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Education Policy Doctoral Program

Current Student Roster

(away from campus)

Jeongyeon Ahn is studying in a doctoral program in Education Policy at Michigan State University. She earned her bachelor's degree in Education at Hanyang University in South Korea. While studying in Korea, she noticed several domestic problems in education policy. Considering how to alleviate the negative effect of the problems, she decided to study in the US to learn how they teach the students and teachers. Therefore, she received a master's degree in Education Leadership and Policy at University of Michigan. 'How to make and implement the policy' is her first interest. Also, she is interested in the gap between the intent of policy and actual implementation.

Amy Auletto entered the Education Policy PhD program in Fall 2014 with the support of the Erickson Research Fellowship. Amy's interest in education policy began during her time as a social worker. After earning her MSW at the University of Michigan, she became interested in educational equity and went on to earn her teaching certificate and MA in Educational Studies. She spent several years teaching elementary and middle school in Detroit. Amy is currently a research assistant with the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC), where she works on projects related to school reform and teacher labor markets. Amy's dissertation work focuses on the relationship between beginning teachers' experiences of support, job satisfaction, and commitment to the teaching profession.

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As a Fulbright Fellow, my research focuses on interactions between accountability, decision-making, and effective policy implementation. Currently, I am conducting an evaluation of expanded school inspection in the U.S.  This work assesses how inspectors decide on recommendations for schools and how these recommendations then influence school leaders to implement reforms. In addition, I analyze the impact of inspection on student performance. Both quasi-experimental and qualitative methods are applied in my research.

Prior to MSU, I served as a project coordinator for six years at CIPPEC, an influential think tank in Latin America.  Within the CIPPEC Education Program, I focused on educational inequalities and finance as a means to reduce economic and social disparity. My additional professional experience spans the public and private sectors, including the Argentine Ministry of Economics and GALLUP. Past teaching experience includes being an education finance instructor at UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning.

The Education Policy Program at MSU has provided an ideal setting to pursue my doctoral studies. The program benefits from engaging professors, strong support for student's professional development, opportunities for international work, and a collaborative research environment.

Andrea entered the Education Policy program in 2017 and is supported by an Erickson Research Fellowship. Her research interests are in the areas of college access and retention, specifically for underrepresented and underserved students, and policies related to college choice, decision-making behavior, financial aid, and student success. Before attending MSU, Andrea completed her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Sonoma State University and taught all levels of high school math before spending ten years serving as the Director of Outreach Services where she focused on developing and implementing strategies for increasing college-going rates of first-generation, low-income students in a federally-funded Upward Bound Program in California. During that time she earned her Master's degree in Education from Sonoma State University where her thesis examined the ways social capital is acquired and how it affects college access and the experiences of first-generation students.

I joined the Education Policy program as an Erickson Research Fellow. Prior to coming to MSU, I was a visiting faculty of International Relations at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in India. I was also simultaneously working on important development projects with government and non-government organizations in different areas, such as environment education, housing, and women empowerment. I completed my master's program in International Development from University of Birmingham in United Kingdom, as the recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship. My experience of working in the development sector in India has made me realise the huge research gaps that exist in the field of girls' secondary and higher education, some of which I would like to explore through my doctoral dissertation. The Education Policy program at MSU provides me the ideal platform to pursue my research interests, due to its focus on understanding international and comparative issues, a strong match of research interests with my supervisor, and an excellent community of bright scholars working in similar areas. The department is extremely welcoming, and strongly believes in investing in students' overall development by not just providing academic support but also providing substantial financial and other types of support. I am very grateful for this great opportunity to develop myself as a researcher, and for the generous support that the department has given me to achieve this without worrying about financial constraints.

