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Who We Are

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Ishita Ahmed
Ishita is a PhD candidate at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education. She focuses on how to adapt measures of children's cognitive and behavioral skills to represent different cultural experiences. Her research uses mixed methods to incorporate the voices of parents, children, and teachers to investigate measurement of executive functions and self-regulation to incorporate culturally adapted measures into global education policy analysis.

Lucia Alcala
Lucía is an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Psychology. Her research examines how cultural practices and everyday experiences support children's prosocial and cognitive development including the development of executive functions (EFs) skills. Her current work involves the development of culturally-relevant executive functions measures.

Sarah Baker
Sara is a Professor of Developmental Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge. Her research aims to identify factors at home and at school that give children the best chances in life. Her recent work examines how individual differences in executive functions and self-regulation arise from cultural and teaching practices.

Catherine Draper
Catherine is an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, in the SAMRC Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit. Her research is based in vulnerable settings in South Africa, and largely focusses on interventions that promote early childhood health and development, considering social ecological factors that influence outcomes in young children from these settings.

Nikhit D’Sa
Nikhit is an assistant professor and director of research at the University of Notre Dame's Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child. His research examines how the settings around children in low resource and fragile contexts in the majority world can be better leveraged to support learning and development. He also focuses on how we can better incorporate the lived experience of children, caregivers, and teachers into the development of context-specific assessments, including measures of social-emotional learning, teacher well-being, and children’s perspectives of play.


Steven Howard
Steven is an associate professor in Educational and Developmental Psychology at the University of Wollongong's School of Education. His research investigates the development of children’s self-regulation and related abilities (e.g., executive functions, school readiness), and the real-world implications of these changing abilities. This includes creating low-cost and accessible means for those who routinely work with young children to measure and positively influence children’s development.

Matthew Jukes
Matthew is a Fellow of International Education at RTI International. His research aims to improve children's development and education in resource-poor settings. This includes work on culturally relevant approaches to assessment and programming in social-emotional learning. He is Principal Investigator of the Playful Learning Across the Years (PLAY) project to measure support for children's engagement in learning in low- and middle-income countries.

Sebastian Lipina
Sebastian is Researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET, Argentina) and Director of the Unit of Applied Neurobiology (UNA, CEMIC-CONICET). His research focuses on the influences of poverty and SES on self-regulation development, the design of interventions aimed at optimizing children´s cognitive performance, and the transfer of technical knowledge to policy design efforts for unprivileged children.

Dana McCoy
Dana is the Marie and Max Kargman Associate Professor in Human Development and Urban Education Advancement at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her work focuses on understanding the ways that poverty-related risk factors in children's home, school, and neighborhood environments affect the development of their cognitive and socioemotional skills in early childhood. She is also interested in the development, refinement, and evaluation of early intervention programs designed to promote positive development and resilience in young children, particularly in terms of their self-regulation and executive function.

Dana Miller-Cotto
Dana is an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Kent State University. Her research examines the role of executive functions in math learning and problem solving. She has a secondary interest in executive function measurement, particularly as it relates to minoritized children in the U.S. Her current work involves testing assumptions of executive function assessments for Black children.

Jelena Obradović
Jelena is a professor at Stanford University in the Developmental and Psychological Sciences program at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Her research examines how family and educational experiences relate to development of executive functions (EFs) and how EF skills and behaviors support learning, well-being, and relationships. Her current work involves the development of novel, pragmatic, scalable assessments of executive functions and related skills (e.g., motivation, curiosity, problem-solving).

Lisa Thorell
Lisa is a professor in developmental psychology at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Her research examines cognitive and emotional functioning and links to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and addictive use of digital media (i.e., gaming and social media). She has also conducted work on the development of rating instruments, laboratory tests, and computerized training programs for working memory, inhibitory control and emotion regulation.

Mike Willoughby
Mike is a Fellow at RTI International. His program of research is focused on the developmental causes, course, and consequences of executive function skills. He is especially interested in the extent to which individual differences in executive function skills contribute to children’s school readiness and risk for disruptive behavior disorders.

Sharon Wolf
Sharon is an associate professor in the Human Development and Quantitative Methods division at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She studies the links between poverty, social policies, education, and child development through experimental and quasi-experimental methods. This work includes assessing the role high-quality education plays in bolstering development for children who face adversity, with a focus on the interplay between academic, executive function, and social-emotional skills.