University of Illinois at Chicago



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Katherine (Kate) Zinsser is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Community and Prevention Research program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Through her research Kate strives to support the social-emotional well-being and development of young children and their caregivers by conducting applied research that can benefit practice and policy. Current projects include: developing research-based tools to foster social and emotional teaching practices including child assessments, classroom observation, and professional learning strategies; exploring the ways that high-quality teachers are able to positively affect children’s social and emotional learning; and examining how organizational and ecological characteristics of educational settings – such as state education policies, quality rating improvement systems, workplace climate, and administrator practices – affect social and emotional teaching.

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Rachel Weber is a professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducts research in economic development, real estate, and public finance. She has expertise in the areas of urban and regional economic development, public finance, municipal government law, planning theory, andreal estate. She has conducted extensive research on the impact of changes in capital markets on urban economies and the built environment. She has also written on school and infrastructure finance, the effect of e-commerce on bricks-and-mortar retailers, the design of incentive contracts, and participatory budgeting. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning and author of From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Weber was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force and was a member of the Urban Policy Advisory Committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

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Kathleen M. Sheridan is an associate professor in the department of Educational Psychology. Some of her research interests include early math literacy, professional development for early childhood teachers and caregivers, online learning and course development in higher education, and teacher presence in online courses. Sheridan has been published in leading academic journals, delivered keynote speeches, and has presented her work at workshops and at national and international conferences. She teaches courses in assessment, child development and constructivist approaches to development. Currently she is the principle investigator on 2 grant-funded projects that focus on early math and the professional development of caregivers, teachers and leaders.

Most recently, her new project: Early Math Matters: A Math at Home Professional Development Series for Child Care Providers, launched 8 FREE online courses housed in the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity I-Learning site.  Providers receive 1 hour of Gateways approved training and 1 CPDU for each course they complete. Sheridan and her team are collecting data to examine whether the delivery modality and the courses are effective in changing provider’s practice and self-efficacy about including math in their early childhood classrooms. 

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Catherine Main is a senior lecturer in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her clinical and research interests focus on developing early childhood educators to serve in under-resourced, urban environments.

She has more than 20 years of teaching experiences in preschool, kindergarten, primary grades, and university settings. Her work includes innovative and responsive program development in Early Childhood Education at UIC. Main designed and developed a Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education program and an Early Childhood Alternative certification program. She provides consultation, professional development, and program evaluation services for a variety of organizations and regularly presents her program work at national conferences and as an invited speaker at local conferences. Main also serves on several advisory groups and boards including the Illinois Early Learning Council Program Standards and Quality Committee, the Harold Washington Chicago Community College Child Development Program Advisory Board, and is a member of the Illinois Articulation Initiative Early Childhood panel.  She is co-chair of the Illinois Higher Education Learning and Professional Development Work Group, the lead on the state team participating in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Innovation to Incubation (i2I) program focusing on Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce, and the current President of Illinois Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (ILAECTE).

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Amanda Lewis' research focuses on how race shapes educational opportunities and how our ideas about race get negotiated in everyday life. She is the author of several books including (with John Diamond) Despite the Best Intentions: Why racial inequality persists in good schools (Oxford, 2015) and Race in the Schoolyard: Negotiating the Color-line in Classrooms and Communities (2003). She is also the co-editor (with Maria Krysan) of The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity (2004), and co-author (with Mark Chesler and Jim Crowfoot) of Challenging Racism in Higher Education: Promoting Justice (2005). Her research has appeared in a number of academic venues including Sociological Theory, American Educational Research Journal, American Behavioral Scientist, Race and Society, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, DuBois Review and Anthropology and Education Quarterly

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David F. Merriman's major area of study is state and local public finance. Merriman directs The Fiscal Futures Project, which created and maintains of a comprehensive and consistently defined measure of the Illinois state budget.  He has published extensively about the effect of tax increment finance policy on local economic growth and the determinants of tobacco tax avoidance. He has also studied Walmart’s impact on urban economic development. His most recent research concerns state and local business taxation.

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Darren Lubotsky’s research falls within two broad areas: the American labor market and the health and cognitive development of children. Some of his recent projects study the impact of rising health insurance premiums on public-sector compensation, the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on employment, and the economic status of immigrants in the United States.



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Anthony T. Lo Sasso is an economist whose research spans several dimensions of health economics and health services research. Lo Sasso is keenly interested in how government policies affect private sector decisions. Lo Sasso has studied the impact of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on uninsurance among children and the extent to which public coverage “crowded out” private coverage. In addition, he has examined how community rating provisions affected individual health insurance coverage and uninsurance. Lo Sasso also studies the effects of health savings accounts and other high-deductible health insurance products on service use and spending.



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Maria Krysan focuses her research on racial residential segregation and racial attitudes. Her investigations of these substantive issues often connect to methodological questions about how to study this sensitive area of social life. She combines standard closed-ended survey analysis with mode of administration experiments, analyses of open-ended survey questions, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. In addition to an edited volume with Amanda Lewis, The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, her most recent work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Science Research, Social Problems, and The DuBois Review. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Russell Sage Foundation, and Ford Foundation.  Her most recent work focuses on understanding the causes of residential segregation, particularly as viewed through the question of how people end up living where they do.



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Rachel Gordon's research broadly aims to measure and model the contexts of children and families' lives, often using longitudinal data sets. She has examined numerous contextual and social factors that affect children and families, including the use of child care and preschool quality measures for high-stakes policy purposes, the health outcomes of child care and maternal employment, the implications of teenagers' looks for their social and academic achievement, the association between community context and child well-being, the relationships between youth gang participation and delinquency, the causes and consequences of grandmother co-residential support for young mothers, and the evaluation of an innovative job program for young couples.

Gordon has received extensive funding from numerous sources and is currently Principal Investigator (PI) on two large grants. The first, from the Institute of Education Sciences (R305A130118: Measuring Preschool Program Quality: Multiple Aspects of the Validity of Two Widely-Used Measures) examines two widely used measures of quality -- the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) -- including their structural validity (dimensions of each scale), response process validity (order, fit and separation of items along underlying dimensions), and predictive validity specific to cutoffs defined in policy system (Quality Rating and Information Systems; Head Start Recompetition). The collaborators are studying these aspects of validity across a dozen datasets, using meta-analyses to systematically accumulate results. The second, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD081022; Predictors of Achievement from Early Childhood to Adulthood), contributes to the growing body of research on physical attractiveness as a source of social stratification with wide implications for health, akin to more frequently studied factors like race and gender. Based on the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the project will create and analyze the largest-ever public repository of physical attractiveness ratings for a cohort from birth into young adulthood.


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