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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


Christopher Thomas Altmann

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Thomas is a quantitative researcher seeking a B.A. degree in Political Science and Public Policy with a Minor in Data Science at UNC-CH. His research interests include educator preparation programs, American politics, state politics, state supreme courts and decision making, and legal politics.

Current Projects: Educator Quality Research Initiative, UNC System Literacy Innovation Leaders, US PREP Evaluation, North Carolina Principal Fellows Program Evaluation, Evaluation of UNC System Laboratory Schools


Delaney Black

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Delaney Black is a quantitative research assistant seeking a 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


Samantha Capers

Graduate Research Assistant

Samantha Capers is a student in the inaugural cohort of the Master’s in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her undergraduate degree at UNC-CH, with a major in Public Policy and a minor in Global Cinema. She received her associates degree at Randolph Community College, while in high school. Through determination and empathy, her concentration in Education & Labor Markets will improve inequitable education. Her research theme evaluates variations based on geography, ethnicity, and gender in achievement outcomes, discipline practices, and food and Wi-Fi provisions.

Current Project: Evaluation of School Extension Program in North Carolina


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


Christina Huang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Christina Huang is an undergraduate student studying Political Science at UNC Chapel Hill. Her interest in political science began when she helped pass a law that mandated AAPI history in classrooms throughout NJ to address the proliferating anti-Asian violence. She is also currently working on educating and mobilizing students to support race conscious admissions to preserve diversity on school campuses across the nation and equal opportunities to education. In the future, she hopes to break down glass ceilings for women of color, advocate for human and civil rights, and build a future in which people from underrepresented communities have access to equal opportunities.

Current Project: GEAR UP North Carolina Evaluation


Jacqueline M. Kumar

Graduate Research Assistant and Ph.D. Candidate 

CV / Resume (pdf)

Jacqueline M. Kumar is a PhD candidate in Education Policy at UNC, Chapel Hill. She researches principal-teacher trust as well as teacher satisfaction, working conditions, and retention in underserved K-12 schools. Prior to beginning the PhD program, she worked for 9 years in education policy and evaluation with organizations such as the Hewlett Foundation, Education-Trust West, UNICEF, and Woodrow Wilson Center. She has a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the London School of Economics and a BA from UC Berkeley.

Current Projects: Innovative Strategic Staffing


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


Emily Palermo

Graduate Research Assistant

Emily is a mixed methods Research Assistant pursuing her Master of Public Policy with a concentration in Education and Labor Markets at UNC-Chapel Hill. She also graduated from UNC in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Political Science. Her research interests include increasing access to postsecondary education among low-income and rural communities in North Carolina, closing the achievement gap in public schools, and equity in educational outcomes.

Current Projects: GEAR UP North Carolina Evaluation and Rethink Education Evaluation


Georgia Roda-Moorhead

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Georgia Roda-Moorhead is a Qualitative Research Analyst seeking a degree in Public Policy and Spanish for the Professions. Her research interests include racial and gender equity in K-12 schools, equitable student achievement outcomes, and social-emotional learning strategies.

Current Projects: Office of Learning Resources, Gates ISS.


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 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