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Our research team is focused on educational supports for students with learning disabilities, particularly in the area of reading. The questions that drive our work center around how best to support students’ reading development. Dr. Toste is specifically interested in methods for intensifying and individualizing interventions for students with reading disabilities (including dyslexia).

Dr. Toste will be accepting new doctoral students for fall 2025. Please reach out for more information or visit the Department of Special Education website.

Current PhD Advisees


Brennan Chandler

PhD Candidate


Brennan (he/him) is a doctoral candidate in the LD/BD program at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a doctoral scholar with the National Center for Intensive Intervention (NCLII-2). Before pursuing his doctoral studies, Brennan began his teaching career as a general educator in Nebraska. After relocating to New York City, Brennan worked as a special education teacher at a specialized, independent school for students with twice-exceptionalities. His work in the field prompted him to pursue his PhD to study effective intensive intervention methods for students with dyslexia, with a particular focus on spelling intervention.


Beth Feuer

PhD Candidate

GoKAR! & Project EXPERT

Beth (she/her or they/them) received her B.A. in Education and Child Study from Smith College. She graduated from the University of Washington with an M.Ed. with a concentration in Low Incidence Disabilities. She worked for five years as a secondary special education teacher before embarking on her PhD journey. Beth is currently a doctoral student in the Equity and Diversity in Special Education program at UT Austin. She works on both GoKAR! (Kids Against Racism) and Project EXPERT. Her research is focused on self-determination, as well as culturally responsive and equitable practices within special education.


Erica Fry

PhD Candidate

Project EXPERT

Erica (she/her) received her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University where she studied Special Education. She graduated from New York University with an M.A. in Sociology of Education with a policy concentration. She worked in schools for 23 years as a special education teacher and administrator. Erica is a doctoral candidate in the LD/BD program at UT Austin. She works on Project EXPERT, and her research is focused on professional development for teachers of students with disabilities.


Emily Hardeman

PhD Student


Emily (she/her) is a doctoral student in the LD/BD program at The University of Texas at Austin. Emily received her master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in dyslexia from Midwestern State University. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and trained in the Take Flight program through the Scottish Rite Hospital. Before joining the PhD program, Emily was a special education teacher and dyslexia interventionist in Austin ISD. Here research interests are teacher knowledge of reading instruction and social-emotional outcomes for students with dyslexia.


Elizabeth Hart

PhD Student


Elizabeth (she/her) is a doctoral student in the LD/BD program at The University of Texas at Austin. She is a doctoral scholar with the National Center for Leadership on Intensive Intervention (NCLII-2). Elizabeth has her M.S. in special education focusing on behavior disorders and positive behavior supports from Texas State University. Prior to beginning her PhD at UT Austin, she led a behavior inclusion program in San Marcos CISD. She aims to conduct research that will improve screening and interventions that target the emotional and academic effects of trauma.


Sarah Mason

PhD Candidate


Sarah (she/her) received her M.H.S. from Johns Hopkins University where she studied school-based mental health prevention and intervention. Sarah went on to earn an M.A. at Case Western Reserve University, where she specialized in pediatric psychology. Her research interests focus on integrating cognitive, behavioral, and socio-emotional strategies within academic interventions. Sarah is currently a doctoral candidate in the LD/BD program at UT Austin.


Raquel Silva

PhD Student


Raquel (she/her) is a doctoral student in the LD/BD program at The University of Texas at Austin. She is completing her master's in education with a certificate in technology, information, and communication from European University of the Atlantic. Raquel has been a teacher in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for over 20 years and has taught across grade levels, content areas, and settings. Her research interests focus on use of media tools to enhance reading instruction for students with learning disabilities.

Team Members


Emily Farris, PhD

Research Associate

Emily is a research associate for Project IDARE. She earned her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Texas Arlington, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco. Emily spent five years as an Assistant Director at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University (i.e., MTSU Center for Dyslexia). As a developmental cognitive psychologist, Emily’s research focuses on (a) understanding cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying foundational literacy skills and reading disabilities, (b) reading resilience, (c) changes in these skills and mechanisms over time or in response to intervention, (d) aspects of classification and identification models of dyslexia, and (e) educator knowledge of literacy. She also serves as an associate editor for Annals of Dyslexia.


David Furjanic, PhD


Dave (he/him) is the coordinator of Project EXPERT and continues to work with the Toste Team in a consultant role. He is currently an Assistant Professor of school psychology at the University of Denver. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a PhD in school psychology and MS in special education in 2021. He completed a predoctoral internship at the University of South Florida where he split his time between analyzing assessment data with the Rightpath Research and Innovation Center and building professional learning resources with Florida’s Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention Project. Dave is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). His research interests focus on data-based decision-making, coaching, and capacity building.


Mona Maclay

Project Coordinator

Mona (she/her) is the coordinator for the SDLMI-Reading project. She earned her MEd at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Educational Psychology, Youth Development. Mona has previously worked as a tutoring coordinator for America Reads – UIC. She has also worked as a lab manager, research assistant, and teaching assistant.  She is interested in how social and emotional processes can support positive educational and developmental outcomes in youth. 



Team Mascot

Harrison (he/him) was born on July 22, 2021 and joined the Toste-Lenartowicz family two months later. He is a Bernedoodle and a certified "good boy." Harrison's likes include treats, squeaky toys, short hikes, dinner time, and his human sister. He does not enjoy hot weather, long hikes, or being left home alone. You can check out his (infrequently updated) TikTok account at @LilBerneDood.

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