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Research Team

Susan Neuman, Project Director

Susan B. Neuman Susan B. Neuman is a Professor of Educational Studies at the University of Michigan, specializing in early literacy development. She received her doctorate at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in 1977, and her B.A. at American University. Susan is involved in a number of research projects all working to change the odds for children in poverty.

Recent publications include Nurturing Knowledge: Building a foundation for school success by linking early literacy to math, science, art and social studies (with Kathy Roskos) (2007); and Reading to your young child: A parent's guide (with Tanya Wright) (2007).



Administrative Staff

Colleen Neilson Colleen Neilson, Administrative Assistant

Colleen Neilson joined the Ready to Read research program in 2006 as our project administrator. Colleen has worked with faculty at the School of Education for over 12 years managing academic and research-related affairs.



Project Supervisors

Julia Dean, is the Site Manager for Jumpstart, partnering UM students in collaboration with area preschool classrooms serving at-risk children. In previous years, Julia was the Site Coordinator of programs for Communities In Schools and the Children’s Defense Fund. Her work included connecting social and academic services for children in K-12 schools, as well as running afterschool and summer programs. Prior to assuming her current position, Julia did formative evaluation and was the Assistant Site Manager for Jumpstart.

Julia is presently pursuing her master's degree in Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Michigan. In the future, she hopes to collaborate with educational nonprofits in order to enhance educational equality for all children.

Robyn Lachman
Robyn currently works as a project manager for the Ready to Read research team. She is involved with managing the day to day activities of our Ready to Read study including recruiting, scheduling, and training of staff and families.
Robyn first joined the Ready to Read team while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as an assessor and helped with data management prior to joining the team full time.
Before starting her Master’s at the University of Michigan in 2008, Robyn had the opportunity to work with children in a variety of settings ranging from childcare to camp and youth programs. rwlach@umich.edu

Janet Mayotte Janet Mayotte
Janet Mayotte currently works as a project manager on the Ready to Read research team. She is involved in training, scheduling and managing field assessors as well as she recruits and coordinates research sites. In previous years, Janet worked as an observer/assessor on Project Great Start and Ready to Learn.

Janet is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Studies at Eastern Michigan University, with a specialized focus on early childhood literacy within urban settings. She earned her B.A. degree in Special Education: Emotionally Impaired & Communications and M.A. degrees in Special Education: Learning Impaired and Early Childhood Education from Eastern Michigan University. Janet completed her M.A. degree in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Michigan.

Prior to her career in educational research, Janet worked numerous years as an elementary classroom teacher in both public and private school settings. janmay@umich.edu

Loren Marulis Loren Marulis coordinates field placement and data collection for the Longitudinal Home Study and leads the Vocabulary Meta-analysis, a statistical examination of the effects of training and intervention on children's word learning.

Loren will be a doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at University of Michigan in Fall 2009. Previously she has earned her Bachelor of Art's degree in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Teaching, Master of Art's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University and a Master of Art's degree in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University.

She taught Elementary school for seven years and was a Learning Specialist for two years. She has worked as a Research Assistant at Cognitive Development Labs at Ohio State University and Northwestern University and a Teaching Assistant at Northwestern University. Loren presents her research and training at conferences and workshops throughout the state as well as nationally and internationally.

Deb Simon Debra Simon, UM-Ready to Read Data Manager
Deb completed her degree in Early Childhood Development and taught preschool for three years before beginning her work at UM. She worked as an observer/assessor on Project Great Start and Ready to Learn. Previously, Deb managed assessor scheduling and data collection and currently oversees data management of the various studies in the UM-Ready to Read project.

Research Partners

Ashley M. Pinkham, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow at the University of Michigan.  She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in cognitive-developmental psychology at the University of Virginia, and her B.A. in psychology from the University of Chicago.  Her research focuses on sources of children’s knowledge acquisition and conceptual development, including observational learning, adult-child conversations, and book-reading experiences. pinkhama@umich.edu

Tanya Kaefer
Tanya received her bachelor's degree from University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario in 2004, where she completed her honors thesis in psychology. She received her MA in psychology from Duke in 2006, and her PhD from Duke in 2009. Her dissertation focused on orthographic knowledge in pre-and-early-readers. Her research interests focus on the cognitive and social factors in pre-school that affect reading acquisition long term.

Research Assistants

Laura Herold, Graduate Student
Laura Herold is a doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture program at the School of Education, University of Michigan. She received her M.A. at the University of Michigan, specializing in Early Childhood Education, and was previously a preschool teacher. Her research interests include the effects of educational media on infant literacy, preschool literacy development, teacher-child interactions, and improving the educational and social outcomes of at-risk children.

Project Support Staff

Christina Mendez Christina E. Mendez is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and received her B.A. in psychology. She is currently a research associate for the Ready to Read research program, specializing in data management and office association. In addition to her interests in early childhood education, Christina is continuing her education in the field of nursing.