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Our Team

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Teresa Borowski, M.A., is a doctoral candidate in the Community and Prevention Research program in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where her research focuses on transformative social-emotional learning (SEL), particularly through dance and other arts. She has collaborated locally with arts organizations such as Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and nationally with leading scholars through her work at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and on the Assessment Work Group. Her interdisciplinary work has included program development and evaluation, research-practice partnerships for school improvement, experimental research on change mechanisms, and theoretical framework analysis and dissemination. She is passionate about using transformative SEL and art to empower youth and communities.

Teresa Borowski  |  Doctoral Candidate

Dr. M. Jennifer Kitil is a Research Associate in Social & Emotional Learning at the University of British Columbia Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP). She earned her PhD in Human Development at UBC under the supervision of Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl. Prior to that, she earned her BA in Psychology and MPH in Community Health Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research investigates the efficacy of social and emotional learning programs on the well-being of children and youth in school settings. She is particularly interested in the role that neurocognition, self-regulation, and mindfulness-based practices, have on developmental outcomes that include well-being and the cultivation of positive human qualities. She has also served as a consultant for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Jennifer Kitil  |  Research Associate

Dr. Jenna Whitehead (she/her) is a Research Associate at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She earned her PhD in Human Development, Learning, and Culture (HDLC) program at UBC. She completed her MA in HDLC and her BSc in behavioural neuroscience at UBC. She has been the lab and research coordinator for 10 years in Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl’s Social and Emotional Learning Lab and has coordinated several large-scale research projects in elementary, middle, and high-schools, many of which were evaluations of social and emotional learning programs such as the MindUP Curriculum, Random Acts of Kindness Curriculum, and Taxi Dog Educational Curriculum. Her research interests include the social and emotional learning and development of children and adolescents, specifically the neuroscientific underpinnings of these phenomena and the role of mindfulness and student-teacher relationships in promoting children’s and adolescents’ well-being, prosociality, and academic success.

Jenna Whitehead  |  Research Associate
Kay is a PhD student in the Community and Prevention Research program at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame, with minors in Biology and Justice Education. Prior to starting at UIC, Kay was a Teach For America corps member, where she was a high school special education teacher in The Bronx. While in New York, Kay earned a Masters in the Art of Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. Her research interests include science-identity development among youth and adolescents of color, cultural humility and social justice trainings for mentors and teachers, and the role of mentors in social emotional development.
Kay Thursby  |  Doctoral Student (Psychology)

Dr. Rebecca Baelen’s research focuses on the design, implementation, and testing of school-based mindfulness and social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for teachers and students. She has skills in mixed-methods research (e.g., qualitative research; randomized controlled trial experiments, survey development and analysis), design-based implementation research, and implementation science. Rebecca is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Policy PhD program, where she conducted a field experiment of a brief self-compassion intervention designed to support beginning teachers’ well-being in the transition to teaching. Before her PhD, Rebecca worked as a research coordinator for Dr. Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center studying character development in adolescence and the effects of social-emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness-based programs for teachers and students. Most recently, she conducted a review of school-based mindfulness programs (SBMPs) and, based on findings from that work, is publishing a set of implementation reporting recommendations for SBMPs.

Rebecca Baelen  |  Post-doc

Joshua (Josh) Lovett is a first-year doctoral student in the psychology program (focus: community and prevention research). Josh attended Duke University, where he studied psychology and education. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Josh was a Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, where he spent three years teaching ESL to a wide range of students. He is broadly interested in the social and behavioral contexts of learning, especially in the social-emotional competencies of teachers and how this impacts a variety of factors in the classroom and school ecology. He is also interested in participatory action research and the ways this might be used to create more context-specific social-emotional learning programs. Outside of his work, Josh is interested in traveling, reading, and watching true crime documentaries. Here is a link to his personal website.

Joshua Lovett  |  Doctoral Student | Lab Coordinator
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Dr. Jacqueline Maloney is a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia. Jacqueline is interested in how social and emotional learning programs in schools can prevent mental illness and promote mental well-being in students and educators alike.

Jacquie Maloney  |  Post Doctoral Fellow
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Suchitra Sarda has significant years of leadership experience in K-12, education consultancy, teacher coaching, and mindfulness in schools. She has a master’s in International Education Development from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a post-graduate diploma in Business Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is also a certified master practitioner for Compassionate Systems Framework. Suchitra recently founded Compassionate Learning Communities (CLC), which supports the development and growth of Compassionate Systems in schools and school systems around the world. At UIC, Suchitra wants to study mindfulness and SEL programs that can grow student well-being and ability to make sustainable and healthy choices for themselves and the community.
Suchitra Sarda  |  Doctoral Student (Psychology)
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Claire Galloway (she/her) is a first-year doctoral student studying in the Community and Prevention Research psychology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a recent graduate of DePaul University after studying there for three years. She majored in community psychology there, focusing on nervous behavior around police and coping for children in pain in her research outside of the classroom. She just completed a year-long internship with a workforce development non-profit for survivors of human trafficking. She is passionate about social-emotional learning in the classroom and the long-term impact on the mental and physical health of students.

Claire Galloway  |  Doctoral student (psychology)