Current VEST fellows are participating in either the 4-Year Program or 2-Year Program. Learn more about VEST Alumni.
The VEST 4-Year Program has graduate students from the Curry School of Education Ph.D programs of either Education Policy or Educational Psychology-Applied Development Sciences.
The VEST 2-year Program has graduate students later in their academic program from U.Va.'s Department of Economics, Psychology Department, and/or Sociology Department.
The VEST program is committed to creating a community of educational researchers. We value mentorship and support our fellows in their professional development. Our faculty and students met socially a couple times a year to celebrate the success of the program. Our students also regularly support each other socially. Our fellows also work together on projects and in classes; here is a video a group of students and faculty created during the SPR Cup competition in 2014.
4th Year 4-Year Fellows
Katharine Meyer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Katharine Meyer is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in Education Policy studies at the Curry School of Education. She also holds a BA in Government, an MEd in Research, Statistics, and Evaluation, and an MPP from the University. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, she worked in higher education program development and evaluation at UVA. She is interested in the behavioral, informational, and psychological barriers to low-income students' academic success. Her current work focuses on the transition from high school to college, postsecondary persistence, and adolescent literacy.
Aliza Husain - email@example.com
Aliza Husain is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in the Education Policy program at the Curry School of Education. She earned her M.P.P from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy in May 2016. After completing her primary education in Karachi, Pakistan, Aliza moved to California to pursue an undergraduate degree from Occidental College. Her B.A. in Economics, with an emphasis in Mathematics and Education, exposed her to the political climate surrounding education reform in the United States. A year as a teacher at a low-income charter school in the San Francisco Bay Area provided her greater insights into factors affecting teachers’ employment decisions, further piquing her interest in education policy. Her current research interests include K-12 teacher retention and quality, and school leadership.
Christina Mulcahy - firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Mulcahy is an IES Pre-Doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Sciences program, working with Dr. Bridget Hamre and Dr. Jessica Whittaker at CASTL. She earned a B.S. in Psychology, with a 2nd major in Romance Languages: Spanish, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to attending UVA, Christina worked as a Research Assistant at WestEd in Oakland, CA, on various math intervention studies with low-income pre-school students. Her research interests involve improving pre-school education, especially for low-income and diverse student populations.
Chelsea Duran - email@example.com
Chelsea Duran is an IES Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science (expected graduation Spring 2018). Chelsea earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Psychology from Iowa State University. Chelsea taught mathematics at the secondary level at an independent school in Richmond, VA prior to working for three years as a research assistant at RAND Corporation in Washington, DC. Working with David Grissmer, her major projects at UVA currently include spearheading data management and analysis efforts for a randomized control trial evaluation of an after-school program targeting social-emotional development in an urban school district. Chelsea's research interests center around cognitive and self-regulatory development in the context of poverty.
3rd year 4-Year Fellows
Jessalynn James - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessalynn James fellow is a pre-doctoral fellow in Education Policy at the Curry School of Education. Before enrolling at UVA, she served as the program manager for assessment reporting and data management at the Council for Aid to Education in New York City, where she oversaw all assessment-related data and the development of institution and student score reports for the Collegiate Learning Assessment and its middle and high school equivalent, the College and Work Readiness Assessment. She also managed the creation and implementation of longitudinal surveys to track student outcomes following graduation from high school and college. Jessalynn also served for several semesters as an adjunct at Barnard College, co-teaching an introductory course in statistics for psychology.
Jessalynn has a B.S. from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and an M.P.A. with a concentration in policy analysis and evaluation from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs with the City University of New York.
Preston Magouirk - email@example.com
Preston Magouirk is a Ph.D student in Education Policy. He earned a B.A. in History from Tulane University in 2011 and an M.P.P. from Vanderbilt University in 2015. A former elementary school teacher in South Louisiana, Preston is interested in examining questions of equity in early educational experiences for low-income students.
Kimalee Dickerson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimalee Dickerson is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program. Kimalee holds a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the doctoral program, Kimalee spent several years practicing law, including serving as an appellate law clerk on state and federal courts. Kimalee's research interests include diversity and racial identity development in African-American students. She is currently working with Dr. Joanna Williams on projects focused on the experience of minority students.
Cathy Corbin - email@example.com
Cathy Corbin is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology and Applied Developmental Sciences program. While completing her undergraduate studies in psychology at UC Santa Barbara, Cathy worked in an after-school program serving low-income Latinx students. Igniting her interest in education, she traveled east to earn an M.A. in Education and Social Policy from NYU. Prior to beginning doctoral studies, Cathy worked at MDRC—a non-profit social policy research firm. There, she gained research experience working on evaluations of response to intervention for early grades reading, a transition to high school intervention, and a multi-tiered systems of support for behavior intervention.
Cathy is currently working with Dr. Jason Downer and Dr. Erik Ruzek on research investigating student perceptions of classroom interactions. Specifically, she is interested in what students perceive and why, how to measure student perceptions, the variability in how students within the same classroom perceive classroom interactions, how that variability is related to student social-emotional and academic outcomes, and how student perceptions align or deviate from teacher reported or observational measures of the classroom. Central to this work is what unique information is gleaned from students, as opposed to teachers or observational measures, that might help us to better understand classrooms as dynamic environments.
