Senior Staff

Matthew Hora

Matthew T. Hora

Founding Director Dr. Matthew T. Hora is an Assistant Professor of Adult and Higher Education in the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies at UW–Madison, and a research scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. After several years of experience in organic agriculture and food systems research, he received his master's degree in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland - College Park. Dr. Hora then worked as a program evaluator of public health and STEM education initiatives before earning his Ph.D. in the learning sciences from the Department of Educational Psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012.

Hora's work focuses on discerning the cognitive, cultural, and contextual factors that underlay organizational change processes. Using theory and method from cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and systems engineering, he has explored issues related to curriculum planning, classroom instruction, and data driven decision-making in postsecondary STEM departments. These perspectives are now being applied to the problem of education-workforce dynamics, and the degree to which these complex factors can and should be considered when developing public policy regarding education and workforce development. His research utilizes a wide range of qualitative methodologies gleaned from a variety of disciplines, including grounded theory, decision modeling, scaling and data reduction techniques, and case study methods.

www.matthewhora.com


Matthew Wolfgram

Matthew Wolfgram

Dr. Matthew Wolfgram is an anthropologist of education and a Associate Researcher at CCWT, at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. He earned his Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2009. Wolfgram’s three major research projects include: (1) an ethnography of communication focused on the education and practice of an indigenous system of medicine in Kerala (south India) called Ayurveda; (2) a video-discourse analysis of teacher-student and student peer-group interactions in US middle and high school STEM classrooms; and (3) an ethnography of the experience of low-income, first-generation, and minoritized students on the campus of a public flagship university in the American Midwest. As Assistant Director, Wolfgram manages the research and out-research work at CCWT. He is also planning a major new ethnographic study to document how refugee resettlement populations in Wisconsin such as the Hmong experience the college-workforce transition.


Bailey Smolerak

Bailey Smolarek

Dr. Bailey B. Smolarek is an Associate Researcher at CCWT, with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2016, Bailey earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in language and education, education policy studies, and qualitative research. Drawing on critical social theories, Bailey's scholarship revolves around issues of educational equity from both systemic and localized understandings. Her dissertation used critical policy approaches to ethnographically examine the local enactment of federal and state education policies on Latin@ immigrant youth at a high school in rural Wisconsin. Informed by her prior roles as a middle school Spanish teacher and an adult ESL instructor, Bailey's research is dedicated to cultivating socially just educational spaces for multilingual and multicultural learners and the educators who serve them.

Ross Benbow

Ross J. Benbow is Associate Researcher at CCWT, with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With a background in political science, international education and development, and comparative analysis, Ross earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Educational Policy Studies. He specializes in ethnographic and social network approaches to research, and as a co-PI, analyst, consultant, teacher, and writer has shared his work through books—including the co-authored Beyond the Skills Gap (2016), winner of the AAC&U Frederic W. Ness Book Award—as well as academic journals such as the Harvard Educational Review, Higher Education, Change, and the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Ross' current research focuses on the relationships among teaching and learning, public policy, and social and cultural transition in domestic and international educational contexts, with a particular interest in patterns of inequity in colleges and universities.


Zi Chen, Ph.D.Zi Chen

Dr. Zi Chen is an Assistant Researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She uses quantitative research methodology and vocational psychology theories to explore youth and young people’s vocational identity, career adaptability, as well as the impact of contextual influences on individuals’ career development and psychological well-being. At CCWT, Dr. Chen is currently working on the mixed-method research study — college internship study to investigate barriers of internship participation as well as internship program characteristics and their relations to students outcomes. 



Jiahong ZhangJiahong Zhang

Jiahong Zhang is a post-doctoral researcher at CCWT, with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With a background in counseling psychology, Jiahong earned her Ph.D. from the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Education specializing in career development and counseling. She used a mixed research method to explore the roles of teacher and parental support in vocational identity and career adaptability, especially for those students from vocational and technical schools and colleges. At CCWT, Jiahong’s current research focuses on college student’s internship as well as its relationship with students’ outcomes using a quantitative research method.



