Joshua Cowen is an associate professor of education policy and the founder and co-director of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC), a new research lab dedicated to providing research with consequence to inform education policy in Michigan and beyond. His current research focuses on teacher quality, student and teacher mobility, program evaluation and education policy. His work has been published in multiple scholarly journals and funded by a diverse array of philanthropies. He is currently co-editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and a member of the Editorial Board at Education Finance and Policy. Follow him @joshcowenMSU.
Dr. Katharine O. Strunk - Co-director
Katharine O. Strunk is a professor of education policy and the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education. She is also co-director of the Michigan State University Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) and an associate editor of the journal Education Finance and Policy. Strunk’s research is focused on three areas under the broad umbrella of K-12 education governance: teachers’ unions and the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate with school districts, teacher evaluation and compensation, and accountability policies. Rooted in the fields of economics and public policy, Strunk’s work centers on structures that are central to district operations and policy and the ways these structures affect policymakers’ decisions and outcomes. Her recent work includes studying teacher labor market responses to policy reforms in Michigan, teacher and school accountability and support policies in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and portfolio management reforms in LA, Denver and New Orleans. Follow her @KatharineStrunk.
Dr. Kaitlin Anderson - Research Fellow
Dr. Kaitlin Anderson is a post-doctoral research associate whose research interests include school choice, teacher labor markets, and student discipline, all with a focus on improving access to high quality educational opportunities for all students regardless of socioeconomic background. Dr. Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, and economics from the University of Virginia. She then worked as a senior financial analyst at Bank of America before joining Teach for America to teach high school mathematics in rural Arkansas. She earned her PhD in education policy from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, where her research focused on student discipline in the state. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and she has contributed to policy briefs and reports providing timely, relevant research to Arkansas policymakers. Dr. Anderson has presented her findings to the Arkansas State Board of Education and other state educational organizations, making an impact on education policy in Arkansas.
Dr. Scott Imberman
Scott A. Imberman is an associate professor of economics and education. He is an economist who specializes in the economics of education and education policy. His research focuses on issues in domestic education and has recently studied charter schools, classroom peer-effects, accountability, bilingual education, gifted education, in-school breakfast and school uniforms. Currently he is researching teacher incentive pay, the labor market returns to higher education, and economic determinants and implications of autism. He is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the board of directors for the Association for Education Finance and Policy.
Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen
Rebecca Jacobsen is an associate professor of teacher education and the Associate Director of the Education Policy Center. Her background is in politics and education where she has focused on public opinion and its impact on education policy. She has also written about the politics of charter schools and the achievement gap. Her current work is on accountability policies.
Dr. Kaitlin T. Torphy
Dr. Kaitlin T. Torphy is the acting associate director for EPIC. In this role, Dr. Torphy is responsible for oversight of EPIC research and policy outreach, helping to maintain close collaborations with EPIC’s state and local partners. Dr. Torphy has published work on charter school impacts, curricular reform, and teachers' social networks. She is the developer and lead of the Teachers in Social Media Project at Michigan State University, and has presented work regarding teachers’ engagement with social media at the national and international levels. Her expertise is in teachers’ engagement across virtual platforms, teachers’ physical and virtual social networks, and education policy reform. Her other work examines the diffusion of sustainable practices across social networks within The Nature Conservancy. Dr. Torphy holds a Ph.D. in education policy, with a specialization in the economics of education, from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in teaching from Dominican University, and a bachelor’s in psychology and economics from MSU. She is an alumnus of Teach for America and a former Chicago Public Schools teacher.
Valerie von Frank
Valerie von Frank is EPIC’s project manager responsible for budget and communications. She also is managing editor of Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. After working as an education reporter and editor for daily newspapers in two states, she worked for Fort Wayne (Ind.) Community Schools in communications and then as director of communications for the Michigan Partnership for New Education. She was editor of the Journal of Staff Development and spent more than a decade writing about professional learning for K-12 teachers, including co-authoring numerous books. Her bachelor’s degree in English and French is from Francis Marion University, and her master of science in journalism degree is from Northwestern University.
Amy Auletto is a doctoral student studying Education Policy. She is interested in teacher labor markets and the role that teacher preparation and induction play in supporting and retaining beginning teachers. Her work at EPIC focuses on approaches for encouraging candidates to enter the teaching profession. Prior to beginning her studies at Michigan State University, she taught middle school math in a Detroit charter school. Amy earned her bachelor's degree in psychology, master’s of social work, and her master’s in educational studies from the University of Michigan.
Andrea Chambers is a doctoral student in the Education Policy program and a recipient of the Erickson Research Fellowship. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she taught high school math and spent 10 years working with high school students in a federally-funded Upward Bound program in California. Andrea has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in education from Sonoma State University. Her research interests are in the areas of college access and retention, specifically for disadvantaged youth, and policies related to college choice and decision-making behavior, financial aid, and student success. Her work with EPIC involves research on teacher shortages and human capital issues.
Missy Cosby is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program. Missy has taught secondary mathematics for more than a decade and continues to teach part time in Okemos Public Schools, where she also is an instructional coach. Her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degrees in curriculum and teaching as well as educational technology are from Michigan State University. Her research interests are based in student equity in mathematics education as it relates to policy and practice. Her work relates to the mathematical identity, understanding, performance, and experiences of students who traditionally have been marginalized in schools, with a focus on black students’ experience. Missy’s research with EPIC involves school choice and student transportation.
Steve Drake is a student in the Education Policy doctoral program. His research has focused on questions around teacher evaluation, labor response to policy reforms, and the teacher pipeline. Steve is interested in determining what experiences cause high school students to consider or reject teaching careers, and conditions that attract new teachers into the profession. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in public policy, a master of business administration from the University of Chicago, and master’s degrees from Iowa State University in architecture and education. He has worked as a management consultant in analytical marketing strategy and co-founded two start-up enterprise software companies. Steve has taught middle and high school math in Des Moines, Iowa, and Lansing, Michigan.
Dongsook Han is a doctoral student studying Education Policy. Her research interests lie in the areas of accountability, school choice, school finance, and English learners. As a graduate research assistant for EPIC, Dongsook has worked on Michigan assessment and accountability data analysis. She has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s in public administration from Seoul National University.
Tara Kilbride is a doctoral student in Measurement and Quantitative Methods. Tara earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in psychology and mathematical sciences from Binghamton University in her home state of New York. Since beginning her graduate studies, she has served as a teaching assistant for doctoral-level courses in quantitative methods in education research and hierarchical models and has worked as the director of a math learning center. Her current research focuses on applications of item-response theory to areas outside of student testing. Her work with EPIC is focused on the impact of reform legislation on teachers’ collective bargaining agreements.
Jesse Nagel entered the Education Policy doctoral program in fall 2016 after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University. Building on his economics background, his research interests center on teacher labor markets and how incentives influence teacher supply and teacher quality. Other areas of interest include educational equity, postsecondary aid, and the role of information in schooling decisions. Jesse’s work with EPIC involves investigating how the teacher labor market is responding to recent policy reforms in Michigan.
Danielle Sanderson is a doctoral student in the Education Policy program. Her research interests focus on the areas of student and teacher mobility. She currently works as a quantitative analyst on a transportation project at EPIC to answer questions concerning the distance that students travel to school in Detroit. Before entering the Ph.D. program at MSU, she was a high school mathematics teacher in a charter school in New Orleans. Danielle graduated from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, with a bachelor of science degree in economics and a bachelor of arts degree in history.