Tanner entered the Education Policy PhD program in 2016 as a Dean's Scholar and Rasmussen Fellow. Prior to admission to the program, Tanner earned a B.A. from Michigan State University in Social Relations and Policy with a minor in Economics. In that time, he wrote an undergraduate thesis examining the local consequences of Michigan’s school finance and educational choice in Lansing. Tanner’s research interests center on topics of school closure, finance, and choice and how those policies impact communities. He uses mixed methods to study multiple sources of data. In the Education Policy program, Tanner has had the opportunity to work on research studying ELs access to charter schools in Texas, the impact of school closure on neighborhoods and housing value, and Michigan school finance system as well as working on a multi-state IES funded study of principal evaluation.

Steve enters the Education Policy program shaped by an interest in the problem of teaching. He has a previous background in business working primarily on analytical marketing problems. He studied public policy (A.B.) and business (MBA) at Chicago and architecture (M.Arch.) and math education (M.Ed.) at Iowa State. Informed by teaching experiences as a math teacher in public and parochial schools, he is interested in the iterative relationship between policy instruments and measures and the practice of teaching.

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After graduating from Lehigh University in 2011 with a B.S. in Psychology, I began tutoring both as a sub-contractor for a school district in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and as a private tutor in the same general area. My students were from a wide range of backgrounds, including students from highly advantaged backgrounds and students from severely disadvantaged backgrounds. Education policy caught my eye during this time due to the major discrepancies I saw in the education opportunities in my students' lives. I am particularly interested in studying what policies in education can positively influence the opportunities of disadvantaged students, specifically those with lower socioeconomic status.

Sandy entered the Education Policy PhD program in the Fall of 2016 and currently works as a graduate assistant for Dr. Chris Torres. As part of this work, she is involved in primarily qualitative research related to school turnaround efforts with the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC). Born and raised in Florida, she holds a Bachelors of Science in Education with majors in elementary education and psychology from the University of Miami and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of South Florida. She has experience in education as a social studies teacher, college and independent school admissions professional, and as a research assistant. Her research interests are in the politics of education, particularly related to how governance and federalism impact school policy.

Vanika entered the Education Policy program in 2017 and is supported by the Dean's Scholar Award. Her research interests focus on learning outcomes of children in developing countries, early childhood education, and the economics of education. Prior to her PhD, Vanika has three plus years of experience working at Oxford Policy Management (India office), an international development consultancy. Her work spanned the policy cycle, including quantitative and qualitative research design, analysis and policy diagnostic aspects of health, education and child protection evaluations. Vanika holds a Master's degree in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, UK, where her dissertation thesis studied child and household level factors that determine educational outcomes of children. She has a Bachelors (Honours) in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, India.

My research interest is Economics of Education and International Comparative Education. I have ten years of professional experience in these fields. I started my professional career at the World Bank HQ (Washington DC) and worked on human development statistics and assessment of gender policy for four years. Then, I moved to UNICEF Zimbabwe office, HQ (NY), and Malawi office. I engaged in capacity building of the ministry of education and national statistical agencies and education data analysis throughout my UNICEF career. I also manage NGO (Sarthak Shiksha) in Nepal since 2012 to deliver quality education to the disadvantaged children. I write articles for Japanese newspapers and online journals to explain Japanese education policy from comparative and economic perspective. I hold a master's degree in economics from Kobe University Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Japan and bachelor's degree in education from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

I majored in Psychology and minored in Public Administration in undergraduate at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea. I studied Psychometrics for my Master's Studies at the same university. While I am interested in developing reliable and valid measurement for the education field, I would like to conduct research that produces implications for educational policy. Before I came to MSU, I had a research experience in human resource in industrial and organizational settings at the Korean National Research Institute for Vocational Education (KRIVET), where I organized on-the-spot visits to companies and schools and conducted statistical analyses of questionnaires. I started the Measurement and Quantitative Methods program at MSU in 2014, and in order to further pursue my research interest in college readiness and educational equity in terms of opportunity to learn, I joined the Ed Policy Program as my dual major.

Chris joined the Education Policy program in the Fall of 2014, supported by a University Distinguished Fellowship. Before starting the program, he was a high school chemistry and physics teacher. Now, Chris studies the effectiveness of interventions in STEM, with a particular focus on students’ psychosocial outcomes, and students’ transitions into postsecondary education and adulthood. He is also interested in program evaluation and meta-analysis.

