All PhD Students

All PhD Students

Mari Altshuler

Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Teaching, Urban Teacher Education Program, University of Chicago, 2011
  • Bachelor of Science in Geology, University of Illinois, 2009
Eleanor Anderson

Anderson, Eleanor

Postdoctoral Fellow


Degrees

  • BA, Linguistics, Yale University, 2006
  • PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2017

Research Interests

How do educational innovations get implemented, institutionalized and scaled up in K-12 schools?  How do micro-level social and material interactions constitute, facilitate or obstruct these processes? 

More specifically, my dissertation focused on changing models of school discipline.

Gabriella Anton

Degrees

  • BA in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011
  • BA in Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011

Research Interests

I am interested in studying and designing tools/environments to introduce youth to programming and creative production with technology. Recently, my focus has been on the use of physical computation (robotics and e-textiles) to engage learners. Finally, I study interest and attitude development for programming, computer science, and computational practices. 

Umit Aslan

Degrees

  • MSc, Bogazici University, 2014
  • BS, Bogazici University, 2010
Connor Bain

Degrees

  • Wolfram Language Certificate, Wolfram Summer School, 2017
  • B.S.C.S. in Computer Science, University of South Carolina Honors College, 2015
  • B.S. in Mathematics, University of South Carolina Honors College, 2015

Research Interests

Computational Thinking & Computational Literacy
Computer Science Education
Using Computers to Teach Music Theory
Science Communication

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David Bar-El

Degrees

  • BA, Psychology and Communication, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, 2015

Research Interests

 Learning across formal and informal spaces; making & tinkering; interactive design for children

Allena Berry

Degrees

  • Master of Arts - Education in Teaching History/Social Science, Stanford University , 2013
  • Bachelor of Science in Human and Organizational Development and History, Vanderbilt University , 2012

Research Interests

Historical epistemology; critical race theory in history; teaching and learning history; historical thinking; identity development, sociocultural theory and cognition 

Anna Bethune

Degrees

Naomi Blaushild

Degrees

  • MS Education, Johns Hopkins University, 2012
  • BA Political Science, Kenyon College, 2010

Research Interests

  • Teacher recruitment, development and retention in urban schools
  • The impact of teacher social networks on retention and student achievement 

Angel Bohannon

Degrees

  • BA in Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2015, University of Chicago, 2015

Research Interests

I am interested in mechanisms for systematically achieving improvement at scale, such as research practice partnerships and interorganizational networks. I am also interested in the role of leadership in facilitating the implementation of mathematics reforms in community colleges.

Eric  Brown

Degrees

  • MA, Social Services Administration, The University of Chicago, 2008
  • BA, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, CUNY, The City College of New York, 2006
Brandy Buckingham

Degrees

  • MAEd, Curriculum & Instruction - Gifted Education, College of William & Mary, 2005
  • SB, Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Theater Arts, MIT, 2002

Research Interests

Science epistemology and practice, design of educational media, high-ability learners

Spencer Carlson

Degrees

  • MA, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2017
  • BS, Learning & Organizational Change, Northwestern University, 2016
Claudia Castillo

Degrees

  • MPA, International Economic Policy and Management, Columbia University, 2011
  • BA, Journalism and Spanish Literature, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, 2006

Research Interests

High school to college transition, role of institutions, neighborhoods, and family in ethnic identity development, race and inequality, social justice, community activism and social movements

Dionne  Champion

Degrees

  • MEd, Dance Education, Temple University, 2003
  • BS, Chemical Engineering, Florida A&M University, 1998

Research Interests


I am interested in the design and ethnographic study of learning environments that blend STEM and creative embodied learning activities, particularly for those who have experienced feelings of marginalization in STEM (minorities, girls).  I am interested in expanding how we think about science, scientific inquiry and engagement, and in exploring broader conceptualizations of cognition that
substantively intertwine STEM learning and development, attending to the affective, social and emotional while broadening STEM knowledge and understanding.  

