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 is accepting new doctoral students for fall 2021. Please reach out for more information or visit the Department of Special Education website.

Current Team Members

PhD Graduates

Zainab A. Umar

PhD Candidate

Zainab graduated with her B.A. in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She went on to get a post-graduate diploma in education from the Nigerian Teachers institute Kadunam, and her master’s in Early Childhood Special Education at UT Austin. Zainab has worked as an elementary teacher and supervised student teachers.


She currently works on Project EXPERT and her research is focused on reading instruction and student outcomes in Africa, particularly Nigeria.


Gabriela Coelho

Research Assistant

Gabriela graduated from UT Austin with a B.S. in Applied Learning and
Development - Special Education. She works as an elementary special education teacher in Texas and plans to pursue graduate studies in educational policy.


She is currently assisting with the Pathways to Resilience Project and is interested in understanding how students with disabilities remain resilient in challenging times.
She hopes to learn how to best assist her own students in setting and reaching their goals.


Check out her teaching website.

Dr. Marissa Filderman

  • The University of Texas at Austin (2020)

  • Dissertation: Using Student Data
    to Improve Response to a Multisyllabic Word Reading Intervention: The Effects of 
    Varying Levels of Data Use


  • Current:
    Assistant Professor, University of Alabama 

Dr. Amanda McClelland

  • The University of Texas at Austin (2020)

  • Dissertation: Classroom Working Alliance for Students with Disabilities: Differences Between Special Education and General Education Teachers and Association with Student Engagement

Dr. Lisa Didion Johnston

  • The University of Texas at Austin (2019)

  • Dissertation: Data Mountain: Self-Monitoring, Goal Setting, and Motivation Training to Improve the Oral Reading Fluency of Struggling Readers in the Elementary Grades

  • Current:
    Assistant Professor, University of Iowa

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