Amy Rivera

Amy Rivera is the Project Manager at CCWT. Amy worked as the Sales and Training Representative and Certified Career Development Facilitator for CareerLocker for ten years prior to her transition to CCWT. She also worked at St. Catherine University in Admissions and Academic Advising, before moving to the University of Wisconsin System.


Graduate Student Project Assistants

Jared Colston

Jared Colston

Jared is a Project Assistant at the CCWT and second year Ph.D. student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is passionate about studying equity in access to higher education and how education plays a role in economic and social mobility, as well as how overall educational attainment impacts workforce and economic development and public welfare. His research focuses on state-level policies surrounding “brain drain” and the geography of opportunity. At the Center, Jared works on the mixed methods College Internship Study on the quantitative team.



Zhixuan Wu

Zhixuan Wu

Zhixuan Wu is a Project Assistant and quantitative research assistant in the college internship study team at CCWT. He is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at UW-Madison. Coming from a background of engineering and quantitative analysis, he is now working on the application of mixed-method research in public policy studies. His current research focuses on Wisconsin's water pollution control policy. He is also interested in the nexus of economic and workforce development. 



Vivien Ahrens

Vivien Ahrens

Vivien Ahrens is a Project Assistant at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and a doctoral student in Civil Society and Community Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.

Vivien is interested in educational program evaluation. She aims to contribute to participatory evaluation methods that support participants’ and facilitators’ reflections on program goals, outcomes, and indicators of success.

Before joining WCER, Vivien coordinated Centro Hispano’s Escalera Program at Madison East High School – an after-school program that supports Latinx youth in taking the next steps towards their goals, accessing higher education and advanced careers.


Javier Rodriguez S.

Javier Rodriguez S.

Javier is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at UW-Madison and a Project Assistant at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Before joining the CCWT team, he was a research assistant at COWS and at the Institute for Research on Poverty, where he worked on workforce and labor market dynamics, and inequalities in education in Wisconsin. Javier’s dissertation examines how rising inequality and recent demographic changes shape public attitudes with respect to social, economic and racial issues differently across the United States geography. He also studies how these same changes affect the local contexts that determine individuals’ socioeconomic trajectories.



Mary Dueñas

Mary Dueñas

Mary Dueñas is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis and is a Project Assistant for the Center of Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mary is originally from Pasadena, California, graduated from the University of California, Irvine and has a Master’s in Science in Counseling from UW-Madison. Before joining the team, Mary worked for the Posse Program, the Chic@ Latin@ Studies Program, the Summer Education Research Program, served as director for iD Tech, and is an instructor at UW-Madison. Mary’s research examines the experiences of underrepresented students of color in higher education. Central to her work are the concepts of belonging, mattering, cultural-orientation, motivation, academic success, and persistence within the university setting. 



Tamanna Akram

Tamanna Akram

Tamanna Akram is a Project Assistant at CCWT and a first year master of international public affairs candidate in the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, she holds a BA in Government and Theatre Arts from Lawrence University and spent a year working as the Advancement Coordinator for Writers Theatre. Tamanna has an academic and experiential background in development, fundraising, advocacy and non-profit work. She has significant international field research experience in development, women's empowerment and sustainability in Bangladesh, China, Sierra Leone and Jamaica.



Megan Covington

Megan Covington

Megan Covington is a Project Assistant for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and a PhD candidate in the Higher Education program at Indiana University-Bloomington. She is currently honing a content expertise in critical qualitative methodology applied to issues of equity and access in higher education. Megan’s scholarship illuminates the contributions and strengths of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and deconstructs issues of equity within the experiences of Black women faculty and graduate students throughout academe. Megan’s current dissertation research uses narrative inquiry, Black feminism, and hip-hop feminism to identify connections between the experiences of Black women graduate instructors teaching courses that include difficult topics (such as diversity, equity, inclusion, race, gender, whiteness, privilege, power, and oppression) and Black women’s aspirations and preparation for tenure-track faculty careers. 

