Dr. Xiaodong Lin-Siegler

Dr. Xiaodong Lin is a professor of Cognitive Science in Education and the founding Director of Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC), at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on how educators can motivate students to succeed despite facing obstacles in their school work and personal life.
A theme that runs throughout her research is the importance of learning about other people’s struggle with failures and the impact this learning has on a student’s confidence and future achievements.  For example, Professor Lin found that incorporating “celebrity” stories of failure to success into STEM curriculums can help improve a student’s ability to tackle their own struggles in life. In her 2016 study (Lin-Siegler, Ahn, Chen, Fang, & Luna-Lucero, 2016), she found that making explicit the struggles famous scientists experienced prior to success enhanced students’ ability to deal with challenging STEM learning tasks. This study was press released by the American Psychological Association, and has since then been published by over 25 news media, including NPR Morning News Edition, CBS News, PBS Kids, PBS SciTech program, Science,  Atlantic Quartz, BBC News, News India, China’s People Daily, etc.
Professor Lin has earned many academic awards throughout her career, including Career Achievement Award and Distinguished Research Award by the American Education Research Association (AERA). She was also named a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2003.  Recently, Professor Lin was elected to serve on the Education Advisory Board of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and has made important contributions to the Education 2030 Initiative.

Associate Directors

Dr. Stuart J. Firestein

Dr. Stuart J. Firestein is the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, where his laboratory is researching the vertebrateolfactory receptor neuron. He has published articles in Wired magazine, Huffington Post, and Scientific American. Firestein has been elected as a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his meritorious efforts to advance science. He is an adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program for the Public Understanding of Science. Firestein’s writing often advocates for better science writing. In 2011 he released the book Ignorance: How it Drives Science, and in 2016, Failure: Why Science Is So Successful.

Dr. Robert S. Siegler

Dr. Robert S. Siegler is the Jacob H. Schiff Foundations Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research focuses on how children learn mathematics and how theoretical understanding of mathematical development can be applied to improving that learning. His research led to the prediction, confirmed by subsequent research, that playing certain numerical board games yields broad, rapid, and enduring gains in preschoolers’ and elementary school children’s numerical understanding, particularly for children from low-income backgrounds. Dr. Siegler has published more than 250 articles and chapters, written 13 books, and edited 4 others. His books have been translated into numerous languages. He has been awarded the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and been elected to the National Academy of Education.

Advisory Board

Mr. Shane Battier is in his third season as Vice President, Basketball Development & Analytics of the Miami Heat, using his distinguished 13-year NBA career and heralded collegiate career at Duke University to help guide the Heat’s basketball development strategy. Battier’s long list of accomplishments includes helping the Heat win back-to-back NBA championships, three Eastern Conference Championships, three division titles. Battier is known for his exemplary character and his commitment to community service.  To serve the communities in which he has lived, Battier and wife Heidi founded The Battier Take Charge Foundation in 2010 to provide educational resources and programs for the development of youth and teens in underserved areas. The foundation has a presence in Miami and Houston, as well as Battier’s hometown, Detroit, MI.

Dr. Linda Curtis-Bey is the senior director of education at American Museum of Natural History. She had worked at the NYC Department of Education for 20 years, where she was the Director of Mathematics and Science for all NYC schools for eight years, then she was the Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Cluster Leader for over 300 schools in Cluster 2, New York City. Linda has worked on several state and national initiatives including the Math Advisory Committee for the New York State Education Department, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Mathematics Feedback Group of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and the Joint Task Force on the Common Core State Standards.

Dr. Carol S. Dweck is the Lewis And Virginia Eaton Professor at the Department of Psychology, Stanford University. Her research looks at the origins of these self-conceptions, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Dr. Dweck is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. She received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 2011. On September 19, 2017, the Hong Kong-based Yidan Prize Foundation named Dweck one of two inaugural laureates, to be awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research, citing her mindset work.