Lauren Mims - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Mims is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program. Lauren obtained a B.A. in English and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012 and a M.A. in Child Development from Tufts University in 2014. As a Masters student, Lauren developed, implemented, and evaluated an eight-week intervention, Girls Rising Above Circumstances to Excel (GRACE), specifically for black girls in the 10th and 11th grades. GRACE aimed to join the small canon of research on educational strategies to improve outcomes of ethnic and personal identity, as well as academic achievement, for black girls. She also worked with Dr. Tama Leventhal to study the role of neighborhood contexts on youth development.
Lauren is interested in how race and ethnicity affect psychosocial and academic outcomes in youth, particularly among African American adolescents. She is currently working with Dr. Joanna Lee Williams on a project examining the role of peer social networks on youth development in ethnically diverse middle schools.
Francisca Romo Escudero - email@example.com
Francisca is a graduate student in the EP-ADS PhD program at Curry School of Education. She did her undergraduate studies in Sociology at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and pursued a Master in Public Policy at Universidad Diego Portales in Chile.
Prior to coming to the U.S. and joining UVa, she worked as a researcher in the Center for Comparative Policy in Education at Universidad Diego Portales in Chile, and as an Instructor in the Faculty of Education at the same University. Francisca was awarded with a scholarship to pursue studies abroad, from the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research and also from the Fulbright Program.
Her research interests are classroom interactions, teacher training and teacher professional development, specially in Early Childhood Education. At UVA she will be working with Jennifer LoCasale Crouch.
Pilar Alamos Valenzuela - firstname.lastname@example.org
Pilar is a graduate student in the ED-ADS doctoral program at Curry School of Education. She did her undergraduate studies in Psychology and her master in Educational Psychology, both at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Prior coming to the U.S. and joining UVa, she worked as a researcher in the Ministry of Education and as a research assistant on teacher education in the Center of Study for Policies and Practices in Education (CEPPE). She also assisted a research team on social and emotional development in the Department of Psychology at PUC. Pilar was awarded with a scholarship to pursue studies abroad, from the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research.
2nd year 4-Year Fellows
Justin Doromal - email@example.com
Justin B. Doromal is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in Education Policy at the Curry School of Education, and is concurrently completing a Master of Public Policy from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of South Florida, and a MEd in Research, Statistics, and Evaluation from the University of Virginia. Justin’s research broadly examines issues of access to high quality early care and education programs, which he approaches from a number of perspectives. His ongoing work documents both community- and market-level influences to program quality improvements in the early childhood context.
Emily Wiseman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Wiseman is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in the Education Policy program at the Curry School of Education. She is also completing a Master of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College and earned her M.S.Ed. in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She was an elementary and middle school classroom teacher for four years at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia and then KIPP in Washington, D.C., before working as a Reading Specialist for D.C. Public Schools. Her primary area of interest is teacher quality, and her research lies at the intersection of policy and practice around teachers and teaching.
Kylie LeBlanc - email@example.com
Kylie LeBlanc is an IES pre-doctoral fellow and a student in the dual PhD/MPP Education Policy program in the Curry School of Education the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at UVA. Originally from Texas, Kylie holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Southwestern University and a post-baccalaureate degree in mathematics from Northwestern University. Before joining Ed Policy Works, Kylie worked as a 7th grade teacher in rural Arkansas, as an evaluator for an after-school program in Chicago, and as a job coach for students with disabilities in Austin. Kylie is passionate about improving both early childhood education and the methodologies we use to evaluate the efficacy of educational policies and initiatives.
Ann Partee - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Partee is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School of Education. She earned a BA in English and Government from the University of Texas at Austin and an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before coming to UVa, Ann worked as a Research Assistant in the Ecological Approach to Social Emotional Learning lab at HGSE under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Jones. Her work focused on translating research from developmental science to inform the design of programs and strategies that promote children’s social emotional and academic outcomes. She has also worked as a first grade teacher.
Ann’s research interests include social emotional learning interventions during the early childhood and elementary school years and teacher professional development. She works with Dr. Bridget Hamre at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, where she is currently working on a project to evaluate a comprehensive toddler and preschool curriculum.
Tatiana Hill - email@example.com
Tatiana Hill is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School of Education. Tatiana received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish from Amherst College. Throughout her undergraduate career, she completed a series of studies in Cognitive and Personality Psychology as they pertain to memory, emotion recognition, and coping. Through nonprofit work, she incorporated her knowledge of cognition in a bilingual, multicultural context to explore how the linguistic development and learning processes of English Language Learners and immigrant students impact their school performance.
Currently, she is working with Dr. Natalia Palacios and faculty from Youth-Nex, the U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development. Through her research, Tatiana hopes to identify strategies for engaging with ELL children in the home and in school that highlight ELLs’ cognitive skills and diverse cultural backgrounds.
