Affiliated Scholars

Affiliated Scholars


Nancy Acevedo-Gil, Scholar in Residence
Dr. Acevedo-Gil is an Associate Professor of Education at California State University, San Bernardino, and is the first Wheelhouse Scholar in Residence. She is an interdisciplinary scholar focusing on the experience of Latina/o/x and other students of color as they navigate transitions across along the higher education pipeline, using critical race and Chicana feminist theories to examine educational (in)equities and develop additive policies and practices. She earned her PhD from UCLA in 2014.

Rachel Baker, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Baker is an Associate Professor of Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her PhD in Education Policy and the Economics of Education at Stanford University. She studies inequalities in access to and success in higher education using behavioral economic models of decision making and quasi-experimental and experimental methods. She works closely with the California Community Colleges. Her professional experience includes teaching elementary school in the Marshall Islands, working as a literacy specialist at a school for the Deaf, and coordinating college readiness programming at The Steppingstone Foundation in Boston.

Eric Bettinger, Associate Professor, Stanford University School of Education
Dr. Bettinger’s research interests include the economics of education; student success and completion in college; teacher characteristics and student success in college; and the effects of voucher programs on academic and non-academic outcomes. He is a research associate in the program on education at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Co-Principal Investigator at the Lemann Center for Brazilian Education at Stanford. Eric’s research focuses on using rigorous statistical methods in identifying cause-and-effect relationships in higher education. His research on financial aid applications has influenced recent efforts by the White House to simplify financial aid processes. He holds a PhD in Economics from MIT.


Tolani A. Britton, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
Dr. Britton is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education. She uses quasi-experimental methods to explore the impact of policies on students’ transition from secondary school to higher education, as well as access and retention in higher education. Prior to earning her doctorate, She worked as a high school math teacher and college counselor in New York City public schools and as a policy analyst for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France.  Dr. Britton earned her doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, her M.A. in French Cultural Studies from Columbia University, her M.A in Economics from Tufts University, and her B.A. in both Economics and French Literature from Tufts University.

Marcela Cuellar, Associate Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Cuellar examines access and equity in higher education, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and emerging HSIs, and Latinx student success. She employs quantitative and qualitative methods to explore Latinx students’ experiences at HSIs and emerging HSIs and how they are empowered as a result of their educational experiences during college and beyond. Dr. Cuellar received her doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.



Elizabeth Friedmann, Research Fellow, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Friedmann is a postdoctoral researcher at Wheelhouse. She received her PhD in Education with an emphasis in School Organization and Education Policy from UC Davis. Her research focuses on issues related to college access and success, including financial aid and transfer pathways from community colleges. At Wheelhouse, Dr. Friedmann produces independent research and supports survey design, the Wheelhouse Institute on Leadership, and the Wheelhouse Scholars’ Network. In addition to her work at UC Davis, she lectures at CSU East Bay.



Cassandra Hart, Associate Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Hart is an associate professor of education policy. She evaluates the effects of school, state and national education programs, policies, and practices on overall student achievement, and on the equality of student outcomes. With respect to community colleges, Dr. Hart’s work primarily focuses on evaluating student outcomes and experiences in online classes. She received her PhD from the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in 2011.



Paco Martorell, Associate Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Martorell has broad research interests in both higher education and K-12 policy. Current projects cover areas including developmental education in colleges, the effects of grade retention, the returns to for-profit colleges, the impacts of school facility investments, and community college tuition subsidies. He completed his PhD in economics at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining UC Davis, he was an Economist at the RAND Corporation and was a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.


Sherrie Reed, Executive Director, California Education Lab
Dr. Reed is Executive Director of the California Education Lab, for which she directs and manages the research projects supported by numerous federal and foundation grants and by faculty Principal Investigators. These projects represent unprecedented collaboration among the primary public education segments in the state of California, including formal partnership between the University of California, Davis and the California Department of Education, and collaboration with the California State University Chancellor’s Office, the University of California Office of the President, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, and the California Student Aid Commission. She obtained her Ph.D. from University of California Davis, School of Education and MA in Special Education, and BA in Secondary Education from University of Northern Colorado. 


Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, Associate Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Dr. Rios-Aguilar is Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Professor of Education and Director of the Higher Education Research Institute in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Her research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of conceptual frameworks and of statistical approaches to study the educational and occupational trajectories of underrepresented minorities. Her research interests include critical quantitative research methods, big data, social media, community colleges, and educational policies. She obtained her Ph.D. in Education Theory and Policy from the University of Rochester, her M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester, and her B.A. in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México [ITAM].

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