Five scholars join faculty ranks

November 17, 2020

Gilberto Q. Conchas

Gilberto Conchas

Gilberto Conchas

IMAGE: Provided

Gilberto Q. Conchas is the inaugural Wayne Hoy and Anita Woolfolk Endowed Professor in Educational Policy Studies.

At a moment when the U.S. is grappling with systemic racism and inequality, Conchas said he plans to use his position as an instrument for advancing the Penn State College of Education’s vision for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I appreciate that the College of Education is deeply entrenched in the hard work to combat educational injustice and to promote educational excellence. I believe that the endowed professorship will allow me to contribute my unique qualifications to expand upon the college’s accomplishments and to further advance equity and social justice through research, teaching and community-engagement efforts,” he said.

Conchas’ interest in educational inequality is closely intertwined with his personal history and ethnoracial identity. “As the son of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, it is my utmost responsibility to conduct research that addresses systemic forms of racism and to find solutions to eradicate all forms of injustices. The aim of PreK-12 and higher education is to empower all students who, despite being affected by marginalization, unjust immigration policies, poverty and inadequate education policies, navigate successfully through inequality in U.S. society and culture,” he said.

Numerous peer-reviewed scholarly journals have published Conchas’ research on social inequality and education.

Conchas left the University of California Irvine as professor of educational policy and social context, and founding director of Community Engagement & Student Success. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Berkeley and both a master’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Francesca López

Francesca Lopez

Francesca Lopez

IMAGE: Photo provided

As newly named Waterbury Chair in Equity Pedagogy in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Francesca López wants to help make Penn State’s College of Education the place to consult for how equity work should be carried out.

López left the University of Arizona as the Ernest W. McFarland distinguished professor in leadership for education policy and reform; founder and director of the Education Policy Center; and associate dean of the College of Education. At Penn State, she’ll succeed Richard Duschl, who retired in 2019, as the Waterbury-chaired professor.

López said that for equity work to take place, anti-racist work needs to be at the center. “I foresee my primary academic emphasis to reflect the work I have carried out that helps us understand the kind of knowledge educators need to transform educational spaces to equitable, anti-racist spaces — what I collectively refer to as asset-based pedagogy,” she said.

“My long-term goal in this position is to use it as a platform that leverages the deep expertise in the Penn State College of Education, as well as collaborators in the community. There are amazing things already happening in the college, and I am so very excited to get started by engaging in conversations with my colleagues about their vision, the needs in various contexts, and ways we can collaborate.”

López earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas; a master’s in educational psychology and special services (counseling) from the University of Texas-El Paso; and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Arizona.

José Cossa

Jose Cossa

Jose Cossa

IMAGE: Photo provided

José Cossa is associate professor in adult learning in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems. Cossa is a Mozambican scholar whose research focuses on justice-centered work toward de-colonializing, de-bordering, de-peripherizing/de-centering the world; power dynamics in international negotiation over educational policy; and, unveiling issues inherent in the promises of modernity and cosmopolitanism.

In addition, Cossa’s current theorizing, which he coined as "Cosmo-uBuntu," offers a new exterior (to modernity) theorizing and practice to engage interdisciplinary questions pertinent to humanity and the cosmos, technology and artificial intelligence, educational theory and practice in face-to-face and in online and distance education contexts.

Most recently, Cossa was a visiting associate professor at the American University in Cairo and a senior lecturer at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Cossa holds a doctorate in cultural and educational policy studies with a depth area in comparative and international education from Loyola University Chicago.

Danielle Lawson

Danielle Lawson

Danielle Lawson

IMAGE: Penn State

Danielle Lawson comes to Penn State with a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management (tenure home) and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the science education emphasis area.

Lawson’s research expertise focuses on how environmental and science education based intergenerational learning can elevate the voices of youth to bring members of multiple generations together to work toward solutions on complex environmental issues. Her interests include working with stakeholders, teachers and community members to find new ways to communicate scientific research.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and biological oceanography and a master’s degree in environmental studies with a focus in environmental education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Ph.D. in parks, recreation and tourism management from North Carolina State University, where she also served as a postdoctoral scholar.

Tiffany Nyachae

Tiffany Nyachae

Tiffany Nyachae

IMAGE: Photo provided

Tiffany M. Nyachae is assistant professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She also is a fellow in the STAR (Scholars of Color Transitioning into Academic Research Institutions) Mentoring Program through the Literacy Research Association (LRA).

Nyachae earned her doctorate in literacy education: curriculum, instruction, and the sciences of learning at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). At the heart of her research agenda is, has been, and will be improving the educational experiences of students of color. Overall, Nyachae is a community-engaged scholar whose research is situated at the intersections of race, literacy, curriculum and justice, while contributing directly to community resources in the form of literacy workshops for young people and professional development for teachers.

Last Updated November 17, 2020