Dr. Nathan A. Fox is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and the Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences Program at the University of Maryland. Dr. Fox has completed research on the biological bases of social and emotional behavior, developing methods for assessing brain activity in infants and young children during tasks designed to elicit a range of emotions. Dr. Fox is a Principal Investigator on the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. This longitudinal study is the first (and only) randomized clinical trial of foster care intervention for infants and young children who began life in institutions under conditions of significant psychosocial adversity. 

Dr. Jerome Kagan is the Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology, Emeritus at Harvard University. He is one of the major developmental psychologists of the twentieth century. He has been a pioneer in reintroducing physiology as a determinant of psychological characteristics. Dr. Kagan has won numerous awards, including the Hofheimer Prize of the American Psychiatric Association (1963) and the G. Stanley Hall Award as well as the Distinguished Scientific Award of the American Psychological Association (APA). He has served on numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the President’s Science Advisory Committee, the Social Science Research Council, the National Institute of Mental Health, and on the National Research Council.

Mrs. Suzanne M. Murphy is the Chair of the Kingsborough Community College Foundation Board, member of the Havens Relief Fund Society Board, and the Advisory Board for EPIC: The Center for Education, Persistence. She expects to complete her doctorate in October 2020. For 25+ years as a senior executive, Mrs. Suzanne M. Murphy has led efforts to advance colleges and universities through multi-faceted resource development, strategic communications, and external partnerships. She has served on the presidential cabinets at Teachers College, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Marymount Manhattan College, leading historic fundraising campaigns, overseeing enrollment increases, and seeding and accelerating new academic programs and curricular innovations.

Mr. Chi-Ping Pang is Chairman of the board of Panglin (China) Group Holdings Limited, the trustee of Hong Kong Yu Panglin Charitable Trust, and trustee of Renmin University of China from 2018 to 2021. Mr. Pang has made remarkable contributions to the Panglin Group by creating a new strategic plan for future development and establishing the group’s investment team and education team. In 2018, Yu Panglin Charitable Foundation donated RMB 10 million to Renmin University of China, Zhejiang University, and Beijing Normal University; donated $3 million to EPIC in Teachers College, Columbia University; donated HK$10 million to the Hong Kong Pui-Chong Educational Organization.

Dr. Daniel Schwartz is the I. James Quillen Dean and professor of Psychology at the Graduate School of Education, Stanford University. Dr. Schwartz studies student understanding and representation and the ways that technology can facilitate learning. He works at the intersection of cognitive science, computer science, and education, examining cognition and instruction in individual, cross-cultural, and technological settings. He finds that new media make it possible to exploit spatial representations and activities in fundamentally new ways, offering an exciting complement to the verbal approaches that dominate educational research and practice.

Research Partners

Dr. Xuejun Bai is a professor of psychology, vice president, the director of the Psychology Department at Tianjin Normal University. He is also the former director of the Chinese Psychological Society. He studied psychological development using modern technologies such as eye-tracking, event-related potentials (ERPs), and functional near-infrared spectroscopy of brain imaging (fNRIS). Specifically, his research focuses on the psychological mechanism of children’s reading ability, the learning efficiency and the regulation of mental health, and the development of relevant interventions. Dr. Bai has published more than 300 papers in core journals at home and abroad, and has received 10 invention patents. 

Dr. John Black is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Telecommunications & Education and the director Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research focuses on cognition, especially grounded/embodied approaches to cognition, and its application to improving learning, memory, understanding, problem-solving, and motivation. He is especially interested in using technologies like multi-user virtual environments, video games, TV/videos, intelligent tutoring systems, and robots to improve learning, memory, understanding, problem-solving, and motivation. He is the author of over 80 refereed publications and 4 books.

Dr. Andrew J. Elliot is a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. He has served on the editorial boards of multiple psychological journals, and he is currently consulting editor to the Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Personality, and the Personality and Social Psychology Review. The primary focus of Dr. Elliot’s research is approach and avoidance motivation. He examines the antecedents, consequences, and development of achievement motivation and social motivation. Dr. Elliot was awarded the 2003 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award for mid-career contributions to Psychology, and the 2013 Ed and Carol Diener Award for Outstanding Contributions to Personality Psychology.

