Post-Doctoral Fellows

Aimée Drouin Duncan, Ph.D.
Dr. Aimée Drouin Duncan is currently serving as a Heising-Simons Foundation/SRCD State Policy Post-Doctoral Fellow at The District of Columbia's Office of The State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in the Division of Early Learning Quality Initiative Unit. There she is involved in projects related to the District's new Capital Quality Ratings System and Quality Improvement Network. Before OSSE, Duncan completed her Ph.D. in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland where she worked on a national evaluation of an early childhood literacy home visiting program for low-income families living in rural communities. She has over 10 years’ experience working in program evaluation research, social services, and public policy. She holds an Developmental Studies from Boston University and a B.A. in Law & Society from American University.

Kate Giapponi Schneider, Ph.D.
Dr. Kate Giapponi Schneider is a Post-Doctoral State Policy Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), where her work focuses on child care subsidy policy, including conducting research related to policy changes under the 2014 Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act.  Prior to joining EEC, Dr. Schneider was a post-doctoral fellow at Brandeis University’s Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, where she served as a Co-Principal Investigator and implementation research lead on two U.S. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) grants that evaluated the impact of changes in state practices/policies aimed at reducing administrative burdens and increasing stability of subsidy receipt and continuity of care for families.  As a doctoral student, Dr. Schneider was awarded OPRE’s Child Care Research Scholars Grant for her dissertation research investigating motivations for and barriers to provider engagement in the subsidy system.  An article based on this research was published in Children and Youth Services Review in 2017. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Dr. Schneider worked for six years at Public Consulting Group, consulting for various state and local human services agencies.  In this capacity, she conducted projects involving survey research, program evaluation, needs assessment, revenue maximization, and business process review.  Dr. Schneider holds a PhD and MA in Social Policy from Brandeis University, an MBA from Clark University and a BA in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross. She is committed to advancing the utility of research for program and policy application. 

Pre-Doctoral Fellows

Robert Carr
Robert Carr is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the School of Education’s Applied Developmental Science program. His graduate coursework has emphasized training in education research, human development, and quantitative methodology. His fellowship placement is at the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), which administers the NC Pre-K program. Robert’s research interests broadly concern the study of classroom quality in pre-kindergarten and the early elementary grades as well as the relation between quality and children’s developing academic skills during the transition to school. His placement at DCDEE has also focused on activities related to the kindergarten transition. For example, Robert is assisting DCDEE staff with the design of a standardized program to facilitate information sharing between pre-K and kindergarten teachers. Robert is also working with his academic mentor and placement supervisor on the design of a policy-relevant research study using secondary analysis of data from a recent statewide evaluation of the NC Pre-K program. By participating in the State Policy Fellowship Program, Robert hopes to gain essential skills and knowledge needed to design, conduct, and disseminate research to inform future policymaking related to public pre-kindergarten programming.

Julie Casper
Julie Casper is an SRCD Pre-Doctoral State Policy Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, where she focuses on research for the state’s Preschool Expansion Grant. As a doctoral student in Early Childhood Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, Julie researches how early childhood education policies interact, and their impact on how teachers engage with young dual language learners. Julie has worked in the classroom as both an educator and as a supervisor for teacher training, and as a researcher on New York City’s School Survey as an Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellow. At Teachers College, Julie has served as Associate Director for the Teachers College Survey Research Initiative and was a Graduate Research Fellow at the National Center for Children and Families, where she contributed to applied research and analysis related to early childhood policy both in the United States and abroad. Julie holds a BA in Spanish and Religious Studies from Colby College and a MSEd in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Melanie Fish
Melanie Fish is a Pre-Doctoral State Policy Fellow at the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL). She collaborates with DEL’s Research and Analysis team, led by Dr. Vickie Ybarra, on projects related to improving instruction and assessment of dual language-learning children in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. Melanie is a PhD candidate in the Speech & Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington, working under the direction of Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS).  Her research focuses on how children’s linguistic processing abilities develop over the first five years of life, and how early experiences with language can shape later language and learning outcomes. In addition to her graduate studies, Melanie works with the I-LABS Outreach and Education team to disseminate the latest research on children’s language development to the public. Melanie earned her B.A. with Honors in Linguistics from the University of Washington in 2011, and served as a full-time Research Study Assistant at I-LABS prior to pursuing her doctorate in 2013.

Mayra Parada
Mayra Parada is a third-year graduate student pursuing her PhD in Applied Development Psychology at George Mason University. She graduated with a BS in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2014. Prior to her time at Mason, Mayra has worked on various community-based participatory research projects in Richmond and spent time in Mexico City investigating on the influence of social contexts on adolescent drug-use. At Mason, Mayra’s master thesis focused on academic outcomes of immigrant students using longitudinal data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP). Currently, Mayra is an SRCD State Policy Fellow at the Virginia Department of Education in the Office of Humanities and Early Childhood working on the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and Virginia Preschool Initiative Expansion (VPI+).