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PhD Students in Human Development and Social Policy

Lara Altman

Lara Altman

Education

MSW, Washington University in St. Louis, 2013
MPH, Washington University in St. Louis, 2013
BA, Economics, University of Pennsylvania, 2006

Research Interests

I study the spread, implementation, and institutionalization of trauma-informed approaches (TIAs) in education and beyond. I draw on a combination of institutional theory, sensemaking theory, and critical theories of race to explore the connection between TIAs and equitable organizational change.

Angel Bohannon

Angel Bohannon

Education

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

Research Interests

Research practice partnerships, school and district leadership, policy implementation

Julia Callegari

Julia Callegari

Contact

juliacallegari@u.northwestern.edu

Education

Master in Public Administration, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2020
Master in Economic Analysis, University of Sao Paulo, 2015
Bachelor of International Relations, Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo, 2013

Research Interests

The interplay between identity development, culture, and learning; the implementation of pedagogical practices and policies that can shift the development of students’ ethnic-racial identities to the center of the educational experience; the impacts of culturally sustaining pedagogies on students' academic and social lives.

 Jennifer Cowhy
Looking for professional opportunities

Jennifer Cowhy

Education

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.

Varun Devakonda

Varun Devakonda

Education

MS, Education, Johns Hopkins University, 2020
BA, Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018

Research Interests

I am interested in topics related to educational neuroscience; more specifically, exploring how neuroscience can be applied within academic contexts to improve instructional practices, school policies, and educational outcomes within underserved communities.

Kanika Dhanda

Kanika Dhanda

Education

Ed.M., Human Development and Social Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2018
BA.LLB., ILS Law College Pune, 2012

Research Interests

I am interested in the implementation of education policies in school systems by stakeholders who play a leadership role, school and district leaders as well as players in the private sector like curriculum providers and non-profit leaders. I am using institutional analysis as an overarching framework in my current work. I am exploring questions related to social justice leadership and social capital generation as they intersect with school leaders' personal identities and their (mis)match with the student demographics.

Fortunate Kelechi Ekwuruke

Fortunate Kelechi Ekwuruke

Contact

Website

Education

MS in Education, Culture and Society, Graduate School of Education at University of Pennsylvania, 2020
MS in Nonprofit Leadership, School of Social Policy and Practice at University of Pennsylvania, 2020
BA in Secondary Education: English, Brooklyn College, 2018

Research Interests

My research explores the challenges that housing insecurity and homelessness have on young people, particularly as it relates to their education and social and emotional development. It also looks at the ways that social policies and programs interact with young people who experience these conditions and ways that these interactions can be improved to best support them.

Nicole Guarino

Nicole Guarino

Education

EdM, International Education Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2013
BA, Mathematics and English, University of Iowa, 2007

Research Interests

Transition from high school to postsecondary education; college access and success; identity development; quantitative methods; casual methods

Julia Honoroff

Julia Honoroff

Contact

julia.r.honoroff@u.northwestern.edu

Education

BA, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015

Research Interests

Early care and education, poverty and welfare, child and family policy.

Vishal Jain

Vishal Jain

Contact

Website

Education

Master in Education Policy and Management, Harvard University, 2021
Bachelor in Business Administration, Emory University, 2015

Research Interests

Vishal’s research interests are in studying gender identity development to create and support social policies that foster responsible, healthy masculinity. Previously Vishal has worked as an independent DEI consultant, non-profit director, undergraduate career advisor, and management consultant.

Ayah Kamel

Ayah Kamel

Education

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., I am interested in how we define and measure school quality and in how those definitions and measurements of school quality impact what happens inside of schools.

Jiffy Lansing

Jiffy Lansing

Education

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.

Rebecca Lawrence

Rebecca Lawrence

Contact

Website

Education

B.A. Health Behavior and Society, B.A. Brain & Cognitive Sciences (University of Rochester)

Research Interests

I'm interested in studying the impact of systemic racism, inter-generational poverty, and educational disparities on the psychological health f racially/ethnically diverse youth and ways that policy makers can promote culturally relevant and accessible mental health and academic supports for students of color.

Phoebe Lin

Phoebe Lin

Contact

phoebelin@u.northwestern.edu

Education

BA, Economics with Public Policy, University of Virginia, 2014

Research Interests

Inequality and stratification, race and ethnicity, gender, migration, welfare policy, knowledge production, mixed methods.

Claire Mackevicius
Looking for professional opportunities

Claire Mackevicius

Contact

cmackevicius@u.northwestern.edu

Education

BA, Economics, University of Chicago, 2014

Research Interests

Critical Quantitative Methods // K-12 Education Finance // Mixed Methods // Resource (Re)distribution Policy

Matias Martinez

Matias Martinez

Contact

matias@u.northwestern.edu

Education

BS, Economics, Universidad de Chile, 2008
MPP, Universidad de Chile, 2014
MA Human Development and Social Policy, 2023, Northwestern University

Research Interests

School policy, causal inference, bullying, mental health.

