2015 Fellows

Back to the listing of all past and current fellows.

Deena Bernett

Deena is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology. She graduated from Brown University in 2003. Since graduating, she has received an MA in Cognitive Studies in Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and a Master’s degree for teaching Biology from Brooklyn College. Deena has worked as a teacher in low-income, urban public and charter schools and is interested in conducting research how students learn mathematics, on the instructional practices that can best support that learning and what types of experiences help students build robust conceptual understanding in mathematics.


Cristina Carazza

Cristina is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology.  She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013.  Following graduation, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Cognition Learning and Development Lab at the University of Notre Dame.  Cristina is interested in research that addresses the malleable factors in the early learning environment that affect children’s understanding and future academic achievement and how small variations in instructional variables affect the knowledge children construct from learning experiences. She is also interested in the potential role of social variables in either diminishing or enhancing conceptual development and future academic success.


Sarah Cashdollar

Sarah is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development.  She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013.  Sarah has worked as a public school teacher in South Dallas, TX. Her research interests concern how professionals respond to and interpret cultural beliefs and practices deemed deviant and how those interpretations in turn shape interventions for student learning and developmental well-being.


Kallie Clark

Kallie is a graduate student in the School of Social Service Administration (SSA).  She graduated California State University, Fullerton in 2005 and completed her Master of Social Work from SSA in 2015, having previously received a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008.  Kallie has served in a variety of teaching and counseling roles in the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago.  Her research goals are to analyze support systems within urban high schools, colleges, and employment institutions to better understand their impact on education and employment attachment for students transitioning into adulthood.


Ezra Karger

Ezra is a graduate student in the Department of Economics.  He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014. While a student at the University, Ezra was actively engaged in research analyzing student achievement and test-taking measures.  Since graduating, Ezra has worked as an analyst at Cornerstone Research.  Ezra’s research interests include labor economics, the economics of education, and the measurement of inequality.


David Knight

David is a PhD student in the Political Science Department. Before coming to Chicago, David was a certified high school teacher in the city of Boston. This experience of teaching and working in urban communities profoundly informs his research. His areas of scholarly investigation include changing understandings of citizenship in the United States with regard to race, ethnicity, and immigration; how social policies affect the political engagement and incorporation of historically marginalized groups; the sources and measurement of school disadvantage; and the political economy of urban education. Additionally, David holds fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College, trained as a teacher at Stanford University, and began his research career as a master’s student at Harvard University. David expects to continue a program of research that reflects the conditions, challenges, and possibilities of urban communities. His future goals are to support equity and diverse knowledge creation as a professor, and to contribute empirically and theoretically to the fields of political science and education.  To learn more about David's program of research, please go to his website.


Darnell Leatherwood

Darnell is a graduate student in the School of Social Service Administration (SSA).  Darnell graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana in 2012 and received a Master of Arts in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2013.  Darnell has also taught at the elementary and secondary levels in urban, disadvantaged schools.  He is interested in assessing and promoting the mechanisms that foster the life success of children growing up in inner-cities and contributing to erasing the immense academic gap that disadvantaged students must hurdle as they transition into post-secondary institutions from failing elementary and secondary school systems.


Jennifer Lu

Jenny Lu is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology.  She graduated from Wellesley College in 2012. Since graduating, she has worked as a Susan Rappaport Knafel '52 Research Fellow at University College London and as a Fulbright English teaching assistant at a bilingual German/ German Sign Language school in Hamburg, Germany.  Jenny is interested in the interplay of language and gesture in signed and spoken languages and how language and gesture predict learning in signing and speaking children.  Furthermore, she hopes to pursue translational solutions to the most pressing issues in education within deaf and hearing communities.


Leah Luben

Leah is a graduate student in the Department of Economics.  Leah graduated from Arizona State University in 2013.  Following graduation, Leah worked as a research manager for the Kenya Life Panel Survey, which evaluates the long run impacts of randomized interventions related to schooling. Leah's research interests include labor and education economics and, in particular, in expanding parent expectation measures to refine existing models of human capital production for young children. As part of her research, she wants to investigate effective early education interventions in different countries.


Mariel Schwartz

Mariel is a graduate student in the Department of Economics.  Mariel graduated from Georgetown University in 2012.  Upon graduating, Mariel worked as a research fellow at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Education Division researching inequality in education in Latin America and as a research professional at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  Mariel is interested in researching how economic decision-making within households impacts inequality in learning and preparedness and how the structure of educational systems affects educational outcomes.