top of page

Teaching Brain Research

Advancing the Science of Teachers as Learners

Children in Science Class

Lead Investigator

Vanessa Rodriguez (she/her) is an accomplished educator, with more than a decade of teaching experience in K–12 and higher education settings. She has taught courses at New York University, Hunter College, and Harvard University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. 


Dr. Rodriguez has a long-standing commitment to the study of teaching, with the aim of supporting teachers' transformative SEL and wellbeing, and co-creating the equitable systems that they deserve. Driven by her personal experiences as a teacher, she uses a variety of humanizing, equity-centered research methods (e.g., cognitive interviews, co-constructed surveys, critical race spatial analysis) to better understand teachers' identities and developmental processes. She has written numerous publications for teachers, won prestigious awards for teaching, and spoken widely on teaching for a broad range of audiences. In 2014, she released her book, The Teaching Brain

Scientific Advisors


Dr. Kurt Fisher (In Memoriam)

​Leading an international movement to connect biology and cognitive science to education, the late Dr. Fischer was founding president of the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and founding editor of the new journal Mind, Brain, and Education. He had a prolific career studying cognitive and emotional development and learning from birth through adulthood, combining analysis of the commonalities across people with the diversity of pathways of learning and development. His work focused on the organization of behavior and the ways it changes, especially with development, learning, emotion, and culture. In Dynamic Skill Theory, he provided a single framework to analyze how organismic and environmental factors contribute to the rich variety of developmental change and learning across and within people. His research included students’ learning and problem solving, brain development, concepts of self in relationships, cultural contributions to social-cognitive development, early reading skills, emotions, child abuse, and brain development.

Screen Shot 2022-08-02 at 3.34.36 PM.png

Dr. Bryan Mascio
Founding Member

​Dr. Mascio is committed to understanding the complex, dynamic system of teaching through cognitive approaches, in order to further effective teacher education efforts. A veteran teacher in alternative school settings, he taught science and humanities, and created innovative international learning opportunities for students. As an adjunct instructor, he also spearheaded a transition program to increase access to resources and success for first-generation college students. He earned his doctorate in the Human Development and Education concentration at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is now a professor at the University of New Hampshire. 

Screen Shot 2022-08-02 at 3.34.55 PM.png

Dr. Lynneth Solis
Founding Member

Formerly, Dr. Solis supported the Teaching Brain team with her knowledge of developmental cognitive research and qualitative methods to understand the complex phenomenon of teaching. She is a graduate of the Mind, Brain, and Education Ed.M and Human Development and Education doctoral program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on conceptual development: the cognitive processes that lead students to evermore complex conceptions of phenomena in the world. She also conducts research for the Understandings of Consequence Lab that explores how students learn and understand complex causal models in science education. 


Dr. Chen

Founding Member

Dr. Chen helped the Teaching Brain team develop novel ways to understand and analyze how the skill of teaching develops. As a Doctoral Student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, he utilized behavioral and cognitive neuro-scientific methods to explore his four-part research agenda: 1) Metaphor, Model and Mind, 2) Reading Ability and Difficulty, 3) Math Cognition, and 4) From Governing A Classroom to Parenting A Country

Screen Shot 2022-08-02 at 3.34.47 PM.png

Dr. Laura Edwards
Founding Member

Formerly, Laura supported the Teaching Brain team with her enthusiasm and expertise in neuroscience and neuro-imaging. Her research has focused primarily on how children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn, at neural and behavioral levels. Specifically, she has used fNIRS neuro-imaging techniques to measure brain activity, along with eye tracking and behavioral measures, to explore what neuro-typical and neuro-diverse children may be learning through imitation.

Screen Shot 2023-03-27 at 2_edited.jpg


Research Assistant

Shana DeVlieger (she/her) is a former public elementary school teacher. She  specializes in critical qualitative research and utilizes critical whiteness studies and developmental frameworks with the aim of promoting teacher wellbeing, equitable teaching practice, and empowering teacher-child relationships. She earned her MAT from the University of Southern California, her EdM from Harvard University, and is currently a PhD candidate at NYU Steinhardt.

Looking Back

bottom of page