Research Assistants


Macy Halladay

Macy is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Child and Family Studies Program at the University of Tennessee. In her dissertation, she focuses on the beliefs, values and interactions between homeschooling mothers and their early learning children. She uses qualitative hermeneutic inquiry, through in-depth interviews, field observations and participant led photography. She is also interested in intercultural development and how technology serves as a tool in family, community and learning environments. Macy graduated from the Rossier School of Urban Education at the University of Southern California in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2014.


Cassie Sorrells

Cassie is a 2nd year doctoral student in the department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research focuses on teacher emotion and identity, with particular attention given to how societal and political forces shape teachers' lived experiences in the early childhood classroom. Cassie received her B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies (Anthropology, Biology, and Linguistics) from West Virginia University and her M.A. in Education and Human Development from the University of Colorado, Denver. Before beginning her doctoral work at UTK, Cassie spent 6 years working in the classroom, including 3 years as an early childhood educator.


Alex Tucker

Alex received her B.S. in Child and Family Studies, her B.A. in Africana Studies and her MS in Child and Family Studies all from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is currently a Doctoral student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and works for Dr. Samara Akpovo as a Graduate Research Assistant. Alex's research focuses on prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding and infant feeding choices with an emphasis on maternal experiences and social-emotional needs.


Lucas Wang

Lucas is a Clinical Teaching Specialist at Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE), The University of Melbourne, Australia. His current doctoral research focuses on highlighting and explaining mathematical creativity in Australian early years settings through investigating teachers' perspectives and practices. He is also interested in the professional identity of early childhood educators and migrants' journey to Reconciliation in Australia. Prior to entering academia, Lucas spent 3 years working with children aged 0-5 as an early childhood teacher.



"As I read about all the experiences that other people have had in their educational contexts and looked at their pictures, I became more aware of the idea that my ideas and assumptions of what early childhood education looks like is just one way of approaching education. There are many ways to teach young children effectively and what I may personally feel is the best for my children in my class, might not be at all how a teacher in New Zealand supports their children."

-COLAB Student