Principle Investigator

John Sabatini

John Sabatini is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis. He was formerly a Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Global Research, Research & Development Division at the Educational Testing Service.  His research interests and expertise are interdisciplinary, extending across reading literacy development and disabilities, assessment, cognitive psychology, the learning sciences, and educational technology.  In the course of his career, he has had opportunity to conduct research on reading, writing, and critical thinking; develop assessments, instructional programs, and educational technology tools; and to participate in evaluation and implementation studies.  While his primary focus has been on adolescent and adult learners, he has participated in research inclusive of learners from preK through adulthood, language learners, and neuro-diverse subpopulations. He has been the principal investigator of an Institute of Education Sciences funded grants to develop pre-K -12 comprehension assessments, as part of the Reading for Understanding initiative, and to adapt those assessments for use in adult education programs. 

Other major research efforts include a NICHD funded Learning Disabilities Research Center project studying subtypes of reading disabilities in adolescents and a NICHD/Dept of Education/National Institute for Literacy grant to investigate the relative effectiveness of reading programs for adults. 

He also serves as a co-investigator on projects exploring the reading processes of adolescents, English language learners, and students with reading based disabilities. He provides technical and research advice to national and international surveys including the 

Faculty Affiliates

Zuowei Wang

Postdoctoral Fellow

Daniel Feller

Daniel (Danny) is a post-doctoral fellow in Emerging Technologies and Applications at the University of Memphis. His research focuses on understanding the literacy challenges faced by underprepared and marginalized college students. As a post-doctoral fellow, he is involved in conducting research and analyzing data related to college reading, readiness, and performance. Danny received a PhD in Educational Psychology from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in Cognitive and Instructional Psychology from Northern Illinois University. His other research interests include event comprehension, aesthetic processing, and media comprehension (e.g., text, film, comics).


John Hollander

John is a student in the Experimental Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Memphis. He is involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of behavioral studies for the lab. His other research interests include semantic representation, reading skills, and the role of embodied cognition in language processing.

Halle Smith

E. Halle Smith (she/hers) is a research coordinator with the Institute for Intelligent Services; she manages projects SARA and AutoTutor-ARC, funded federally by the Institute for Education Sciences. Her duties include recruitment, management, and developmental planning. She received departmental honors and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in 2020. There, she completed a correlate in mathematics with a focus on statistics. She also wrote a thesis designing a replication study of Dutton and Aron’s 1974 bridge experiment using virtual reality and gender theory. Her research interests include genders and masculinities across cultures, within clinical frameworks, and within educational settings.

Colin Carmon

Blake Telfer

Blake R. Telfer is a student in the MSGP Masters program in a cognitive science specialization. He is a research assistant with the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis. He helps with literature reviews, reference management, digital tutoring authoring, data analysis, and IRB submissions. He was an undergraduate research scholar at the University of Memphis-Lambuth, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in August 2022. There, he assisted as an undergraduate researcher, studying the impacts of a speaker's mask-wearing on listeners' positive and negative emotions. His research interests include goal priming, goal activation, personal and social humor, novelty and forgetting, learning techniques, and workplace productivity.