2018-2019 SRCD State Policy Fellows

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Rachel Katz, Ph.D.
Dr. Rachel Katz is a SRCD Post-Doctoral State Policy Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in the Division of Early Intervention. She is using her research and early childhood expertise to inform practice and policy initiatives at the state level and to support and develop the agency’s research activities, data collection methods, data analysis, and evaluation processes. Dr. Katz received her Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University. She served as a doctoral research assistant for the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation, a randomized controlled trial of an intervention for young parents. At Tufts, Dr. Katz studied the influence of children's early experiences on developmental functioning, including how development can be modified by environmental influences such as child care and early education, caregiver-child relationships, and adversity. Supported by a Doris Duke Dissertation Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being, her dissertation investigated patterns of child care use over time, associations between early child care participation and child outcomes in early childhood, and the mechanisms by which child care fosters positive development in a sample of adolescent mothers and their children. Prior to entering Tufts, she worked as a research assistant in the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard University where she studied cognitive development in infants. Dr. Katz received a B.A. in Psychology from Bates College.

Alicia Miao, Ph.D.
Dr. Alicia J. Miao is a SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellow in the Early Learning Division (ELD) of the Oregon Department of Education. Her work at ELD currently focuses on activities related to kindergarten readiness, preschool program evaluation and improvement, child care quality, and infant-toddler program implementation. Dr. Miao completed her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. Her dissertation work focused on the development and measurement of children’s self-regulation across the transition to school. Research during her doctoral studies also included associations between mathematics and self-regulation, the measurement of self-regulation for dual language learners, and statistical modeling. A collaborative line of research she is pursuing is focused on community environments that reduce disparities and promote equity in kindergarten readiness and later achievement and adjustment. Prior to her doctoral studies, Dr. Miao worked at the Oregon Social Learning Center on several longitudinal projects, including the Oregon Youth Study, Couples Study, and Three Generation Study. Dr. Miao holds a B.S. and M.S. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. She is committed to leveraging research to inform policies and programs that improve the well-being of children and families.


Pre-Doctoral Fellows

Nneka Ibekwe, MSW, Ed.M.
Nneka Ibekwe is a PhD candidate in the Human Development and Quantitative Methods division at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (GSE). She is also a graduate research assistant at the Field Center for Children’s Policy Practice and Research. Her research focuses on identifying pathways towards optimal social-emotional and academic development for children from disadvantaged populations. In her current research, Nneka is applying quantitative methodology to assess the risk and protective factors that children experience across two ecological levels to understand what contributes to school readiness outcomes. As a SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellow in the Office of Early Learning in the Delaware Department of Education, Nneka is designing evaluation plans, child assessments, and survey tools for the state's early learning programs. Prior to Penn GSE, Nneka worked as a manager for the Center for Education Policy Research and as a graduate teaching fellow for Harvard University. As a social worker in east Los Angeles and New York City, Nneka worked with children and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Prevention Science Research and an M.S.W. from Columbia University School of Social Work. Nneka received a B.A. from the University of California, Davis, where she was also an NCAA Division I volleyball player.

Caroline Martin
Caroline Martin is a SRCD Pre-Doctoral State Policy Fellow at the Vermont Agency of Education (VT-AOE). At the VT-AOE, Caroline collaborates with the Data Analysis and Early Learning teams on projects related to pre-kindergarten programming for the state of Vermont. She is currently analyzing and assembling state-wide data on the school readiness of children receiving public pre-kindergarten funding. Caroline also works on projects broadly related to the social-emotional functioning of young children in the state. Caroline is a PhD candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Vermont, working under the mentorship of Dr. Betsy Hoza. Her primary research interests include factors that promote early childhood psychological adjustment and behavioral health, and the development of interventions to promote behavioral, cognitive, and social adjustment among at-risk children. Caroline holds a B.A. in Psychology from Oberlin College and previously worked at the University of Massachusetts - Boston’s Center for Social Development and Education prior to pursuing her doctorate degree.

Meghan McDoniel, Ed.M.
Meghan McDoniel is a pre-doctoral fellow for the SRCD State Policy Fellowship Program at the Bureau of Early Learning Services in the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).  Her work at OCDEL focuses on integrating data systems across the Bureau and state agencies to improve reach and risk reporting for child care and early learning service providers statewide.  Ms. McDoniel is currently in the Developmental Psychology program at Pennsylvania State University. Her research examines child, family, and neighborhood characteristics that influence young children’s social and emotional development, specifically with regards to school readiness in early childhood.  Prior to graduate school, Ms. McDoniel received her B.A. in Psychology with a Neuroscience concentration from Grinnell College, after which she taught preschool in St. Louis, MO with Teach For America.  She received her M.Ed. in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood emphasis from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Ms. McDoniel is dedicated to improving early childhood services for children and families through evidence- and community-based approaches.

Elizabeth Tremaine, M.S.
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Tremaine is a SRCD Pre-Doctoral State Policy Fellow placed at Oregon's Early Learning Division. In this placement, she works on a breadth of projects, such as supporting the Division's grant applications, program piloting and evaluation plans, data analysis, and stakeholder engagement efforts. Lizzy is a doctoral candidate at Portland State University in the Applied Developmental Psychology program, working with Dr. Andrew Mashburn. Her work as a graduate student has involved taking a holistic, child-centered approach to describing, predicting, and exploring the outcomes of children's school readiness and their transition into kindergarten. She works hard to acknowledge and reflect the perspectives of early childhood stakeholders (practitioners, parents, researchers, policy makers) in her research by applying creative methodologies to real-world phenomena. Lizzy earned her B.S. with highest honors in Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and her M.S. in Psychology at Portland State University. By participating in the SRCD State Policy Fellowship Program, Lizzy plans to learn the role of research in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of early learning policy designed to improve the lives of children.