My research focuses on bridging children's everyday practices with scientific practices. 
Drawing on ethnographic research methods that analyze talk and multi-modal interaction, I want to understand how children, specifically underrepresented children from non-dominant communities, identify with science, looking at ways in which they draw on complex bodies of knowledge, not just traditional science resources, to solve specific problems.  I seek to understand how their engagement, identities, and ideas about what science is and who can do it change as a result of interventions that bridge science practices with the everyday practices and focus on the body as a resource for meaning making.  

Amy Chang

Degrees

  • MS, Journalism, National Taiwan University 台灣大學, 2009
  • BA, Foreign Languages and Literature, National Taiwan University 台灣大學, 2005

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the social and cultural dynamics of learning in the context of globalization and emerging technologies,with a specific focus on language, multimodal literacy, diversity and civic journalism. My current research explores how immigrant youth leverage their funds of knowledge and the affordance of multiple modalities to construct documentaries that inform public debates on social issues through participating in a multimedia journalism curriculum. I am also interested in exploring how people from diverse cultural backgrounds engage in new forms of learning and how social media and mobile technologies can be leveraged to bridge the gap between formal education and everyday experiences.

Sarah Collier

Degrees

  • MA, Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology, Boston College, 2013
  • BS, Psychology, Boston College, 2012

Research Interests

 stress biology; cortisol; poverty policy; welfare reform

Jennifer Cowhy

Degrees

  • AM, Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 2013
  • MPP, University of Chicago, 2013
  • BA, Sociology, University of Michigan, 2010

Research Interests

Jennifer Cowhy is interested in researching how schools can better serve students who have experienced adverse childhood experiences ad students with IEPs.  Prior to studying at Northwestern, Jen worked at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, where she studied the implementation of several policy and program implementations in Chicago Public Schools.

Sugat Dabholkar

Degrees

  • MBA (Human Resources), Xavier School of Management, 2010
  • M.Sc. (Biology) , National Centre for Biological Sciences, 2007

Research Interests

I am interested in working on scientific thinking and rational inquiry abilities as a central goal of science education. More specifically, I would like apply insights from psychological and cognitive aspects of learning, especially pertaining to the rational inquiry abilities, in a practical context to design relevant curricula and educational resources for high school students.

Amalia  Donovan

Donovan, Amalia

Research Analyst, School of Education and Social Policy


Degrees

  • BA, Psychology, University of Southern California, 2013
  • MA, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2014
Cynthia (CC)  DuBois

Degrees

  • MPP, The Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 2010
  • BA, Louisiana State University, 2007

Research Interests

Labor Economics, Economics of Inequality and Discrimination, Economics of Education, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design, Program/Policy Evaluation

Ruben Echevarria

Degrees

  • BA, Mathematics, Northeastern Illinois University, 2014
  • MA, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2015

Research Interests

 Equity-Tinkering-Mathematics

 
 

Sheridan Fuller

Degrees

  • MPP, Frank Batten School of Public Policy, University of Virginia, 2014
  • BA, American Politics, University of Virginia, 2013

Research Interests

Evaluating the impact of social safety net programs on children and families; specifically early childhood education, child welfare, child support, and TANF related programs.

Yu (Bryan) Guo

Degrees

  • MEd, Instructional Psychology & Technology, University of Oklahoma, 2010
  • BA, English, Beijing Normal University, 2005
  • BS, Computer Science, Beijing Normal University, 2005

Research Interests

I am interested in using technologies, especially agent-based modeling and web-based technologies to facilitate students’ understanding of STEM topics. In addition, I am interested in linking STEM disciplines to students’ experience through cultural narrative and tangible design to make such learning environments engaging and robust.

Olivia Healy

Degrees

  • B.S. Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University, 2012
Emily Hittner

Degrees

  • BA Biological Science, Biochemistry, Northwestern University, 2013

Research Interests

I am interested in exploring how social determinants influence educational attainment. More specifically, I plan to focus on how we can use biological indicators to understand how child learn and how this might extend throughout the lifespan.

