Current Graduate Students

Asma Ben Romdhane

Ph.D. Program

I am from Tunisia, where I was raised as a bilingual child in both Arabic and French. I earned my B.A. in English Language, Civilization and Literature with an emphasis in applied linguistics. In 2010, I came to the University of Iowa as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant to teach Arabic. As a result of falling in love with Iowa City, and being impressed by the professors of the College of Education, I ended up not only applying for an M.A. in Foreign Language and ESL Education, but also, finishing my PhD here. I am currently ABD, writing my dissertation about the impact of studying abroad. Meanwhile, I am working as an Assistant Professor in Arabic Language in the Middle East and North African Studies Program in Northwestern University. My research interests include language and program assessment, multimedia and SLA, study abroad and intercultural competence, and teaching methods in L2 classroom learning.

Wyatt Brockbank

Ph.D. Program

Originally from Ogden, Utah, I have been studying Spanish in a variety of settings in the U.S. since 1996. I earned an M.A. in Spanish Pedagogy at Brigham Young University, and a B.A. in Journalism at Weber State University. I have taught Spanish, English, and public speaking at two large universities and two community colleges. At the University of Iowa, I have worked in online professional development for teachers of English learners (ELs), and promoted world language study in elementary schools. For my dissertation, I study how Hispanic, emergent bilingual families make meaning with digital technology in their homes. Other research interests include study abroad and medical interpreting. I hold a Professional Language Certificate as a (Spanish-English) medical interpreter. I currently chair the Graduate Student Executive Committee, which seeks to reduce the social isolation prevalent in graduate school. In my local community, I am active in church service. Last but not least, although I enjoy teaching and researching, my wife and four children are my greatest joys.

Gregory Child

Ph.D. Program

I am from Seattle, Washington, though I have lived all over the West. I completed my undergraduate from BYU-Idaho with a BA in Spanish Education. After graduating I taught in a Colorado high school for a year before returning to graduate school and received my M.A. in second language teaching from Utah State University. Currently I work in the teacher education program with pre-service ESL teachers; I also teach ESL at Kirkwood Community College. My primary research interest includes teacher identity development, student teaching/teacher education, and technology in the L2 classroom. When I am not working I am enjoying the time with my wife and kids. I have a little boy and he and I are always able to find something to do, or break.

William Coghill-Behrends

Ph.D. Program

I am the Director of The Teacher Leader Center at Iowa - a professional development center and learning commons in the College of Education, and clinical instructor in the foreign language and ESL education program at Iowa. I have taught German at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary level and also taught abroad. I am the author of four books, including: Getting Hired: A Student Teacher’s Guide to Professionalism, Résumé Development, and Interviewing (Kendall Hunt, 2015, 2nd Edition); The CV Handbook: A curriculum vitae owner’s manual (PhD Books, 2011); The PhD Handbook for the Academic Job Search (PhD Books, 2012) and ePortfolio Evaluation Rubrics: Assessment tools for 21st Century School Leadership (2009). I have lived and worked abroad in Germany, and as an undergrad I studied both German and Russian. I hold an Iowa teaching license in German, Russian, and World History. My interests include: teacher innovation, social justice issues in education, LGBTQ issues in education, international education, professional development design, and program management.

Ann DeVault

Ph.D. Program

I earned a B.A. in Spanish and Secondary Education at the Catholic University of America and an M.A. in Foreign Language and ESL Education at Iowa. I taught Spanish at the high school level in Maryland and Florida before moving to Iowa. I recently taught Spanish in the Linn-Mar and Marion Independent School Districts and am currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish classes at a middle school in Cedar Rapids.  I am most interested in teacher preparation and best practices for teaching languages to students with disabilities.

Christopher Gras

Ph.D. Program

Prior to attending the University of Iowa, I earned a MA-TESOL from the University of Southern California where I focused on educational technology and language fossilization. After teaching in both intensive and bridge ESL programs as well as performing administrative duties for a number of years in the State University of New York system, I sought an opportunity to teach English overseas. In 2015, I accepted a U.S. State Department Fulbright Fellowship and became an EFL lecturer at Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam Üniversitesi in Southern Turkey. During my year abroad, I designed numerous departmental language assessments and was able to brush up on my Turkish. As a doctoral candidate in the FL/ESL Program, I plan on advancing my understanding of educational technology and second language assessment by conducting research in a field I am passionate about and engaging in meaningful collaboration with others who share similar interests.

Darrin Hetrick

Ph.D. Program

Working with English language learners has been a career I have thoroughly enjoyed over the past 15 years. After getting my B.A. from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, I went to Croatia to teach EFL with a humanitarian aid organization. Upon returning, I pursued my M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton College (IL). From there, my family ventured back to SE Europe—this time to Bosnia where my wife and I directed an EFL program. Throughout my career, I have also had the chance to teach ESL stateside in high schools, refugee resettlement programs, community colleges, and workplaces. Now, at The University of Iowa, I am interested in researching language policy issues, particularly as they relate to refugees in rural areas.