Jessica earned her BA in Elementary Education from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN. Following graduation she moved to Ann Arbor and received her MA in Early Childhood Education from the University of Michigan. During this time her passion for the first three years of life blossomed and she accepted a teaching position at Gretchen's House, a local Child Development Center, which had a research partnership with HighScope of Ypsilanti.

During her fourth of five years at Gretchen's House, Jessica traveled to Tanzania to volunteer in an elementary school in Moshi, Kilimanjaro. This trip solidified her decision to pursue a Doctoral degree in Education Policy with an international focus.

Realizing that the first three years of life often revolve around more than education, Jessica pursued a research position with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. There she worked with scholars from various medical backgrounds to understand how Public Health Policy is researched and discovered many links and commonalities with her own early childhood interest.

Jessica entered the Education Policy program in the Fall of 2015, and is working with Dr. Bethany Wilinski on her Tanzania project. In addition, she plans to explore various topics including comparative international policy involving early childhood education, public programs supporting the first three years of a child's development, and how public opinion and media affect policy creation and adoption.

I was born and raised in Long Beach, California. I received my Bachelor or Arts degree in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. My training in Feminist Studies has encouraged me to look at the challenges in our world as interconnected social and human rights issues. While studying at UC Santa Barbara I became a part of the McNair Scholars Program. The McNair Scholars program seeks to prepare underrepresented minorities to pursue their doctorate degrees in a variety of academic fields. As a McNair Scholar I engaged in various independent research projects, which sparked my interest in researching the field of education. My personal background, coupled with my research experiences, has led me to pursue my PhD in Education Policy. My research interests are founded on my desire for educational equity. As a student in the doctoral program I look forward to exploring the relationship between education policies and the needs, values, and desires of the educational system in which they exist. I am excited and grateful to embark on this educational journey at Michigan State University as a University Fellow and a student in the Education Policy Program. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me my email is:

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Rachel earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley in English Literature and her M.A. in Philosophy of Education from UCLA. Her professional career was in higher education administration and involved research, grant management, and conference planning.

Rachel’s research focuses on organizational change in higher educational settings that break away from disciplinary and hierarchal norms. Rachel examines interdisciplinary programming for undergraduate students, specifically Interdisciplinary Studies Majors. These programs often inhabit non-traditional spaces within academic hierarchies and governance systems and provide insight into how shifts in academic acceptance of interdisciplinary work play out in organizational structures. Her dissertation will be a multiple-case study of organizational change in Interdisciplinary Studies Majors.

Rachel also works for the Spartan Persistence Project. Her role as a qualitatively trained researcher on a heavily quantitative team has provided the opportunity to develop mixed methods approaches to analyzing large sets of qualitative data. Her work with the Spartan Persistence Project has looked at how students express sense of belonging on MSU’s campus as well as how students understand and enact growth mindset behaviors by focusing on growth mindset mechanisms. 

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Kacy entered the Education Policy program in the fall of 2013. After completing a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, she stayed at U of M to pursue a Master's degree in Elementary Education and English as a Second Language Instruction. Kacy then taught fourth grade in the Chicago Public Schools for four years. She served on the Instructional Leadership Team, writing the literacy and science curricula and creating professional learning cycles to improve teacher practices in reading instruction.

Kacy is now working with the Center for the Study of Curriculum at Michigan State University. Her research interests include: Educational governance in urban public schools, the impact of urban planning on school enrollment and student achievement, and the politics of educational reform at the local and state levels.

