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Lead Researcher

 Joanne W. Golann

Joanne W. Golann is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education and an Assistant Professor of Sociology (secondary appointment) at Vanderbilt University. Trained as a sociologist and an ethnographer, she seeks to understand how culture shapes educational policy and practice. She is committed to listening and learning from others, and wants her students to develop a critical lens and a sense of empathy when evaluating educational policies and programs.

Dr. Golann received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University. She received a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in English from Amherst College. She also is a recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship.

Research Assistants

Graduate Students

Kara P. Mitchell

Kara P. Mitchell is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include (1) community-based education spaces in the educational landscape, (2) educational organizational design, and (3) race- and community-conscious policies. In her past professional experience, Kara worked with Texas Appleseed as a Southern Education Leadership Initiative Summer Research Fellow where her research focused on the school disciplinary policies in independent school districts in Texas. She also worked as a Client Services Associate at the Academic Benchmarking Consortium (now Helios Campus) where she managed and analyzed higher education financial data. Prior to Vanderbilt, Kara received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a second major in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Catherine Duggan

Catherine Duggan is a doctoral student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Prior to enrolling in the Ph.D. program, she served in a variety of roles focusing on students with disabilities. She was a special educator for KIPP Charter Schools in New York City and in Nashville. Catherine worked as an Educational Consultant for the Special Education Department here at Peabody College. Most recently, she worked with Tennessee’s Vocational Rehabilitation as a Pre-Employment Transition Service Provider. Her research interests center around student transitions from high school into postsecondary success, particularly for students with high-incidence disabilities.

Maria Maria Castillo

Maria Maria Castillo is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. Maria is interested in K-12 finance and examining how policies and interventions can improve mathematical learning outcomes and educational experiences for low-income students of color.

Before graduate school, Maria served as an AmeriCorps member on the admission team at Breakthrough New York. She was then a graduate coordinator for the Women in STEM program at Harvard College. Maria has worked on several research projects ranging from Latinx parental engagement and linguistic and cultural diversity to a more recent independent study focused on understanding how Title I funds reach schools in New York and examining its intended impact. Maria earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mount Holyoke College and her Ed.M. in Teacher Education from The Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Undergraduate Students

Kanoe Bonilla

Kanoe Bonilla is a sophomore at Vanderbilt majoring in Child Development with a double minor in Neuroscience and History of Art. She is involved in Vanderbilt Volunteers for Health and the Philippine Intercultural Student Organization as the secretary. Kanoe is interested in the effects of caregiver-child interactions and its intersection with neurological constraints on kindergarten readiness/academic performance. Through NJFS, she is excited to uncover the factors that influence parent-children negotiations. After her time at Vanderbilt, Kanoe aspires to go to medical school to become a specialized pediatrician.


Ana Delgado


Ana Delgado is a senior majoring in Child Studies and Spanish, pursuing a career in speech-language pathology. Ana is involved in organizations at Vanderbilt such as Next Steps where she serves as an ambassador. Through the NJFS project, she is interested in learning how parents use language to build cultural capital in their young children.


Angelina Ma

Angelina Ma is a freshman at Vanderbilt interested in studying Child Development, Climate Studies, and Data Science. On campus, she is involved in student government, service, and the Peabody Scholars program: a student cohort that participates in seminars, community engagement projects, and research regarding education and human development. Angelina hopes to draw from her extensive background in tutoring, teaching, and camp counseling to explore how cultural values, education systems, and parent-child interactions work together to impact young children’s behavior and development.



 Monica Shen

Monica Shen is a junior majoring in Child Development and Medicine, Health, & Society, with a minor in Biological Sciences. She is in the Honors Program in Psychological Science, investigating the dynamic interactions between perceived stress, family dynamics, and school inclusivity in a sample of Chinese international college students and their parents. Monica has been involved in various tutoring programs for five years, teaching students from 3 to 24 years old. She aspires to be a researcher in developmental psychology. Through the NJFS project, she is interested in how (in)consistent parenting styles within a family influence children’s interpretation of norms and rules.


Grace Xu

Grace Xu is a junior majoring in Elementary Education and Child Development, with a minor in Data Science. Grace is involved in various tutoring programs and has observed at multiple classrooms with children ranging from 8 months to 5th grade. Through the NJFS project, she is interested in learning how different parenting styles may influence children’s interactions with peers.