Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) Fellowships

The Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Program prepares students to apply theory and methods from the social sciences to research on schools and classrooms. Program faculty and students strive to improve equity and evidence in education through their work. Since 2004, the VEST Program has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to prepare a future generation of education researchers on use of theory and methods that support causal inferences in studies of school, classroom and programs.

The VEST Experience

Consider just a few of these tough questions and problems. How do we prepare teachers to be effective? What are the effects of teacher evaluation on teachers’ performance? How do children’s self-regulatory abilities develop as a function of their home and school experiences? What classroom conditions are needed to best support the need of multilingual students (English Learners)? How do we develop high quality assessments for kindergarten readiness and then implement those statewide? These are just a few examples of the kinds of education science questions and problems that VEST fellows and faculty address.

VEST fellows experience an exciting set of courses, workshops and speakers. Through these experiences, fellows learn a set of rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental methods that help them develop proficiency in designs that allow for causal inference. Further, students increase their exposure and depth in at least one of four areas including teacher quality, early childhood, social and behavioral context for academic learning, and post-secondary and adult education.


VEST Prepares a New Generation of Education Researchers

We asked four VEST alumni to reflect on their experiences with core aspects of the VEST program.

VEST alumni reflect on their experience

Research-Practice Partnership Experience (RPE)

The Research-Practice Partnership Experience (RPE) is a hallmark characteristic of the VEST fellowship. Too often, we see a gap between the knowledge produced by researchers and the information that policy-makers and educators need to make decisions. As part of the VEST fellowship, students work in partnership with an outside agency (e.g., state department of education, school district, education non-profit) and learn the intricacies of full partnership. Not only do fellows leave the program prepared to conduct rigorous research, the problems they choose and the approaches they take are much more relevant as a result of their training.

VEST alumni reflect on their experience


Regardless of the methods chosen, VEST students and affiliates learn to apply methods rigorously and carefully.

VEST alumni reflect on their experience

Diversity and Equity

Through scholarship, teaching, and partnerships with educational organizations, VEST students and faculty strive to improve equity and evidence in education.

VEST alumni reflect on their experience

Lectureship Series

VEST typically holds four Education Research Lectureship Series talks each semester, all of which are required for VEST students to attend. Speakers are selected with VEST goals in mind.

VEST Faculty

VEST faculty serve as mentors and co-mentors to our fellows. Four-year fellows in our Ph.D. programs have a primary mentor from the School of Education and Human Development and in their 3rd year, a co-mentor from another discipline. Two-year fellows from other disciplines continue to work with their primary advisor from their home department and work with a School of Education and Human Development co-mentor as well.

Our faculty engage in training experiences that offer extensive expertise including econometric models of teacher quality, the RCT design and analysis, and the design and evaluation of professional development supports for teachers and their effects on student learning.

Allison Atteberry

Allison Atteberry

  • Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy
  • Director, EdPolicyWorks
Brendan Bartanen

Brendan Bartanen

  • Assistant Professor
Daphna Bassok

Daphna Bassok

  • Batten Bicentennial Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education
  • Associate Director, EdPolicyWorks
Catherine Bradshaw

Catherine P. Bradshaw

  • Senior Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development
  • Professor
Julia Jackson Cohen

Julie Jackson Cohen

  • Charles S. Robb Associate Professor
Nancy L Deutsch

Nancy L. Deutsch

  • Associate Dean for Faculty Development
  • Linda K. Bunker Professor of Education
  • Director, Youth-Nex
Jason T Downer

Jason T. Downer

  • Professor
  • Director, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning
Tanya Evans

Tanya Evans

  • Research Assistant Professor
Jennie Grammer

Jennie K. Grammer

  • Stern Bicentennial Associate Professor in Education and Neuroscience
Chris S Hulleman