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It is a great honor to enter MSU's Education Policy Ph.D. program. For the ten years prior to relocating to Michigan, East Africa was my home. In that time I worked, learned, taught, struggled, overcame, reflected, and matured in ways I never would have expected. I had big dreams when I started my non-governmental organization, African Development through Economics and the Arts (ADEA), and much was achieved in the areas of economic development, cultural preservation and promotion, and primary education for a marginalized community of Maasai. But the more that was accomplished, the more I realized I had much to learn. I have entered MSU with many questions. The breadth of departments and international focus of many of the faculty's work makes MSU an ideal place for me to explore my broad interests. The welcoming nature of the faculty encourages engagement in learning and research. A native of Seattle, I studied at Whitworth College and the Rhode Island School of Design. My life has been filled with countless adventures, and MSU is the latest.

Alyssa Morley is a native Michigander whose experiences as an undergraduate student in North Carolina and a teacher in Africa brought her back to Michigan for studies in Education Policy. Alyssa graduated from Elon University in 2008 with double majors in Anthropology and Sociology. From 2008-2011, she taught in Malawi through the U.S. Peace Corps. As the only U.S. American in her Peace Corps school, Alyssa became interested in the ways teaching is culturally constructed. Her dissertation explores the intricacies of teaching in Malawi, examining what it means to be a “teacher,” how these meanings are culturally produced, and how they interact with policy frames of teachers and teaching. Alyssa has greatly benefited from Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) training for Chichewa studies; Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) for fieldwork funding; and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for writing.

Jesse entered the Education Policy PhD Program in the Fall of 2016. Building on a background in Economics, his research interests primarily center around teacher labor markets and how incentives within them can influence teacher supply and teacher quality. Other areas of interest include educational equity, postsecondary aid, and the role of information in schooling decisions. Jesse is currently working in the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) investigating teacher behavior following recent labor reforms in Michigan. Jesse graduated with a B.S. in Economics from Michigan State University in the Spring of 2016.

Jutaro Sakamoto is a first-year doctoral student in the Education Policy Program at Michigan State University. As a recipient of the Dean's Scholar Award, he conducts research into Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in education to demonstrate how private engagement can be leveraged to meet the growing demand for education, address the inequality, and improve the quality and efficiency of education services in impoverished nations. Current research interests include impact evaluation of education PPPs and analysis of their success factors and causal mechanisms. Sakamoto has over 10 years of experience of leading international education initiatives. He implemented education reform in low and middle income countries as diverse as Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam as a monitoring and evaluation expert for international development organizations including the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In addition, he coordinated the development, implementation and evaluation of global education programs and strategies at UNESCO Headquarters in France. Sakamoto holds a master's degree in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA, and a bachelor's degree in education from the Sophia University, Japan. He is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB).

Danielle graduated from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Economics with a Mathematics minor. Before entering the Ph.D. program at MSU, she was a high school mathematics teacher in a charter school in New Orleans. Currently, her research interests focus on the areas of student and teacher mobility which include transportation, enrollment, teacher distribution, and teacher compensation. Danielle works as a quantitative analyst for the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative answering questions concerning how far students travel to school in choice rich environments, where students enroll, and the effects of teacher labor market reforms on teacher compensation. She is generously supported by a University Distinguished Fellowship.

Michelle Solorio is a Colorado native with research interests in language policies, African education systems, and refugee education policies. She received a B.S.B.A. in International Business with a French minor from the University of Denver followed by an M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Peabody College at Vanderbilt. During her undergraduate career, she participated in a year-long direct exchange program in Paris, where she attended l'Université Paris IX-Dauphine and was an au pair for a French family with three children. She has worked in a variety of international offices, taught inner-city children in Nashville in non-traditional school settings, and was most recently a Study Abroad Advisor & Incoming Exchanges Coordinator at Vanderbilt University responsible for student mobility to/from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Oceania as well as France.

Michelle is entering her first year as an Education Policy Ph.D. student. She is eager to take advantage of MSU's strong African Studies and Education Policy communities in order to continue her studies in international education policy.

Chris received a BA in history with a minor in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan. During her time there, she was heavily involved in residential education programming and residence hall student government leadership. Her studies focused on social and structural inequalities around the world and throughout history.

After graduation, she completed a year of AmeriCorps service as an adult education instructor and advisor in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of Washington, DC. Her work with students aged 15-80, at a broad range of skill levels, sparked her desire to learn more about education systems in which some students thrive but many others struggle.

