Research Team

Our interdisciplinary Research Team represents diverse personal backgrounds and a wide breadth of research experiences. All have direct experience mentoring those who are currently underrepresented in research fields, and several have personal experience as that underrepresented individual. With a shared commitment to The uniqueness of our individual pathways into STEM, social science, and community health strengthens our shared commitment to opening opportunities for broader participation students who are currently underrepresented in these spaces.

Susan Watts-Taffe, Ph.D., is a Professor, and former Associate Director, in the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Watts-Taffe is a former reading specialist, with expertise in supporting students who experience difficulty learning to read and write. Her research focuses on vocabulary learning, literacy in the disciplines, and educational and community-based action research. As a professional development facilitator, she has worked with teachers to improve vocabulary learning in a variety of elementary, middle, and high school settings, including schools serving a majority multilingual student population. She has also worked extensively with the community-based non-profit, WordPlay Cincinnati.

FUN FACT: For fun, I enjoy dancing, writing poetry, and I’m trying to learn how to juggle!

Jonathan Breiner, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of STEM Education with a joint appointment in the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education and Department of Chemistry. In his role at UC, he prepares science educators to become teachers. In prior roles at UC, he worked with and created classes for at-risk students, more than tripling their retention. Dr. Breiner is the Director of the African American Initiative in Mathematics and Science and the Director of the UC BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Teacher Pathway. Both programs share the goal of increasing representation of underrepresented groups in education.

FUN FACT: I once performed as “Ricky Martin” on stage with dancers on a cruise ship in front of roughly 1000 people.

Sarah Fankhauser, Ph.D. is a microbiologist by training. As an Associate Professor of biology at Oxford College of Emory University, Dr. Fankhauser brings her extensive knowledge and experience as a classroom teacher and educator of science writing. As the founder and former board chair of the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI), she brings over ten years of experience in designing and implementing structural supports to help high school students in their research, writing, and publication. Similarly, she has worked with high school teachers to provide complementary training and resources in STEM disciplinary literacy practices, with a recent co-authored paper with one of the teachers.

FUN FACT (actually more nerdy than fun): I love learning and I’m a lifetime student. While being a professor I have taken a field botany course, a statistics course, and a freshwater ecology course. I’m currently trying to learn French. 

Whitney Gaskins, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence, Community Engagement an Professional Development in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, one of two Black women currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. Dr. Gaskins has dedicated much of her research and service to diversifying STEM education. She serves as PI for two grants designed to support students’ academic preparation to enter into the STEM workforce. She is founder of The Gaskins Foundation, a nonprofit organization, that recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year-round K-12 program, a free-of charge program that introduces students to Math and Science with support from local community members, high schoolers, and university students.

FUN FACT: I love to explore new places and try different foods from around the world! Whether it’s tasting exotic fruits or sampling street food in bustling markets, I’m always up for an adventure in culinary exploration!

Dana Harley, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Behavioral Health at the University of Cincinnati. For six consecutive years, Dr. Harley has received grant funds to implement a pipeline graduate recruitment project for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) seeking the Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Harley is also a mentor in the McNair Scholars Program, an undergraduate initiative that aims to encourage first-generation students from low income households and/or members of underrepresented groups to pursue graduate training.

FUN FACT: A fun fact about me is that I enjoy line dancing.

Farrah Jacquez, Ph.D. Dr. Jacquez is a Professor of Psychology and Assistant Vice President of Research at the University of Cincinnati. Her work focuses on community-engaged approaches to health equity and broadening participation in science and research. In her research, Dr. Jacquez works directly with community members to design and conduct research that addresses community priorities and improves health and wellness.

Kathie Maynard, Ed.D. is Associate Dean for Innovations and Community Partnerships, Dr. Maynard works to engage the College of Criminal Justice, Education, and Human Services (CECH) at the University of Cincinnati with the community. A major area of collaboration currently focuses on the community-identified priority of STEM education. Additionally, she leads the UC Scholars Academy Initiative, a university-wide effort that partners with every college at UC to increase college access for underrepresented and underserved students.

LaTrice Montgomery, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. Her clinical and research interests focus on improving prevention and treatment interventions for Black adolescents and adults who use substances, especially cannabis and tobacco. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment and the journal Cannabis.

FUN FACT: A fun fact is that I love learning new TikTok dances!

Lisa M. Vaughn, Ph.D., Dr. Vaughn is a Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and of Educational Studies Community-Based Action Research at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Vaughn is an expert in community-based participatory research (CBPR). Her research program focuses on the sociocultural issues affecting the health and wellbeing of families and youth with a special emphasis on immigrant and minority populations in the U.S.

FUN FACT: When not working, I love to do collage art and spend time with my kids at musical and theater performances. I am currently taking tap dance lessons to further embarrass my kids!