Graduate Student Activities
Graduate Student Activities
Graduate Student Representatives

Samantha Silberstein
Senior Graduate Student Representative, 2019-2020
Indiana University
Samantha Silberstein is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University in the Higher Education Administration program and a project associate for the National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE) the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Her research focuses on critical whiteness and institutional approaches to creating inclusive environments. Samantha earned her M.Ed. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership at William & Mary. Prior to pursuing her M.Ed., Samantha served as a program coordinator for the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at Northeastern University. She is excited to continue to serve AERA Division J graduate members this year.

Stephanie Sowl
Junior Graduate Student Representative, 2019-2020
Iowa State University
Stephanie Sowl is a second year PhD student in Higher Education at Iowa State University. Prior to the PhD program, Stephanie worked in higher education administration as an academic advisor and as a research analyst for a federally-funded First in the World grant at Arizona State University. She has two graduate certificates in Advanced Analytics in Higher Education and Institutional Research and Policy Analysis (Arizona State), a master’s degree in higher education (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics, Accounting, and Business Management (Blackburn College). Her research interests include college access and trajectories of first-generation, working-class students and most recently, rural student college experiences and the role of institutions in recruiting and retaining this population. Stephanie is beyond excited to work alongside AERA Graduate Student Council for the next two years as a graduate student representative for Division J! 

Ali Watts
Member-at-Large, 2019-2020
Penn State University
Ali Watts is a third year PhD candidate and research assistant with the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State University. In addition to her doctoral coursework, she is also pursuing an interdisciplinary minor in Social Thought, with a focus on critical theory, social stratification, and philosophies of race. Prior to coming to Penn State, Ali worked for over a decade in K-12 and higher education administration-- including roles in admissions, residential life, online and distance education, and leadership development. Her current research interests focus on racial equity, critical whiteness studies, and qualitative research ethics. She holds masters degrees in higher education administration (Boston University) and rhetoric/literature (University of Georgia), a graduate certificate in academic advising (Kansas State University), and a bachelors degree in English literature (Colgate University). Ali is thrilled to be joining the AERA Graduate Council as the 2019-2020 Member-at-Large for Division J.

Carrie Klein
Ex-Officio Graduate Representative, 2019-2020

George Mason University

Carrie Klein is a PhD Candidate and Research Assistant in the Higher Education Program at George Mason University. As an organizational theory scholar, Carrie is committed to understanding and interrogating the workings, assumptions, and biases of higher education. Her current research agenda is focused on the influence of educational technologies on organizational decision-making, policies, power, and equity and on individual pedagogy, practice, and agency. As a research team member on a National Science Foundation grant (#1444789), she has written multiple articles and book chapters and has co-authored and co-edited a monograph and edited book on learning analytics use in higher education. Her other work has focused on STEM graduate education attainment of historically underrepresented groups and cross-cultural organizational collaborations within higher education organizations. In 2014, she won the ACPA Gerald Saddlemire Masters Research Award. Carrie was the AERA Division J 2018-2020 Senior Graduate Representative and 2017-2018 Graduate Member-at-Large.


If you are a registered Division J student and supplied your email address to AERA, you will receive informative emails through our e-mail list ( If you are not registered but would like to receive these emails, please email one of the Graduate Student Representatives.


Graduate Student Travel Fund 2020

Applications are now open for the 2020 AERA Division J Graduate Student Travel Fund. Applications must be submitted by January 31, 2020. 

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), Division J, provides travel funds to graduate students to attend the annual meeting. Application materials must be completed and submitted by applicants. Priority consideration is given to graduate students who are: a) first-time attendees, b) receiving limited or no other form of support, c) presenting at the conference for Division J, and d) traveling farther distances to attend or experiencing higher costs. 


Conversations with Scholars Series (CwS)

Conversations with Scholars (CwS) is a mini-workshop series led by prominent higher education scholars that is intended to cover relevant research and professional development-related topics in higher education. The programs are presented using Google Hangout technology to provide an environment wherein graduate students and scholars can engage each other to learn more about the proposed topic. Examples of workshop topics include: intersectionality in higher education, the use of quasi-experimental methods, and critical theory. If you have any suggestions for topics or scholars you’d like to see, let us know.


#DivJChat is an initiative meant to foster conversation about a hot-topic in higher education amongst the Division J community. #DivJChat leverages Twitter’s open and engaging platform and insights from renowned scholars who are invited as guest facilitators to provide access and visibility to important conversations that are influencing higher education. Have an idea for #DivJChat? Share it with us!

AERA Roommate Matching

This form is available for graduate students planning to attend the 2020 AERA Annual Meeting. We will do our best to pair potential roommates to ensure everyone is matched, but there is no guarantee. This form will be available to fill out until Friday, February 14, 2020.

Apply to be a DivJ Graduate Representative

AERA Division J is currently accepting applications for two graduate student representative positions. The deadline to apply is Monday, February 17th, 2020.

Download detailed information here.

Complete application here

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