SESP Hires Five New Faculty Members

SESP Hires Five New Faculty Members

Five leading scholars will join the faculty of Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) beginning in September 2018, Dean David Figlio announced.

The newest additions to the SESP family include alumna Megan Bang (PhD09) of the University of Washington; Jennifer Munson and Yang Qu of Stanford University; Hannes Schwandt of the University of Zurich; and Sepehr Vakil of the University of Texas at Austin.

“These new faculty members are distinguished in their capacity to work across disciplines,” Figlio said. “They will immediately strengthen our ambitions to establish field-leading centers on youth creativity, learning, and engagement, as well as life-span human development and learning.”

Learn more about the incoming faculty members:


Megan Bang Megan Bang is a developmental psychologist and learning scientist focused on the study of learning and human development in and across everyday contexts; designing and building science learning environments from Indigenous philosophies; and studying child, family, and teacher learning and practice in novel environments.

She is a member of the Board of Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences and has won numerous early career awards from leading scholarly associations. She joins SESP from the University of Washington, where she is currently associate professor of education.

Jen MunsonJen Munson, who has just completed her PhD in teacher education at Stanford, explores the improvisational nature of elementary school mathematics instruction and researches how both children and teachers can avoid the pitfalls of simply trying to find the right answer. Munson, currently an instructor in elementary mathematics methods in the Stanford Teacher Education Program, believes training teachers how to respond in the moment can dramatically impact their relationships with students.

Yang Qu

Yang Qu is a cultural neuroscientist and statistician focused on understanding the cross-cultural differences in social conceptions of adolescence, and the implications of culture for the neurobiology of risk-taking in youth. Much of his work compares the experiences of adolescents in the United States and China. In particular, he examines the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying cultural differences in adolescents’ academic, social, and emotional development, and how parents can influence adolescents’ beliefs and behavior. He approaches these questions using a variety of different approaches including survey, observational, experimental, and neuroimaging methods. Qu is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.

Hannes SchwandtHannes Schwandt is a health economist and economic demographer who researches the relationship between economic factors and well-being, studying questions such as whether economic shocks or unemployment affect physical health, mortality, and fertility. He also researches the long-term human capital effects stemming from adverse health exposures during the prenatal period or early childhood. He joins SESP from the University of Zurich, where he is currently assistant professor of education.

Sepehr VakilSepehr Vakil, who recently received a prestigious National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral fellowship, investigates the cultural and political dimensions of STEM education, with a disciplinary focus in computer science and engineering. Working in partnership with communities and educators, he draws on design-based and participatory research methodologies to explore new transformative possibilities for STEM teaching and learning. Vakil is currently assistant professor of education at the University of Texas at Austin.


By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/18/18