP New Tenure-Track Faculty

Dr. Evan Dart, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Evan DartEvan Dart earned his Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in School Psychology from Louisiana State University in 2013. Dr. Dart’s research interests lie primarily in the development and implementation of a response to intervention framework as a means of providing services to students within a multi-tiered model. This includes the identification of
students as behavior interventionists for their peers, factors promoting effective school-based behavioral consultation, and the integration of technology into the practice of school psychology.



Dr. Matthew Griffis, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science

 Dr. Matthew GriffisDr. Griffis received his doctorate in 2013 from the University of Western Ontario, where he received several awards and fellowships, including a national doctoral fellowship and three provincial scholarships. Dr. Griffis’ research interests include the library as place, library history, library buildings and architecture, and public libraries and society. He is the author or co-author of four peer-reviewed articles thus far and has made a number of presentations at professional conferences.

His personal interests include collecting vintage library postcards from around the world, antique library equipment, and original letters written by famous librarians. He also has a strong interest in rare books and book history, and collects modern first editions and literary ephemera.

Dr. Kevin Gwaltney, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Kevin Gwaltney is a University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) David L. Clark Scholar and earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with an emphasis in policy from the University of Missouri. Dr. Gwaltney holds an education specialist’s degree in school district level administration, a master’s degree in building level administration, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Prior to his university appointments, Dr. Gwaltney served as a public school leader in roles ranging from mathematics department chair to superintendent in large urban and small rural settings.

 Dr. Gwaltney has an active research agenda centered on the interplay between teacher autonomy/job satisfaction and policy, organizational conditions, and leadership. This research has been presented at the annual national meetings of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and UCEA. At present, Dr. Gwaltney is working with the National Center for Education Statistics Schools and Staffing Survey data sets to develop a nationally representative job satisfaction model to gain insight regarding attrition among teachers in hard to fill positions. 

In addition to his main research line, Dr. Gwaltney is involved in a longitudinal inquiry that examines a medical school problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum in a large mid-western university.  He teaches several graduate courses in Educational Leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi – Gulf Coast. 

Dr. Michelle Jeanfreau, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies

Dr. Michelle JeanfreauMichelle Jeanfreau received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wright State University, master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of Southern Mississippi and doctorate degree in Human Ecology with a Marriage and Family Therapy emphasis from Kansas State University. Dr. Jeanfreau is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Mississippi. She has six years of teaching experience at the university level.  Her research interests include marital infidelity, financial infidelity, premarital therapy, and couples relationships.




Dr. Leslie Locke, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and School Counseling 

Dr. Leslie LockeLeslie Ann Locke earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Administration with an emphasis in sociology, as well as a graduate certificate in Advanced Research Methods with a focus on qualitative methodology from Texas A&M University in 2011.  Dr. Locke’s research interests include issues of social justice and equity for students from traditionally marginalized groups in the public K12 system.  She is currently examining early college programs as social justice policy interventions in education. Dr. Locke has served as an associate editor for Educational Administration Quarterly, and on the internal review board of the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.  She has published in national journals and presented at numerous national conventions.  Dr. Locke has taught at all levels, K12-graduate school, and is currently teaching graduate courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and School Counseling, including the Literature Review and the Dissertation Boot Camp.

Dr. Alisa Lowrey, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Dr. Alisa LoweryDr. Alisa Lowrey is a special educator with more than 25 years experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities and preparing others to work in this field.  Her research includes teacher education and training; inclusive educational practices including postsecondary practices for students with disabilities; and the application of Universal Design for Learning in instruction.  Dr. Lowrey has extensive experience in teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on developmental disabilities.  She has been Principal Investigator of several grants and contracts including a DOE TPSID grant and the Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disabilities statewide autism project.  Dr. Lowrey currently serves as the co-Editor of FOCUS on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.


Dr. Rachel Luther, Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Dr. Rachel LutherRachel Luther is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education. She is an environmental philosopher, activist for science education policy, and a secondary teacher educator. Her teaching and research interests include marine science education, socioscientific issues and reasoning, student-scientist partnerships, citizen science, and ecojustice philosophy. Prior to earning a Ph.D. in Science Education at the University of Georgia, Dr. Luther studied marine sciences and taught high school chemistry in Georgia.



