Current Students

Meet Some of Our Current Students


Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Fabiola Alba-Vivar is a PhD Student in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research is focused on education with an emphasis on gender and labor markets in developing countries. She holds an MA in Economics from Brown University and a BA in Economics from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Previously, she worked as a research assistant at Princeton University where she supervised the implementation of large randomized control trials in multiple countries and studied the effects of unions on inequality in the US. She has also worked at The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in Latin America and the Peruvian Central Bank. Her current work includes measuring the effects of school expansion interventions on risky behavior in the Dominican Republic, the impact of a higher education reform in partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Education, and the impact of STEM workshops for young girls in Peru. 
 

Website: https://falbav.github.io/

 

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Saloni is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College. Her research focuses on the impact of political and economic development on education policies and outcomes. She works along with philanthropic and non-profits organizations across India to understand the economic and educational impact for both public and private schools. In the past, she has worked with a couple of education start-ups focusing on low-income private schools and teacher training programs. She has also worked on education policy with various state governments in India. She was also a teacher with Teach for India in a low-income private school and in a juvenile home.

Saloni earned her Masters' in International Education Policy at Stanford University and Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Thapar University.

 

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

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

Isabela Munevar is a 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 Ph.D. 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 and in Fall 2021.

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 B.A. in Economics and an M.A. 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 an alum of TFA, where he was an early childhood teacher in Chicago. He is a past employee 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 enjoys charcoal sketching and traveling.

Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Brayan L. Rosa-Rodríguez is an Ed.M. candidate in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. With this degree he is interested in unfolding the intersection of education and poverty alleviation policy with a particular focus in government programs and interventions that can facilitate economic mobility to lift people out of poverty.

Currently, Brayan serves as the Senior Policy Analyst with the Economic Policy Project at UNIDOS US. In this role, he analyzes and advocates for economic policies that can improve the lives of Latinos living in the US. Prior to joining UNIDOS US, Brayan served as the Public Policy Manager at the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico. Over his career, Brayan has been able to work in favor of economic and education policies that can benefit those in most need. He has experience working with poverty alleviation programs, economic development policies, tax credits and incentives, and in program evaluation.

Brayan has a master's degree in public administration and policy from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Carolina campus in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. When he is not working you can catch him playing basketball or dancing salsa.  

 

Ed.M. candidate in the Economics and Education program
Before coming to Teachers College, Yuang (Connor) studied math and physics at Bucknell University, and later pursued a master’s degree in applied math and statistics at CUNY-Hunter College, where he also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
 
A recipient of the Presidential Cup and Youth Employment Innovation Fellowship at International House New York, Yuang is keen on studying the relations between technology, education, and human developments. He is also interested in how broader fiscal, monetary, and trade policy can influence the agenda setting and implementations of education policy.
 
When not wired with code, he plays rugby with a New York City inclusive RFC, enjoys comedy TV shows, or occasionally, you can find him in a sailboat on Long Island Sound.
 

 

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Morgan Barney is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She also holds a B.A. in Economics and a Concentration in Global Financial Institutions from Smith College. As an undergrad, Morgan worked as a Research Assistant on an early-stage research project on European Fiscal Policy with prior Irish Fiscal Advisory Council Member, Dr. Roisin O’Sullivan, and on the forthcoming Intermediate Microeconomics textbook, Microeconomics: Competition, Conflict and Coordination by Drs. Samuel Bowles and Simon Halliday.

Prior to joining Teacher’s College, Morgan spent a year working on Wall Street as an Investment Banking Analyst in an Equity Capital Markets Group before deciding to pursue her long-term interest in economic research involving educational inequities and broader inequality. To reorient her career to pursue this interest, Morgan decided to spend a year in service as an AmeriCorps Education Fellow at an innovative urban public school in Central Falls, RI. Her goal was to both witness and help address some of the issues in which she was interested in researching firsthand, especially as they had been exacerbated by the pandemic. Morgan hopes to eventually use her degree and prior classroom experiences to conduct thoughtful and policy-oriented research exploring how the education system can be used to combat and correct for pervasive poverty and other systemic inequities.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys listening to music, painting, and playing tennis.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Jonathan Chapman is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He graduated from Duke University in 2018 with a B.S. in Economics, a B.A. in Political Science (with a concentration in Political Economy), and a Certificate in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics from Duke University. While in undergrad, Jonathan worked as a research analyst on a team under Dr. Hans van Miegroet via Bass Connections and as a part of the Duke Art, Law, & Markets Initiative (DALMI). Their work focused on the intersectionality of the art community and economic and policy initiatives on the labor market in Durham County.

