Education Policy Analytics Lab

Our Team

MinSun_rsDr. Min Sun (Co-PI), Associate Professor

Dr. Sun specializes in using quantitative methods to understand the impact of federal, state, and district policies on preparing, recruiting, distributing, evaluating, and incentivizing teachers and principals that affect teaching and learning outcomes. She also studies spillover mechanisms and effects among teachers. Her interest is also in understanding the impacts of policy interventions in schools and the heterogeneous effects of these interventions across subgroups of schools, teachers and students.

Dr. Sun’s work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Educational Administration Quarterly, and School Effectiveness and School Improvement, among others. Her research has received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Spencer Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Dr. David Knight (Co-PI), Assistant Professor

Dr. David Knight studies the economics of education and school finance. Specific areas of research include equity in the allocation of school resources, educator labor markets, and cost-effectiveness analysis.

Dr. Jing Liu, Research Associate

Jing Liu ( is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University’s Annenberg Institute. Named as a National Academy of Education Sciences/Spencer Dissertation Fellow, he earned his Ph.D. in economics of education from Stanford University in 2018. His research focuses on understanding the development of student engagement, behavior, and social emotional skills, how these skills and dispositions contribute to student success in the short and long run, and what the implications are for improving equal educational opportunities. For example, supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, he is estimating how student class absences affect student achievement in secondary school. In another project, he is evaluating the impact of a district-level disciplinary policy reform on a range of student outcomes. In a second line of inquiry, he systematically quantifies the micro processes in classrooms and schools to identify high-leverage practices to support teachers and school leaders for better decision making by applying computational social science approaches, especially text-as-data methods. His work has been published in journals such as The Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and Economics of Education Review.

Zach LeClair, Research Associate

Born in Shoreline, Washington, Zach ( is a doctoral student in Educational Policy, Organziations, and Leadership Studies at the University of Washington’s College of Education, where he also completed his Master’s in Education Policy in 2016. He joins EPAL after six years of working as an elementary school teacher, first in Seattle, then in Mumbai, India, and most recently in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Research areas of interest include teacher and principal labor markets, education finance, and issues of educational equity. He brings a quantitative background in behavioral psychology and a passion for partnering with school and district practitioners to his work in education research.

Cecilia Ramirez, Research Associate

M.Cecilia Ramirez-Michelena has a solid formation in Economics as she completed undergraduate and graduate studies at Universidad de Montevideo, which is in the top 10 for economics in Latin America. Her performance gave her the opportunity to obtain a Fulbright
Scholarship to pursue doctorate studies at the University of Washington. Before becoming part of the EPAL research team, she conducted research in Latin America related to Education, Labor Economics, Health Economics, and Poverty. She looks forward to generating valuable knowledge — based on evidence from rigorous experiments — that can significantly contribute to the design of educational policies. She is interested in exploring the micro-economic fundamentals of human capital, studying how educator’s salary design, incentives, peer effects, and tracking policies that can boost teacher’s performance, student´s engagement, and their  educational outcomes.

photoJunmeng Zhu, Research Associate

Junmeng was an undergraduate major in Economics and Statistics at the University of Washington and received her Master’s in Measurement and Statistics at the UW’s College of Education in 2018. With great interest in educational research, she hopes to apply her economic and statistical skills to future projects.

Daniel Merken, Research Associate

Daniel is an undergraduate computer science major at University of Washington and a student research associate for EPAL. He is excited to be applying his programming skills to support educational policy research, as part of his ongoing exploration of the diverse applications of computer science.

Advisory Board

Susanna Loeb (Stanford University) specializes in the economics of education, specifically the distribution of teaching quality and the influences of policy on teachers’ career decisions.

Zeyu Xu (American Institutes for Research and affiliated researcher with National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research) is a leading expert on the use of value-added models in evaluating teacher effectiveness. He has extensive experiences in analyzing FL and NC data.

Ken Frank (Michigan State University) is a leading expert in causal inference and using large-scale NCES data.

Thomas Smith (University of California, Riverside) has conducted numerous research on the relationships among policy, school organization, beginning teacher retention, and the quality of classroom instruction.