Dr. Xiuwen Wang

Dr. Xiuwen Wang is the Founder & President of Shanghai Xiuwen Delu Education & Technology Group, and was previously senior vice president and principal of K-12 division for New Oriental Education & Technology Group. He received a Ph.D. in Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the vice chairman of China National Private Education Association, and director of Education Development Commission in World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO). Since 2000, Dr. Wang has founded eight K-12 private schools across different cities in China. He is also a well-published author. His books include “Education of Love”, “Fast Literacy”, “Information Technology” and “The Art and Science of Management” and etc. Among them, “Education of Love” was awarded “the best-seller of the month” in Dangdang online bookstore in China.


Naina Abowd, RA

Naina Abowd received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Cornell University, and her Master of Arts in Science Education from New York University. She taught high school biology for 5 years in public schools in New York City, and is currently the Senior Manager of Curriculum and Teaching at the American Museum of Natural History. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Education, and is interested in teacher self-efficacy and teacher behaviors in response to student struggle and failure.

Ben E. Atzmon, RA

Ben E. Atzmon received his bachelor of arts in psychology with combined studies from Richmond, the American International University in London, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in cognitive science in education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is interested in how STEM college students’ behaviors and motivations are impacted by failure experiences in the classroom.

Yiran (Mirabelle) Du, RA

Yiran (Mirabelle) Du received her Bachelor of Arts in English and International Studies, and a minor in International Economics and Trade from China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, China. During undergraduate, she has an exchange semester at Barnard College. Yiran received her Master of Arts in Comparative and International Education at Teachers College, Columbia University before she pursued her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science in Education from the same institution.

Scott C. Lu, RA

Scott C. Lu previously taught high school math in California and in Beijing. He received a bachelor of arts in psychology at the University of Michigan, a master of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in cognitive science at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is interested in how culture, identity and upbringing influence child development.

Xinyu S. Pan, RA

Xinyu S. Pan is a former high school special education teacher, instructional coach, and program director at NYC Department of Education.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and International Studies at Boston College, a Master of Education from Hunter College, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is interested in how teacher beliefs impact student skills development and how job-embedded coaching improves teacher effectiveness.

Zhuqian Zhou, RA

Zhuqian Zhou is a former education entrepreneur in Beijing. She received her dual Bachelor’s degree in Management Science and Philosophy from Renmin University of China, her Master of Science in Learning Analytics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science in Education at TC as well. Her research interests include motivation, memory, STEM education, and career education.


Jhon-Dilan Canete-Fassio

Jhon-Dilan Canete-Fassio is currently enrolled at the City College of New York working towards his Bachelor of Science in Psychology. His research interests include cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, virtual reality and neurodegenerative diseases.

TzuChin (Alyssa) Chen

TzuChin (Alyssa) Chen received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology with specialization in Child and Adolescent Mental Health from New York University. She is also currently working with children on Autism Spectrum as a Registered Behavior Technician. Her research interests include motivation, failure experiences of children, social emotional learning and child development.

Hiba Rahman

Hiba Rahman received her Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology from Rutgers University. She is currently a matriculated post-baccalaureate premedical student at NYU. Her research interests include functional medicine, osteopathic medicine and neurophysiology.

Shruthy Shankar

Shruthy Shankar received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology at The City College of New York. She has taught Math, English and Science for 4 years to grades 3 to 12 at a NYC tutoring center, and is currently also working in Telehealth at Columbia ED Urgent Care. Her research interests include stress, cross cultural psychology, memory, and achievement motivation.

Alex Taveras

Alex Taveras received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the City College of New York and is pursuing graduate school with an interest in studying cognitive psychology and neuropsychological research. His research interests include mental health disorders, dementia, autism, cognitive deficits and brain trauma.