Melanie Muskin

Melanie Muskin

Contact

melaniemuskin@u.northwestern.edu
Website

Education

MA in Organization and Leadership, Teachers College at Columbia University
BA in Cognitive Science, Vassar College

Research Interests

Teacher Activism; Social Movements; Professional Dignity; Early Childhood Education; Educational Leadership; Participatory Design Research

Zina Noel

Zina Noel

Contact

zinanoel@northwestern.edu
Website

Education

BA, International Affairs, Lewis & Clark College, 2013
M.Ed, International Education Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2019
Post-Bac, Early Childhood Education Policy, University of Minnesota, 2020

Research Interests

My research focuses on the intersections between early childhood development and civic society development, exploring how social policy and individual children and their families interact with and influence one another. My current research utilizes critical and ecological theories to unpack identity development among multiracial children, new parents, and early educators within the context of U.S. family and child policy. Early childhood policy; Early care and education; social policy; identity development; critical theory

Leah Ouellet

Leah Ouellet

Contact

leahouellet@u.northwestern.edu

Education

MS from the Department of Criminal Justice at Wayne State University
BA from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

Research Interests

I study human development and punishment in the context of carceral policy and practice.

Eleni Packis

Eleni Packis

Education

B.S. Economics and Public Policy Analysis, The Ohio State University (2018)

Research Interests

K-12 education policy; social inequity; economics of education

Caroline Roddey

Caroline Roddey

Contact

croddey@u.northwestern.edu

Education

BA, Political Science, Davidson College, 2020

Research Interests

Social identity development; Implementation of welfare policies; Societal perceptions of belonging and deservingness

Andrew Stein

Andrew Stein

Contact

steinand@u.northwestern.edu

Education

MA in History, Yale University
BA in History, Yale University

Research Interests

I research the history and politics of educational policymaking, with a focus on how racial and sexual politics since the Civil Rights Movement have shaped educational research and decisions at federal and state levels about curriculum, testing, school quality, and school choice.

Carolyn Swen

Carolyn Swen

Contact

Website

Education

MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2016
MA, International Relations, University of Chicago, 2009
MA, Public Policy, University of Chicago, 2009
BA, Politics, Princeton University

Research Interests

Intersection of vocational psychology and sociology of work, sense of calling in the work role, meaning, purpose, vocation, narrative identity, cultural discourses about work and motivation, work orientation, adult development, generativity, pro-social work, educational leadership, artists, gig economy, precarious work.

Karla Thomas

Karla Thomas

Contact

karlathomas2026@u.northwestern.edu

Education

MA, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2024
MBA, Management & Organizations, Northwestern University, 2005
BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Mississippi, 2000

Research Interests

Karla Thomas is a Critical Race Scholar who is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern, where she researches parent, teacher, and community acts of resistance, defiance, and dream-building in the face of anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ education policy. Her current dissertation, “Smuggling Black Truths: Blackcrit Sensemaking Amidst the Disruption and Expansion of Black Liberatory Educational Possibilities,” interrogates how Black parents, Black educators, and Black churches make sense of and resist Florida’s regressive education policies while also expanding opportunities for Black education. Her ongoing collaborative research efforts explore the invisible ways Black parents and communities participate in the struggle for a just Black education in the face of anti-Blackness through activism, political advocacy, and educating the educators and community on issues of race and racism.

Nancy Vegas

Nancy Vegas

Contact

vegas@u.northwestern.edu

Education

MEd in Development, Education, and International Cooperation; Minor on Educational Leadership, University of Jyväskyla, Finland, 2021
BA in International Relations; Concentration in East Asia, Boston University, 2013

Research Interests

My work focuses on women and explores the concept of agency and intersectionality in relation to political learning, civic education, leadership, and networking.

Tre Wells

Tre Wells

Contact

tre.wells@u.northwestern.edu

Education

M.A., Economics, University of Virginia
B.S., Mathematics, Morehouse College

Research Interests

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Beiming Yang

Beiming Yang

Education

MS, Policy Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2016
BA, Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2014

Research Interests

Adolescent social, emotional, academic, and neurocognitive development; age discrimination; cross-cultral comparison; parental influence on adolescent development

Chen-Wei Yu

Chen-Wei Yu

Education

MS, Psychology, National Taiwan University
BA, English, National Taiwan Normal University

Research Interests

Emotion and motivation; self- and emotion regulation; interpersonal relationships; well-being; goal pursuit; culture; health