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Current Students

Meet some of our current PhD students in Educational Leadership. Feel free to contact any of them with questions!

Deb Adkins

Deb began her career in education as a data analyst with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and is currently a research scientist on the Advanced Research and Development team of NWEA. She earned a master’s degree in Systems Science from Portland State University and came to the EMPL department to pursue a doctoral degree with an emphasis on methodology, measurement, and assessment. Deb’s research interests include education as a system and innovative assessment practices such as student engagement and learning styles, e-learning, dynamic and embedded assessment, cognitive diagnostic assessment, early learning assessment, and flipped classrooms and assessment/teaching tools that provide teachers with immediate feedback and allow for differentiated instruction. In her spare time, Deb enjoys spending time with her husband Matt, sons Hunter and Chase, daughter-in-law Anna, and granddaughters Chimera and Moya.

Ross Anderson

Currently, Ross serves as PI for a multi-year federally funded arts education model development, research, and dissemination project working with 5 local middle schools to increase creative teaching and learning opportunities through rigorous integration of the arts across content areas (learn more at This work aims to develop the creative engagement of teachers and school communities, at large, in the design and delivery of learning to tap the diversity of students’ talents, cultures, and interests. From a constructivist and humanist perspective, Ross researches the growth trajectory of skills and dispositions, such as creativity, collaboration, persistence, self-efficacy, and motivation and engagement in school during adolescence. As a Senior Lead Researcher at the Educational Policy Improvement Center, Ross plays the role of strategic thought partner and creative catalyst in his work supporting school improvement, responsive program evaluation, research, and innovation. With two colleagues, Ross recently published two frameworks for practitioners that map the development of creativity, among other skills, on a detailed progression from beginner to emerging expertise. Those frameworks have led to the design of multiple measures of teaching and learning. Ross applies a mixture of methodologies and analytic techniques to answer exploratory and explanatory research questions, such as longitudinal design, developmental evaluation, structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling, grounded theory, and phenomenology. Ross’ work has been published in the Creativity Research Journal and the Journal of Individual Differences, among others. In his free time, Ross enjoys reading, drawing, and adventuring with his wife, Helana, two children, Kade and Neala, and Collie dog, Tansy.

Contact Ross at
View Ross's Curriculum Vitae.

Elizabeth Barker

Elizabeth began her career in education as a middle school and elementary special education teacher in Michigan. She earned a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado, Denver and came to the EMPL department to pursue a doctoral degree with an emphasis on accessibility and assessments. Currently, Elizabeth works for the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) as an accessibility and early learning content specialist. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time running and playing in the snow with her husband Brian, son Ben, and dog Nederland.

Contact Elizabeth at

Paul T. Beach

Paul uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study the political and economic conditions that influence educational policy, as well as methodological issues in state assessment and accountability systems. He conducts research for the Center for Equity Promotion and the Educational Policy Improvement Center, having worked on assessment and accountability projects for clients such as the National Assessment Governing Board and the California Department of Education. Before pursuing his PhD, Paul earned a Master’s in Public Administration and Bachelor’s in Political Science and Economics.

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Brian Gearin

Brian Gearin is a doctoral student in Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership and a graduate employee at the University of Oregon’s Center on Teaching and Learning. He is pursuing a specialization in quantitative research methods, and is taking coursework in neuroimaging and pupillometry. Gearin’s research is broadly focused on the translation and mistranslation of scientific research to educational policy and practice. Substantive areas of interest include cognition and how it relates to socioeconomic status, physical activity, literacy, and mathematics. Gearin has published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education and in several edited volumes. Prior to his research career, Gearin taught high school social studies and English at a priority school in Delaware. He received his BA from Brandeis University, and his MEd from the University of Delaware.

Contact Brian at
View Brian's Curriculum Vitae.

Meg Guerreiro

Meg Guerreiro moved from Philadelphia, PA to begin the EMPL PhD program at the University of Oregon with a focus on quantitative methodology and measurement/assessment. Meg works as a Senior Research Associate on the Advanced Research and Development team at NWEA where she focuses on improving assessment practices through advanced reporting, gamification, technology enhanced assessments, and performance tasks. Meg also has a graduate fellowship within the Special Education department at the University of Oregon and she teaches in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University. Meg’s primary research interests include STEM programs, measurement and assessment, the impact of educational technology on student engagement and motivation, and improving resources and practices for underrepresented populations.

Contact Meg at
View Meg's Curriculum Vitae.

Josh Melton

For five years, Josh was a high school math and science teacher. His research interests are value-added modeling of teacher and school effectiveness, applied educational statistics (longitudinal, hierarchical, and growth mixture modeling), and school choice. When not reading and writing, Josh enjoys playing sports (disc golf, bowling, and softball) and taking care of his children (Reese, 5; Graham, 1).

Contact Josh at
View Josh's Curriculum Vitae.

Yue "Adam" Shen

Yue Shen, known as “Adam,” is an international Ph.D. candidate from China. Having worked in the higher education environment of both China and US, she is interested in investigating and improving the impact of higher education on the development of students from various backgrounds. In addition to educational policy and measurement, disciplines and theories that she draws inference and inspiration from include: pragmatism, cognitive sciences, intercultural communications, institutional analysis, immigration studies, and higher education administration. Currently she is invested in the University of Oregon outcome assessment effort, and her dissertation work aims to explore the predictive factors of international student success in US higher education.

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Michael Thier

Michael Thier is a Research and Policy Fellow jointly appointed to the Educational Policy Improvement Center and the Center for Equity Promotion. He is a candidate for a concurrent Ph.D. in Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership with a specialization in quantitative research methods and a Master’s of Public Administration. Using quantitative and mixed and multiple methods, Thier evaluates policies and programs that engender global citizenship education. He also examines opportunities and challenges inherent in preparing students in rural and remote schools for college and careers. He collaborates with researchers in Australia, Canada, China, the Netherlands, Qatar, Senegal, Spain, and the United States. His research has won awards from the American Educational Research Association, English Journal, and the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund. He has published in journals such as Educational Technology Research and Development, Learning and Individual Differences, and SAGE Research Methods Cases. Previously, Thier directed International Baccalaureate programmes in North Carolina, where he was a National Board-certified teacher, after working as a journalist in New York. He has a B.A. in journalism from New York University and M.A.T. (English, Grades 7–12) from the Stony Brook University. Most importantly, Thier is the proud father of two daughters.

Contact Michael at
View Michael's Curriculum Vitae.