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.


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.

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.

Andreas Paepcke

Senior Research Scientist

Andreas Paepcke is a senior research scientist at Stanford’s Computer Science department. Most recently Dr. Paepcke has been publishing on the use of machine learning techniques to support online learners. More broadly, he is invested in improvements to online teaching and learning through the analysis and use of data generated by previous generations of learners.  He holds Bachelor and Masters degrees in applied mathematics from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

AJ Alvero

Ph.D. Candidate

AJ Alvero is a PhD candidate in Education Data Science and Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE). 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 an undergraduate student at Santa Clara University. 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. Alongside pursuing her B.S. in Psychology, 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

Postdoctoral Fellow

Tobias is a Wallenberg Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from Uppsala University. 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

Ph.D. Candidate

Monique Harrison is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology of Education at Stanford University. 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 University, an M.Ed from Harvard University, and a B.S. from Cornell University. 

Iman Haq

Undergraduate Student

Iman Haq is a second year Psychology student at Foothill College with a goal to earn a Bachelor’s degree in 2023. Within Psychology, Iman’s interests are in human-machine interfaces and the impacts of automation on cognition and behaviors. Aside from course work, Iman chairs the Foothill College Mental Health Initiative as a Senator of the ASFC Student Government.

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.

David Lang

Ph.D. Candidate

David is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education. He also holds an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering. David’s research involves text as data methods and predictive modeling using machine learning.

Arik Lifschitz

Academic Advising Director

Arik Lifschitz 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.

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.

Dorien Simon

Undergraduate Student

Dorien Simon is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying computer science. Dorien has a background in data science and most of his research involves extracting features and interesting insights from data. He hopes to keep working in the HCI space. 

Marissa Thompson

Ph.D. Candidate

Marissa is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology of Education and Education Policy at Stanford University. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from 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.

Priya Vasu

Undergraduate Student

Priya Vasu is a second-year sociology student at Foothill College, with plans to transfer to a 4-year institution next fall. She is passionate about social justice advocacy and policy within the public higher education system, and currently serves on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees. She is currently interested in how equity practices within higher education systems can be informed by political theory.

Allison Wiley

Undergraduate Student

Allison Wiley is an undergraduate Sociology student at Foothill college with plans to transfer to a 4-year university this fall. With a passion for change and equality, she looks to understand the intricacies of higher education and the success of students. Within her research in the graduate school of education she leads a team of interns within a larger team in hopes of gaining further insight into course decision making at Stanford. 

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

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
John Reinstra
Cristobal Sciutto
Onkur Sen
Margaret Shen
Kevin Tran
Po Tsui
Albert Tung
Alex Wang
Cindy Wang
Serena Wong