Chris S. Hulleman

  • Research Associate Professor
Lieny Jeon

Lieny Jeon

  • Jane Batten Bicentennial Associate Professor
Jamie J. Jirout

Jamie J. Jirout

  • Assistant Professor
Veronica Katz

Veronica Katz

  • Research Assistant Professor
Luke C Miller

Luke C. Miller

  • Research Associate Professor
Natalia Palacios

Natalia Palacios

  • Associate Professor
Robert C Pianta

Robert C. Pianta

  • Batten Bicentennial Professor of Early Childhood Education
Sara Rimm-Kaufman

Sara Rimm-Kaufman

  • Commonwealth Professor of Education
Josipa Roksa

Josipa Roksa

  • Professor
Beth Schueler

Beth Schueler

  • Assistant Professor
Naila A. Smith

Naila A. Smith

  • Assistant Professor
Jim Soland

Jim Soland

  • Assistant Professor
Sarah Turner

Sarah E. Turner

  • University Professor of Economics & Education
Jessica E Whittaker

Jessica E. Whittaker

  • Research Associate Professor
  • Director of Birth to Eight Initiatives
Amanda P Williford

Amanda P. Williford

  • Batten Bicentennial Professor of Early Childhood Education
  • Associate Director for Early Childhood Education, CASTL
  • Clinical Psychologist
Vivian Wong

Vivian Wong

  • Associate Professor
James H Wyckoff

James H. Wyckoff

  • Memorial Professor of Education

VEST Partners

Current VEST Fellows

Andrew Avitabile

Andrew Terence Avitabile

  • Ph.D. Student
Ryan Burke

Ryan Burke

  • Ph.D. Student
Kelsey Clayback

Kelsey Clayback

  • Ph.D. Student

Todd Hall

  • Ph.D. Student

Liz Nigro

  • Ph.D. Student
Elia G. Ramirez

Elia G. Ramirez

  • Ph.D. Student

Erica Sachs

  • Ph.D. Student
Dana Sox

Dana Sox

  • Ph.D. Student
Kaela Tidus

Kaela Tidus

  • Ph.D. Student
Allison Rae Ward-Seidel

Allison Rae Ward-Seidel

  • Ph.D. Student
Lee Williams

C. Lee Williams

  • Ph.D. Student
Xiangyu (Olivia) Zhao

Xiangyu (Olivia) Zhao

  • Ph.D. Student

VEST Workshops and Talks

Visit the events page to explore all upcoming events.

Sponsored by the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Program with support from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the School of Education and Human Development Dean’s Office. Additional co-sponsors may be noted below.

For historical information on past events including bios, abstracts, and recordings. Please contact the VEST coordinator.

