Current Students

Meet Some of Our Current Students


Jalnidh Kaur
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Jalnidh Kaur is a Rhodes Scholar and graduated with MPhil in Economics from University of Oxford in 2015. After completing her Masters, she worked for two years with J-PAL South Asia where she provided field and data research assistance on large-scale randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of adaptive learning interventions on student outcomes in low-cost private and public schools in India. Prior to her doctoral studies, she taught introductory economics to students of grades 11 and 12 at Akal Academy in Himachal Pradesh. Her experiences as a teacher and researcher in the classrooms of rural India fuel her research interests in exploring the role of teacher and technology inputs in improving learning outcomes in developing countries.

Previous Education:

M.Phil. Economics, University of Oxford

B.A. Economics (Honors), St. Stephen's College, Delhi

Yifeng Luo
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Yifeng Luo is a doctoral student in the Economics and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds an MA in economics and education from Columbia University and a BA in economics from the Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

His research focuses on the impact of various inputs of higher education on the human capital accumulation and earnings, including higher education policy and peer effect. His field of interests include labor economics; economics of education; and higher education.

Isabel Munevar
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Isabela Munevar is a third year doctoral student in economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds both an MS and a BA in economics from Los Andes University. Munevar conducts quantitative research on economics and education, with a focus on early childhood education, inequality and labor economics.

Before joining TC, Munevar was a research assistant and policy consultant in the social protection and health (SPH) and education divisions at the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). At the IDB, Munevar actively participated in several impact evaluations and policy design interventions for the Colombian, Ecuadorian, and Brazilian governments, on topics related to early childhood development, education, and economic inequality. Prior to working at the IDB, Munevar was a research assistant at the Center for Studies in Economic Development (CEDE) at the School of Economics at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.

Atsuko Muroga
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Atsuko Muroga is a doctoral student in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education. Prior to her doctoral program, she worked for the World Bank where she was involved in various research and investment projects related to youth and education in Cambodia, Mongolia, Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia, and Vietnam. Her recent research interests include early childhood education, child development, early reading education, wraparound services, and university-school-community partnerships. She holds an MA in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MA in Educational Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BA in Liberal Arts from Soka University of America.

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Theo Pippins is a PhD student in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He conducts quantitative research on the effects of education policies and programs on college access, success, and institutional choice.

Since joining Teachers College, Theo has worked at the Community College Research Center (CCRC), where he co-authored reports on the provision of humanities and liberal arts education at public colleges in the United States and on how course-taking in humanities and liberal arts at community colleges affects transfer and outcomes at four-year colleges. Theo has also worked as a research assistant under Peter Bergman and as a teaching assistant under Judith Scott-Clayton, with whom he will co-instruct the Economics and Education course at Teachers College in Fall 2020.

Prior to Teachers College, Theo worked with the NYC Department of Education as a high school math teacher (NYC Teaching Fellows) as well as a teacher mentor and ambassador (NYC Men Teach).

Previous Education:
M.S. Education, St. John’s University
B.A. Economics, Williams College

Julio Rodríguez
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Julio Rodríguez is a Ph.D. student of the Economics and Education program. Previously, he obtained a BA in Economics and an MA in Economic Analysis from Universidad de Chile. He is interested in quantitative research regarding segregation and inequality in the educational system. Also, he is keen on using administrative data aiming to better understand the impact of education on long term results, such as labor outcomes and social mobility.

Julio has previously worked as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, where he participated in various RCT studies in developing countries. While there, he also conducted gender and school financing research. Furthermore, he has worked on labor and education research projects with the Universidad de Chile’s faculty.

Daniel Sparks
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Daniel Sparks is a an alum of TFA, where he was an early childhood teacher in Chicago. He is a past employer of Matriculate, a founding partner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ CollegePoint Initiative to increase the number of low income, high achieving high school students in top colleges. His research interests include higher education access, the role of education in social mobility, and adult education programs.
 
Previous Education:
BA in Political Economy and BS in Environmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
MS in Education, Dominican University
Tatiana Velasco
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Tatiana Velasco is a Ph.D. student in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research looks at the effects of various higher education policies on students behavior, college quality, and labor market outcomes. Prior to joining Teachers College, Velasco worked as a research assistant at the Center for Studies in Economic Development (CEDE) at the School of Economics at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. At CEDE, she participated in several studies of financial aid programs for higher education in Colombia, on the development of integrated information systems that track students’ trajectories in higher education, and on research assessing methodologies to measure higher education quality.