Grace Junkins

MAT Program

I grew up in Iowa City and I have been studying Spanish since 2005. I earned a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky in 2013.  During my time there, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain for an academic year.  After earning my degree I joined the Peace Corps and taught English in a Cambodian high school for a year.  That is where I fell in love with teaching and made the decision to come back to Iowa and get my M.A.T. While going to school, I have also been working as a substitute teacher in Iowa City.  When I have free time, I am always knitting or binge watching a new show with my fiancé.

Kye Gon Lee

Ph.D. Program

I am from South Korea. I received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education for Children in Korea. I taught English for children through college students in various levels in Korea for many years. I also earned an M.A. in Educational Measurement and Statistics from the University of Iowa. Currently I am a Ph.D. student in Foreign Language and ESL Education, and some of my areas of interest include language learning and teaching in multimedia, culture, and assessments.

Yiching Christine Liu

Ph.D. Program

I am from Taiwan where I completed my M.A. in Foreign Languages and Literature at The National Taiwan University. Currently I am a doctoral student in Foreign Language and ESL Education and a teaching assistant in the Education Technology Center in the College of Education. Some of my specific interests include teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, literacy and cultural issues, with an emphasis on using technology aids to assist learning a foreign language in a more interesting and effective way.

Yuchen Liu

Ph.D. Program

I am from Nanjing, China. I got my B.A. in English Education in 2012. After graduation, I taught EFL at the high school level in an international institute in Shanghai, China, and I taught college English for Special Purposes in the Nanjing Institute of Industry and Technology. In 2014, I pursued my M.A. in TESOL from Murray State University in Kentucky. I hope to conduct research on language learning for ESL/EFL students with Learning Disabilities (LD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I also volunteer for some local organizations, such as the animal shelter, the writing program, the Chinese program, and the volunteer board.  UIowa is an all-around university, I am able to find versatile resources here to enrich my academic and personal life. 

Stephanie Lynch

Ph.D. Program

I am originally from California, and I’ve always had an interest in language and culture. In 2008, I received a Master of Science in Bilingual/Multicultural/ESL education from Western Illinois University. I have been teaching ESL at the university level ever since. I am currently a doctoral student in the Foreign Language and ESL Education program.

Pilar Marcé

Ph.D. Program

I am from Barcelona (Spain). My degree is in Translation and Interpretation. My M.A. degrees are in Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language (Purdue University) and in Conference Interpretation (Monterey Institute of International Studies). I worked as a freelance translator and medical interpreter before coming to the University of Iowa, where I have been teaching Business Spanish and Translation into Spanish for the past few years. I have co-published several textbooks for teaching Spanish for Specific Purposes (business and healthcare). Some of my specific areas of interest include curriculum development and material design, and teacher training and development, with a particular interest in Foreign Language for Specific Purposes.

Warren Merkel

Ph.D. Program

I am currently a fifth-year doctoral student in Foreign Language and ESL Education. My research interests largely focus on areas of second language writing, such as intercultural rhetoric and cross-cultural conceptions of plagiarism. These interests have been shaped by time spent abroad in Germany, Japan, and Korea, and also by a love of writing in general. I am now finalizing my dissertation and plan on graduating in summer 2018. In the little free time I have, I write and try to publish short stories and creative non-fiction.

Charles Netzer

MAT Program

After finishing an undergraduate degree in German Studies at Grinnell College, I spent several years working for the Goethe-Institut, the leading authority on German-as-foreign-language instruction worldwide, first in their North American headquarters in Washington, D.C., and then in their New York offices. Currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching German, I look forward to applying my practical experiences with the language in a classroom setting.

Diane Neubauer, 杜雁子

PhD Program

Before coming to UI, I taught Mandarin Chinese in Illinois and Colorado for ten years at elementary, middle, and high school levels. I continue to teach adults mainly online. Language teaching and learning is fascinating. Some of my main interests include language teacher development and coaching, Second Language Acquisition and its relationship to instruction, comprehension-based teaching approaches, and L2 Chinese language development, particularly related to reading Chinese character texts. I have a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Wittenberg University, an M.A. in Religion from Trinity International University, and Chinese language teacher certification in Wisconsin. My husband and I raise backyard hens and enjoy the Iowa countryside.

Renka Ohta

Ph.D. Program

I am from Nagano, Japan. After I earned my B.A. in English and American Language and Literature, I taught English at a high school in Japan for four years. I completed my M.A. in Foreign and Second Language Education at The Ohio State University, and I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Foreign Language and ESL Education with a particular interest in assessment, testing, and teacher training and development.