Arthur Hjorth

Degrees

  • MSc Educational Studies, Oxford University, 2009
  • MSc Video Games Analysis and Design, IT-University of Copenhagen, 2008
  • BA Communication and Computer Science, Roskilde University, 2005

Research Interests

Agent-based modeling (ABM), political thinking, civic education.

Ava Jackson

Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in History (BA), Duke University, 2015
  • Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology (BA), Duke University, 2015

Research Interests

My research interests includes understanding the relationship, experiences, and resources students, teachers, and communities contribute to the learning experiences. Specifically, I want to continue to focus on the role self-esteem/identity play in learning for Low SES students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. I want to look at how students from diverse backgrounds develop identities as learners and how these identities are supported within different contexts through the lens of Identity theory, CHAT, and Multi-sitedness sensibility. I am interested in both in and out-of school contexts, and want to explore potential research sites within history classrooms and/or library settings.

Ayah Kamel

Degrees

  • MS, Adolescent Special Education, Hunter College, 2013
  • BA, Political Science and Global Studies, Concordia College, 2011

Research Interests

 I am interested in the long-term impacts of education policy reform efforts on students' educational achievement and attitudes toward education. I am also interested in the ways in which students and families understand their role in the education policy-making process.

Courtenay Kessler

Degrees

  • MA, Public Health , Harvard University, 2008
  • BA, Women's Studies, Harvard University, 2003

Research Interests

Research interests include early childhood development, social determinants of health,
resilience, multi-generational interventions for health and education, and program evaluation methods
(especially collaborative/community-based methodologies and mixed methods approaches).

Andrea Kinghorn Busby

Degrees

  • BS, Family Life, Brigham Young University

Research Interests

I am interested in the intersection of home and school environments and its impact on children’s development, especially among families from low-income, immigrant, or ethnic-minority backgrounds.

Ijun Lai

Degrees

  • MPP, University of Michigan, 2008
  • BA, University of Michigan, 2003

Research Interests

 Urban education, urban youth development, neighborhood violence, race & inequality, program/policy evaluation

Jiffy Lansing

Degrees

  • AM, University of Chicago, 2007
  • BA, Tufts University, 2002

Research Interests

I am interested in exploring the institutional mechanisms and practices that foster adult identity development and influence education and work trajectories during the transition to adulthood, with a focus on juvenile justice and community college systems.

Christopher  Leatherwood

Degrees

  • Masters in Secondary Education , University of Missouri St. Louis , 2015
Meghan Leggero

Degrees

Research Interests

Meghan is interested in examining policies and incentives that impact under-served communities.

Abraham Lo

Lo, Abraham

MPES 2 Cohort 4


Degrees

  • MSEd, Secondary Science Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2003
  • BA, Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 2002
  • PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2017

Research Interests

Science education, scientific practices, teacher education and professional development, teacher quality and evaluation

Kristine  Lu

Degrees

  • B.A. in English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University, 2013

Research Interests

Information design, text and visual processing, and learning in digital news, media, and information environments; information and learning behaviors; cognition in data interactives; design thinking in digital and computational journalism

Kit Martin

Degrees

Mollie McQuillan

Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Teaching, University of Saint Thomas, 2005
  • AB, University of Chicago, 2000
  • MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2014
Lynn Meissner

Degrees

  • BA, Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2011

Research Interests

Sociology of Education, educational attainment and employment outcomes, high-school-to-work transition, high school career guidance, Career and Technical Education (CTE), community colleges

Connections between research, policy, and practice. Mixed-methods research. Intervention and implementation science.