Megan holds a B.A. in psychology with a minor in child development and family studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and an M.Ed in Higher Education Student Affairs from Western Carolina University.


Mai Neng Vang

Mai Neng Vang

Mai Neng Vang (pronouns: she/her/nws) is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Policy Studies program at UW-Madison with a broad research interest in the educational experiences of minoritized students. More specifically, she is interested in understanding how race, ethnicity, gender, and class intersect to inform the lives and experiences of HMoob American students and their families. Mai Neng is currently a project assistant for the HMoob American College Paj Ntaub research team, a Community-Based Participatory Action Research project. Prior to this work, Mai Neng served for six years as a coordinator for the Summer Collegiate Experience at UW-Madison, a summer bridge program designed to support incoming first-generation students in their transition from high school to the University.  


Student Interns at CCWT

Emily Anaya

Emily Anaya

Emily Anaya is a PhD student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies concentrating in Social Sciences and Education. Prior to arriving at UW-Madison, Emily obtained her B.A. in Sociology from Beloit College.



Rachelle Brown

Rachelle Brown

Rachelle Brown currently attends the University of West Georgia where she is pursuing a M.Ed. in Professional Counseling-College Student Affairs. Brown is originally from Memphis, TN and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Tennessee State University. She aspires to pursue a career in Student Affairs with interest in Career Services and Institutional Assessment.



Tricia Gigstad

Tricia Gigstad

Tricia Gigstad is a student intern at CCWT. She is a senior undergraduate studying Economics and is earning a certificate in Gender and Women Studies.



Iseult Gillespie

Iseult Gillespie

Iseult Gillespie is a PhD candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation explores representations of disability and the body in contemporary art, literature, and performance. She is a TED-Ed educator and a Mellon-Morgridge Graduate Fellow, and is committed to spaces that allow the relationship between scholarship and public interests to flourish. 



Mira Grilsfelder

Mira Grilsfelder

Mira is a current undergraduate studying Education Studies with a Certificate in Afro-American Studies. She came to Madison 2 years ago as a transfer student. Her intention: to learn about racism and racial socialization. Since arriving, she has been involved in a variety of projects like crafting and facilitating a student internship around Sustainable Agriculture, facilitating community based learning classes, and most recently assisting as a research intern for the Center For College Workforce Transition. She is driven by a desire to poke holes in the ivory tower and make academe more porous. Her dream university is one where membership is radically inclusive and knowledge captured and generated is shared widely. Besides that, her goals are expansive, and unrelated except by her desire to help other humans. She hopes one day to become a full-spectrum doula and, one day write a book (topics pending).  



Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho is a third-year Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology – Human Development area at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated cum laude from the University of California, Irvine where she double majored in Education Sciences and Social Policy and Public Service. Her research at UC Irvine have primarily focused on investigating effective pedagogies for teaching English and discipline-specific knowledge to diverse student learners. Her current research broadly focuses on adolescents’ identity development while in college. Her program of research centers on the role and impact of social interactions, contexts, and individual characteristics on the identity development of adolescents.



Marie Jensen

Marie Jensen

Marie Jensen is a student intern at CCWT. She is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is majoring in Conservation Biology and Zoology. She is originally from Janesville, Wisconsin and plans to pursue a career in ecological research.

 


Lena Lee

Lena Lee

Lena Lee is an intern at CCWT and is currently working on the “Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub” research project. She has a B.A in Psychology and a certificate in Asian American Studies with a HMoob American Studies Emphasis. Lena is a proud PEOPLE and Rotary alumna who actively participated in student activism through the HMoob American Studies Committee (HMASC). She plans to attend graduate school in the near future and hopes to work with underrepresented students in education.



