Research Team

Sue Farruggia, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Sue is a Developmental Psychologist with expertise in quantitative research methods and statistics. Her research interests include college student success, educational disparities, and adult influences on youth development.

Tom Moss, M.F.A., M.A., Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Tom helps coordinate such initiatives as UIC Summer College, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Office of Project Management for Student Success Initiatives, the Undergraduate Advising Resource Center, and the Office of First-Year Initiatives, which oversees UIC’s new transition coaching program.

Nikos Varelas, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and LAS Distinguished Professor of Physics.  Nikos has served as Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) where he led the curricular reforms and student success initiatives for the college.  He is also a Fellow of the UIC’s Honors College.

Cheon-woo Han, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Cheon-woo’s research interests involve academic motivation, achievement goals, self-efficacy, classroom structures, individual differences, and instructional design. He has particular expertise in statistical skills such as structure equation modeling (SEM), cluster analysis, multilevel modeling, and person-centered approach.

Bonnie Solomon, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Bonnie completed her doctoral degree in Psychology at UIC, in the Community & Prevention Research program.  She has expertise in educational program evaluation and an interest in evaluation capacity building in educational organizations. Her research interests include disparities in educational outcomes and programs/practices designed to address those disparities.

Chanel Phillips, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Chanel completed her doctoral degree in Community Psychology at National Louis University-Chicago. Her research interests include education empowerment among minority adolescent students, school to prison pipeline, post-secondary education access and minority student success, and education equity for perceived at-risk adolescents. She has expertise in development, program evaluation, and capacity building for non-profit organizations.

Julienne A. Palbusa, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Julienne completed her doctoral degree in Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests include family factors that affect the psychosocial and educational experiences of youth during the transition to adulthood. She is also interested in individual, family, and institutional factors that influence students’ access to higher education and college success, especially for first-generation students and students from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds.

Gerardo (Jerry) Jimenez, Director of Operations. Jerry oversees the fiscal and human resources activities for the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs.  As part of his support to the Office of Research for Student Success, Jerry manages the grants and contracts, develops and manages budgets, and oversees all human resources activities.

Sara Rezvi, Doctoral Student, Department of Education,  Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction & Gender Women’s Studies. Sara is a graduate research assistant and former high school mathematics teacher.  Her research interests include pre-service teacher preparation, critical discourse analysis, social justice and gender equity in STEM, and critical race theory.

Paul Dobria, Undergraduate Student. Paul is an undergraduate student at UIC majoring in  biological sciences and psychology. He is also a student in the Honors College working on the Exit Study for his capstone project.

Adriana Perez, B.A., former Undergraduate Student. Adriana is working on the Transition Coaching Coordination Program study looking at social media use among incoming freshman and their coaches.


Bette Bottoms, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology. She is the PI on the grant from the anonymous foundation.

Jason Coupet, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Administration, North Carolina State University

Corinne Kodama, Ph.D., Instructional Assistant Professor, DePaul University

Kevin Pinkston, Ph.D., Director of Enrollment Analytics

Former Team Members

Allison Ballweber, M.A., former Graduate Research Assistant

Mark Brow, E.D., former Graduate Research Assistant

Jason Chung, former Undergraduate Research Student

Dulce Diaz, B.A., former Undergraduate Student

Peggie Garcia, Ph.D., former Postdoctoral Fellow.

Mary Leighton, Ph.D., former Project Coordinator of the Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success

Brittany Myers, M.A., former Graduate Research Assistant

Emanuel D. (Mannie) Pollack, Ph.D., former Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs.

Meagan Rawers, former Undergraduate Research Student

Lakeshia Watson, M.Ph., former Graduate Research Assistant

Meredith Wellman, M.A., former Graduate Research Assistant

Katie Westwood, M.S.W., former Graduate Research Assistant



We are grateful to the following individuals for their support on one or more of the ORSS research projects:  Mark Bennett, Mark Manderino, and Nick Ardinger.