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STEP UP STAFF
Dr. William Trent, PhD, who is serving as Principal Investigator of this project, is an accomplished scholar and researcher with many honors and awards for his academic excellence. His past work has focused on equity issues in education, including the experiences of underrepresented students in higher education. Within this area, he has written on race and sex differences in participation rates and degrees attained by major field, as well as the contributions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in educating African American scientists. Dr. Trent also serves as a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a scholarship program offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the goals of the Gates scholarship is to increase the racial/ethnic and gender diversity of undergraduate, graduate, and professionals working in the STEM fields. Dr. Trent served as a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Math Science Partnerships (MSPs). His past work has also included research on and evaluation of the CIC Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), which aims, in part, to increase the number of students who enter graduate programs and academic careers in science-related fields. He was also the co-principal investigator for a pilot study of this research project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is currently the principal investigator on another STEM project funded by the Ford Foundation.
Dr. Lorenzo DuBois Baber, PhD, who is serving as the Co-Principal Investigator of this project, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. His scholarship focuses on experiences of traditionally underrepresented students in postsecondary education and the role of higher education in reducing social, political and economic stratification among racial/ethnic minorities and individuals from low income backgrounds. Prior to his faculty appointment, Dr. Baber worked for several years in administration at various institutions, including the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and George Washington University.
Dr. Lisa M. Dickson, PhD, who is also serving as a Co-Principal Investigator for this project, is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. With her research, she has analyzed how the use of race in college admissions affects the number of students applying to college. She has also investigated what factors determine a student's choice of major as well as a student's probability of persisting and graduating from college.
Greg Kienzl, PhD is the director of research and evaluation for the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). He is a scholar in the field of economics and education, who specializes in estimating the economic benefits of postsecondary education and mapping the various educational transitions taken by students in higher education. Dr. Kienzl holds a doctorate in economics and education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an M.S. in public policy and management from the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Kienzl serves as a statistical consultant and advisor to Project STEP-UP.
Erin L. Castro is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (EPOL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her areas of specialization include education policy, with a specific focus on equity and discrimination, social and cultural foundations of education, qualitative methodologies, and Critical Race Theory. She has previously worked with the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois as both a graduate research assistant and equity consultant. Her teaching profile can be found here.
Erica Harwell is pursuing her master’s degree in the department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include access and retention of underrepresented students in higher education, as well as students’ pathways to degree completion. Prior to coming to UIUC, Erica earned her BS in psychology from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She has spent the last 2 years as an AmeriCorps member serving with Admission Possible Milwaukee, a program geared at helping low-income students gain admission and success in college.
Derek A. Houston is currently a second year doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include access to higher education, specifically related to Division I athletics, and equity & stratification issues relative to K-12 education.
Ifeyinwa (Ife) Onyenekwu is a doctoral student in the Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include: first and second generation immigrants in higher education, more specifically the experiences of black immigrant students as it pertains to their academic achievement as they matriculate through post secondary education. Ife holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master of Social Work degree from Louisiana State University.
Mariana G. Martinez is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include: Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, Latina/os in higher education, more specifically Mexican immigrant women, access and retention in doctoral programs. Prior to coming to UIUC, she was employed by a federal program - Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) in the Graduate Division at UC Irvine as program coordinator. She has also worked as outreach coordinator for the Upward Bound programs, which included students interested in pursuing Math and Science, related careers. She has her BA in Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies and Spanish from Sonoma State University and her MA in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of the Pacific.
Blanca Rincon is a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include issues of access and retention for underrepresented students in higher education, specifically within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
Montrischa Williams is a doctoral student in Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Her primary research focus involves examining college student development in alternative college preparatory high schools. Prior to attending the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Montrischa received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and minor in education at the University of California Irvine. Currently she works as a graduate assistant for Dr. Trent conducting work on STEM trends examining enrollment and persistence of underrepresented students.