Currently, Velasco is a research assistant at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College. At CCRC, she has studied the association between technology mediated advising and key performance indicators in Community Colleges in the U.S.

Previous Education: Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia), B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Economics

Research Interest: Higher education quality; college financial aid; and transition from college to labor market.

Rachel Yang Zhou
Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Rachel conducts quantitative research on the transitions from high school to college and the workforce, college persistence and performance, and the impact of higher education policies on academic and labor market outcomes. Her academic focus and research interest lie at the intersection of labor economics and higher education.

Rachel has been working at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) since she joined Teachers College. At CCRC, she has been exploring the landscape and the impacts of current developmental education reforms in multiple community college systems. She also worked to examine the consequences of failing academic requirements existed in federal need-based aid programs on academic and labor market outcomes for community college students. Prior to joining Teachers College, Rachel was a research assistant on education policy for the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where she worked to assess the impact of minimum high school course requirements for college in North Carolina and to evaluate the effect of an aid program at an elite public university on postsecondary success.

Previous Education:

The University of Hong Kong, Bachelor of Economics and Finance

Duke University, M.A. in Economics

Sapna Arvind
Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Sapna Arvind is an Ed.M. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. With this degree she is eager to draw lines between policy implementation and results, hoping to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of policy decisions not just on students but also on education stakeholders at large.

Prior to joining Teachers College, Sapna enjoyed a long and successful career on Wall Street, honing skills in leadership, strategy development, and data analyses in a variety of companies and countries. Having made a career in finance, building skills around analytics and data-based decision-making, research-based predictive modeling and understanding laws and regulations, her unique set of skills translates seamlessly into the world of Economics and Education where a comfort with quantitative analyses is essential, as is an understanding of policy and practice.

Sapna also has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Bachelors of Science from Stern School of Business, New York University. She did her first two years of undergrad from Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand. She’s a Bharatanatyam dancer (Indian Classical Dancing) and enjoying charcoal sketching and traveling.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Pavlos Giannakis is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He is born and raised, in Athens, Greece. His undergraduate degree is in Finance and Economics. Before joining TC, he spent several years as an Investment Banker in New York and as a Data Analyst in the Financial Regulatory government setting. His areas of expertise were Fixed Income, Risk Management, Quantitative Analytics & Research. He really enjoys the plethora of quantitative data in the field of Education Policy and Economics. He desires to gain a thorough understanding of Education Research and Policymaking and conduct large-scale evaluations at the micro and macro level. He intends to engage in this by adopting econometric modelling techniques that formulate complex relationships in education and test those models with relevant data.

Specific areas of interest include the relationship between education and labor markets; the production, distribution, and financing of education; the organization of the education industry & the contribution of education to economic growth & development; the impacts of financial aid; teacher characteristics and student success in college.

His previous graduate work incorporates studies in Data Science and Public Finance at Columbia and NYU.

He is an avid runner and cyclist.

Tara Habibi
M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Tara Habibi is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and spent the majority of her life growing up in Fremont, California. Surrounded by the fast-paced Silicon Valley, early on Tara found herself interested in the relationship between “good” schools, desirable neighborhoods, and school overcrowding. This led her to study economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her time at UCSB, Tara worked as a student advisor on the use of student fees on a campus and UC wide level, analyzing the impact of student fees on student services and the student educational experience. Through the research of Dr. Diana Arya, she also worked at the local Boys and Girls Club acting as a co-learner with fifth and sixth grade students on the topic of environmental literacy by way of creating and sustaining a garden space together. She is passionate about the different types of variables which can affect student success from support services to delegated responsibility in an after-school program. Throughout her time at Teachers College, Tara hopes to gain more insight into the economic forces which shape public school systems and the effect that these forces have on educational output.

Siyao Lu
M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Siyao Lu is a master’s student in the Economics and Education program. She has been interested in education since as an undergraduate student at Wake Forest University. In college, she worked as a tutor and studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She also participated in some internships in education companies in China. As a Chinese student whose experiences with educational systems in developed countries such as the United States and Spain she discovered the importance of cultural interactions and resource integration in educational development. She realized that education is a mirror to our society. She was struck by the huge gap in educational opportunity and resources between developed and developing countries. These experiences led her to further explore education and enroll in the Economics and Education program. She wants to develop the capability of applying economics and statistical models to analyze educational issues and garner experiences in the evaluation of educational policies.  

Siyao likes to travel, enjoy making friends from all over the world and loves to learn about their different cultures. New York is a challenging but exciting place and she looks forward to her new life here! 

Previous Education:

B.A. in Economics from Wake Forest University

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