Our People

Our extraordinary team of researchers, educators, data analysts, and education technology specialists bring together years of teaching and course management experience to provide support for the program’s design, implementation, maintenance, and sustainable growth as we expand our program offerings in the future.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

professor, award-winning author and activist

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a professor, award-winning author and activist who grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving genocide and more than 1,100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a B.A. in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently, she is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. Her award-winning memoir, The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, was published to critical acclaim. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.

Vikramaditya Joshi

research, outreach, and partnership lead

Vikramaditya (Vik) Joshi is a doctoral student in the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York) and an M.A. in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction from the University of East Anglia (Norwich, United Kingdom). He has served first as a Teaching Fellow and, for the past three years, as a member of the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative – a college-in-prison program at maximum and medium security prisons in Up-state New York. He has worked on educational programming, through the Initiative, with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) for five years, focused on the teaching, advising, and tutoring of incarcerated students. He has served as a Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Justice. He is currently a faculty member at Fordham University in the Philosophy Department.

Tina Keswani

Technology, media, and creative lead

Tina Keswani is currently a master’s student at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Communications, Media, and Learning Technologies Design with a concentration in Computing in Education. Since 2013, she has been working in the ed-tech industry with globally recognized universities to scale, support, and improve learning outcomes by creating innovative online degree programs. She has partnered with hundreds of faculty to design their online courses, continuously striving for the right balance between vision, curriculum, and technology. She has also established processes for faculty to continually reflect and improve upon their courses through a data-driven approach. Her current interests lie in creating digital learning experiences that have a positive social impact using genuinely inclusive and collaborative interactions.

Timon Hruschka

Statistics Graduate Research Assistant

Timon Hruschka is currently doing a master’s degree in Learning Analytics at Teachers College, Columbia University. In his program, he learns about advanced statistical methods and data mining techniques to leverage (big) data in informing educational research and program evaluation. He holds one B.Sc. in media communication from the University of Würzburg, Germany, as well as a B.A. in philosophy. While studying in Germany, he worked as a research assistant for the chair of Psychology of Communication and New Media at the University of Würzburg, as well as a freelance journalist – mainly for an educational journalist startup from Berlin.

Dora Zhang

Graduate Research Assistant, Technology & Media

Dora is currently a master student studying instructional technology and media at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds a B.A. in psychology and asian studies from Vanderbilt University. Her psychology background led her to be passionate about promoting empathy and social connectedness, while her industry experiences in creating content for brands honed her skills as a multimodal storyteller. Her passion now lies in the intersection of learning experience design and multimodal storytelling. In the recent TC Innovation Award, she was the user experience designer in the winning team, Transcendence, which created an AI-powered music journal to promote therapeutic self-expression.

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