R&D Hub

Published on Friday, June 28, 2024

Spotlighting Current NAEP Doctoral Interns: Naomi Duran and Saugat Pandey

Spotlighting Current NAEP Doctoral Interns: Naomi Duran and Saugat Pandey

Summer is in full swing, and so is the 2024 NAEP Doctoral Student Internship! Our new interns are busy analyzing NAEP data alongside researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics and the American Institutes for Research. Naomi Duran and Saugat Pandey, two members of this newest intern cohort, have taken the time to answer a few questions and introduce themselves to the NAEP R&D community.

1. Where are you joining the internship from?

Naomi: I am interning remotely from Urbana, Illinois.

Saugat: I am working from St. Louis, Missouri.

2. What is your educational background?

Naomi: I earned a B.S. in psychology in 2017 from the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in human development and family studies in 2021 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where I am currently finishing my Ph.D. in the same field. I am working on my dissertation now and expect to graduate in May 2025.

Saugat: I pursued a bachelor's degree with a double major in computer science and mathematics from Beloit College in Wisconsin. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis and expect to graduate in May 2026.

3. What are your research topics of interest?

Naomi: I am interested in how neighborhood and school structures impact the availability of educational resources that foster greater engagement in school, particularly for youth from disenfranchised backgrounds. In my work, I link NCES datasets on students, their families, and schools with data from the U.S. Census to measure aspects of their neighborhoods that are salient for youth development.

Saugat: My research interests include examining visualization literacy and leveraging computer vision to understand how people really see visualizations when they are used in the real world.

4. What current projects are you working on outside of the internship that you’re excited about?

Naomi: My dissertation examines the impact of access to extended learning opportunities on students’ sense of belonging in high school during No Child Left Behind. In addition, I have recently been working on an exciting project focused on advancing how we measure neighborhood gentrification and investigating its impact on children’s behavioral development in the early years of schooling.

Saugat: I am currently working on investigating visualization literacy—the ability to read and interpret data visualizations—from multicultural perspectives and using state-of-the-art computer vision techniques to study the perceived aesthetics of data visualizations.

5. What drew you to the internship?

Naomi: I was drawn to the opportunity this internship provides to gain hands-on training and experience working with large-scale assessment data and to learn from experts about translating complex quantitative research into actionable knowledge that informs education policy.

Saugat: I was interested in applying my research skills and interests in a setting where I could help decision makers and researchers improve education quality and equity.

6. How do you hope to use what you learn in the internship?

Naomi: Interning at AIR provides me with the opportunity to learn how to navigate a non-academic research environment, including working strategically with a team of researchers with different areas of expertise and engaging in client-initiated projects. AIR is exactly the kind of organization I’d like to work for after graduating, so everything I learn during this internship will be helpful in future employment!

Saugat: I hope to apply my experience from the internship to my future graduate research and to shaping my career choice after graduation from my Ph.D. program.

7. What hobbies/special interests/fun facts would you like to share?

Naomi: I love reading, gardening, and birdwatching! My fun fact is that I love collecting books and I have close to 500.

Saugat: I enjoy playing badminton and cricket, and I can speak four different languages.

8. What was your favorite part of the orientation week in Crystal City?

Naomi: My favorite part of orientation was getting the chance to talk to AIR researchers face-to-face about the work we will be doing. Having the chance to meet in person made me feel so much more connected to the people and culture at AIR. I also really appreciated the NAEP data training and feel like I learned so much that will help me be successful both in this internship and my future work.

Saugat: My favorite part of the orientation week was getting to meet everyone in person and learning about the education policymaking process and research activities.

The NAEP R&D team is excited to continue to get to know our new interns; we’ll continue to share interviews with current interns throughout the summer! If you’re interested in the opportunities these new interns are taking advantage of, look into the NAEP Doctoral Internship Program for yourself. You could be part of the next cohort of graduate students working directly with NCES researchers on large-scale assessment data. Keep checking in on the NAEP R&D Hub and sign up for our mailing list to be the first to know when new internship and training opportunities become available.

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