Laurel Mayo Laurel Mayo
Laurel Mayo founded the LINK Research Lab with Dr. Pete Smith in Fall 2013. As director, she was instrumental in bringing Dr. George Siemens to the University of Texas at Arlington, helping grow the lab’s support staff, crafting a vision for LINK, and securing research grants. She also developed the Professional Learning Community program in 2012 with the goal of innovating pedagogy through digital technology. Laurel retired from the university September 2015. Projects: dLRN, MOOC Research Initiative, PLC
Pete Smith Pete Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. Pete Smith founded the LINK Research Lab with Laurel Mayo in Fall 2013 while serving as Vice Provost for Digital Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Arlington. In July 2016, he became the Chief Analytics Officer and Senior Associate Vice President. Dr. Smith has collaborated with LINK on a number of projects, such as the Professional Learning Community program. He has also taught Natural Language Processing and Understanding in Educational Research in the UTAx Learning Analytics Series. Projects: Learning Analytics Series, PLC
Catherine Spann Catherine Spann, Ph.D.
Dr. Catherine Spann started in the LINK Research Lab in July 2015 as a graduate research assistant for the dLRN grant. After completing her Ph.D. in Psychology in May 2016, she joined the lab as a research scientist where she investigated self-regulatory behavior, with particular focus on the role of mind-body practices in digital environments. She also served as a lead instructor for the course “The Science and Practice of Yoga.” In August 2017, she accepted a postdoctoral research position at the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado. Projects: aWEAR Conference, Self-Regulation Study, Emotional Learning Analytics, Social Media and Smartphone Use, YogaMOOC, InterLab, dLRN
Throy Campbell Throy Campbell, Ph.D.
Dr. Throy Campbell served as a postdoctoral researcher for the LINK Research Lab from June 2015 until August 2016. His research focused on the interactions between universities and the workplace, with particular focus on STEM education. In August 2016, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor in Finance at Oakwood University.
Andy Berning Andy Berning, Ph.D.
Dr. Andrew Berning joined the LINK Research Lab in March 2016 as a K-12 research affiliate. Before leaving in July 2017, Dr. Berning developed and instructed in the edX course “What Now? Emerging Technologies and Their Practical Application in K12 Teaching and Learning” and created the PK-12 Analytics Research Consortium. In July 2017, he became president of the Renaissance Institute. Projects: PARC, What Now? MOOC
James Schaeffer James Schaeffer, Ph.D.
Dr. James Schaeffer worked as a graduate research assistant in the LINK Research Lab from August 2016 until he completed his Ph.D. in Psychology in May 2018. His primary research investigated psychological attributes and profiles of online learners for LINK’s COCOA grant and he also helped conduct the Social Media and Smartphone Use study. In August 2018, he began working at Stephen F. Austin University as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. Projects: Social Media and Smartphone Use, COCOA
Kyle O’Connell Kyle O’Connell, Ph.D.
Dr. Kyle O’Connell served as a graduate research assistant in the LINK Research Lab from January 2016 until May 2017 where he worked on the CIRTL and OnTask projects. Upon finishing his Ph.D. in Biology, he accepted a postdoctoral research position at the Smithsonian Institute. Projects: CIRTL, OnTask
Christopher Abrego Christopher Abrego, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Abrego worked as the CIRTL graduate research assistant in the LINK Research Lab from June 2017 until May 2018. After graduating with his Ph.D. in Engineering, he started working as a systems engineer at DENSO in Michigan. Projects: CIRTL
Afshan Boodhwani Afshan Boodhwani, Ph.D.
Dr. Afshan Boodhwani joined the LINK Research Lab as a graduate research assistant for the COCOA grant from June 2016 until May 2017. Upon graduation, she accepted a position as a business analyst in University Analytics at UTA. Projects: COCOA
Iris Howley Iris Howley, Ph.D.
Dr. Iris Howley shared a joint postdoctoral researcher appointment with Candice Thille at Stanford University and the LINK Research Lab from October 2015 until July 2017. During that time, her research primarily focused on analytics and collaboration in online learning environments. After wrapping up her appointment, she started working as an assistant professor of Computer Science at Williams College. Projects: dLRN, InterLab
Miguel Andres-Bray Miguel Andres-Bray
Miguel Andres-Bray is a doctoral student at the Penn Center for Learning Analytics, under the direction of Dr. Ryan Baker. He has collaborated and shared joint funding with the LINK Research Lab where he has worked to develop the MOOC Replication Framework (MORF), which can help scholars integrate new research with multiple existing MOOC data sets. Projects: dLRN, InterLab
Bhanu Jain Bhanu Jain
Bhanu Jain was a graduate research assistant for the COCOA grant from June 2016 until May 2017. After her time with LINK, she became a graduate assistant in Computer Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. Projects: COCOA
Zhijia Mou Zhijia Mou, Ph.D.
Dr. Zhijia Mou was a visiting researcher from China from August 2015 until August 2016. While at the LINK Lab, he worked on his dissertation, examining engagement patterns in the What Now? Emerging Technologies and Their Practical Application in K12 Teaching and Learning MOOC. After returning to China, he began teaching at the School of Humanities at Jiangnan University. Projects: What Now? MOOC

Past LINK Staff


Amber Patterson Amber Patterson
Amber Patterson worked as the marketing and outreach coordinator for the LINK Research Lab from August 2016 until December 2017. At that point, she went to work as the marketing coordinator for the City of Mesquite, TX.
Holly Zander Holly Zander
Holly Zander joined the LINK Research Lab in March 2015 as administrative assistant. In November 2017, she moved into the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Arlington to serve as the administrative services officer.
Brett Behnam Brett Behnam, Ph.D.
Dr. Brett Behnam served as technical media coordinator at the University of Texas at Arlington from May 1997 until his retirement in January 2016. After Laurel Mayo and Pete Smith founded the LINK Research Lab in Fall 2013, Brett helped support the lab’s events, facilities management, web presence, and Professional Learning Community program.