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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 2023. Please reach out for more information or visit the Department of Special Education website.

Current PhD Advisees


Brennan Chandler

PhD Student


Brennan (he/him) is a doctoral student 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). He holds a B.S. in elementary and early childhood education and a M.S. in special education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 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 intensive interventions for students with learning disabilities, with a particular focus on dyslexia. 


Beth Feuer

PhD Student

GoKAR! & Project EXPERT

Beth (she/her) 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 culturally responsive and equitable practices within special education.


Erica Fry

PhD Student

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 student 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

Project EXPERT

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. She hopes to conduct research on literacy instruction for students identified with both reading disabilities and behavioral disorders. 


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 Student


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 student in the LD/BD program at UT Austin.

Team Members


David Furjanic, PhD

Project Coordinator

Dave (he/him) is the coordinator for Project EXPERT. 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), having completed a master’s at Millersville University and an internship in a Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved MTSS/RTI service model at Derry Township School District in Hershey, PA. 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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