Ashley Hunt - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Hunt is an IES pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program. Broadly, Ashley is interested in classroom-based interventions and teacher practices that support social-emotional learning (SEL), the assessment of SEL skills in educational contexts, and the policy implications of widespread administration of SEL measures. She holds a BA in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Virginia, and a MA in Psychology with a concentration in Children, Families, and Cultures from Catholic University.
Ashley is currently working with the Social Development Lab and her advisor, Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, on the development and evaluation of Connect Science, a curriculum unit that simultaneously promotes SEL skills, academic achievement, and civic engagement.
1st-Year 4-Year Fellows
Brian Kim - email@example.com
Brian Kim is a first-year IES pre-doctoral fellow completing the dual Education Policy Ph.D./MPP program with the Curry School of Education and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. After graduating with a B.A. in English and Economics from Bowdoin College, he obtained his teacher certification and taught English at a public high school near Portland, Maine for the past three years. During summers, he also served as an instructor in Economic Game Theory for gifted and talented middle school students through Johns Hopkins University. Brian's research interests primarily relate to teacher retention: what monetary and non-monetary methods can we use to encourage high-quality public school teachers to remain in the classroom? He is also interested in teacher labor markets as a whole, support for first-generation college students, college achievement, and behavioral nudges.
Walter Herring - firstname.lastname@example.org
Walter Herring is a first-year student in the dual MPP/PhD Education Policy program through the Curry School of Education and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. A native of Dallas, Texas, Walter earned his BA in Public Policy from Stanford University before returning to Dallas to teach Algebra 1 to 9th grade students. Prior to joining EdPolicyWorks, Walter worked as a program manager and data analyst for a non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area devoted to preparing under-resourced students for college. He is interested in evaluating both teacher retention policies and intervention programs designed to support low-income students.
Miray Seward - email@example.com
Miray Seward is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School of Education. Miray received her B.A. in psychology and human development from Duke University in 2014. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, Miray spent a year as a project/research coordinator in the Motivate Lab and two years as a lab manager in the Language Development Lab and Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke University.
Currently, Miray is working with Dr. Christopher Hulleman in the Motivate Lab to examine the experiences of women and students of color in STEM majors and mindset transfer across contexts. In the future, she is interested also in examining how parents, coaches, and teachers influence Black student-athletes’ motivation and identity development.
Karen Kehoe - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Kehoe is an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program at the Curry School of Education. She earned a B.A. in American Studies and French from the University of Notre Dame and an Ed.M. in Language and Literacy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Before coming to UVa, Karen worked as an elementary school and special needs classroom teacher, reading specialist, curriculum developer, and program coordinator in local government and non-profit settings.
Karen’s research interests include acquisition of language and literacy skills and social-emotional development in early childhood and teacher professional development. She is passionate about work that supports the goals of economically-vulnerable children, families, and communities. Karen works with Dr. Bridget Hamre at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.
Allison Nagel - email@example.com
Alison is currently an Institute for Education Sciences predoctoral affiliate fellow in the Clinical Psychology program in the Department of Psychology. A triple-Hoo in the making, Alison received her B.A. and her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia.
As a VEST fellow, Alison is working with Nancy Deutsch on the Study of Important Youth-Adult Relationships (YAR Study). Together with Nancy Deutsch and her Psychology Department advisors, Joe Allen and Dick Reppucci, she is also implementing and evaluating a school-based intervention in a local high school. The intervention, called the Connection Project, uses a series of 'micro-interventions' designed to build a more positive social atmosphere in a school and increase student engagement and achievement. Broadly, Alison is interested in interventions related to positive youth development and adolescents' relationships with important others, including their peers, parents, non-parental adults, and romantic partners (with a particular focus on teen dating violence).
Audrey Wittrup - firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Wittrup is an Institute for Education Sciences predoctoral affiliate fellow in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology. She received her BA from the University of Michigan in Psychology and English 2014. Her research centers on the role of supportive relationships with non-parental adults in promoting positive academic outcomes for marginalized adolescents. As a VEST fellow, Audrey is working with Robert Pianta on the My Teacher Partner-Secondary (MTP-S) program, with a focus on the potential of teacher-student relationships as a point of academic intervention.
Sierra Eisen - email@example.com
Sierra Eisen is an Institute for Education Sciences predoctoral affiliate fellow in the Developmental Psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on how young children learn from touchscreen technology and educational apps. As a VEST fellow, Sierra is working with Jamie Jirout and Angeline Lillard examining parent-child interactions during digital and physical spatial play and links to children's early spatial and math abilities.
Victoria Mauer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria is currently an Institute for Education Sciences predoctoral affiliate fellow in the Community Psychology program in the Department of Psychology. Victoria received her B.A. in Psychology from New York University, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University, and her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Her research centers on the study of prevention and intervention programming seeking to promote supportive contexts, particularly in schools, that foster positive youth development and prevent gender based violence. As a VEST fellow, Victoria is working with Nancy Deutsch on the Study of Important Youth-Adult Relationships (YAR Study), as well as the development of a training institute to investigate whether leveraging youth-adult relationships in public middle schools can foster positive school climates and reduce educational inequality.