Faculty with a broad range of research experience, policy expertise, and scholarly accomplishments will advise fellows, lead research apprenticeships, and teach the proseminar, drawing on additional expertise at Teachers College and beyond.

Program Leadership

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Thomas Brock

Thomas Brock is the director of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and a research professor in the EPSA department. Brock has more than 25 years of experience leading complex education research programs, first at MDRC, where he headed the postsecondary education division and co-led the IES-funded National Center for Postsecondary Research based at CCRC. Brock served as commissioner of the National Center for Education Research at the U.S. Department of Education from 2013 through June 2018 and was delegated the duties of the director of IES from January 2017 through March 2018. Brock brings a distinctive blend of substantive knowledge about postsecondary education, particularly in the community college sector; experience implementing randomized controlled trials in education and human services settings; experience using mixed methods to study program implementation; and expertise in building partnerships with policymakers and practitioners in a range of political contexts. He holds a PhD in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles. Brock is the principal investigator (PI) of the PEAR Fellowship program.

Alex Eble

Alex Eble is an associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College. His research centers
on two main areas. In one area, he focuses on understanding how children form beliefs about their own
ability, and how this affects their human capital development. In this work, he tries to pair theoretical
models of the formation of beliefs with causal empirical analysis to show how early exposure to
erroneous messages such as gender bias can reduce human capital investment and harm individuals’
later life outcomes. In a second research area, Eble works to identify, evaluate, and study the scalability
of potentially high-leverage policy options to raise learning levels in the developing world. This work
draws on insights from fieldwork and experience as a development practitioner in China, The Gambia,
Guinea Bissau, and India. Eble holds a PhD and AM in economics from Brown University, an MSc in
development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA in economics
and East Asian languages and cultures from Indiana University, Bloomington. Eble is co-PI of the PEAR
Fellowship program.

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Aaron M. Pallas

Aaron M. Pallas is the Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education and chair of the EPSA department at Teachers College. Pallas has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Northwestern University and served as a statistician at the National Center for Education Statistics. Pallas uses a variety of research tools to inform the public about the relevance and usability of education research for policy and practice. He educates stakeholders and the media about the complexities and unexpected consequences of accountability and resource distribution policies in public schools in New York City, New York State, and beyond. His course on survey research methods is part of the research design training in the PEAR training curriculum. Pallas’s most recent book is Convergent Teaching: Tools to Spark Deeper Learning in College (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019). He has sponsored 17 doctoral dissertations at Teachers College. Pallas holds a PhD in sociology from Johns Hopkins University. He  is co-PI of the PEAR Fellowship program.

Program Director

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Corinne Herlihy

Corinne Herlihy is the senior operations strategist at CCRC, where she guides the development and implementation of strategic priorities and sustainable structures for the center. Before joining CCRC, Herlihy spent nearly a decade at CEPR at Harvard, directing research operations and the IES-funded National Center for Teacher Effectiveness. She previously served as a senior research associate and deputy director of K-12 policy at MDRC. She has broad experience administering complex research enterprises, including hiring and leading the professional development of graduate students and other junior staff. She also has an extensive track record in forging research partnerships with policy and practice organizations. A former mathematics teacher, Herlihy holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Core Training Faculty

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Nikki Edgecombe

Nikki Edgecombe is a senior research scholar at CCRC, where for the last decade she has led projects on English language learners in community colleges, postsecondary teaching and learning, and developmental education. She has mentored many graduate students on her projects and will continue this role for PEAR Fellows. Edgecombe holds a PhD in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Davis Jenkins

Davis Jenkins is a senior research scholar at CCRC, where he leads projects investigating the guided pathways model of community college reform, transfer from two- to four-year institutions, and accelerated college access for high school students. He has published extensively with graduate students working at CCRC and will serve as a mentor for PEAR Fellows. His most recent book, coauthored with Thomas Bailey and Shanna Smith Jaggars, is Redesigning America’s Community Colleges (Harvard University Press, 2015). He holds a PhD in public policy analysis from Carnegie Mellon University.