Tianshu LI

Tianshu Li

Tianshu Li is a Project Assistant at the CCWT and a first-year doctoral student in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a master’s degree in Global Higher Education program at Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at UW-Madison. Her research interests focus on the issues of teaching practices and curriculum design in higher education institutions; and the persistence and success of students at colleges and universities, especially first-generation students and international students. Tianshu works on the college internship study utilizing qualitative approach.



Rui Meng

Rui Meng

Rui Meng is a research intern at the CCWT and a graduate student in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She conducts research at the interface of cognitive, developmental, and educational psychology. Her primary line of research investigates mathematical cognition, development, and learning. At the CCWT, Rui Meng works on the internship project of the impacts of graduating in a recession on mental health.



Alexandra Pasqualone

Alexandra Pasqualone

Alexandra Pasqualone recently finished her first year as a PhD student in Educational Policy Studies (EPS) with a concentration in history. Her research interests include youth protests, Arab-American identity formation in schools, and more broadly, urban and immigration history. 



Kallie Phipps

Kallie Phipps

Kallie Phipps is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology & Toxicology and a certificate in Computer Science. She is originally from Deerfield, Illinois and aspires to do medical research in the future.



Olivia Rasmussen

Olivia Rasmussen

Olivia Rasmussen is a student intern with CCWT and is a junior majoring in Education Studies. After her undergrad, she hopes to continue her education in graduate school with an interest in education policy.



Sophia Slocum

Sophia Slocum

Sophia Slocum is a Project Assistant for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the EMPOWER study. She is a second year Master of Science in Occupational Therapy graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sophie is from Marengo, Illinois and completed by undergraduate degree in biopsychology at Monmouth College. She is currently focusing on the concept of teamwork as a cognitive skill within her work with EMPOWER.



Danielle Wendricks

Danielle Wendricks

Danielle Wendricks is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin - Madison studying Community and Nonprofit Leadership, Educational Policy Studies, and History. After finishing her Bachelors of Science, she aspires to attend graduate school to earn credentials to be a high school social studies teacher. She is interested in utilizing historical education to promote social change among youth.



Pa Kou Xiong

Pa Kou Xiong

Pa Kou Xiong is an intern at CCWT working with the “Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub” research team. She has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with Psychology. Pa Kou is a CAE alumna who actively participated in activism and social justice work through the HMoob American Studies Committee (HMASC). She plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the field of mental health in the future.



Center Alumni

Shelby Rogers

Shelby Rogers

Shelby Rogers is a Project Assistant for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and a PhD candidate in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis here at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prior to his appointment in CCWT, he was the Program Manager for the WCER Fellows program. Shelby’s research focuses on Black epistemologies, critical race and equity, leadership and student success as a function of the academic curricula at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Shelby has a baccalaureate degree in Political Science and History, and a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership from Tennessee State University.   


Layne Wetherbee

Layne Wetherbee

Layne Wetherbee was an undergraduate intern for CCWT. As a nontraditional student, she is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in Social Work with the intent to complete a Master’s in Social Work and PhD in Social Welfare. In the summer of 2019, she completed two research internships to broaden her qualitative research experience. Layne has general research interest in childhood trauma and outcomes. Fall of 2019, she applied for both the Fulbright Scholarship and graduate school, hoping to conduct international research.

 


Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson was a Project Assistant at the CCWT graduated from the La Follette School of Public Affairs. As a graduate student, Jennifer worked as a health policy research assistant for Professor Yang Wang, at the U.S. Department of State in Guatemala as a Counter Narcotics intern, and as a graduate student assistant for the Mayor’s Innovation Project at the Center for Wisconsin Strategy. Jennifer’s public policy interests include state policy, health policy (specifically Medicaid), workforce development, and elections.

Prior to graduate school, Jennifer obtained her BA in Political Science from UW-Madison and her associate’s degree from Madison Area Technical College. She worked at the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the Latino Academy of Workforce Development.


