Education and learning are embodied experiences that unfold in time.

This is the anchoring insight of Pathways Lab.

Our mission is to understand how aspirations, identities and learning opportunities coevolve to shape lives and life chances.

Learning is complex. Context, emotions, prior experiences, and relational systems like race, class, gender, and nationality influence how learning unfolds. We try to keep it all in sight.

We use a variety of methods, data sources, and conceptual frameworks to understand how people make sense of learning experiences; how families, schools and workplaces recognize and reward learning; and how learning opportunities can be made more effective, equitable, enjoyable and humane.


Mitchell Stevens

Professor, Graduate School of Education

Mitchell is faculty co-lead of the Pathways Lab and Professor of Education at Stanford. He has pursued multi-method studies of alternative K12 education, selective college admissions, and the political economy of higher education. In addition to his scholarly work, he writes and speaks frequently for national and international policy audiences.

John Mitchell

Professor, Computer Science

John is faculty co-lead of the Pathways Lab and Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering (by courtesy) and Education (by courtesy). His research has focused on computer security, privacy, machine learning, and education. As Stanford Vice Provost for six years, he helps shepherd Stanford’s development of MOOCs, digital tools for teaching and learning, and research drawing on educational technology.

Learn more about John’s vision for the future of higher education here.

AJ Alvero

Assistant Professor

AJ Alvero is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Florida. As a doctoral student at Stanford, AJ co-founded the Student Narrative Lab, a research team working at the intersection of educational research in data science, language, sociology to study a large corpus of college admissions essays. AJ’s prior experiences as a community college transfer student and high school English teacher inform his work and practice.

Antoinette Aragon

Undergraduate Student

Antoinette Aragon is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University and administrative lead for the Pathways Lab’s longitudinal cohort study. She is conducting research regarding the impact of culture on the phenomenon known as social loafing and is working on a project which examines ways to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to get involved in STEM and healthcare fields. Antoinette is a National Institutes of Health Grant Science Equity Scholar and has authored research-based, original curricula to make K-12 and higher education classrooms more equitable and inclusive.  

Kalena Cortes

Associate Professor, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University

Kalena Cortes is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. She earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Cortes’ research interest is in the area of the Economics of Education. Her research focuses on issues of equity and access, in particular, identifying educational policies that help disadvantaged students at the PK-12 and postsecondary levels. 

Nathan Dalal

Software Engineer, Duolingo

Nathan Dalal is a software engineer at Duolingo, working on adaptive learning techniques. A Stanford alumnus with a B.S./M.S. in Computer Science focusing on Artificial Intelligence, and a minor in Education, Nathan works on challenges involved with scaling and improving availability of excellent education. He engages in volunteer work at the Pathways lab to help improve the higher education experience. In his free time, Nathan enjoys basketball and singing.

Tobias Dalberg


Tobias is a Researcher in the Department of Education at Uppsala University. From 2017-19 he was a Wallenberg Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford. His main research interests lie in the sociology of education and the sociology of science, with a focus on social stratification and mobility, educational and career pathways, and the evolution of disciplines.

Sonia Giebel

Ph.D. candidate

Sonia is a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education and Sociology of Education at Stanford University. Her research interests include higher education admissions, gendered pathways through college, and how postsecondary institutions depict racial diversity. Prior to Stanford, she completed a Fulbright grant year in Vietnam before working in undergraduate admissions, where she focused on access and diversity Initiatives as well as international recruitment. 

Monique Harrison

Postdoctoral fellow

Monique Harrison is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education . Her dissertation research on undergraduate pathways includes analyses of the forms of capital that are relevant in first year course selection as well as the co-evolution of gender and academic identities. She comes from a background in higher education lecturing/administration and K – 12 teaching/coaching/administration. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford, an M.Ed from Harvard, and a B.S. from Cornell. 

Phillip Hernandez

Ph.D. candidate

Philip is a Ph.D candidate in Developmental and Psychological Sciences in the School of Education and is also working on a Masters in the Neurosciences Interdepartmental Program at Stanford. His interests include the relationship between science pathways, pedagogy, assessment, and student attention in higher education. Before Stanford, he worked for a decade in education, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer and then as high school science teacher. 

René Kizilcec

Assistant Professor, School of Information, Cornell University

Rene Kizilcec is an Assistant Professor of Information Science at Cornell, where he directs the Future of Learning lab. He studies the impact of educational technology and data in higher education with a focus on equity and inclusion. Kizilcec received a MS in Statistics and PhD in Communication from Stanford in 2017.

Arik Lifschitz

Academic advising director

Arik is a Lead Academic Advising Director in the office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at Stanford. In addition, he has an active research program in the areas of economic sociology and higher education. Arik earned his PhD in Management from Columbia University in 2006.

Kaylee T. Matheny

Ph.D. candidate

Kaylee is a PhD candidate in Sociology of Education and Education Policy and is a recipient of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) predoctoral training fellowship and Gerald J. Lieberman fellowship. Her work uses mixed methods to investigate trends in inequality, evaluate policies to mitigate inequality, and innovate the study of inequality, with special attention to the relationship between socioeconomic status and educational experiences. Her dissertation explores socioeconomic inequality in educational opportunities across the life course. Prior to Stanford, Kaylee was a high school English teacher in her hometown. She has an MA in Sociology and a graduate certificate in Quantitative Research in Education from Stanford University, as well as a BA in Sociology and Creative Writing from Emory University.