Na Lor

Na Lor is an assistant professor of sociology and education in the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she teaches mixed methods, activity theory, and sociology of higher education. Her research focuses on higher education broadly, employing a range of methodological approaches including mixed methods, measurement, survey research, interviews, and social design experiments. Dr. Lor received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin Madison in educational leadership and policy analysis with a focus on higher education and education sciences.

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Jordan Matsudaira

Jordan Matsudaira (on leave during the 2021–22 academic year) is an associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College and a faculty affiliate at the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy and the Columbia Population Research Center. In 2014–15, he served as chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. He draws on economic tools to understand poverty and inequality and the policies that influence them. Matsudaira will contribute to the training of PEAR Fellows via his teaching of foundational and advanced econometric methods. He holds a PhD in economics and public policy from the University of Michigan.

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Anna Neumann

Anna Neumann is a professor of higher education at Teachers College. Her current research examines teaching and learning in urban colleges serving concentrations of first-generation students. She has also conducted research on professors’ intellectual careers, doctoral students’ learning of research, and academic organization and leadership. She is a past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and an elected member of the National Academy of Education. Her courses in curriculum and instruction and teaching and learning in higher education are included as options in PEAR training. Neumann holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Michigan. 

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Kimberly Noble

Kimberly Noble is an associate professor of neuroscience and education and director of the developmental psychology program at Teachers College, where she also directs the Neurocognition, Early Experience, and Development (NEED) Lab. Her research examines socioeconomic disparities in brain development, and she is leading a multidisciplinary team in the first clinical trial to examine the causal impacts of income on children’s cognitive, emotional, and brain development in the first three years of life. She will be a mentor for PEAR Fellows. Noble holds an MD and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Doug Ready

Doug Ready is an associate professor of education and public policy and director of the Center for Policy Research in Education at Teachers College. His research explores the links between education policy, social policy, and educational equity, with a particular focus on how contemporary policies moderate or exacerbate sociodemographic disparities in cognitive development. Ready teaches foundational courses in data analysis and quantitative methods included in the PEAR training program. He holds a PhD in educational foundations (sociology) and public policy from the University of Michigan.

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Judith Scott-Clayton

Judith Scott-Clayton is an associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College, a senior research scholar at CCRC, and a faculty research affiliate of NBER. Scott-Clayton is one of the nation’s leading experts on postsecondary financial aid and student loan debt and is highly skilled at navigating the space between rigorous education research and public policy and debate. Scott-Clayton teaches courses on causal methods for education policy research that are part of the PEAR training, and she has mentored numerous doctoral students. She holds a PhD in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

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Tyler Watts

Tyler Watts is an assistant professor of developmental psychology at Teachers College. Previously, he was a research assistant professor and postdoctoral scholar at New York University. Watts studies educational programs and policies designed to promote the cognitive and socioemotional development of children from underserved communities, most notably the Chicago School Readiness Project. He is a co-principal investigator on two projects supported by IES: “Evaluating the Efficacy of an Interdisciplinary School Curriculum” and “Improving Low-Income Students’ Odds of Being ‘On-Track’ and College Ready in Chicago Public Schools.” In 2019, he served as the primary instructor for the IES-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Program workshop at New York University. Watts holds a PhD in education with a specialization in educational policy and social contexts from the University of California, Irvine.

Renzhe Yu

Renzhe Yu is an assistant professor of learning analytics/educational data mining at Teachers College, Columbia University. His core research interest is equity-oriented educational data science, which investigates how emerging data science techniques can help understand and improve educational equity. He will serve as a mentor for PEAR Fellows. Yu received his doctorate in educational data science from the University of California, Irvine.

Affiliated Faculty

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A. Brooks Bowden

A. Brooks Bowden is an assistant professor in the Policy, Organizations, Leadership, and Systems Division at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also serves as the Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education. Bowden specializes in program evaluation and economic analysis, focusing on the applications and methodology of the ingredients method to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses. Her research aims to mitigate the challenges related to poverty that prevent students from experiencing the full value of schooling. She is a coauthor of the primary text on cost-effectiveness, Economic Evaluation in Education: Cost-Effectiveness and Benefit-Cost Analysis (3rd edition). Bowden will teach the benefit-cost analysis workshop for the PEAR program. She holds a PhD in education policy from Columbia University.

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