Peter Meyerhoff

Degrees

  • BA, English, University of Michigan, 1992
  • MA, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2015

Research Interests

My research examines interest-driven, self-directed learning.  Kids will work hard, over long timescales, on complex projects that interest them.  Given a chance to choose what they work on, how do young people independently organize themselves for learning activity?  Taking “a perspective on learning from the perspective of learners” (Stevens, 2010), I study the moment-to-moment interactions of kids in choice-based environments, looking for microgenetic evidence of change in knowledge, skills, mindsets, interests, and identities.  Through design-based qualitative research on FUSE, a STEAM program for 5th-12th graders, I explore the challenges and opportunities facing teachers, schools, and districts implementing interest-driven learning.
 

Julissa Muniz

Degrees

  • Ed.M., Prevention Science and Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2016
  • B.A., Ethnic Studies2014, University of California, Berkeley, 2014

Research Interests

Juvenile justice policy; justice centered reform; carceral education; adolescent development; racial/ethnic identity formation

Arturo Munoz

Degrees

  • BA, Educational Studies and Psychology, Tufts University, 2017
Kalonji Nzinga

Degrees

  • BA, Human Biology, Stanford University, 2006

Research Interests

The objective of my work is to use what we know about the evolution of culture to guide the practice of educators and to design curriculum that explicitly engages students in understanding the cultural dimension of knowledge and learning.

Richard Paquin Morel

Degrees

  • MS in Childhood Education, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2008
  • MA in Philosophy, New School for Social Research, 2007
  • BA in Philosophy, Webster University, 2004

Research Interests

I study how social relationships and institutional conditions shape the understanding and implementation of educational policy. This means that I aim to explore how social networks influence access to and use of information and expertise, and how organizational conditions shape social networks. 

I have a website.

Christina Pei

Degrees

  • BA, Economics, University of Chicago, 2006

Research Interests

 I am interested in constructionist learning environments that provide equitable opportunities for STEM learning. In particular, how making practices in multiple cultural settings can be leveraged to design spaces and projects that represent and value diverse backgrounds. Additionally, I view mathematics as a (under-appreciated) culture of making, and am interested in designing and implementing math microworlds that support learners in their construction of math concepts.

Daniel  Rees Lewis

Degrees

  • BA Philosophy and English, The University of Sussex, 2004
  • MA, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2011

Research Interests

Design

Human centered instructional design, the design of learning environments, the design of organizational routines, boundary objects (both original and modern conceptions).

 

Organizations

Organizational routines for learning, organizational design, national and organizational cultures, knowledge sharing, the distribution of expertise in organizations, social network analysis, applying learning research to practice.

Alisa (Ally) Reith

Degrees

  • BA, Bennington College, 2013
Y'Shanda Rivera

Degrees

  • BA, Elementary Education, Northeastern IL University
  • MEd, Education, Loyola University Chicago

Research Interests

Improving educational experiences and outcomes for low SES, minority students via a cultural ecological framework, focusing on social designs that leverage school/community partnerships to positively influence discourse about highly vulnerable adolescents and their achievement and identity across multiple learning contexts; increasing cultural awareness and inclusivity across diverse learning contexts 

Emily Ross

Degrees

  • BSc, Psychology, McGill University, 2009
  • MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2015

Research Interests

early childhood development;  early childhood care and education (ECE);  families;  parent education and human capital;  two-generation programs;  anti-poverty policy;  program/policy evaluation

Gulnaz Saiyed

Degrees

  • MS - Journalism, Medill School of Journalism - Northwestern University, 2012
  • BA - English and Women's Studies, Tulane University, 2008
Addie Shrodes

Degrees

  • MA, English Literature and Urban Humanities, University of California-Los Angeles, 2015
  • BA, English Literature and Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2012
Natalia Smirnov

Degrees

  • BA, American Culture & Media Arts, Temple University, 2008

Research Interests

Learner agency, collaborative media production as public pedagogy, civic identity development, democratic participation structures

Trey Smith

Smith, Trey

Graduate Student and Research Assistant, Learning Sciences

Fellow, Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences


Degrees

  • MSEd, Secondary Science Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2009
  • BA, Communication Studies, Louisiana State University, 2006
  • BA, Political Science, Louisiana State University, 2006

