The Office of Educational Research consists of faculty and graduate students throughout the Lutrill & Pearly Payne School of Education’s programs. These programs span the Pre-K-12 and postsecondary levels. They include individuals with expertise in quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research designs. They include expertise in statistics, psychometrics, and program evaluation.

Photo of April Chen

Yu "April" Chen, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education. She received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership (Higher Education) with a minor in Statistics from Iowa State University in 2014. Dr. Chen’s research expertise includes community college student success, STEM pathways, international students, and data-driven decision-making in higher education. Her scholarships have been published in top-tier higher education journals such as Research in Higher Education, Community College Review, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, and Journal of College Student Retention. Dr. Chen received the prestige NSF CAREER award in 2022 for her project focuses on transfer student success in STEM. She is also a recipient of the LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award in 2020.

Photo of Cynthia DiCarlo

Cynthia Fontcuberta DiCarlo, PhD, Diane Toups Goyette Professor in Early Childhood Education, is the Executive Director of the Early Childhood Education Institute at LSU, which serves as a hub for researchers focusing on young children, birth to age 3. DiCarlo is also Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Teacher Education Program and oversees the Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool, a research and model demonstration site. DiCarlo's research focuses on interventions to improve outcomes for young children and clarification and innovations in recommended practices in early childhood. Prior to joining LSU in 2004, she was a Clinical Assistant Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center (New Orleans). DiCarlo has been recognized for her research, teaching and service. She has incorporated her passion for research into the courses she teaches and her work in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. She currently serves on the editorial boards for Infants & Young Children, the Journal of Teacher Action Research, and Beyond Behavior.

Photo of Twana Hilton-Pitre

Twana Y. Hilton-Pitre, PhD, is the Associate Director of the Office of Educational Research. Her experiences span the range of Pre-K-12 and higher education. She has been an associate professor, assistant professor, teacher, school counselor, assistant principal, principal, and district administrator. Dr. Hilton-Pitre has worked as an assistant professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver teaching undergraduate students in the field of elementary education and as an associate professor at Grambling State University teaching graduate students in the Educational Leadership program. She has previously taught courses in the Pre-K-12 Educational Leadership PhD department and worked as a university supervisor for the teacher preparation program at LSU.

Dr. Hilton-Pitre served as the assistant director for the Leadership Development Institute at LSU. She was responsible for the design, implementation, and management of the Leadership Development Institute’s programming with Pre-K-12 at every level, as well as facilitation of presentations within various departments across the campus and throughout Louisiana. She also conducted Leadership Development Coaching sessions while securing district partnerships. Dr. Hilton-Pitre has written successful proposals for the Educators Rising Conference, Teacher Leader Summit, and the National Conference on School Leadership.

Photo of Eugene Kennedy

Eugene Kennedy, PhD, is the Director of the Office of Educational Research and a Professor in the School of Education. He holds a PhD in Educational Research Methodology from the University of South Carolina.  He has worked as a researcher for a testing company, a state department of education, and has served as a technical consultant and evaluator on numerous district, state, and national projects.

Photo of David Kirshner

David Kirshner, PhD, is a Professor of Mathematics Education and a co-Director of the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy at Louisiana State University where he has taught in the mathematics education program since 1987. He holds a doctoral degree in mathematics education and a master’s degree in mathematics, both from University of British Columbia. Dr. Kirshner has served as president of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA) and Chair of the Editorial Board of Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. He currently co-edits Mathematical Thinking and Learning. His research focuses on algebraic symbol competencies, and on the relation of learning theories to pedagogical practices; a book on the latter topic is under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Photo of Margaret-Mary Sultentic-Dowell

Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, PhD, holds the Cecil "Pete" Taylor Endowed Professor of Literacy, Leadership, and Urban Education in the School of Education. Sulentic Dowell is also Director of the LSU Writing Project. Sulentic Dowell’s research agenda includes three strands focused on literacy in urban settings, specifically the complexities of literacy leadership, providing equitable access for marginalized students to literature, writing, and the arts, and service-learning as a pathway to preparing pre-service teachers to teach literacy authentically in urban environs. Sulentic Dowell is a career educator and fierce advocate for public education, spending the majority of her 20-year public school teaching experience in Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, and she served public education as Assistant Superintendent of 64 elementary campuses in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana (2020-2006).

Photo of Kerri Tobin

Kerri J. Tobin, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Education. She is a researcher who focuses on the effects of poverty on all facets of education, with particular interest in the intersections of race and class as they play out in classrooms and schools. Knowing that poverty impacts which schools children attend, what their teachers expect of them, and what they will ultimately go on to achieve, she helps new and pre-service teachers recognize and understand their tremendous responsibilities in the classroom.  

Dr. Tobin started her teaching career in the lowest-income Congressional district in the United States and spent a decade mentoring new teachers in high-poverty schools in New York City, Philadelphia, and Nashville before pursuing her PhD. She uses the foundational social work values and ideals she learned in her MSW program to guide students in developing empowering, student-centered classroom practices.