Wai Lab

The Wai lab conducts research on social science and education policy problems from a multidisciplinary perspective to help improve the lives of students in Arkansas, the nation, and around the world. In addition to Jonathan Wai, here are current members and alumni of our research group, as well as some current grant funded projects and collaborators.

Current members

Andres Parra Martinez, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arkansas
Andy completed his PhD in Educational Psychology from Purdue University in the department of gifted, creative, and talented studies and holds a bachelor’s degree from the National University of Colombia with honors in English Philology.

Al Mansor Helal – Doctoral Academy Fellow, University of Arkansas
Shamim is pursuing his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Political Science from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Miranda Vernon – Research Associate, University of Arkansas.
Miranda completed her BS in Business Administration with a major in financial management and investment at the University of Arkansas. She is interested in pursuing further training in psychology.


Bich Thi Ngoc Tran, PhD – Research Scientist, Dartmouth College
Bich was a graduate student in the Department of Education Reform and completed her PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. She holds an MA in Political Science from Illinois State University and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Asian University for Women, Bangladesh. Originally from Vietnam, her dissertation was on improving gifted education in Arkansas. She now works at The Dartmouth Institute in the Center for Program Design and Evaluation.

Some current grant funded projects and collaborators

Making the Case for Universal Screening in Gifted Identification in Arkansas, which is part of an ongoing Research Practice Partnership seeking to improve gifted education in Arkansas and beyond with Sarah C. McKenzie of the University of Arkansas, Dustin Seaton of the Northwest Arkansas Education Services Cooperative, Bich Tran of Dartmouth College (Arkansas alum), Andres Parra-Martinez of the University of Arkansas, and Al Mansor-Helal of the University of Arkansas. Walton Family Foundation.

A Multidisciplinary Exploration and Synthesis of Talent Research, in collaboration with Andres Parra-Martinez, Al Mansor-Helal, and Miranda Vernon of the University of Arkansas. Schmidt Futures.

Career Trajectories of Intellectually Talented Youths from the Mid-1990s to the Present, in collaboration with Jeff Allen working on gifted and talented research with the ACT database. Individual Donor.

Validity Evidence on the Spatial Ability Assessment for STEM Instruction and Evaluation, along with co-investigators Joni M. Lakin and team at the University of Alabama and David Uttal of Northwestern University. Institute of Education Sciences Measurement/NCER-STEM.

Historical Trend Analysis of GRE Scores by Test Taker Characteristics, Test Taking Frequency, and Tilt or Score Patterns, ongoing project with Matthew H. Lee of ACSI (Arkansas alum) and Harrison J. Kell of ETS. Educational Testing Service.