Our Team


rick-picture-aeraRick Wagner, PhD, Principal Investigator

Rick Wagner’s research is focused on the normal acquisition of reading and dyslexia. His body of work has furthered the understanding of phonological processing in relation to learning to read and the development of reading disability. His public service in the field of literacy has included appointment as chair of the National Institute for the Literacy Advisory Board, member of the study section for reading and writing of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, and principal investigator of the Learning Disability Research Center. He has also developed widely used assessments of phonological processing and early literacy.

Fotena Zirps, PhD, Lab Manager

I was Rick’s first PhD at FSU in 1990. After I graduated, I worked for 25 years in human fz-in-office-1services. My expertise was in quality improvement and leadership development. I came back to FSU in 2014 and am the Lab Manager and Senior Research Associate.  Studying dyslexia and how we might support people with dyslexia is so worthwhile. I proudly serve on the FCRR Executive Committee. In my spare time, I love to read, write, bake, sing, and play with my 3 beautiful cats. My faith is a very important part of my life as is working to better life for animals. I believe strongly that we are all here in this life to learn and to serve. I could not be happier than to work with the great folks of the WagnerLab, FCRR, The FLDRC and at FSU.

antjeAntje Malkowski, Project Coordinator

My name is Antje and I am the Project Coordinator at the WagnerLab. I joined the WagnerLab team in 2012. My work includes preparing of all materials needed for testing in the schools, tester training, working closely with testers and teachers at FSUS, scoring, analyzing and data entering, as well as Fotena’s right hand. I was born and raised in Germany and came to the US the end of 2004. I worked as a Medical Assistant in a Pediatrician Office in Germany.


RachelleRachelle Johnson, Graduate Student 

Rachelle Johnson is in her second year of the developmental psychology Ph.D. program, as well as being a FIREFLIES fellow through the Florida Center for Reading Research. Rachelle researches how various factors relate to individual differences in reading development, with a focus on students with learning disabilities. She is particularly interested in the role of socioemotional and environmental factors. Apart from her research, Rachelle likes to get out into nature as much as possible, often hiking or kayaking



lab door team wagner