Dr. Lindsay Marshall, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies

Dr. Lindsay MarshallLindsay Marshall earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science from The University of Georgia in 2013.  Dr. Marshall’s overarching research interest is child obesity, with a focus on prevention through program development, assessment, and evaluation research.  She is currently using the theory of planned behavior to examine the influence parents’ attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and intentions have on the timing and introduction of complementary foods.  Last year, Dr. Marshall was part of a team of six that received first place awards from both the National Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Georgia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for an online early childhood child care training they developed and implemented.  In addition to teaching early childhood teachers, she has also spent time teaching in NAEYC accredited child care centers and lab schools, teaching Child and Family Development courses at The University of Georgia, and has presented at numerous state and national conferences.

Dr. Ravic Ringlaben, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

 Dr. Ravic RinglabenDr. Ringlaben earned his doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado in Special Education and Administration. He joins our department as Chair and most recently was at the University of West Georgia where he taught and coordinated an online Education Specialist Program in Special Education. Previously, he has been a classroom and itinerant teacher, state department associate, university faculty, program coordinator, chair, and dean. He has served as a visiting scholar at Southwest China Teachers University in Chongqing, People’s Republic of China, and Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland. His primary research interests evaluate the attitudes and perspectives individuals and groups have towards individuals with disabilities, including university faculty with disabilities.


Dr. Elena Stepanova, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Elena StepanovaElena Stepanova is an Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2010. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in addictions at the University of Missouri – Columbia in 2011. Dr. Stepanova is coming to the University of Southern Mississippi from Florida Gulf Coast University where she was an Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Dr. Stepanova’s research interests include social cognition, specifically conceptualization of social categories, effects of alcohol and nicotine on social judgments and effects of discrimination on alcohol cue-reactivity; and cross-cultural research, particularly explicit and implicit ethnic and racial attitudes. Dr. Stepanova’s research is currently supported by ABMRF/The Foundation for Alcohol Research. She has made numerous national and international presentations and published in peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, The Journal of Social Psychology and International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation. She has taught various undergraduate courses such as Statistics, Experimental Psychology, Research Methods, Senior Seminar and Social Psychology.

Dr. Kamden Strunk, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies and Research

Dr. Kamden StrunkKamden Strunk received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University in 2012. Dr. Strunk’s research interest include the motivated aspects of time-related academic
behavior (i.e., procrastination and timely engagement), student motivation in higher education, and social justice and identity in higher education. He is also developing methods for examining instrument structure across multiple samples, such as meta-analytic confirmatory factor analysis.  Dr. Strunk is currently the evaluator on a National Science Foundation grant on American Indian and Rural education. He has 11 peer-reviewed publications, as well as 15 regional and 9 national presentations. Dr. Strunk serves on the editorial boards of two journals in the area of educational psychology, and has taught 18 courses with 35 course sections since 2008 in the areas of research methodology, education, and psychology.


Dr. Sherry Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

 Dr. Sherry WangSherry C. Wang earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2013. Dr. Wang’s work focuses on the cultural correlates (e.g., acculturation and its related processes) of mental health (e.g., psychosocial functioning) and health risk behaviors (e.g., hazardous alcohol use, interpersonal violence, HIV). To better understand the contextual factors associated with health disparities, she draws from quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods to conduct culturally-sensitive research with diverse populations. Dr. Wang is a fellow of the APA Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) track. She is currently teaching the graduate level Multicultural Counseling course.


Dr. Amanda Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies

 Amanda Williams earned her Ph.D. in Human Environmental Sciences, specializing in Human Development and Family Science, at Oklahoma State University in 2013. Her research explores adolescent and emerging adult health and development within family and community contexts.

Dr. Williams served as co-investigator on a two-year Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station grant working with homeless families and is currently involved in projects ranging from longitudinal outcomes of childhood poverty to youth sexual risk behaviors. She has given numerous presentations to local and national audiences and has received a number of university, state, and national awards for her research, teaching, and service.