Dr. Stacy Shaw, Principal Investigator

Dr. Stacy Shaw is an Assistant Professor in Learning Science and Technology and Psychological Science at WPI. Her research focuses on understanding creative thinking in mathematics, how anxiety and other threat experiences affect mathematical cognition and reasoning, as well as how classroom experiences can affect performance and learning in STEM. More recently, she has become interested in the role of wakeful rest periods for learning and wellbeing. 

Dr. Shaw is currently not accepting graduate students. 

Current Graduate Students

Alena Egorova, PhD Student

Alena is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences & Technologies program. She earned her Psychology MA from Moscow State University, where she investigated how emotional burnout develops in teachers. After graduation, Alena studied how people interact with digital tools, working as a researcher and designer in tech projects for over 7 years. She came to WPI to learn the ways new technologies and data could be used to improve education. Her current research interests include (1) the interplay of anxiety and cognition in learning and (2) how it unfolds in the context of educational technologies.

Andrew McReynolds, PhD Student

Andrew McReynolds is a third-year PhD student in the Learning Sciences & Technologies program at WPI. He was an undergraduate researcher in the psychology department at the University of San Francisco (USF) while completing his bachelor’s degree in psychology (December 2020). During his time at USF, Andrew was a teaching assistant for courses such as abnormal psychology, child maltreatment, and advanced research topics, and examined the impact of COVID-19 on his peers educational experience. His research interests include equity in education, teacher-student interaction, and improving accessibility to educational materials in developing countries.

Personal Website -

Kirk Vanacore, PhD Candidate

Kirk Vanacore is a Ph.D. student in Learning Sciences and Technologies at WPI. He earned his Masters at Tuft University from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study Human and Development. At Tufts, he worked as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Reading and Language Research studying and implementing effective pedagogy for dyslexic students. Kirk worked as a Senior Analyst at Lexia Learning, where he used data science to inform the development and improvement of educational technologies. Kirk's research interests include learning analytics, education data mining, causal inference in big data analysis, and effective pedagogies for neurodiverse populations. 

Anna Mederer, PhD Student

Anna is a Ph.D. student in Physics at WPI who is interested in Physics education and a new affiliated graduate student in the CEDAR lab. They earned their bachelors in Robotics Engineering and Mechanical engineering at WPI, and currently teach physics labs and conduct research on how students learn in the physics classroom. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Mikayla Prue, Research Assistant & Lab Manager

Mikayla is a current senior majoring in psychology with a minor in statistics and a concentration in biology. She is interested in how wakeful rest can affect the overall well-being and learning outcomes of college students. She is currently working with Dr. Shaw on a study about wakeful rest on learning and the impact of rest on stress..

Nellie Rushton, Summer Research Assistant

Nellie is a rising sophomore at Stanford University who has been an REU student in the lab for Summer '23 and '24. She plans to major in data science, and is excited to work with Dr. Shaw on applications of generative AI in the statistics classroom, economic outcomes of statistics course-taking, and the design of quality statistics and data science courses grounded in theories from the learning sciences. Her other research interests include student perceptions of computational thinking and AI literacy.


Danny Rahal, Ph.D.

Danny Rahal, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Together, him and Stacy Shaw have conducted work on the affective experiences of students in statistics classroom. Rahal's own research focuses on how social marginalization, with respect to low objective and subjective status and being treated as low status, can compromise health and well-being among adolescents from racial and ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds. He investigates how everyday discrimination and status relate to different aspects of health including daily stress processes, emotional well-being, mental health, substance use, and physiological systems including immune, autonomic, and hormonal processes.

Aaron Haim, PhD Student

I am currently a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). I work with Professor Neil Heffernan in the ASSISTments Lab, which develops features and conducts research for the ASSISTments platform. My work specifically involves improving student learning on-demand through content generated by teachers. In addition, I research, collect, and disseminate Open Science and Reproducibility information such that researchers have a better understanding on how to implement these practices themselves.

Personal Website:

CEDAR Lab Alumni

Vy Ngo

Vy Ngo graduated with her Master's degree in learning science at WPI in 2022 studying how teachers' perceptions affect students' math performance and attitudes towards math, and how instructional technologies affect these relationships. Her goal is to promote equity and reduce gender gaps in education and work environments. 

Personal Website - 

Chayanne Sandoval-Williams, Lab Manager

Chayanne graduated with her bachelor's in computer science in 2023! As the inaugural lab manager of CEDAR for two years, Chayanne conducted research on how students view mistake messages in math, organized studies around creativity and rest, and did an excellent job at keeping our lab up and running. We miss you already, Chayanne!

Paul Pacheco

Paul is a recent graduate of the Psychological and Cognitive Science program at WPI with a concentration in psychobiology. Paul is also a first-generation student who completed WPI's Teacher Preparation Program to become a licensed high school biology teacher, and now is teaching high school biology!