Spencer Staff Attending 2020 NAEd/Spencer Fall Fellows Retreat and Annual Meeting

Megan Bang, Spencer Foundation/Northwestern University


Dr. Bang’s research focuses on understanding culture, learning, and development broadly with a specific focus on the complexities of navigating multiple meaning systems in creating and implementing more effective learning environments in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education. Megan approaches her work through rigorous mixed methods – utilizing experimental design in her foundational cognition and development studies, to community based participatory design work in which she co-designs learning and teaching with communities, families, and youth as well as engages in the collaborative study of such environments. She conducts research in both schools and informal settings. She has taught in and conducted research in teacher education as well as leadership preparation programs. She is currently serving on the Board of Science Education at the National Academy of Sciences and the editorial boards of several top journals. Megan is also a Professor of the Learning Sciences and Psychology at Northwestern University.

She earned her PhD in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University.

Leah Bricker, Spencer Foundation/Northwestern University


Leah Bricker started her career as a middle school science teacher before serving as the State Science Coordinator at the Indiana Department of Education, where she was involved in all aspects of K-12 science education (e.g., standards, assessments, professional development, partnerships among science education stakeholders in the state). Leah then served as a Senior Program Associate at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Project 2061, where she helped design and facilitate professional development programs for K-12 science teachers across the country. She also worked on a project focused on STEM assessments and their alignment to learning goals. Leah earned her PhD in the Learning Sciences at the University of Washington in 2008. She was involved in science teacher education at both Loyola University Chicago and The University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor. Leah is currently also a Research Associate Professor at Northwestern University in the School of Education and Social Policy. She studies youths’ STEM-related learning pathways over time and across contexts (e.g., home, school, afterschool, neighborhoods, museums) using qualitative methods and design-based research.

Na’ilah Suad Nasir, Spencer Foundation


Na’ilah Suad Nasir is the sixth President of the Spencer Foundation, which invests in education research that cultivates learning and transforms lives. From 2008-2019, she held a faculty appointment at the University of California, Berkeley, where she also served as Vice-Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion. Nasir earned her PhD in Education Psychology at UCLA and was a member of the faculty in the School of Education at Stanford University. Her work focuses on issues of race, culture, learning, and identity. She is the author of Racialized Identities: Race and Achievement for African-American Youth and has published numerous scholarly articles. Nasir is a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). 

OiYan Poon, Spencer Foundation


Dr. Poon’s research agenda brings together organizational theories and race and ethnic studies to study selective admissions processes, affirmative action policies, and the racial politics of Asian Americans and education. In her research, she has utilized a range of methods and approaches including critical discourse analysis, narrative inquiry, constructivist grounded theory, community-based participatory research methods, and GIS spatial analysis. As a public scholar, she is a lead co-author of amicus briefs submitted on behalf of social scientists supporting race-conscious admissions in SFFA v. Harvard. Prior to joining Spencer, Dr. Poon was an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor Affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned a Ph.D. in Education with a certificate in Asian American Studies from UCLA and an M.Ed. in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia.

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