About the team
Josh Polanin, Ph.D is a principal researcher in the Research & Evaluation program at American Institutes for Research (AIR). He is also a co-founder of the Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC), an inter-disciplinary collection of evidence synthesis projects conducted at AIR. Dr. Polanin serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) project Effects of the Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation Instructional Model: Systematic Review and Innovation Through New Meta-Analysis Methodology, which funded the creation of MetaReviewer.
Dr. Polanin is the Co-PI of two meta-analysis grants sponsored by the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences: How Effective are Various Types of College Aid Programs? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Evidence, and Exploring Heterogeneity in English Learner Intervention Effects with Meta-Analysis. In the past, Dr. Polanin was the PI of two National Institute of Justice-funded systematic reviews and meta-analyses, The Consequences of School Violence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, and A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Decrease Cyberbullying Perpetration and Victimizations.
Dr. Polanin has published more than 25 peer-reviewed meta-analyses across education, psychology, criminal justice. In 2020, he won the Early Career Award from the Society for Research on Educational Evaluation. In 2021, he won the Robert Boruch Award for Distinctive Contributions to Research that Informs Public Policy from the Campbell Collaboration. Dr. Polanin completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Social Science Policy and Analysis from Vanderbilt University; he received his Ph.D. in Research Methodology from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.
Megan Austin, Ph.D is a principal researcher in Education Systems and Policy at AIR, where she designs and leads research and evaluation studies using experimental, quasi-experimental, meta-analytic, and descriptive methods. Dr. Austin serves as the Project Director (PD) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) project Effects of the Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation Instructional Model: Systematic Review and Innovation Through New Meta-Analysis Methodology, which funded the creation of MetaReviewer.
Dr. Austin is the PI of an IES-funded study of automatic enrollment and automatic notification interventions to increase participation in advanced and dual enrollment high school courses, and she has been PI for three studies published through IES’s Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs). She provides methodological and content leadership on multiple IES-funded projects, including a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of college aid programs, randomized controlled trial (RCT) and regression discontinuity analysis examining the effects of corequisite remediation in Texas, and a large-scale RCT of postsecondary transition supports for students with disabilities. Dr. Austin holds a Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame.
Williams, Ph. D
Ryan Williams, Ph.D is a principal researcher at American Institutes for Research (AIR). His work focuses on improving generalizations in education research through research synthesis. He is currently the principal investigator of two Institute of Education Sciences (IES) meta-analysis that explores sources of heterogeneity in mathematics and English learner program effects. He is the deputy director of the What Works Clearinghouse Statistics, Website, and Training contract. He is also a co-principal investigator of an IES methods training institute for advanced meta-analysis as well as an NSF-funded methods training grant on meta-analysis. He currently leads an Education Innovation and Research grant evaluation of University of Missouri’s Prosocial Behavior and Active Learning Program. He also leads a Supporting Effective Educator Development grant evaluation of Teach for America’s recent programming across seven districts in the US. At AIR, he co-directs the Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC @ AIR), which serves as an organization-wide hub for evidence-synthesis research and knowledge translation. He has extensive training in quantitative methods focusing on contemporary measurement theory, meta-analysis, and experimental and quasi-experimental designs. His recent publications include articles in Educational Researcher, Research Synthesis Methods, Review of Research in Education, and Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. He received his PhD in quantitative research methodology from Loyola University Chicago and he is an elected member of the Society for Research Synthesis Methodology.
Laura Michaelson, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at AIR. She develops quantitative protocols and serves as an analyst on multiple program and policy evaluations related to youth development. She is co-director of MOSAIC and the PD for an NSF-funded meta-analysis integrating evidence on the existence of, and strategies to reduce, gender bias in STEM fields. Dr. Michaelson also provides technical assistance on tasks under the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract for the Institute of Education Sciences. She has extensive experience in quantitative modeling, statistical and causal inference, research transparency and reproducibility, and meta-science. Dr. Michaelson completed a post-doctoral position in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder and served as a senior reviewer with the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development research registry. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science, an M.A. in Cognitive Psychology, and a graduate certificate in Quantitative Methods in the Behavioral Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Sarah Peko-Spicer, Ph.D is a researcher at AIR where she develops methodological strategy and provides statistical support for program evaluations and evidence syntheses. She serves as the Project Director (PD) of an AIR Equity Initiative-funded participatory evidence synthesis, designed to understand the impacts of social and emotional learning programs on students of color's social and behavioral outcomes. She has extensive experience in methods related to cluster randomized trials, hierarchical linear modeling, replication, meta-analysis, and critical quantitative methodologies. She holds a Ph.D. in Statistics from Northwestern University.
Ebersole, Ph. D
Charlie Ebersole, Ph. D, is a quantitative researcher at AIR. He is a member of the Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC) and the MetaReviewer teams at AIR, both of which develop tools for managing and visualizing meta-analyses. He is currently a researcher on meta-analyses examining gender bias in STEM fields as well as sectoral workforce development programs. He also works on developing and maintaining infrastructure for evidence reviews as a part of the What Works Clearinghouse and Evidence Support Center. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Ebersole served on the board of directors for the Psychological Science Accelerator, a global network of more than 500 research labs from 70 countries, where he oversaw project management. He has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles, primarily related to topics of research integrity and reliability. Dr. Ebersole attained his doctoral degree in social psychology from the University of Virginia.
John Clements, M.S. is a Principal Application Architect in the Technology Solutions Department at American Institutes for Research (AIR). He is responsible for leading the technical effort for multiple projects. On those projects he collaborates with other project stakeholders to define system requirements and project needs. He then directs and works with development teams to define application and data architectures for systems that satisfy those requirements. His teams primarily use Python and .NET for development frameworks and PostgreSQL and SQL Server for data managements. Mr. Clements defines modern cloud-native applications that run in the Amazon’s cloud AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.
Shareese Williams, M.S. is a Technical Project Manager in the Technology Solutions Department at American Institutes for Research (AIR). She collaborates with the development team, which consists of software engineers, system architects, business analysts, and other project managers to track project tasks and to ensure that project deliverables are met within the project schedule. In her role, she facilitates daily project meetings, communicates with clients to identify the scope of the work, prepares meeting schedules, plans project schedules, and budgets project related costs. Ms. Williams also acts as business analyst, communicating with the client to define business processes and documenting business requirements. Additionally, Ms. Williams supports the development team to conduct end-to-end testing of system components.
Craig Soule, B.A. is a Web Development Associate in the Technology Solutions Department at American Institutes for Research (AIR). In his role, Mr. Soule aids in building out both the functionality and the look and feel of web-based applications. His primary focus is on data integration and reporting. He is experienced in data collection tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag manager as well as data reporting tools including Power BI, Superset, and Metabase. Mr. Soule has experience in writing applications and APIs in Python. Additionally, he has worked on creating front-end improvements in WordPress and custom-built Angular applications.