Principle Investigators

Dr. Art Graesser is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis, as well as an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Oxford. His research interests include question asking and answering, tutoring, text comprehension, emotion and computational linguistics. He served as editor of the journal Discourse Processes and Journal of Educational Psychology, as well as presidents of 4 societies, including Society for Text and Discourse and the International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education. He has published over 700 articles and been PI or co-PI in approximately 40 Federal grants (approximately $70 million). He and his colleagues have developed and tested software in learning, language, and discourse technologies, including AutoTutor, Coh-Metrix, and Question Understanding Aid. Dr. Graesser will contribute to the design of data collection, revisions of AutoTutor, the content of the training materials, analysis of the results, and dissemination of the research.

See his website here.

Art Graesser

Dr. John Sabatini is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Dept. of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the Univ. of Memphis, formerly a Principal Research Scientist in the R&D division of ETS. His research experience includes reading literacy development, disabilities, assessment, cognitive psychology, and educational technology, with a primary focus on adults and adolescents. He has been the principal investigator of an IES-funded grant to develop pre-K -12 comprehension assessments as part of the Reading for Understanding (RfU) initiative, as well as a current IES grant to adapt those assessments for use in adult learner programs. He has been PI of a multi agency grant studying the relative effectiveness of reading programs for adults, co-PI of IES Language Muse ( grant, a web-based that uses NLP automated item generation technology and build language activities from classroom texts. He was an architect of the PBS/KET/NCAL LiteracyLink system, as well as key personnel in multiple NCAL adult education technology products ( Dr. Sabatini will provide scientific supervision of research design and data collection, financial and project direction, development of instruments and assessments including use of SARA.

John Sabatini

Dr. Daphne Greenberg is a Distinguished University Professor in the Educational Psychology Program in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at Georgia State University, and also the Director of the Adult Literacy Research Center. She is currently the PI for the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy (, a 10 million dollar IES funded National Education Research and Development Center on adult literacy. Her articles have appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals on reading with high citation rates and journals geared towards policy makers and practitioner audiences. She will provide technical support to all aspects of project, as well as oversee design studies in Georgia locations

Daphne Greenberg


Dr. Xiangen Hu is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at The University of Memphis (UofM) and senior researcher at the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) at the UofM and is professor and Dean of the School of Psychology at Central China Normal University (CCNU). Dr. Hu received his MS in applied mathematics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, MA in social sciences and Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hu is the Director of Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Partnership Laboratory at the UofM, and is a senior researcher in the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior.

See his website here.

Xiangen Hu

Dr. Teneha O'Reilly is a Principal Research Scientist in the R&D Division at ETS. He is currently the Principal Investigator of a grant examining the relations between different types of background knowledge on different types of comprehension and a Co-PI on a grant designed to develop new assessments for adult literacy. He was the Co-PI for assessment strand of the Reading for Understanding (RfU) Initiative grant, charged with creating the next generation of pre-K-12 assessments, and has served as PI or co-PI on several internal and external reading grants. He is also a co-editor of two books on advancing the science of reading assessment. Dr. O’Reilly will oversee and lead the scientific research completed by ETS including the design of instruments & and assessments especially SBA testlets, study designs, analyses and dissemination.

Tenaha O'Reilly

Dr. Jonathan Weeks is a Research Scientist in the Global Center in ETS R&D. Dr. Weeks is currently a lead psychometrician of the IES grant develop new web-based assessments for adult literacy, and previously on the IES funded RfU initiative. He has developed the vertical scales for the RISE subtests, that are the basis for SARA battery. Dr. Weeks has contributed to the psychometric analysis of cognitive and non-cognitive scales for PISA and PIAAC. He has written an R package for IRT-based test linking, and he has published in various peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Educational Measurement, among others. Dr. Weeks will oversee the study designs and manage and conduct psychometric and data analysis for the Evaluation of Promise.

Jonathan Weeks

Zhiqiang Cai is a former Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and will move to University of Wisconsin in January of 2020. Mr. Cai’s primary research interests are in the fields of intelligent tutoring systems and natural language processing. He is the chief software developer of the AutoTutor conversational intelligent tutoring system and the Coh-Metrix text analysis tool. Mr. Cai will be responsible for the modification, further development, and tests of AutoTutor software.

Zhiqiang Cai


Colin Carmon

Dr. Jan Frijters is a Full Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies and Department of Psychology at Brock University. He has specialized experience in evaluating treatment outcomes, including human growth curve modeling. His recent work is in understanding the motivational, social and attributional factors that predict response to reading intervention. Dr. Frijters will contribute to the development of motivation self-report measures, the modeling of engagement metrics, and the analysis of the group-based comparisons.

Jan Frijters

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.

John Hollander


Keith Shubeck

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.

Halle Smith


Christopher Bourett

John Fleishman

Stephen Reder

David Rosen

Wendy Quinonens

Jen Vanek