Research Interests

Teachers' uses and adaptations of reform-based science curricula; teacher education and professional learning; learning in formal and informal education spaces; teaching and learning with historical primary sources in science classrooms; argumentation within and across disciplines and contexts

Abigail Stein

Degrees

  • BA - Economics and Political Science, University of Rochester, 2010
Jacquelyn Stephens

Degrees

  • BA in Psychology, DePauw University, 2014
Ryan Svoboda

Degrees

  • BA, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013
  • MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2016

Research Interests

motivation and identity; school achievement and interest; social psychological interventions in education

Carolyn Swen

Degrees

  • MA, International Relations, University of Chicago, 2009
  • MA, Public Policy, University of Chicago, 2009
  • BA, Politics, Princeton University

Research Interests

I am interested in how culture and context influence peoples’ narrative identity. I am also interested in how certain constructs present in narrative identities may predict other aspects of peoples’ lives. I am currently researching principals’ professional identity and how it changes during their first years as new principals.

Sara Thomas

Degrees

  • MEd, Human Development & Psychology, Harvard University, 2014
  • BA, Sociology, Grinnell College, 2008

Research Interests

I am interested in the ways that people come to self-identify as either having agency or being at the whim of external influences and the subsequent impact this identity has on interpersonal relationships. I am also interested in the ways that these personal identities and labels inform conversations about the criminal justice system, punishment, and prison reform.

Mary Clair Turner

Degrees

  • BA, Mathematics, Washington and Lee University, 2008

Research Interests

Program and policy evaluation;  student transition to high school and college; the role of sports and extracurricular participation on academic, socioemtional, health, and later life outcomes.

Krystal Villanosa

Villanosa, Krystal

Doctoral Candidate


Degrees

  • BSc, Advertising, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2003
  • PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2018
Sarah White

Degrees

  • BS Cognitive Science, UCLA, 2015
Cora Wigger

Degrees

  • MPP, Quantitative Methods in Education Policy, Vanderbilt University, 2016
  • BA, International Relations/Economics, The College of Wooster, 2011

Research Interests

 Economics of Education and Housing, Desegregation Policy, Social and Emotional Learning Outcomes, Causal Methods

Jue Wu

Degrees

  • BA, Economics, Renmin University of China, 2014
  • BS, Psychology, Renmin University of China, 2014
Yanning Yu

Degrees

  • BA Engineering / Learning Sciences, Smith College, 2013

Research Interests

The design of curriculum and learning environments for STEM that support deep understanding and collaborative learning. Visualization tools that aid processes of understanding and facilitate sharing and advancement of community knowledge. Empowering LEP students to participate in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) discourse. Developing knowledge-building communities.

Claudia Zapata-Gietl

Zapata-Gietl, Claudia

MPES 2 Cohort 4


Degrees

  • BA, Psychology and Comparative Literature, California State University, Long Beach
  • MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2014

Research Interests

I am interested in examining the academic and mental health trajectories of Latino students through high school and into post-secondary education through sociological and psychological perspectives. Specifically, I look at how structures at the classroom and school level shape the high school transition into post-secondary education for low-income students. At the individual student level, Latino students are in the process of developing an identity that is both affected by their school experiences and affects their academic and mental health outcomes. I look at narrative identity as the mechanism through which Latino students construct their ethnic identities.



Aliza Zivic

Zivic, Aliza

PhD candidate, Learning Sciences

Fellow, Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences


Degrees

  • BA, Chemistry, Barnard College, 2012

Research Interests

Designing learning environments and curriculum materials that support embedding scientific practices (e.g., argumentation, designing investigations, modeling) in the science classroom. Studying student engagement and beliefs in order to better understand the transition from traditional science classrooms to reform-based science classrooms where students construct scientific explanations through their engagement in scientific practices.