Kathy Mirzaei

Associate Director, Data Science and Analytics, Learning Technologies & Spaces

Kathy Mirzaei is a lifelong learner. She applies data science to learning analytics to enhance teaching and learning, predict behavior, and identify trends and patterns. She is passionate about transforming data into graphical representations that are insightful. Her research interest is in the applications of Machine Learning in Higher Education. Kathy holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Political Science and Masters of Environmental Science from York University. 

Shima Salehi

Research Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education

Shima Salehi is a Research Assistant Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, and the director of IDEAL research lab, the research component of Stanford IDEAL initiative to promote inclusivity, diversity, equity and access in learning communities. Her research focuses on how to use different instructional practices to teach science and engineering more effectively and inclusively. For effective science and engineering education, Dr. Salehi has studied effective scientific problem-solving and developed empirical framework for main problem-solving practices to train students in. Based on these findings, she has designed instructional activities to provide students with explicit opportunities to learn these problem-solving practices. These activities have been implemented in different science and engineering courses. For Inclusive science and engineering, she examines different barriers for equity in STEM education and through what instructional and/or institutional changes they can be addressed. Her recent works focus on what are the underlying mechanisms for demographic performance gaps in STEM college education, and what instructional practices better serve students from different demographic backgrounds. Salehi holds a PhD in Learning Sciences and a PhD minor in Psychology from Stanford University, and received a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran. She is the founder of KhanAcademyFarsi, a non-profit educational organization which has provided service to Farsi-speaking students, particularly in under-privileged areas.

Andy Saltarelli

Senior Director of Evaluation and Research

Andy is the senior director of evaluation and research at Stanford University. His research explores how instructional technologies interact with the social psychology processes (e.g., belongingness, motivation, cooperation) underlying teaching and learning. Andy received his PhD in educational psychology from Michigan State University.

Shyamoli Sanghi

joint degree candidate
Having completed her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from Stanford, Shyamoli is currently pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science (AI) at Stanford. She is extremely interested in using Machine Learning tools to solve complex problems in the domain of Education. In the future, she hopes to work towards reducing educational inequity in the world’s most severely affected regions, as she believes this inequality is the root of most of our society’s pressing problems. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, singing, watching sports, and learning dance choreographies.

Melanie Shimano

Doctoral student

Melanie is a doctoral student at Stanford and a Research Fellow at the Harvard Project on Workforce and supports the Stanford working learners project. Her interests include exploring the relationships between postsecondary educational institutions and employer systems to best support learners in achieving sustainable, meaningful, and equitable careers that meet evolving needs of the 21st century workforce. Previously, Melanie taught at Johns Hopkins University, ran K12 STEM and community engagement programming in Baltimore, and worked as a data analyst for Baltimore City government. Melanie also holds an M.Ed from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and both an MS in Engineering Management and a BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Marissa Thompson

Assistant Professor

Having just completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, Marissa is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. She earned her PhD in the Sociology of Education at Stanford University, and a B.S.E. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on racial and socioeconomic inequality in education, with a particular emphasis on postsecondary access and outcomes.

Friends & Family

anthony antonio / Stanford

Elizabeth Armstrong / Michigan

Richard Arum / UC-Irvine

Rachel Baker / UC-Irvine

Maxwell Bigman / Stanford

Amy Binder / UC-San Diego

Elizabeth Bruch / Michigan

Geoff Cohen / Stanford

Tom Dee / Stanford

Ben Domingue / Stanford

Gus Evrard / Michigan

Ben Gebre-Medhin / Mt. Holyoke

Laura Hamilton / UC-Merced

Ilana Horwitz / Tulane

Martin Kurzweil / ITHAKA S+R

Krystal Laryea / Stanford

Joyce Li / Stanford

Jessica Muehlberg / Stanford

Zach Pardos / UC-Berkeley

Lab Alumni

Atem Aguer

Rashid Al-Abri

Michael Bernstein

Tum Chaturapruek

Brahm Capoor

Nick Chow

Glenn Davis

Oscar Dumlao

Benjamin Dvorak

Bradley Emi

Jocelyn Hickcox

Nate Gruver

Haoshen Hong

Yipeng He

Ramesh Johari

Dhruv Joshi

Akshay Kalose

Boglarka Kiss

Nicholas Lai

Michelle Lam

Donny Li

Haojun Li

Aaron Levett

Juan Leis-Pretto

Ali Malik

Srinivas Malladi

Malo Marrec

Roy Nehoran

Daniel Ortega

Emanuel Pinilla

Andreas Paepcke

John Reinstra

Cristobal Sciutto

Onkur Sen

Dorien Simon

Margaret Shen

Kevin Tran

Po Tsui

Albert Tung

Alex Wang

Cindy Wang

Serena Wong