Speaker Series

Our Fall 2023 Speaker Series is now available below! As a reminder, all presentations for the Fall 2023 semester will be held virtually via Zoom, and registration will be required for attendees to receive a Zoom link.

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation, or have any additional questions, please contact our Associate Director Brian Timm (timm.21). At least two weeks’ advance notice will help us to provide seamless access.

Information on prior speaker series, including video recordings and additional material, can be found here.

Fall Semester 2023 Speakers

Friday, September 8, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Dr. Monnica Chan, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMass-Boston)

Title: Incentivizing Equity? The Effects of Performance-Based Funding on Reducing Racial Disparities in College Completion

Dr. Monnica Chan


Monnica is an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Her research examines how higher education policies and practice provide (and limit) students’ opportunities to earn a credential. Of particular interest is how students pay for college – through traditional financial aid, employment, and other resources – and the implications for students’ academic and long-term success.

Prior to joining UMB, Monnica was the director of policy and research at the New England Board of Higher Education.

Monnica earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Program Evaluation from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Learn more about Dr. Chan by visiting her webpage.

Registration for Dr. Chan’s talk  is now closed. You can view the recorded presentation by clicking the link here.

Friday, September 22, 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Daniel Oppenheimer, Professor of Social & Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University

Title: Choosing to Learn: The Value of Autonomy in Post-Secondary Education

Dr. Danny Oppenheimer

Dr. Danny Oppenheimer


Despite a large literature demonstrating the importance of agency/autonomy in student motivation and achievement, there has been little focus on developing specific, practical, and implementable interventions that promote autonomy in educational settings. If anything, many practices endorsed by university teaching and learning centers, such as mandatory attendance, mandatory drafts, and syllabus quizzes, serve to undermine feelings of autonomy. Here, we briefly review the literature on the benefits of promoting agency, provide several concrete teaching strategies for doing so, and provide evidence of their efficacy. Agency-promoting teaching practices have the potential to improve student outcomes both in the classroom (i.e. more motivated students who consequently learn more) and beyond.


Danny Oppenheimer is a professor at Carnegie Mellon jointly appointed in Psychology and Decision Sciences who studies judgment, decision making, metacognition, learning and causal reasoning, and applies his findings to a diverse array of domains, such as charitable giving, consumer behavior, education, electoral outcomes, and how to trick students into buying him ice cream.

He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles and books including “Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that shouldn’t work at all works so well” and “Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction”.

He has won awards for research, teaching, and humor, the latter of which is particularly inexplicable given his penchant for truly terrible puns.


Read more about Daniel Oppenheimer on his CMU webpage.

Registration for Dr. Oppenheimer’s talk  is now closed. You can view the recorded presentation by clicking the link here.

Friday, October 20, 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Dr. Jelani Nelson, Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

Title: High school data science controversy: California and beyond

Dr. Jelani Nelson


In the last several years, the California Department of Education and other stakeholders in the state began promoting pathways through high school math, especially via taking data science courses as alternatives to traditional math. The push for high school data science has since caught on nationally, including in the state of Ohio. These efforts met intense pushback from university educators, and especially (perhaps surprisingly) from faculty and other administrator experts in the field of data science itself, on the basis that these courses provide inadequate preparation for college and career readiness in quantitative fields, including in data science. In this talk, I will explain the finer details of what happened in California, and what it might mean for the rest of the nation.


Jelani Nelson is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley, interested in randomized algorithms, sketching and streaming algorithms, dimensionality reduction, and differential privacy.

He is a recipient of the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE) from former President Barack Obama, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. He is also Founder and President of AddisCoder, Inc., a nonprofit that provides algorithms training to high school students in Ethiopia and Jamaica.


Learn more about Dr. Nelson by visiting his UC Berkeley page, as well as his Twitter page

Registration for Dr. Nelson’s talk  is now closed. Please click the link here to watch the recording.