Ophelie Desmet, Ph.D., Program Coordinator


Dr. Ophélie Desmet is currently an assistant professor of Educational Psychology and program coordinator for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University. She teaches courses in educational psychology and gifted studies. Her professional and research interests include holistic talent development, underachievement and achievement motivation, and affective development of students with gifts and talents. She is particularly interested in historically excluded populations. Dr. Desmet has published work in journals such as AERA Open, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal of Advanced Academics, and more.
Dr. Desmet may be reached at odesmet@valdosta.edu and at 229-249-4864.

Heather Kelley, Ph.D., Department Head

Heather Kelley
Dr. Kelley is the Department Head of Human Services and Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Services at Valdosta State University. Dr. Kelley received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Psychology from Texas Tech University in 2011. At Valdosta State University, Dr. Kelley has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses which include Educational Psychology, Learning and Assessment, Adult Learning, Classroom Management, and Exploring Teaching and Learning. Dr. Kelley's research interests focuses on teaching and learning in the K-12 education setting. More specifically, her interests include self-efficacy, culturally responsive teaching, and academic achievement in under-performing groups. 
Dr. Kelley may be reached at hkelley@valdosta.edu 

Sakhavat Mammadov, Ph.D., Assistant Professor


Sakhavat Mammadov, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Dewar College of Education and Human Services at Valdosta State University (VSU). Dr. Mammadov received his PhD from William & Mary in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership with an emphasis in Gifted Education. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate for the University of Washington’s (UW) Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars prior to his appointment at VSU. His primary research interest is to examine and explore issues dealing with the social and emotional needs of children with gifts and talents.

Dr. Mammadov may be reached at smammadov@valdosta.edu.

Meagan Arrastia-Chisholm, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Dr. Arrastia-Chisholm is currently an associate professor of educational psychology for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University where she has worked since August 2015. At the graduate level, she teaches measurement and evaluation, learning theory, and research methods. Her professional and research interests include parental separation, gifted education in rural schools, and college counseling. In the past year, Dr. Arrastia-Chisholm has collaborated with her colleagues and students to publish work in journals, such as the National Youth-at-Risk Journal, Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Theory & Practice in Rural Education, and the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin.
Dr. Arrastia may be reached at mcarrastia@valdosta.edu and at 229-249-2777.

Katharine S. Adams, Ph.D., Associate Professor Katharine AdamsDr. Katharine S. Adams is currently an associate professor and program chair of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Valdosta State University. She received her BS degree from the University of Florida, MS degree from Valdosta State University, and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology from Florida State University. She is a licensed psychologist. Her professional experiences include elementary and middle-school education and psychological assessment and counseling. Her current research interests include the social-emotional adjustment and academic success of both high and low achieving students as well as the social stigma associated with disability.

Dr. Adams may be reached by email at ksadams@valdosta.edu

Samantha Tackett, Ph.D., Teaching Faculty

Dr. Tackett is teaching faculty of educational psychology for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University. She thoroughly enjoys teaching assessment, cognitive psychology, educational psychology, educational technology, student success seminars, and research methods in traditional and online contexts. Her graduate credentials include a certificate in Institutional Research, a Master of Science in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology, Learning and Cognition from Florida State University. Dr. Tackett has collaborated with colleagues and students to present research at regional and national conferences and publish in national and international journals, such as the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, the International Journal of Teacher Education and Professional Development, the Peabody Journal of Education, and the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. Her professional and research interests include the engagement, persistence, and retention of first-generation student populations; gifted education for minority student populations; sociocultural influences on students’ academic engagement, learning outcomes, and college retention.  
Dr. Tackett may be reached at stackett@valdosta.edu

Yuting Zhao, M.S., Teaching Faculty

Yuting Zhao is currently a currently a part-time instructor for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University. Ms. Yuting Zhao graduated from Florida State University with a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. She has a passion for teaching and teaches Exploring Learning & Teaching. Her research interests lie primarily in child language development, bilingualism, and classroom language interventions. She worked in the Florida Center for Reading Research and published work in journals such as Infant and Child Development and Early Education and Development
Ms. Yuting Zhao may be reached by email at yuzhao@valdosta.edu

Jennifer Casabonne, Graduate Assistant 

Jennifer Casabonne
Jennifer Casabonne is currently a graduate assistant for the Center for Gifted Studies and the Department of Human Services at Valdosta State University. Ms. Casabonne is obtaining a M.Ed. Degree in Communication Disorders at Valdosta State University. She is pursuing a career in speech-language pathology in the school settings. She is member of NSSHLA at VSU and former vice president of the VSU Dance-Marathon supporting the Children's Miracle Network. Her professional and research interests include AAC devices, the impact of music in speech development, ASD, and helping children in foster care.
Ms. Jennifer Casabonne may be reached at Jkcasabonne@valdosta.edu