Research Affiliates

The goal with the Research Affiliate program at CCWT is to build a community of scholars and practitioners who are committed to pursuing applied research on topics related to our Center’s mission.  CCWT Research Affiliates serve two-year terms and pursue independent or collaborative research on issues related to college-workforce transitions, while actively engaging with our growing community of scholar-practitioners dedicated to improving these pathways for all students.


Nidia Bañuelos

Nidia Bañuelos

Nidia Bañuelos is an Anna Julia Cooper Postdoctoral Fellow and, in Fall 2021, will begin an appointment as Assistant Professor of Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education in the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies at UW-Madison. Dr. Bañuelos studies the design and implementation of new postsecondary programs for working adults – including collegiate programs for police officers and the community college baccalaureate. She has a special interest in the history of non-traditional learners and the institutions that serve them. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago, where she wrote her dissertation on the history of for-profit colleges and universities.




Andrew Crain

Andrew Crain

Andrew Crain is a doctoral candidate in the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education and the Director of Experiential Professional Development (xPD) at the UGA Graduate School. The aim of the xPD program is to provide hands-on career development for graduate students who are interested in industry, government, or non-profit career tracks. Andrew’s research interests include rural student success, career development, and STEM talent. Andrew has worked in various career development roles at the University of Georgia for nine years and is a past president of the Georgia Association of Colleges and Employers (GACE).




Adrian H. Huerta, PhD

Adrian H. Huerta

Adrian H. Huerta, PhD is an assistant professor in the Pullias Center for Higher Education located in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Dr. Huerta’s research focuses on boys and men of color, college access and equity, and gang-associated youth in the K-16 educational pipeline.





DeShawn Preston Ph.D.

DeShawn Preston

DeShawn Preston, PhD serves as the Research Associate for UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute. Within this role DeShawn is responsible for redeveloping a transformation assessment tool for institutions of higher education looking to implement career pathways. He has led several projects that provided professional development to personnel from HBCUs who were interested in honing their data skills. In addition, he serves as one of the researchers and evaluators for the Career Pathways Initiative. Through his role he is able to engage institutions on best practices in preparing students of color and low-income students to be work force ready. As an active member in the field of higher education, DeShawn serves as a young scholar for the editorial board for the Journal of Negro Education and the Vice Chair for the Council of Public Policy in Higher Education for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. DeShawn considers himself to be an advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and those who are often forgotten in the field of higher education. He has an edited book, and authored several reports, articles, book chapters, and blogs on the advancement of HBCUs. Before joining UNCF, DeShawn served as the institutional effectiveness program manager at Morehouse school of Medicine.





Carrie Shandra

Carrie Shandra

Carrie Shandra is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who studies work and life course inequalities in the United States. She is currently writing a book about the role of internships in the school-career transition, based on student surveys, interviews with key stakeholders, and labor market data. She received her PhD from Brown University and recently completed a year as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.




Dr. Mindi Thompson

Mindi Thompson

Mindi Thompson, PhD, HSP, is a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a licensed and registered Health Service Psychologist. Mindi is co-PI on CCWT’s Internship Study with a specific focus on self-efficacy believes of students as they participate in internship programs. She has published more than 20 peer-reviewed empirical journal articles using qualitative and quantitative methods, written five book chapters, and coauthored a research design textbook entitled Research Design in Counseling (4th Ed.). Website



Brian Vivona, Ed.D.

Brian Vivona

Brian Vivona, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor of Human Resource Development at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. His research interests are varied, however most of his work has focused on how humor functions in relation to occupational identity, organizational culture, leadership, and learning in the workplace. He is on the Board of Directors for The American Board of Nursing Specialties as well as the Executive Committee for the National W Club; The University of Wisconsin Letterwinners Association.