  • Fall 2022
    • Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington - Teacher Candidate Preparation and Teacher Outcomes
    • Nancy Deutsch, University of Virginia - Youth-Adult Relationships Across Contexts and Time: Understanding Trajectories and Roles of Adolescents Supportive Relationships with Important Adults
    • Ann Owens, University of South Carolina - Epochs of School Segregation: Racial Inequality from 1970 to 2020
    • Stephanie Toliver, University of Colorado Boulder - Endarkened Storywork, or a Future for Black Youth's Stories in Schools
    • H. Richard Milner IV, Vanderbilt University - Learning from Formerly Incarcerated People About Education: Toward a Theory of Disruptive Movement
  • Spring 2022
    • Beth Schueler
    • Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer
    • Adriana Umaña-Taylor
    • Jamie Jirout
  • Fall 2021
    • Julie March
    • Youth-Nex Panel: Understanding the Well-being of LGBTQI+ Populations with Charlotte J. Patterson, Andrew R. Flores, Stephen T. Russell, Tonia Poteat
    • Jordan Matsudaira
    • Katherine Magnuson
  • Spring 2021
    • Jean Rhodes
    • Francis Pearman
    • Aaron Lyon
    • Deborah Rivas-Drake
  • Fall 2020
    • Hiro Yoshikawa
    • Bianca Baldridge
    • Juan Garibay
    • Tolani Britton
  • Spring 2020
    • Panel: Panayitoa (Pani) Kendeou, David Mellor, and Jessica Spybrook
    • Derrick Alrdige
    • Aaron Lyon
    • Marc Brackett
  • Fall 2019
    • Panel: Heather Harding, Doug Harris & Susanna Loeb
    • Marty West
    • Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
    • Veronica Katz
  • Spring 2019
    • Tim Curby
    • Bethany Rittle-Johnson
    • Iheoma Iruka
    • Liz Bettini
    • Riana Anderson
  • Fall 2018
    • Terri Sabol
    • Lisa Gennetian
    • Torie Weiston-Serdan
    • Ron Haskins
    • Maria Fitzpatrick
  • Spring 2018
    • Carola Suárez-Orozco
    • Amanda Lewis
    • Judith Singer
    • Patricia (Tish) Jennings
    • Mesmin Destin
    • Susan Moore Johnson
  • Fall 2017
    • `Stephen Russell
    • John Weisz
    • Rucker Johnson
    • Vivian Wong
  • Spring 2017
    • Marty Zaslow
    • Valerie Maholmes
    • Noelle Hurd
    • Cynthia Coburn
  • Fall 2016
    • Jenny Roe
    • Brian Jacob
    • Mark Lipsey
    • Roger Weissberg
  • Spring 2016
    • Elise Cappella
    • Dan Willingham
    • Heather Hill
  • Fall 2015
    • Jane Waldfogel
    • Doug Harris
    • Peter Youngs
  • Spring 2015
    • Candice L. Odgers
    • Amanda R. Williford
    • Maureen R. Weiss
    • Kevin F. Miller
    • Adam Gamoran
    • Sandra Graham
  • Fall 2014
    • Catherine Bradshaw
    • Susanna Loeb
    • Jeff Henig
  • Spring 2014
    • Edward P. Mulvey
    • Brian A. Nosek
    • Laura L. Justice
    • James P. Spillane
  • Fall 2013
    • Elizabeth Stuart
    • Stephen Raudenbush
    • Bridget Terry Long
    • David Figlio
  • Spring 2013
    • Pamela Morris
    • Gregory Walton
    • Charles Hillman
    • Celene Domitrovich
    • Charles Smith
    • Vivian Tseng
  • Fall 2012
    • Howard Bloom
    • David Lancy
    • Jens Ludwig
    • William Perez
    • Cybele Raver
  • Spring 2012
    • Don Deshler & Lynn Fuchs
    • Niobe Way
    • Doug Downey
    • Catherine Riegle-Crumb
    • Robert McMahon
  • Fall 2011
    • Howard Stevenson
    • Hiro Yoshikawa
    • Rebecca Maynard
    • Greg Duncan
  • Spring 2011
    • Chris Hulleman
    • Jessaca Spybrook
    • Richard Lerner
  • Fall 2010
    • Sean Reardon
    • Sue Synarski
    • Jonah Rockoff
    • Mark Greenberg

Upcoming workshops will be listed on the events page. VEST fellows are required to attend.

Past workshops have included:

