NCSER is grateful for our student interns, who come to us through the U.S. Department of State’s Virtual Student Federal Service Program. These interns are volunteering their time to support NCSER in data science and open science. Data science interns mine data from IES grants and related publications and create visualizations to represent what IES has funded and learned. Open science interns use their talents to help us understand and communicate about research in special education. We are pleased to introduce each of the 2023-24 academic-year interns here.
Data Science Interns
I am a PhD student at George Mason University, deeply committed to informing education policy and addressing gaps in the field, particularly concerning individuals with learning disabilities. My academic journey has been profoundly influenced by extensive research experiences at George Mason University and the International Leadership of Texas charter school, where I delved into critical aspects of education policy, including ethnicity, race, bilingual status, SPED/504 status, and student achievement.
My ultimate career aspiration is to become an educational researcher specializing in enhancing student achievement and advocating for policy reforms. I am particularly drawn to this internship opportunity with NSCER/IES due to my unyielding passion for data-driven solutions in education. This internship provides a unique platform for me to gain hands-on experience in analyzing data and collaborating with experts, which are instrumental in uncovering systematic educational gaps and contributing to policy enrichment.
Fun Fact: I find solace in the art of photography and the enrichment of travel experiences. My collection of SD cards holds cherished moments from my international teaching endeavors in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Guinea, underscoring my broader commitment to fostering inclusive and equitable education for all.
I am a PhD student studying political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where I take part in rewarding research methods and data science education every semester. My exposure to quantitative research began long before graduate school. I started this journey by taking my first research methods class and working as a research assistant as an undergraduate student. Once I officially enrolled in graduate school, the data science bug bit me—I felt compelled to learn as much as possible about the fascinating world of data and research! This passion and my cumulative experience handling data prepared me for the NCSER data science internship.
My goal for the future is to refine my data science skills so I can work with data that make tangible impacts on the world around me—a plan I am one step closer to achieving thanks to this fantastic opportunity with NCSER. Indeed, this is precisely why I applied to this program: I know that by supporting NCSER's rigorous research program, I can make a difference in something that is pressing and important.
Fun Fact: I love watches. I recently began collecting watches, but my horological passion started years ago when I got my first Timex in high school.
I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toledo. I am pursuing bachelor’s degrees in disability studies and data science, with a minor in computer science. Previously I have conducted and presented research on understanding the neurodiversity paradigm and movement. I was the recipient of the Patricia Murphy Scholarship from the disability studies department, and I am the co-founder and president of the university’s Disability Student Union. My past work experience as a research assistant on the Plain Truth Project, coursework in data science, lived experience of disability, and long-time passion for disability justice led me to this internship.
I am excited to apply my developing data science skills and passion to learn more about disability research and improve my research skills throughout this internship. I am interested in improving the representation of the disability community in data science and making data more accessible. This internship will allow me to synthesize my data science and disability studies skills and enabling me to seek out more opportunities to do so in the future.
Fun Fact: I am a Trekkie! My favorite characters are Seven of Nine and Data.
Open Science/Communication Interns
Howdy! I am finishing up my last year as a PhD student in educational psychology with an emphasis in special education at Texas A&M University (whoop!). Prior to starting my PhD program, I had various roles in the public school system, working as a special education teacher, a board-certified behavior analyst providing behavioral training and support to teachers, and a program facilitator overseeing the implementation of a state-funded autism grant for an early childhood intervention program. After graduation, I would like to be a faculty member in higher education.
I’m returning as a second-year virtual intern with NCSER because I learned so much during my previous internship. It gave me the opportunity to speak with researchers across the nation about their research projects and how this work can improve the experiences of students with disabilities. I was able to share this research through social media and blog posts, ensuring that evidence-based practices are accessible to everyone, especially key stakeholders. I’m excited to be part of all the great things happening at NCSER and look forward to another year!
Fun Fact: I like to spend time at the lake with my family. Sometimes we wakesurf, but mostly, we just relax and float around. Luke, our Labrador, loves to swim in the water, but our puggle, Leia, prefers to sunbathe on the boat!
I am pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at the University of California, San Diego, where I plan to develop my quantitative research skills to participate in special education policy analysis. Before attending graduate school, I worked as a licensed behavioral therapist and as a research assistant at Southern Utah University on a project that evaluated parental empowerment with children with disabilities before and after the introduction of elementary school.
With my research interests, IES was a perfect fit for me. Through this internship I hope to develop refined verbal and written communication skills that support my future goals and learn as much as possible about special education research through exposure to IES-funded projects. I plan to further my education as a doctoral student to reach my long-term goal of becoming an expert in inequality and social policy in education.
Fun Fact: I enjoy collecting rings with different types of gemstones from antique stores!
Sarah Brasiel, NCSER program officer and primary mentor for the data science interns, and Amy Sussman, NCSER program officer and primary mentor for the open science interns, produced this blog.