Team

We stand in and across the boundaries of academic, public school, museum, industry, and policy settings. Our varied training and experiences enable us to do things differently and develop innovative, robust approaches to our work.

Jeanne Century
Jeanne Century

Jeanne Century
Director of Outlier Research and Evaluation

Prior to coming to the University of Chicago in 2005, Jeanne Century was a Senior Researcher at Education Development Center (EDC) in Waltham MA. Jeanne has a BA in general science from Brandeis, and a MEd and doctorate in science education curriculum and teaching from Boston University. During her 25-year career, Jeanne has developed science instructional materials for the elementary and middle school levels and has provided professional development, technical assistance and strategic planning for teachers and school, district, and state administrators. Her research has focused on the impact of inquiry science instruction, strategies for improving utilization of research and evaluation, sustainability of reform efforts, innovation implementation and spread, STEM schools, and computer science education. Century served on the Education Policy and Department of Education Agency Review transition teams for the Obama-Biden administration where she was responsible for STEM education and education research and development issues. In 2010, she shared the National Association for Research in Science Teaching award for the most significant publication that year. Jeanne has served on numerous committees and advisory boards for work focused on improving STEM education.

Melanie LaForce
Melanie LaForce

Melanie LaForce
Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist

Melanie joined the Outlier team in 2011 and leads a range of research, evaluation, and strategic planning projects. In particular, Melanie gravitates toward projects that focus on improving equity in education and social service outcomes. A social psychologist by training, Melanie is also an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Prior to joining Outlier, Melanie was a senior analyst with the Chicago Postsecondary Transition Project, a joint project between the Consortium on Chicago School Research and The School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She has also previously worked as a research analyst at Chicago Public Schools in both the Office of Math and Science and the Department of Postsecondary Education. She received her PhD from Loyola University and holds a BA from Ohio University.

Amy Cassata
Amy Cassata
Amy Cassata

Ask her about distance running or Chicago-area community choirs.

Contact Amy about fidelity of implementation work.

acassata@uchicago.edu
LinkedIn
773-834-2371

Amy Cassata
Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist

Amy Cassata, PhD, has worked with Outlier Research & Evaluation since 2010. As Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist and Director of Implementation Research, she develops and applies conceptual frameworks and rigorous measures that explore how and why educational innovations (instructional materials, strategies, programs, and policies) are implemented, spread, and sustained over time. Amy is a mixed methodologist specializing in qualitative research design, data collection and analysis. Her work draws heavily from implementation sciences, educational psychology, and human development. Her publications appear in peer-reviewed journals Review of Research in Education, Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, and International Journal of Learning. She holds a Ph.D. in education with specialization in Human Development from the University of Rochester and User Experience (UX) Certification from the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g).

Huifang Zuo
Huifang Zuo
Huifang Zuo

Ask her about Chinese calligraphy, modern literature, and rescue cats.

hzuo@uchicago.edu

Huifang Zuo
Research Specialist III

Huifang Zuo Joined the Outlier team in February 2017 as a Research Specialist III. She is currently working on a range of research projects. She received her Doctoral Degree in Educational Research Methodology and M.A. in Geography Information Science from UNC-Charlotte. With specialty in quantitative methodology, her research has focused on STEM education, neighborhood analysis, self-efficacy, and learning English as a second language. She also conducted geography-related educational research with integrating GIS technologies into education to better explore and understand educational phenomena. Huifang also holds a M.A. in the major of Language Acquisition and Chinese Modern Literature from Beijing Normal University.

Katie Ferris
Katie Ferris
Katie Ferris

Ask her about “Ski the East,” the West Virginia Mountaineers, and volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

kferris@uchicago.edu

Katie Ferris

Katie joined the Outlier team in March 2017 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship and Research Assistant Professorship at the Institute for Applied Research and Youth Development at Tufts University. She is currently working on several projects including the S3 and Broward County STEM + C research projects. Her previous work focused on program evaluation of positive youth development outcomes in out-of-school time contexts, particularly those positive outcomes youth receive through participation in sports and Boy/Girl Scouts. She received her Ph.D. in Life Span Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University and a B.A. with Honors in Psychology from Muhlenberg College.

Katie Ferris
Stephen Baker
Katie Ferris

Ask him about electric cars, solar panels, dance shows, and being married to a Michigan sports fanatic.

bak5@uchicago.edu

Stephen Baker
Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist

Stephen joined the Outlier team in April 2019 and works on a range of research and evaluation projects. He is currently evaluating an afterschool pilot in Ontario to increase digital literacy and coding skills, efforts to increase Chicago-area schools’ capacity to work with diverse learners, and the Network for College Success’ efforts to increase impact in their partner high schools. Prior to joining Outlier, Stephen worked as a policy researcher at Chapin Hall where he most recently completed a multi-year Department of Education study of 32 Chicago Public Schools using a mindfulness approach to support social and emotional learning and academic success. Since 2012 he has also conducted evaluations through his own evaluation firm, View/Find. He received his PhD and MA from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and holds a BA from Cornell University.

Carolyn Sutter
Carolyn Sutter
Carolyn Sutter

Ask her about Harry Potter, complex board games, or her cat Lucille.

csutter@uchicago.edu

Carolyn Sutter
Lead Research & Evaluation Associate

Carolyn Sutter joined the Outlier team in August 2019. She is a developmental scientist by training, with experience using quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Her previous research projects and program evaluation efforts have focused on developmental concepts in infancy through adolescence, specifically considering health and nutrition outcomes. This includes projects in early childhood education settings, K-12 schools, and community contexts such as WIC centers. Carolyn is passionate about supporting programming efforts that have a positive impact for youth, families, and communities.

Carolyn received a BA in Human Development with a minor in Education Studies from the University of California, San Diego. She completed graduate training at the University of California, Davis, including an MS in Child Development and PhD in Human Development. Prior to joining the Outlier team, Carolyn was a postdoctoral research associate for the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a member of the National Council on Family Relations and the Society for Research in Child Development.

Joanna Schiffman
Joanna Schiffman
Joanna Schiffman

Ask her about podcasts, NYTimes crossword puzzles, or hiking in New England

jschiffman@uchicago.edu

Joanna Schiffman
Research & Evaluation Associate

Joanna joined the Outlier team in September 2019 after completing her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology. She previously worked at University of Chicago as a part of the research team for the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC). Her past research examined the development of early mathematical thinking, with particular focuses on how cognitive, metacognitive, classroom, and environmental factors influence children's problem solving strategies, numerical understanding, and spatial skills. She received her Ph.D. from Boston College Lynch School of Education & Human Development and her B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University.

Get in touch

For general questions about Outlier Research & Evaluation, please contact:
Dr. Jeanne Century, Director
jcentury@uchicago.edu
773-702-2276

For questions about STEM Schools research or working with your STEM school, please contact:
Dr. Melanie LaForce, Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist
laforce@uchicago.edu
773-702-0445

For questions about working with us on an evaluation project, please contact:
Dr. Jeanne Century, Director
jcentury@uchicago.edu
773-702-2276

For questions about implementation measurement please contact:
Dr. Amy Cassata, Senior Research & Evaluation Scientist
acassata@uchicago.edu
773-834-2371

Photos by Jerry Cargill

Outlier Research & Evaluation
University of Chicago
1427 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL
60637

Phone: 773-702-2276

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