Dianna Townsend, Ed.D.

Professor of Literacy Studies
Photo of Dianna Townsend


Dr. Townsend's research centers on the academic language development of adolescent students, with specific attention to vocabulary, comprehension and disciplinary literacy. She examines both the unique academic language demands of the disciplines and effective instructional strategies to help students understand and use academic language in and across academic disciplines. Recent research, funded by the Spencer Foundation, was an intervention comparing how different types of background knowledge and academic language scaffolding impact the reading comprehension of multilingual adolescents. Dr. Townsend's work has been published in Reading Research Quarterly, The Elementary School Journal, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Topics in Language Disorders, as well as in other journals and multiple books. Dr. Townsend is a Tibbetts Distinguished Teacher Award Winner. She created the innovative Virtual Reading Clinic in the online M.Ed. Program in Reading Curriculum & Instruction to support remote and rural teachers in a graduate-level practicum experience. Nationally, Dr. Townsend serves as a Principal Member of the Education Research Scientific Review Panel with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. She is also a member of the Reading Standing Committee for the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). In Nevada, Dr. Townsend is the co-founder and President of the Nevada Adolescent Literacy Network (NALN). Within the College of Education and Human Development at UNR, Dr. Townsend is the Graduate Program Director of the M.Ed., Ph.D., in Reading Curriculum & Instruction and the Reading Specialist Endorsement Certificate programs.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ed.D., University of California-Irvine
  • M.Ed., Boston University