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Two Vanderbilt Peabody Students Named 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellows

Published May 30, 2017

Luis Rodriguez and Samantha Viano

The National Academy of Education (NAEd) has announced its 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program recipients, and among the 35 fellows are Vanderbilt Peabody doctoral candidates Luis Rodriguez and Samantha Viano.

Rodriguez and Viano were selected from a pool of roughly 500 applicants to receive the highly selective fellowship.

According to the NAEd website, “The Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education.”

Benefits of the fellowship include a $27,500 stipend for a period of up to two years to complete their research and professional development opportunities.

“The NAEd/Spencer Fellowship Programs not only promote important research, but also help to develop the careers of scholars who demonstrate great promise for making significant contributions to education,” said NAEd President Michael Feuer.


Meet Vanderbilt Peabody’s 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellows: 

Luis Rodriguez

Luis A. Rodriguez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development. Luis has a sustained interest in education policy issues and program evaluation, and his research primarily utilizes quasi-experimental methods to investigate the impact of various personnel policies – such as compensation and performance evaluation – on the K-12 teacher workforce. Luis’s current work focuses on studying the extent to which tenure policy reforms affect teacher mobility patterns and effectiveness.

Prior to starting his doctoral studies, Luis received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Swarthmore College and subsequently worked as senior programmer analyst at Mathematica Policy Research. While at Mathematica, he was primarily responsible for data management and analytic tasks for education evaluations for the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education, which covered areas such as teacher collaboration, the effectiveness of K-3 mathematics curricula, and the implementation and effects of Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants. Luis currently works with the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA), a partnership between Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Department of Education that is tasked with advancing education research. His work has appeared in Education ResearcherEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and The Elementary School Journal.

Continue reading Rodriguez’s NAEd biography here.


Samantha Viano

Samantha L. Viano is a doctoral candidate in K-12 educational leadership and policy at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development. Her research interests include how to measure and grow effective school leadership, understanding teacher mobility from an organizational perspective, the antecedents and effects of school climate and safety for both students and school staff, and the effect of student course taking in high school on students’ short and long term outcomes. Across all of her research, regardless of the topic, she maintains a focus on potentially high-leverage practices that could substantially improve outcomes for traditionally underserved student populations. Prior to her doctoral studies, Samantha was a high school math teacher in Chicago Public Schools. She holds a B.S. in math from Haverford College and an M.S.Ed. from Northwestern University. 

Continue reading Viano’s NAEd biography here.

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