  • 2020
    • Center for Open Science - Open Science: Open and Reproducible Research Practices with the
    • Beth Tipton - Generalizability
    • Allison Atteberry - Grant Writing
  • 2019
    • Andrew Hayes - Statistical Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis
    • Brooks Bowden - Economic Evaluation & Cost-effectiveness Analysis
    • Holly Coy - Writing Policy Memos
  • 2018
    • Craig Enders - Missing Data
    • Audrey Breen - Communicating Your Science
    • R follow-up - Ben Skinner
    • R - Ben Skinner
  • 2017
    • Sarah Reber - Data Visualization
    • Arya Ansari - Person-Centered Methods in Educational Research
  • 2016
    • Susanna Loeb - Value-Added Measures
    • Allison Atteberry - Application of Hierarchical Linear Models in Behavioral and Social Research
    • Kelli Bird - Designing and Implementing Randomized Control Trials in Education Research
  • 2015
    • Andrew F. Hayes - Statistical Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis
    • Julie Cohen and Lia Sandilos - Navigating the Measures of Effective Teaching Data Set
    • James P. Connell - Using Data to Create Common Ground and Inform Decision-Making in Schools & School Districts
  • 2014
    • Dan Martin - R
    • Tracy Sweet, Brian Junker & Andrew Thomas - Social Network Analysis
    • Craig Enders - Missing Data
  • 2013
    • Allison Atteberry - Hierarchical Linear Modeling
    • Elizabeth Tipton - Meta-Analysis
  • 2012
    • Ross Larsen & Tashia Abry - Mediation and Moderation
  • 2011
    • Neil Seftor, Jill Constantine, Jean Knab - What Works Clearinghouse Training
    • Ross Larsen - Missing Data
    • Tom Weisner - Mixed Methods
  • 2010
    • Mark Conaway - Randomized Controlled Trials in Education
  • 2009
    • Kevin Grimm - Power Analysis
    • Andy Mashburn - HLM for Studying School Effects
    • Patrick Meyer - Data Management
  • 2008
    • Kevin Grimm - Introduction to Longitudinal Data Analysis Using Structural Equation Modeling
    • Andy Mashburn - Introduction to Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT's) in Education Research
  • 2007
    • Amy Luckner, Sonya Myers, Claire Ponitz - Reviewing Research Articles: The How, What and When to Stop
    • Sara Rimm-Kaufman - Preparing for the Job Market
    • Tim Curby and Lori Nathanson - SPSS Workshop
    • David Grissmer - Exploring and Using the NAEP and ECLS-K Data Sets
  • 2006
    • Jason Downer and Andy Mashburn - Orientation to the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development Data Set
    • Kevin Grimm - Longitudinal Data Analysis Using Structural Equation Modeling
    • David Lopez - Program Evaluation in the Context of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Active Learning
  • 2005
    • Andrew Mashburn - Hierarchical Linear Models for Studying School Effects
    • Ryan Bowles - Item Response Theory
    • Emilio Ferrer - Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis

VEST fellow are encouraged to attend the Education Policy Seminar Series. Sponsored by the Bankard Foundation and EdPolicyWorks, all upcoming events can be found on the main event page. For recommended readings, questions about the series, or archived event details, please contact

Contact Us

Reach out for more information regarding VEST 

Two students working on their laptops. One student is pointing to their screen sharing what they are looking at with the other student.

Open Doors Summer Research Program

The Open Doors program, initiated in 2021 with funding from the Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is a collaboration among faculty and graduate students at the University of Virginia (UVA), Norfolk State University (NSU), and Virginia State University (VSU) to provide students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with the opportunity to learn about conducting research. The program is for undergraduate students who may be interested in pursuing graduate research degrees.

Learn More

Additional VEST Program Details

Students must have mentors associated with the VEST program and be enrolled in the school's education policy or educational psychology–applied developmental science Ph.D. programs. Invitations to participate in the affiliate program are issued via mentors/advisors who are already associated with VEST.

Affiliate fellows are funded by non-VEST sources and are ineligible to receive any research or travel funds from VEST.

Core Curriculum

All affiliate fellows engage in a core training curriculum comprised of these elements:

  1. Two to four courses, depending on students’ prior engagement and experience with education research, that teach fellows to apply rigorous research methods to the following substantive topics: a) teacher quality, b) early childhood, and c) social and behavioral contexts for academic learning
  2. An apprenticeship to research programs focused on teacher quality, early childhood, or social and behavioral contexts for academic learning (roughly 12 hours/week, depending on the specific arrangement with your mentor, in work related to education)
  3. Training workshops in advanced statistical modeling or design
  4. Attendance at interdisciplinary speaker series presentations

For additional information and conditions of the fellowship please speak with the VEST coordinator or your mentor.

The School of Education and Human Development received funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education in 2004 to implement a Fellowship Program in the Education Sciences. Additional grants were awarded in 20092014, and 2020 that has allowed the School to build upon the existing Fellowship program and provide interdisciplinary training to students. Other fellows in the program are supported by other research grants and funding from the School.

News & Stories

Explore alumni features and other news related to our faculty, program, and work.