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EPIC Student Team

Epic’s student team includes a mix of undergraduates, masters, and doctoral students from departments and colleges across the university.

hands gathered

Delaney Black

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Delaney Black is a quantitative research assistant seeking a bachelor's degree in Public Policy with a minor in Data Science. Her research interests include equitable access to K-12 resources, childhood and adult literacy, and the impact of COVID-19 on educational outcomes.

Current Project: Covid Recovery Project for Spencer Foundation Grant

Rhea Brown

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rhea is an undergraduate student studying Public Policy and City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill. Her interest in public policy began in Lexington Park, Maryland where her work in Asian-American studies assessed the cultural assimilation patterns of female immigrants from the Philippines. Her current research interests include equitable outcomes among students from varying geographical socioeconomic backgrounds and inequalities within teacher preparation programs.

Current Project: Innovative Strategic Staffing

Isabelle DeCamillis

Graduate Research Assistant

Isabelle DeCamillis is a quantitative research assistant pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy. Isabelle has a B.A. in Public Policy and Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well. Her main research interest includes how issues of behavioral health intersect with the justice system, the opioid epidemic, restorative justice programs, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Current Projects: US PREP Evaluation, Educator Quality Research Initiative

Owen Gast

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Owen Gast is a sophomore undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill studying Public Policy with minors in Education and English. His research interests include schools in rural Western NC, racial disparities in student discipline, COVID recovery, closing achievement gaps, and culturally relevant education.

Current Project: Office of Learning Recovery Qualitative Analysis

John McDonnell

Graduate Research Assistant and Ph.D. Candidate

CV / Resume (pdf)

John McDonnell is a quantitative research assistant who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina. John has a B.A. in Public Policy and Political Science from UNC-CH as well. His research interests lie in evaluating the impacts of educational policies and programs on the outcomes of K-12 students.

Current Projects: GEAR UP North Carolina Evaluation, Covid Impacts Project for OLR, Covid Recovery Project for Spencer Foundation Grant

Maku Orleans-Pobee

Transformational Scholar Pre-Doctoral Fellow

Maku Orleans-Pobee is a sixth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at UNC. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in psychology, and received her master’s degree in psychology from UNC in 2020. Her research and clinical experiences are centered around addressing racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, as well as comorbid substance use in underserved populations with psychosis. Maku is currently working on completing her dissertation project, a qualitative study that explores how identity shapes recovery needs and experiences in Black Americans with co-occurring psychosis and substance use disorders.

View Maku Orleans-Pobee’s Bio

Jackie Ruiz

Graduate Research Assistant

Jackie Ruiz is a quantitative and qualitative research assistant. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree. Jackie also holds a B.A. in Public Policy and Social & Economic Justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her areas of focus and research include environment & human welfare, education, and health policy.

Current project: GEAR UP North Carolina Evaluation

Rohan Tapiawala

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rohan is an undergraduate student and Kenan Scholar at UNC Chapel-Hill, studying Business Administration and Public Policy. His interests in education policy stem from his experience mobilizing to address socioeconomic and racial inequities in education opportunity and access in his public school system in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rohan is interested in a broad scope of research, including topics like inequities in education policy, piloting progressive curricula, and educators’ impact on student achievement.

Pragya Upreti

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Pragya is an undergraduate student and Carolina Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying Public Policy and Education. Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, her work in education policy, advocacy, and research has stretched from universal masking requirements in schools during COVID-19 to conversations about race in the classroom. Her research interests include culturally relevant education, global impacts of youth-led movements, and educator preparation programs.

Current Project: Innovative Strategic Staffing

Joshua Van Mater

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Josh Van Mater is a quantitative researcher seeking bachelor's degrees in Public Policy and Economics. His research interests include educator preparedness, education policy, advancing student achievement, and equitable resource allocation in K-12 schools.

Current Project: Educator Quality Research Initiative

Rayna Young

Graduate Research Assistant

Rayna Young is a mixed methods researcher seeking a Master of Public Policy degree with a concentration in Education and Labor Markets. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2023. Her research interests include racial and gender equity in K-12 schools, specifically in reference to student achievement outcomes and discipline rates.

Current Project: Rethink Education