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Friday Institute Selects 2023 Graduate Student Fellows

Image of four people standing in front of a lighted orange and red background. On each end are two female advisors in jackets. In the middle are two graduate students, one female and one male.

Each year, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation selects graduate students to become Friday Institute Graduate Student Fellows. Fellows are nominated by Friday Institute faculty fellows or directors and are selected for their strong record of academic achievement and service to students and educators. This year’s Friday Institute Graduate Student Fellows are researching topics that focus on increasing equitable access to resources, from bridging the digital divide in North Carolina to self-directed professional development for rural Appalachian teachers. 

Fellows must be an advanced graduate student at NC State University who are beginning their dissertation and have been actively engaged in the Friday Institute’s work. They receive $2,000 to support their research.

Learn more about each of the 2023 Friday Institute Graduate Student Fellows below.

Maddie Stallard

Madeline Stallard

Madeline (Maddie) Stallard is earning a Ph.D. in the Learning and Teaching in STEM science education concentration in the NC State College of Education. She has worked at the Friday Institute for two years conducting a series of studies related to teaching and learning science and providing teacher professional development for science teachers. 

At the Friday Institute, Stallard conducts research with the Innovations in STEM Education Research team, which includes leading a study of K-12 students’ concepts of viruses and vaccines, a study of climate change visual representations used by secondary teachers and a study of teachers’ lesson planning for climate change. 

Her dissertation research, funded by the National Science Foundation, is examining the impact of a new model for rural Appalachian teachers’ self-directed professional development. This award will allow Stallard to continue her work on teacher professional development by recruiting and incentivizing educators for a survey about their perspectives and experiences with self-directed teacher professional development. 

“I felt extremely honored and valued as a researcher when I received this award,” said Stallard. “It’s a huge passion of mine (like many education researchers) to improve the field of education for teachers and students, and this award grants me the opportunity to continue research that does that. This research is important because, when executed effectively, professional development has the potential to enhance teacher efficacy and foster positive student outcomes. This project has the potential to transform the ways professional development is provided for educators.”

Stallard’s adviser, Gail Jones, nominated her for this award. Jones is an Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of Science Education in the College of Education and a senior faculty fellow at the Friday Institute.

“Maddie is a dedicated science educator who has a keen interest in transforming teacher education,” said Jones. “She works tirelessly to help students and teachers learn science and is an outstanding research and teacher educator.”

Hamid Sanei

Hamid Sanei

Hamid Sanei is earning a Ph.D. in the Learning and Teaching in STEM mathematics and statistics education concentration in the College of Education as well as a Ph.D minor in statistics in the NC State Department of Statistics. He was part of the Hub for Innovation and Research in Statistics Education (HI-RiSE) group at the Friday Institute during his masters and doctoral programs. He was a graduate research assistant on the Diagnostic Inventories of Cognition in Education (DICE) project from 2018 through 2021 and was also funded by the Preparing to Teach Mathematics with Technology project in 2019. Sanei completed a research internship with the Invigorating Statistics Teacher Education Through Professional Online Learning (InSTEP) team in fall 2022.

His dissertation is focused on understanding how 3D representations of data can assist students in understanding complex statistical ideas like categorical association, which is a novel perspective in data science education. Sanei believes this dissertation can have implications for providing equitable access to data through tactile experiences, especially for vision-impaired students, and can provide innovative solutions for education in statistics and data science in high school and college.

“I feel immensely honored, especially knowing the competitive nature of this award and the caliber of past recipients,” said Sanai. “I am deeply grateful to Hollylynne for her support and nomination and to the Friday Institute for this grant, which will significantly enhance my research capabilities.”

Sanei’s adviser, Hollylynne Lee, nominated him for this award. Lee is Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Education in the College of Education and a senior faculty fellow at the Friday Institute.

“Hamid has been involved with various research projects in the HI-RiSE team since he began his master’s degree,” said Lee. “Throughout both his masters and Ph.D. programs, he has developed keen research skills and expertise related to teaching and learning ideas in probability, statistics and data science. His dissertation work will help advance the field related to providing inclusive and equitable ways for learners to tell data stories through bringing a 3D physical component to data visualizations.”

Oscar Miranda Tapia

Oscar Miranda Tapia is earning a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development higher education opportunity, equity, and justice concentration in the College of Education.

At the Friday Institute, Miranda Tapia has served as a graduate research assistant, contributing to various projects including the Math Pathways for African American Collegiate Transformation Program and the Understanding Perceptions of Race Among Computer Science Undergraduates project in collaboration with Duke University. He played a pivotal role in crafting and disseminating two essential surveys, and creating Spanish versions of the surveys, for the Digital Equity Plan project–a statewide initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide in North Carolina and in the state’s commitment toward equitable digital access. 

His dissertation research investigates the journeys of undocumented college students in North Carolina as they transition from college to post-college life. The primary objective of this research is to discern the ways in which colleges and universities either facilitate or impede the transition of undocumented students. 

“Throughout my tenure at the Friday Institute, I have consistently endeavored to deliver my highest quality work, and receiving this award serves as a tangible recognition and appreciation of the dedication I have invested in my efforts,” said Miranda Tapia. “By shedding light on the experiences of undocumented college students in North Carolina, this study not only deepens understanding of their challenges and successes but also provides insights into how educational institutions can better support this demographic during and after their college year.”

Miranda Tapia was nominated by Erin Huggins, associate director of the Program Evaluation and Educational Research Group at the Friday Institute

“Oscar’s thoughtful approach to research, I believe, sets him apart from many scholars,” said Huggins. “I know that Oscar will go far in his career as a researcher and advocate for underserved communities. His thoughtful eye to issues of equity and inclusion truly helped ensure that our data collection efforts captured the lived experience of covered populations in North Carolina and therefore the plan created will be able to address their barriers and needs. In addition to being a skilled researcher, his passion, thoughtfulness and leadership skills will take him far in life. I am sure this is just the start of his journey to impact research and policy in North Carolina and beyond.”