Faculty and Staff
The Literacy Studies Faculty is comprised of four researchers focused on researching literacy and literacy education in order to understand and contribute to the literacy knowledge of international, national, state, and local literacy education. Each faculty member focuses on specific areas of literacy in their research, teaching, and outreach.
Diane Barone is a foundation professor of literacy at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research focuses on young children's literacy development and instruction in high poverty schools. She has conducted two longitudinal studies of literacy development: one, a four-year study of children prenatally exposed to crack/cocaine and two, a seven-year study of children, predominantly English Language Learners, in a high-poverty school. She has had articles published in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Elementary School Journal, The Reading Teacher, Gifted Childhood Quarterly, and Research in the Teaching of English. She has written several books: Resilient Children, Research-Based Practices in Early Literacy, and Using Your Core Reading Program and Children's Literature K-3 and 4-6. She works in public schools to enhance student learning in literacy and she has mentored teachers seeking National Board Certification. She served as the Editor of Reading Research Quarterly and was a board member of the International Reading Association and the National Reading Conference. She is currently Editor of The Reading Teacher with Marla Mallette.
Julie Pennington is an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the College of Education. She has focused on the areas of literacy and diversity throughout her career as a classroom teacher for fourteen years and currently as a teacher and educator and researcher. Her research interests include the use of autoethnography in teacher education and pursuing questions related to how teachers approach literacy instruction in linguistically and culturally diverse settings. She is the author of The Colonization of Literacy Education and several articles and book chapters focused on issues related to literacy instruction in diverse settings with particular attention to how race is constructed in schooling at all levels.
Dianna Townsend is an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research specializations are in the areas of academic language and adolescent literacy. Her research has been published in The Elementary School Journal, Reading Research Quarterly, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, among others, and focuses on the vocabulary development of English learners as well as the broader construct of academic English. Dr. Townsend teaches classes in content area literacy, adolescent literacy, and literacy foundations and research, and she was formerly a secondary English teacher. Her doctoral work included research on the early identification of ELLs with reading difficulties and the development and experimental evaluation of an after-school vocabulary development intervention for middle-school English Learners. Her current research, which is funded by research grants from UNR, investigates the importance of academic language proficiency for achievement across content areas, as well as best practices for professional development in providing academic language support to struggling readers. Dr. Townsend also conducts extensive outreach to local school districts, providing support to secondary teachers and their students.
Heriberto Godina is an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. His areas of specialization include exploring optimal literacy instruction for culturally-diverse students. His previous research has focused on the role of technology upon optimal literacy instruction for classroom educators. He is also interested in how Spanish-English phonological transfer can be used as a tool for literacy educators who work with English Language Learners. Dr. Godina is a public-school certified reading and English teacher. He has previously taught middle school in his hometown, El Paso, Texas, and he also later taught high school in Kankakee, Illinois. He has been recognized by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards for his contributions toward exemplary teaching for public schools. His research has been published in over 50 articles and book chapters, and he also serves on several scholarly editorial boards. Dr. Godina regularly presents at scholarly conferences, such as the National Association of Bilingual Education and Literacy Research Association. He has also served as Chair for the Bilingual Education Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Godina seeks to continue to deepen the awareness about literacy instruction for future educators who are destined to see unique challenges and changes in the cultural diversity of their own classroom.
As a literacy educator Dr. Salas focuses on the academic literacy needs of English Language Learners (ELLs), the preparation of teachers to work with, and meet the needs of an increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse student population, and issues of race, culture and language in the classroom and in children’s literature. She has more than twenty years of experience working with high poverty, Hispanic, and culturally and linguistically diverse learners and their parents. Her university teaching career began at a designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in south Texas and has taken her to universities and schools in North Carolina, California and Nevada.
Dr. Salas' current research deals with the sociocultural aspects of language and literacy development, the preparation of teachers to teach in a culturally and linguistically diverse society and on improving literacy instruction provided to English Language Learners (ELLs) and students who are in at-risk conditions. She is also interested in studying the complex relationship between the cognitive and linguistic demands of academic literacy in school and informal educational settings.
Dr. Salas is also passionate about science and technology and has been involved in forming and co-coaching a robotics club for elementary school children. Her robotics teams have competed at local First Lego League competitions affording the students immeasurable academic, social, and technical opportunities
Koala Koenig is a Ph.D. student in Literacy Studies in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she currently coordinates the Reading Buddies program. She has a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota. Her research interests include English Language Learners' academic language learning and young children's literacy development and instruction, especially in multicultural and multilingual settings.