About Us

Literacy.org at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, is comprised of NCAL and ILI. Originally established as the Literacy Research Center in 1983, the National Center for Adult Literacy (NCAL) has been engaged for nearly three decades in cutting edge and high-impact research, innovation, and training in adult education and technology, as well as in other areas of adult basic education and literacy. We specialize in assessment, intergenerational literacy, multi-disciplinary approaches, educational technology, professional development, and multimedia instructional design. The International Literacy Institute (ILI), established by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, provides leadership in research, development, and training in the broad field of international literacy and educational development, with an emphasis on developing countries. Literacy.org is an important resource for research and development on literacy in the U.S. and worldwide.


Daniel A. Wagner - Founder and Director, and UNESCO Chair
Mohamed Maamouri - Associate Director, ILI; Senior Researcher
Ruth Boyle - Administrative Assistant
Fatima Tuz Zahra - Research Assistant
Nathan Castillo - Research Assistant
Daniel A. Wagner Daniel A. Wagner - Founder and Director, and UNESCO Chair

Dr. Daniel A. Wagner is Professor in the Penn Graduate School of Education and was founding Director of the Literacy Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. Since 1990, he has served as Director of the federally funded National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL), as well as Director of the International Literacy Institute, which was co-established in 1994 by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan, was a two-year postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Fellow at the International Institute of Education Planning in Paris, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Paris-V. Dr. Wagner has extensive experience in national and international educational issues. Among his more than 130 professional publications, Dr. Wagner has published the following books:; Literacy: An International Handbook (1999); and New Technologies for Literary and Adult Education (2005), Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education Projects: A Handbook for Developing Countries. (2005); Learning and ICT: Supporting Out-of-School Youth and Adults (2006). 

Mohamed Maamouri - Associate Director, ILI; Senior Researcher

Dr. Mohamed Maamouri is Associate Director, ILI, and Senior Researcher, and is also Senior Administrator at the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania. He heads the Arabic Treebank research group.  Dr. Maamouri received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University in 1967 and spent most of his professional career at the University of Tunis where he was a Professor of linguistics at the Faculté des Lettres de la Manouba (University of Manouba) from 1967to 2001, and Director of the Bourguiba Institute of Modern Languages from 1975 to 1988. Dr. Maamouri joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1995.

Ruth Boyle - Administrative Assistant

Ruth Boyle, is Administrative Assistant at NCAL/ILI. She received her degree in Accounting and Economics from Widener University and an MBA from Drexel University.  Ruth has held a variety of administrative and accounting positions at Swarthmore College, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and Verizon Communications. She retired from Verizon in 2003 and joined GSE's Literacy Research Center (now Literacy.org)in 2005.

Fatima Tuz Zahra - Research Assistant

Fatima Tuz Zahra, from Bangladesh, completed her B.A. (Honors) in English and M.A. in Applied Linguistics and ELT from the University of Dhaka. Before coming to Penn for her Masters studies in International Educational Development she was working at BRAC University, Bangladesh. While at Penn, Fatima has worked with the Bangladeshi immigrants in Upper Darby, West Philadelphia as a part of her research training. Under the supervisions of Dr. Dan Wagner, she also worked as a coordinator for the International Education Doctoral Working Group (IEDWG), which aims to provide doctoral students with research interests in international educational development with opportunities and resources to pursue them. Fatima will be working at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris during Summer 2012. From September 2012, she will pursue her PhD studies in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development at Penn. Her research interests include international educational development, education and language policy and reforms, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and inequalities in education.

Nathan Castillo - Research Assistant

Nathan is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development program at the Penn Graduate School of Education. His professional portfolio ranges from health education and multi-channel learning to violence prevention and work readiness development. Nathan has worked extensively in Central and South America as well as East and Southern Africa. Among his research interests include education assessment for international development and resilience programming for at-risk youth. Nathan is a returned Peace Corps volunteer/Guatemala and holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University.

Daniel Andler - Senior Advisor


Daniel Andler, ILI Senior Advisor, holds doctoral degrees in mathematics from UC Berkeley and Paris. After specializing in model theory and teaching mathematics in various universities in and around Paris, he moved to positions in philosophy in Lille and then Nanterre. Dr. Andler is now a professor of philosophy of science and epistemology at Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV). He was for many years co-director and then briefly director of CREA (Centre de recherche en épistémologie appliquée, Ecole polytechnique and CNRS, Paris). Dr. Andler stepped down as founding head of the Department of Cognitive Studies at Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, a few years ago. In 2007 he was elected to senior membership in the Institut Universitaire de France.


C. J. Daswani - Senior Advisor

Prof. C. J. Daswani, ILI Senior Advisor and National Research Director, BFI Project, New Delhi, India.. Dr. Daswani received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Cornell University. He has been Professor of Linguistics at Pune University and J. Nehru University in India, as well as head of Non-Formal Education at the National Council on Educational Research and Training, New Delhi, India. 

