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Research Lab


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Allison Witt

Allison Witt is the Director of International Programs in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she teaches Global Studies in Education and is the Program Leader for the International Education Administration and Leadership program. Allison is a former Assistant Director of Academic Affairs at the Illinois Board of Higher Education where she contributed to state higher education policy in Illinois. She is the author of Shifting Tides in Global Higher Education (2011) published by Peter Lang. Allison earned a PhD in Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked in international education for over 20 years, now with particular interest in internationalizing teacher education.

Graduate students

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Janine Schleter Solberg

Janine Schleter Solberg has been involved with IGlobal since its inception. She recently defended her dissertation, “Expanding higher education in the Global South: A case study in the central highlands of Angola” and will graduate in December with a PhD in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership: Global Studies in Education. Prior to enrolling in the PhD program at the University of Illinois, Janine earned a B.S. in economics and an M. Ed, both from the University of Illinois. She also earned an M.A. in history from Northern Illinois University and spent many years teaching history and economics courses at the secondary level.

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Aigul Rakisheva

Aigul Rakisheva is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, USA. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Department with a Global Studies in Education concentration. Aigul is actively engaged in research and teaching activities at UIUC. Her research focuses on Virtual Exchange, Information and Communication Technologies, and Initial Teacher Education, contributing to various research projects in these areas.


Lu Xu

Lu Xu is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership program at the College of Education, University of Illinois, with a concentration in global studies in education. With a general interest in global study and education, her research mainly focuses on global teacher education, global citizenship education, and online education. Currently, her work aims to cultivate preservice teachers' abilities, including global competence, digital skills, etc., to teach in a multicultural, multinational context. 


Parya Jangjou 

Parya Jangjou is a Ph.D. student of Global Studies in Education, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge from a decade-long teaching career. Passionate about international education, she is immersed in the complex world of education systems at home and abroad. Her journey in education has been marked by a relentless interest in global aspects of learning and teaching. Parya combines practical experience with rigorous research and seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice in education. Her commitment to enhancing multicultural educational experiences promises to have a lasting impact on the region.

Sadia Mazid

Sadia Mazid 

Sadia Mazid is a first-generation immigrant student in her family from Bangladesh, a Southeast-Asian country. She completed her MBA before coming to the US and is now pursuing her doctoral degree, majoring in HRD at the College of Education. As part of her assistantships, she worked as a museum educator & researcher at the Spurlock Museum for four years. During COVID, she joined the IGlobal team to develop and educate curriculums on online platforms by utilizing the UN SDGs framework. Her current research focuses on the role of cultural diversity in sharing work-related information among blended virtual/in-person team members.

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Allison Hinds

Allison Hinds is a third-year Ed.D. student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education. Her research interests include alternative approaches to study abroad as a means to enhance intercultural competence in pre-service teachers. In the iGlobal lab, she is studying the effectiveness of virtual teaching internships in developing pre-service teachers’ cultural understanding of self and others. Additionally, Allison is interested in the long-term impacts of study abroad as perceived by study abroad alumni and the potential role these experiences may play in developing their professional identity.


Israt Z Nipa

Israt Z Nipa is a third-year Ph.D. student at the EPOL department at UIUC with a concentration in Global Studies in Education. Originally from Bangladesh, Israt has been living in the USA since 2015. She earned a Bachelor's and Master’s in English Literature from Premier University, Bangladesh. Prior to starting her Ph.D., she taught in diverse educational institutions from schools to university in Bangladesh for more than five years. Israt’s research interest lies in the internationalization of higher education, international students’ experience, and pre-service teacher training in virtual platforms. 


Isabel Villacres

My name is Isabel Villacres. I am from Quito, Ecuador, where the main spoken language is Spanish. I am enrolled in the Master’s in Language and Literacy in the Curriculum and Instruction department. Before I came to Champaign, I used to work as an ESL/EFL teacher. I worked with teenagers, college students, and adults for twelve years. I enjoy teaching because I can relay my knowledge to my students, and I can also learn from each of them. Since many of my adult students had difficulty internalizing and producing English, I am interested in learning how I can help them acquire the English language more easily and effectively.

Gertie Bakalus 

Gertie Bakalus is a current doctoral student at UIUC in the Education Department. She holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in language and literacy. Concurrently, she obtained an English as a Second Language Endorsement which supports her dedication to teaching English Language Learners. Gertie also earned a Master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Social Sciences, earning certificates in Diversity and Equity, Global Studies, and International Education Administration and Leadership. Her research interests span interdisciplinary topics from her experiences teaching at the University’s Reggio Emilia inspired lab school and bilingual international settings.

Visiting scholars

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El Souefi 

El Souefi is an EdD holder from the University of Leicester – UK. She is currently the CEO of ‘Edupedia’ for Educational Consultation, Training, and Curriculum Designing. Besides being a research member in IGlobal, she is a research associate in the Gender Equality Partnership Project at University of Bath, UK in collaboration with Cairo University, Egypt.


El Souefi has a long practical international experience in education. She was the Regional Development & Recognition Consultant for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Egypt. She also headed the Curriculum Review Committee for the Graduate school of Education at the American University in Cairo.



Alicia Cabrera-Prado 

Alicia Cabrera-Prado earned her PhD in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2023. Her research interests include Dual Language teacher training and study abroad programs, Cultural Sustaining Pedagogies, DEI, and Dynamic Bilingualism. Prior to coming to UIUC, Alicia worked in education as a National Board-Certified high school Heritage Spanish teacher, a department chair for World Languages, and as an assistant principal.