Upon entering the MA program in Education Policy & Leadership at the University of Michigan School of Education, Chris engaged in study of the social and historical foundations of schooling. She also served an internship at the Family Learning Institute, a volunteer-based after-school tutoring program for low-income students. She has conducted research on similar tutoring programs to isolate best practices among successful tutoring models. Since graduation, she has explored these and other education issues through her blog, "Where's My Eraser? The Marvels and Mishaps of My American Education Experience."

Chris' research interests include parental involvement and how parents view their children's educational experiences. She is also passionate about expanding educational opportunities in her home state of Michigan. She is a fellowship recipient and will serve as a research assistant at the Education Policy Center.

I entered the Education Policy program in the fall of 2016. After completing a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Nairobi, Kenya I taught Mathematics and business studies in a high school for two years before joining the same university to do a Masters in Development Studies. During and after this master's degree I worked with different development research projects as a research assistant, field supervisor, and a project assistant. I came Michigan State University in 2014 to pursue to a Master of Public Policy (MPP), which I earned in the spring of 2016. My research interests are on inequalities in education with specific focus on developing countries. My interests stem from my experience growing up in rural Kenya and noticing the differences in educational opportunities based on geographic location and gender.

For sixteen years before entering the Education Policy doctoral program, Dirk F. Zuschlag was a high school social studies teacher in the Waterford School District, Oakland County, Michigan. Zuschlag began teaching in 1999 immediately following his graduation from the School of Education at the University of Michigan with a Masters of Arts in Education degree and a secondary teaching certificate. Since then, Zuschlag has taught students at all high school grade levels in courses such as civics, government, economics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Macroeconomics, world history, AP World History, U.S. History, and law. He has in addition served in a wide variety of positions entailing substantial teacher leader responsibilities at the department, school and district levels. For the last three years as a learning coach in the district Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Zuschlag has planned, prepared, and conducted diverse professional development district-wide. This work has included the creation and implementation of innovative teacher and principal learning labs as a major component of district-provided job-embedded professional learning. (Zuschlag had led the initiation of J-EPL labs at his high school, which resulted in the establishment of the district learning coach positions and mission.) While a teacher and coach, Zuschlag was also highly active in the local union, the Waterford Education Association, holding several representative and executive offices.

During his time in public education, Zuschlag has participated in a number of projects through Oakland Schools, involving, for example, work on the wholly on-line Michigan Citizenship Collaborative Curriculum, the proposed revision of the high school social studies content expectations, and a pilot study of students' civics discourse conducted by Wayne State University researchers. From 2004 to 2014, Zuschlag served two terms as one of five governor appointed members on the State Teacher Tenure Commission. The commission is quasi-judicial administrative tribunal charged with enforcement of the Michigan Teacher Tenure Act.

Before entering public education, Zuschlag engaged in the private practice of law for thirteen years, about nine years of which he worked as an original named shareholder in a successful six member firm. Zuschlag's practice in state and federal courts and administrative agencies focused on public sector labor law. It included the representation of individual teachers and educational support staff, police officers and firefighters, and other public employees, as well as their local and state labor organizations. He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in following graduation from the University of Michigan Law School (1985 J.D. cum laude), and he remains a member in good standing. Majoring in political science and economics at Duke University, Zuschlag in 1982 earned his A.B. degree magna cum laude as an A.B. Duke Scholar.

Very fortunately for him, Zuschlag met his awesome wife-to-be, Sharon, at Duke. They married following graduation, and moved to Michigan the same summer so Zuschlag could attend law school. For over thirty-three years now, they have been happily married and living in southeastern Michigan. They have, largely thanks to their mother, two awesome adult sons. The elder son, Jeff, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 2013. He now lives in Los Angeles, while working in the movie industry. The younger son, Mark, recently graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. In August 2015, he will be moving to Japan for at least a year, where he will teach English through the government's Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) program.