Institute of Education Sciences announces 2021 fellows

October 19, 2021

The Predoctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education, which supports scholars conducting research that informs education policy and practice, selected nine doctoral students to participate in the inaugural year of the program at Penn GSE. Led by Penn GSE’s Rebecca Maynard and Brooks Bowden, the program’s goal is to strengthen scholars’ preparation to become leaders in the education research workforce.

This year’s fellows, selected from across the University of Pennsylvania, will participate in an interdisciplinary core curriculum, conduct research with faculty and industry mentors, and apprentice with an education agency focused on questions of policy and practice. 

The 2021 IES fellows are:

Johanna Bernard (Education Policy, Graduate School of Education) holds a M.Ed. in Child Studies from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. in Psychology from Bowdoin College. Johanna’s research interests include language and literacy, global and international education, school and society, quantitative research, and psychology and human development.

Ellen Bryer (Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences) holds a B.A. in Sociology from Smith College. Ellen’s research interests include the sociology of education, social stratification, transition to adulthood, and wealth.

Ellie DeWitt (Education Policy, Graduate School of Education) received a B.A. in Psychology and Public Policy with a minor in Educational Studies from Gettysburg College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with honors. Her research interests lie in evidenced-based problem solving to improve the lives of vulnerable young children using secondary and administrative data sources. She is currently playing a key role in a qualitative student seeking to center community perspectives in Philadelphia’s Integrated Data System and is working on a systematic review of the literature on early care and education deserts in the United States.

Maya Kaul (Education Policy, Graduate School of Education) holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Pomona College and studied Finnish teacher education and development at the University of Helsinki as a Fulbright scholar. Kaul’s research is driven by the question of how to uplift the teaching profession through investing in high-quality teacher education and development. She investigates teacher identity formation as a part of teacher education program design as well as how the professional status of teachers shapes and is shaped by the contexts in which they work.

Monica Mielke (Criminology, School of Arts & Sciences) holds a B.A. in Sociology and Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago. She is interested in the connections between juvenile justice and education and in improving outcomes for youth involved in the justice system.

Pooja Patel (Higher Education, Graduate School of Education) received a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Richmond, a M.A. in Higher Education from Boston College, and is a Gates Millennium Scholar. Her research interests focus on higher education finance and policy with an emphasis on students who come from historically underserved backgrounds. Patel’s current research examines “free college” and college promise program design and financial sustainability.

Noelle Suntheimer (Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development, Graduate School of Education) holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a M.S.Ed. in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania. An interdisciplinary research professional, she applies quantitative methodologies and developmental science to answer policy-relevant research questions in support of economically marginalized families. Her research interests include the underlying processes by which adversity interrupts children’s learning of academic and non-academic skills as well as the protective mechanisms that can mitigate the negative consequences of adversity.

Elena van Stee (Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences) holds a B.A. in Sociology and Religion from Calvin College. Her research centers on the intersections of class, mobility, and religion in the United States, particularly in the context of higher education. Her current research explores how undergraduate students from different backgrounds and universities have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zach Weingarten (Economics, School of Arts & Sciences) holds a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from the University of Georgia.