Carrie Weikel Delaplane

Carrie Weikel Delaplane

Carrie Weikel Delaplane was an Intern at the Center for Research on College to Workforce Transitions lived and worked in Portland, Oregon.  Carrie was an Ed.D student at Oregon State University in the Community College Leadership Program.  Professionally, Carrie has worked in student services in higher education for 19 years in diverse locations and institutions and served as Associate Dean of Students at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.  Carrie’s research interests are the intersection of workforce development, vocational education, regional economic development, social justice, employment outcomes and the community college.



Matias Scaglione

Matías Scaglione

Policy Analyst Dr. Matías Scaglione was a labor economist and an Associate Researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, with a concentration in labor markets and quantitative methods, and received a master’s degree in economics from the Universidad de San Andrés, in Argentina, in 2001. His research interests focused on the changing nature of employment and work in the United States since the late 1970s, including the dynamics of the wage distribution, the employment and earnings of college graduates, the conceptualization and measurement of middle-skills jobs, and the debate on the future of work. Dr. Scaglione has previously worked as a Senior Economist at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, a Data Scientist and Researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School, and a Research Fellow at the Inter-American Development Bank.


Samantha  Thompson

Samantha Thompson

Samantha Thompson worked as a research assistant on a variety of tasks for CCWT. Also an undergraduate alumna of UW–Madison, while working with CCWT, she was pursuing her graduate studies at the university in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, specializing in Global Higher Education. She is particularly interested in using a comparative lens to examine international education systems and policy. Her research interests lie in exploring how higher education systems around the world prepare their students to thrive in their careers and lives. She also focuses domestically on the international student experience at American universities in the college to workforce transition. 


Yi-jung Wu

Yi-jung Wu

Yi-jung Wu was a Project Assistant at the CCWT and a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at UW–Madison. She received her B.S. in Mathematics and M.S. in Cognitive Science from National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. Her previous experiences include working as a research assistant responsible for projects in cognitive psychology and educational research and as a middle school mathematics teacher. She is especially interested in the interdisciplinary study on college to workforce transitions. Her research interests include using mixed methods and quantitative methods to explore the topics of student employability, career development and STEM education.

 


Pa Her

Pa Her

Pa Her was a Research Assistant at the CCWT and a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology. She is passionate about working with college students and has worked with underrepresented students as an academic advisor, a peer mentor coordinator, an instructor, and a psychotherapist. Her research examines students' of color experiences in higher education and focuses on topics such as persistence, vocational development, social class, self-efficacy, and racial discrimination. AT CCWT, Pa worked on the college internship study utilizing a mixed-method approach. 



Emily Parrott

Emily Parrott

Emily was a PhD candidate in Human Ecology in the department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Human Ecology and her Bachelor's from Harvard College in Sociology.

Her research focused on two main themes. First, she studied first-generation college graduates in an effort to understand how college shapes the lives of individuals and their families. Her dissertation advisor was Sarah Halpern-Meekin. Along this line of inquiry, she also collaborated on research with the Arizona Life Success Study and the Peer Relations Study Group. Second, she was committed to building connections between research and policy through a study of legislators’ research use, with Karen Bogenschneider. She also created translational documents for policymakers and the public. To that end, she has worked as a Project Assistant for the Family Impact Institute and Project Assistant at the Money, Relationships, and Equality (MORE) initiative.


Mun Yuk Chin

Mun Yuk Chin

Mun Yuk Chin was a Project Assistant at the CCWT and an advanced doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and grew up in both Malaysia and Singapore. Mun’s research interests focused on the subjective identities of social class, sexuality, and gender, as well as their relationships with mental health. For her dissertation, Mun investigated the effects of social class concealment among undergraduate students. As a graduate assistant, Mun worked on the various phases of the Center’s projects on students’ experiences with career advising.