Before Teachers College, Jonathan completed a two-year stint with Teach For America (TFA) in Memphis, TN where he taught high school U.S. Government & Civics and Economics at Power Center Academy High School (PCAHS). In his third year of teaching, Jonathan taught AP Government, U.S. Government & Civics, and Economics at Bluff City High School (BCHS) where he served as lead 12th grade teacher for its first graduating class. During his third year, he was also selected as a Leadership Accelerator Fellow for TFA alumni where he crafted an initiative for the Greater Memphis Area. Jonathan hopes to use his prior classroom exposure, research experience, and degree to work with public and private institutions to help close the education gap.

As hobbies, Jonathan enjoys hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, playing tennis, performing community service, and assisting with local Boy Scout troops.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Mei is from Boston, MA and she was a special education paraprofessional prior to attending Teachers College. She earned a B.A. in economics at Boston College and as a student she became interested in using economics as a lens to understand issues of inequity within the U.S. education system. Her current research interests include school choice, the privatization of education, and the relationship between labor and education. In her free time, Mei likes to crochet while watching television. 

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Yanrong Selena Li is a master's student in the Economics and Education program and has been working as a part-time math teacher in an international school in China. She previously completed her undergraduate study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. She is particularly interested in K12 education and social equality. In college, she used to be a tutor for two years in Shenzhen and participated in internships in an education technology company, focusing on K12 online education, and in an education group. Dedicated to alleviating poverty and educational inequality, she and her father established a volunteer organization aiming to relieve poverty and support education efforts in a small town in Southwestern China. During her experiences in poor areas, she realized the huge gap in educational opportunity and resources, which mainly resulted from the economic situation. Therefore, she has sought opportunities to further study the field of economics and education; and, using economic tools, she believes they will equip her to better evaluate education programs to put forward meaningful policies or projects.

She also has a passionate interest in ethnic art. Growing up in Yunnan, a province characterized by over twenty-six minority groups, she has been inspired by the diversity of art and culture in her community. Under her uncle's influence, who devotes his life to cultural heritage protection, she has tried to promote traditional cultures by introducing project-based learning courses that have integrated cultures and arts.

Selena loves travelling, which enables her to explore new cities and to make friends around the world. Yoga and climbing are her favorite sports that give her a peace of mind.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Teresita Martinez is a second year masters student in the Economics and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests lie in structural and systemic inequality in the pre-K through higher education finance systems.

She serves as the Economics and Education program student representative for the Student Advisory Council (SAC). Teresita works as a graduate research assistant at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) for Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton and Dr. Jessica Brathwaite.

Prior to joining Teachers College, Teresita gained education policy experience as an executive fellow at the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), an undergraduate research assistant for the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) research center, and as an intern for the California Department of Education Expanded Learning Division.

M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program

Erika Valdez is an M.A. candidate in the Economics and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was born in the Philippines and grew up in the Bronx, NY. She earned a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University.

For Erika’s undergraduate senior thesis, she wrote about the causes and effect of Filipino migration on Filipino society and the Philippines as a nation. Utilizing economics as a lens, her writing maintained a particular focus on remittances and their overall effects socially and culturally. Currently, she is interested in studying the systemic and financial inequities within the U.S. education system, specifically in higher education.

Prior to attending Teachers College, Erika served as an Advising Fellow for Matriculate, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower low-income, high-achieving high school students to attend the country’s best colleges through peer advising. She also worked as an intern in the Ecommerce Department of a retail company, gaining experience in marketing, data analytics, and customer service.

In her spare time, Erika enjoys going for long walks, cooking new recipes, and rooting for the New York Mets and the New York Islanders. 

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