Meet NITEP’s EEP1 Mentors

Dr. Alain Bengochea

Alain Bengochea, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Multicultural, and Special Education at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In his research, he takes a critical perspective while examining how practices and structures legitimize learning opportunities for emergent bilinguals across home, school, and community levels. More specifically, his research focuses on exploring the ideologies that shape emergent bilinguals’ learning experiences in early and middle childhood settings and investigates the multimodal resources (including translanguaging) available to and used by these learners. His previous research includes studying the multimodal choices of emergent bilinguals during naturally occurring interactions, such as in sociodramatic play and show-and-tell activities; investigating the role of vocabulary practices embedded in core reading programs and in teacher-directed activities, such as in shared readings; and researching teachers’ articulated and enacted beliefs and instructional practices in English-medium and dual language settings.

Dr. Merryn Cole
Headshot of Merryn Cole, Ph.D.

Merryn Cole is an Assistant Professor of Science Education. She earned her PhD in Educational Studies (STEM Education emphasis) from the University of Kentucky. She also possesses a MS in Chemistry from the University of Iowa and a BS in Chemistry and General Science from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Her current research interests focus on the relationship between spatial thinking and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) content as well as the ways in which teachers understand and implement project-based instruction and the impact of implementation on students’ understanding of STEM content.

Dr. Jacob Skousen
Headshot of Jacob D. Skousen, Ed.D.

Dr. Jacob Skousen holds a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Bilingual Education, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration, and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Boise State University. He has worked in public schools as a teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as an instructional coach. He also has administrative experience as an after-school program director and as a building principal at the middle and high school levels. Additionally, he was an assistant professor in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Heather Van Ness

Dr. Van Ness received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Special Education from Arizona State University. She has been a practicing school psychologist in Las Vegas for the last 10 years, she is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a nationally certified school psychologist. Her areas of expertise include psychoeducational assessment practices, Applied Behavior Analysis, and classroom behavior management. To date her research largely examines the characteristics and unique needs of diverse learners, particularly students on the autism spectrum and students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Dr. Peter Wiens
Headshot of Peter Wiens, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Wiens is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He joined UNLV as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the fall of 2016 and became an assistant professor of teacher education a year later. Dr. Wiens has more than a dozen years of experience as a teacher and school administer in the United States, Taiwan, and Niger. Dr. Wiens’s research interests focus on understanding the outcomes of teacher preparation programs both on an individual and policy level. In Africa, Dr. Wiens, secured a grant to study English as a Foreign Language teachers. He is currently involved in projects intended to create and implement new measures designed to understand teacher education student learning.