Bob Day - Senior Advisor


Dr. Bob Day is ILI Senior Advisor, specializing in the appropriate applications of science, technology and innovation (STI) to the eradication of poverty. He currently heads up his own consulting firm, Non-Zero Sum Development. Dr. Day   received his Ph.D. at Imperial College (London), is currently acting as Special Advisor to the Mozambican Minister of Science and Technology in developing and implementing their National S&T Strategy (MOSTIS).   He is actively involved in the ongoing development of the strategic STI relationships between the Finnish and South African public, research, private and civil sectors.    He is assisting NEPAD, the CGIAR and regional stakeholders in the development of ReSAKSS, a Pan-African knowledge system of systems for agricultural development.   Prior to that, Dr. Day was Executive Director of ICT at UNISA (Pretoria).   He has consulted to UNESCO, UNDP, UNECA, IDRC, World Bank (InfoDev), Imfundo (DFID), ILI, ILRI, CSIR, HSRC, as well as several private sector organisations.


Ashley Del Bianco - Senior Advisor

Ashley Del Bianco is Senior Research Advisor with the National Center on Adult Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania.   Ashley directed TECH21, the national technology laboratory for the improvement of adult education funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Ashley also guided the online implementation and developed the instructional design for the LiteracyLink Project (a Star Schools project funded by the U.S.   Department of Education) and has designed and delivered numerous  professional development activities on adult education and technology. Prior to coming to NCAL, she was responsible for program quality and professional development at a community-based literacy agency, and she developed and implemented special program quality projects for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Literacy. Ashley holds an M.S.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy from the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania and an M.G.A. from the Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a consultant with TCC Group in Philadelphia. 

Iddo Gal - Senior Advisor


Dr. Iddo Gal is ILI Special Senior Advisor for Literacy/Numeracy Assessment. Dr. Gal received his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and worked for five years as Assistant Research Professor at Penn's Graduate School of Education, before accepting a position at the Department of Human Services, University of Haifa, Israel, where he is a Senior Lecturer. His areas of interest and research include development and assessment of numeracy (mathematical literacy), statistical literacy and functional skills, adult learning, empowerment of workers and clients in human service organizations, and managerial and organizational processes in service organization. He serves as the Co-Editor of the Statistics Education Research Journal (2003-2007). Recently he led the team responsible for numeracy assessment in the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) survey, a joint international project managed by Statistics Canada, the National Center on Education Statistics, in collaboration with OECD. 


Lynda Ginsburg - Senior Advisor

Dr. Ginsburg, currently an educational researcher at Rutgers University, serves as a Senior Advisor to NCAL.   During her 12 years at NCAL, she directed NCAL's activities on several technology research and professional development projects, including the OERI-sponsored Regional Technology Consortia of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCRTEC) and of the South Eastern Regional Vision for Education (SEIR*TEC). She co-developed two of the videos and accompanying print materials in the NCAL/PBS Staff Development Videoconference Series and directed the content and design of the video/CD-ROM series, Captured Wisdom on Adult Literacy,  an interactive multimedia resource designed to help inform educators of successful technology integration practices in adult education environments. An experienced mathematics educator, she developed and taught courses and workshops for K-12 teachers and adult educators on enriching instructional practice and is a nationally recognized expert in adult numeracy. 

Romilla Karnati - Senior Advisor

Romilla Karnati is Senior Research Advisor with the NCAL/ILI at the University of Pennsylvania. Romilla received her Ph.D. in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development (ISHD) program at the Graduate School of Education, and is currently working at Teachers College Columbia University.   She completed her Masters in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2000.   Romilla has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Literature and Economics from Mount Carmel College, India. She came to the US in 1998 to pursue her higher studies. Romilla has been actively involved in research projects evaluating the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project and later Head Start Math Research under Dr. Frye at the University of Pennsylvania.   Romilla joined the International Literacy Institute and worked on the BFI project since its inception.   She was involved in the review of educational software, design of assessment measures, program implementation, data collection and data analyses of the BFI-India project. Her research topic was on the impact of computer-aided instruction on school dropouts in rural India.   Her research interests are in literacy, IT, international education and development. 

Janet Smith - Senior Advisor


Dr. Janet C. Smith is Senior Research Advisor at NCAL/ILI, with the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, she was until recently working with the University on improving technological capabilities across campus. At NCAL, her most recent responsibility was as the project manager for the TECH21 website portal and resource database. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology from Philadelphia University. 


Brian Street - Senior Advisor


Brian V. Street is Professor of Language in Education in the School of Education at King's College, London University and Visiting Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. He undertook anthropological fieldwork in Iran during the 1970s, and has since worked in the USA, Britain, S. Africa and elsewhere. He has written and lectured extensively on literacy practices from both a theoretical and an applied perspective. In addition to more than a dozen books, he has written over 100 scholarly articles.


Timothy Unwin - Senior Advisor


Timothy Unwin is Professor of Geography and the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London. From 2001-2004 he led the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo: Partnership for IT in Education Initiative based within the UK Department for InternationalDevelopment. In 2006, he was elected as a High Level Advisor for theUN’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Alongside his academicresearch and teaching, he has also been Director of the World Economic Forum’s Partnerships for Education programme with UNESCO.