Welcome New Faculty Members

The College of Education welcomes eight new faculty members hired to start the current academic year, bringing with them fresh viewpoints and new expertise in the vital fields of counselor […]

The College of Education welcomes eight new faculty members hired to start the current academic year, bringing with them fresh viewpoints and new expertise in the vital fields of counselor education, elementary education, higher education administration, literacy education, and school psychology. Below are mini-bios of each listing their “vitals” including prior degrees, work experience, research interests and other noteworthy factoids . . .




Shon Smith, assistant professor, counselor education (Ed.D., counselor education, Duquesne University)

  • Comes to UF from: Webster University’s Metropolitan campus in Orlando, and he previously taught at the Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg campuses, where he was the college’s state director of counseling programs and an adjunct associate professor in counselor education since 2011.
  • Research interests: Multicultural counseling, clinical supervision, counseling education programming, leadership and advocacy within the counseling paradigm and working with military personnel and families.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Smith is past president of the Florida Counseling Association and chairs the American Counseling Association Southern Region. A veteran, he has been deployed to three continents as a combat medic.



Aki Murata, associate professor, elementary mathematics education (Ph.D., Northwestern University, learning sciences)

  • Comes to UF from: University of California-Berkeley, where she was assistant professor of elementary education.
  • Research interests: Elementary math education, teacher education, teacher professional development, cultural and social contexts in education, comparative education, qualitative research.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Murata has at least 10 published articles in Japanese and numerous others in English in top-tier education journals, and has given plenary talks in several countries.
Ortagus3 (web)



Justin C. Ortagus, assistant professor of higher education (Ph.D. Pennsylvania State Univ., higher education)

  • Comes to UF from: Pennsylvania State University, where he recently earned his Ph.D. in higher education with a cognate in business management and organization.
  • Research interests: Applying quantitative methods to examine the growing influence of online education and technology in higher education and other crucial issues facing colleges and universities.
  • Noteworthy: Ortagus Received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in educational leadership from UF.


Isaac McFarlin, assistant professor of higher education administration and economics (Ph.D. Northwestern University, economics)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Michigan, where he was an assistant research scientist with the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Research interests: Community colleges; affirmative action; school facilities; school choice; labor market returns to postsecondary education.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. McFarlin is principal investigator on two Institute of Education Sciences research grants focusing on school facilities and community college tuition subsidies. His interests are salsa, adventure travel, and cycling.


Cliff Haynes, clinical assistant professor, student personnel in higher education /higher education administration (Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, University of Florida)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Florida, where he was a staff member in the Department of Housing and Residence Education for eight years.
  • Research interests: include living-learning programs, faculty engagement in out-of-class interactions with students, student activism, and the use of qualitative research in assessing student engagement and learning.
  • Noteworthy: As a UF Ph.D. student Dr. Haynes co-authored a research report in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies illuminating how female doctoral students can find balance and life satisfaction in the multiple roles they play.




Kathryn Ann Jacob Caprino, clinical assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, education (culture, curriculum and change)

  • Comes to UF from: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she recently completed her Ph.D. while serving as a graduate assistant, an iPad integration professional development facilitator and research assistant.
  • Research interests: Teacher education, English education, teaching of writing, children’s and young adult literature, student teaching supervision, rhetoric and composition, new literacies, digital literacy, critical literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Caprino is a reviewer for several publications in the field of English education.


Angela M. Kohnen, assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis, English education)

  • Comes to UF from: Missouri State University, where she was coordinator of English Education for undergraduate and graduate programs in the MSU English department.
  • Research interests: The teaching of writing, teacher professional development, disciplinary literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Kohnen co-authored a book, “Front-Page Science: Engaging teens in science literacy,” in 2012.




Joni D. Williams Splett, assistant professor in school psychology (Ph.D., University of Missouri, school psychology)

  • Comes to UF from: University of South Carolina, where she was a post-doctoral Research Fellow on USC’s School Mental Health Team.
  • Research interests: Universal behavior screening, multi-tiered systems of support, social-emotional interventions, and interdisciplinary training and collaboration in school mental health.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Splett is a licensed psychologist and strong advocate for children’s mental health services, including serving as two-time co-chair of the South Carolina School Behavioral Health Conference.