The Next Level Lab focuses on the intersection of cognitive science, neuroscience, and learning sciences to inform approaches to education and workforce development. We mine extant research of promise; conduct research with the potential for high-leverage impact; translate research on learning and the mind for public use; and innovate in the space of technology and learning to develop new visions for what is possible in developing human potential. 
Our work supports a new vision for what learning can be, which we call Next Level Learning. Next Level Learning introduces important shifts in how education and the nature of learning are conceived in contexts for human development. It challenges notions of who learning is for and who is the primary driver. We believe that even current notions of powerful learning fall short of what humans are capable of and of what we know is possible based upon research on learning and the mind.


Dr. Tina Grotzer - Faculty Director
Tina is an expert in the Learning Sciences and Cognitive Sciences. She has been working in grounded, informal and formal, contexts for applying Cognitive Science findings for three decades. She is a senior researcher at Harvard Project Zero and faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She teaches courses in cognition and learning, and its applications to learner behaviors, pedagogy, instructional design, and school design. This work considers what it means to be an expert learner and how to leverage research towards supporting students in developing adaptive expertise to help them learn how to learn about and navigate challenges of the future. Her awards include a Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the US Government for her research on learning to handle complexity. She has written many research articles, articles for the general public, books, and curricula for the classroom. With colleague, Chris Dede, she developed the EcoLEARN curriculum that leverages new technologies to teach complex ecosystems science concepts. She has worked PBS, Disney/ABC, and Microsoft and schools nationally and internationally. Prior to coming to Harvard, she was a district-wide administrator and teacher for over a decade.

Dr. Chris Dede - Senior Researcher
Chris Dede is the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE). His fields of scholarship include emerging technologies, policy, and leadership. From 2001-2004, he was Chair of the HGSE department of Teaching and Learning. In 2007, he was honored by Harvard University as an outstanding teacher, and in 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. From 2014-2015, he was a Visiting Expert at NSF, Directorate of Education and Human Resources.

Chris has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment, a member of the U.S. Department of Education’s Expert Panel on Technology, and a member of the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan Technical Working Group. In 2013, he co-convened a NSF workshop on new technology-based models of postsecondary learning; and in 2015 he led two NSF workshops on data-intensive research in the sciences, engineering, and education.

Chris also was an International Steering Committee member for the Second International Technology in Education Study, and he has participated in technology-based learning initiatives for various Global South countries. He is currently a member of the OECD 2030 Scientific Committee.

His co-edited books include: Scaling Up Success: Lessons Learned from Technology-based Educational Improvement; Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student; Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Online Professional Development in STEM Education; Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education; Learning engineering for online education: Theoretical contexts and design-based examples; and The 60-Year Curriculum: New Models for Lifelong Learning in the Digital Economy.

Dr. Megan Cuzzolino - Senior Project Manager
Megan is a researcher and educator with expertise in cognition and development, instructional design, and public engagement with science. As a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, her research focused on the emotion of awe and its role in scientific learning and discovery. Prior to her graduate work, Megan was an elementary and middle school science teacher, a Science Education Analyst at the National Science Foundation, and a research assistant for several of Tina Grotzer's former projects on complex causal learning. She holds an Ed.D. and an Ed.M. in Human Development from HGSE and an A.B. in Psychology from Harvard College.

Eileen McGivney - Doctoral Researcher
Eileen is currently a PhD student, instructor, and researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the potentials and challenges of learning with immersive technologies such as virtual reality, particularly for young people of diverse identities and cultural backgrounds. At Harvard she has conducted research on learning in virtual environments, makerspaces, and massive open online courses. Previously she worked as a research associate at the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and as a research assistant at the Education Reform Initiative in Istanbul, Turkey.

Tessa Forshaw - Doctoral Researcher
Tessa operates at the intersection of design, learning science, and workforce development. As a lecturer and researcher at the Stanford University, she creates learning environments that enable students to apply design thinking and innovation to challenges facing the future of work. At Harvard she is on the DCE Teaching Faculty, co-founded the Workforce Development Landscape Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, and supports research in HGSE’s Next Level Lab.

Outside her academic career, she a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Silicon Valley design firm People Rocket. Previously, Tessa worked at IDEO CoLab and in Accenture's Strategy, Insight, and Innovation team where she was focused on super-charging the future of work through the intentional use of emerging technologies and human centered design. Tessa is a recipient of the the Australian American Chamber of Commerce Innovation Award, a Fast Company Design Award for General Excellence, and a Core 77 Design Award for Educational Product Design.

Tessa earned her M.A. in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford University and her B.A. (Honours) in Sociology and Economics from the Australian National University. She is currently a Doctoral Student and Presidential Scholar at Harvard University.

Ashley Etemadi - Research Assistant
Over the last eight years, Ashley has worked as a management consultant at Accenture New York, a Fellow at a company builder and venture capital firm in Colombia, and as an operations leader at Toptal, the largest global network of vetted freelance talent, where she helped build their first service offering in the business consulting space, Toptal Finance. In her free time, she co-facilitates inquiry- and discussion-based learning settings for the personal and social development of displaced Middle Eastern university students. She holds an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a B.A. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and a B.S. in Operations & Information Management (with a concentration in Decision Processes) from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rodrigo Medeiros - Research Assistant
Rodrigo is a technologist and learning designer with a career that spans over 15 years in industries that include high-volume e-commerce, travel & entertainment, education, and finance. With a master’s degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education, Rodrigo is interested skills development for the modern workforce, at the intersection of ed tech and learning sciences. With technical training experience acquired while working with learners from several backgrounds, Rodrigo is well versed in adult learning. As a solutions architect, Rodrigo created learning plans for technical teams and conducted numerous learning activities including design sessions, custom hands-on workshops, and learn-by-doing exercises with innovation teams. He also provided guidance on data strategy, technical skills development, and technology to executive leadership at companies small and large.

Lydia Cao - Visiting Fellow
Lydia Cao is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and a visiting fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education during 2020-2021. Her research interests include supporting teachers to develop adaptive expertise and responsive practice, ed-tech design, and science education. In her dissertation, she co-designs a professional development program incorporating mixed-reality simulations with teachers in Pakistan to promote responsive dialogic teaching during science discussions. Prior to her doctoral studies, Lydia taught math and science in middle and high school in Canada.