Spartans receive National Academy of Education/Spencer fellowships

June 15, 2021

Two MSU College of Education Spartans have been named among the scholars for the 2021 cohort of National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation fellowships. They were chosen amongst hundreds of applicants for the prestigious programs, which include funding for research and professional development activities.

Amalia (Krystal) Lira

Krystal Lira headshot

Amalia (Krystal) Lira was one of 35 selected to be a Dissertation Fellow. Lira, a doctoral candidate in the college’s Educational Psychology and Educational Technology (EPET) program, will explore how complex identities and stereotypes may challenge persistence and achievement for engineering students who identify with traditionally minoritized groups. The work, according to an abstract on the National Academy of Education’s website, will “advance theoretical and practical knowledge of engineering persistence by using culturally relevant and asset-based theories and methods and by providing recommendations for structural supports that may benefit diverse students.”

A first-generation Latinx scholar, Lira is committed to equity in her work. She was the 2019 recipient of the Donald H. Nickerson Fellowship in Cultural Diversity and Minority Concerns in MSU’s College of Education and works with program and college-level leaders to improve graduate student diversity, equity and representation. She is also a graduate student committee member of the Race and Diversity Ad Hoc Committee for the American Psychological Association (Division 15).

Elena Aydarova

Elena Aydarova headshot

MSU alumna Elena Aydarova, Ph.D. ’15 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), was one of 25 scholars selected as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Aydarova is an assistant professor at Auburn University who studies transformations in teacher education policies and preparation for culturally, linguistically and racially diverse students—work she’ll expand upon with the NAEd/Spencer fellowship.

In particular, Aydarova will explore “science of reading” (SOR) bills and interactions with them from advocacy coalitions, as well as how the bills have led to “divergent policy outcomes” in areas across the United States.

Related news

Read about other Spartans who received similar funding from NAEd/Spencer in 2020: Assistant Professor Vaughn Watson and alumni Jon Wargo and Cassie Brownell.