Alejandro Pérez Belda

PhD Student

I have completed a Masters in Teaching Spanish as a second language in Spain (where I was born and raised) and a Masters in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Iowa. I have also worked as a Dual Language teacher for three years, and I am fluent in both written and conversational English and Spanish with a working knowledge of Portuguese.  I am now working in different research and/or support projects regarding Dual Language Education in Iowa.  I aim to achieve a better understanding of teachers’ needs in Dual Language Programs and develop a good instructional model for teachers’ improvement and professional development. As a graduate student, I have also complemented my student role at the University of Iowa with my responsibilities as a Spanish Language Teacher Assistant (T.A.) for six semesters, and as a Spanish Department Level Supervisor for two semesters.

Elizabeth Plummer

Ph.D. Program

I earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in TESOL and a master's from the University of Idaho in TESL. I have taught ESL at the elementary, university and adult levels including coordinating and teaching a free English course for immigrants in Iowa City at a local church. My research interests are academic English, CALL and distance education. My dissertation work is on the training of distance education language teachers.

Sarah Rissler

Ph.D. Program

I earned a bachelor's degree from Clarke University in English and Spanish and then continued at Clarke to earn an M.A.T. After teaching for three years I returned to school to earn an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College, Madrid, Spain campus where I lived for one year. Upon return to the United States, I taught Spanish at Kirkwood Community College before beginning the Foreign Language and ESL Education program at the University of Iowa. My research is on curriculum design in foreign language classes in community colleges. Currently I am honored to serve as the ELA Coordinator for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.

Crissa Stephens

Ph.D. Program

Before coming to Iowa, I received a B.A. in French and Spanish from the University of Northern Iowa and an M.A.T. from Georgetown University in TESL/Applied Linguistics. I spent two years providing professional development as an ESL/Title I Curriculum Coach in a middle school in the suburbs of Chicago, and another two and a half years providing professional development and higher education courses for English teachers in Punta Arenas, Chile as an English Language Fellow with the US Department of State. I have also taught EFL both in the US and abroad in university and community-based programs. As a Ph.D. student, I focus on language policy and its impact on opportunity for minority language users. I am particularly interested in how top down and bottom up policies affect sociocultural identity for emergent bilinguals. My most recent publication includes the article "Good Teaching for All Students?: Sheltered Instruction Programming in Washington Language Policy” (2014) in Language and Education

Reuben Vyn

Ph.D. Program

I’m originally from Ontario, Canada, although I completed most of my schooling in the US, receiving a B.A. in French from Calvin College and an M.A. in French from Portland State. I taught foreign languages (mostly French) at nearly every level of education prior to enrolling in the Foreign Language & ESL Education program. My only current students, my wife and two sons (the latter of whom are significantly outpacing the former in terms of acquisition), provide a constant source of joy and inspiration. My research interests broadly include K-12 instructional and assessment-related practices, with an emphasis on utilization-focused program evaluation.

Fang Wang

Ph.D. Program

Before coming to the US, I was an EFL teacher at an English institute in China. In 2013, I started my masters program in TESOL at University of Rochester. Since then, I have been working as an ESL instructor at non-profit organizations, local elementary schools, and in an Intensive English program. I joined the PhD program in Foreign Language and ESL Education at The University of Iowa in 2015 with a research interest in second language reading and writing assessment. In the summer of 2017, I was a test development intern at Educational Testing Service (ETS) and a research intern at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). My current research is focused on reading and writing relationships in non-academic contexts. In my spare time, I love travelling and camping.

Lisa Wymore

Ph.D. Program

I am originally from Nebraska but have lived in Iowa for many years. I completed my B.A. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and M.A.E. in Elementary Reading and Language Arts with a focus on Bilingual Education from the University of Northern Iowa. I spent numerous years as an ESL/Bilingual teacher. During that time, I helped establish the district’s two-way dual language program, taught literacy and math in English and Spanish, and served as the district coordinator of ESL & Dual Language Programs. In addition to my doctoral studies at the University of Iowa, I work as a consultant for English language learners/Title III with an Area Education Agency.  I am interested in bilingual education, assessment, literacy development, and preparation and professional learning for K-12 teachers working with English learners.

Yafei Ye

Ph.D. Program

I’m from Henan, China. I earned my M.A. in TESOL from University of Delaware in 2014 and started working as an ESL instructor and Lab assistant at its English Language Institute after graduation. I’m currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa. And I’m working as a research assistant for the ACCEL project. My research interests include second language acquisition, language transfer, teacher education, and English writing. During my free time, I love hanging out with my friends and playing sports like table tennis, tennis, badminton, etc. I’m also learning skateboarding.

Please note that this list does not include every current graduate student in our program.

Please contact Dr. Pamela Wesely if you would like to add or update your information on this page.