The EASEL Lab Team

Explore SEL is a project of the Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning (EASEL) Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The work of the EASEL Lab is focused on exploring the effects of high-quality social-emotional interventions on the development and achievement of children, youth, teachers, parents, and communities. Our projects aim to advance the field of social and emotional learning through research, practice, and policy. The EASEL Lab also effects change through its field-building projects, which work to strengthen the links between SEL evidence, policy, and practice by facilitating greater clarity, transparency, and precision in the field.

Visit the EASEL Lab website to learn more about our work.

Stephanie M. Jones — Director

Stephanie M. Jones is the Gerald S. Lesser Professor of Child Development and Education in the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Her research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children and youth’s social, emotional, and behavioral development. Over the last ten years her work has focused on evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool and elementary focused social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices; as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones’ research portfolio emphasizes the importance of conducting rigorous scientific research, including program evaluation, that also results in accessible content for early and middle childhood practitioners and policymakers. Her developmental and experimental research investigates the causes and consequences of social-emotional problems and competencies; strategies for altering the pathways that shape children’s social-emotional development; and programs, interventions, and pedagogy that foster social-emotional competencies among children, adults, and environments. Jones has conducted numerous evaluations of programs and early education efforts, including Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution, Resolving Conflict Creatively, SECURe, and the Head Start CARES initiative. In 2002, she received her doctorate in developmental psychology from Yale University, where she trained with Edward Zigler and Alice Carter. Previously, she worked as a Research Associate at Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty. Jones serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social and emotional development and child and family anti-poverty policies, including the National Board of Engaging Schools. She was awarded the 2008 Grawemeyer Award in Education for her work with Zigler and Walter Gilliam on A Vision for Universal Preschool Education, published by Cambridge University Press. In 2013, Jones received the Joseph E. Zins Early-Career Distinguished Contribution Award for Action Research in Social and Emotional Learning, which recognizes the efforts of outstanding contributors in advancing social emotional learning research and expanding evidence-based practice. She was co-editor of the 2018 issue of Future of Children focused on social and emotional learning and is a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists for the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development convened by the Aspen Institute.

Rebecca Bailey – Assistant Director, EASEL Lab

Rebecca Bailey is Assistant Director of the EASEL Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she works closely with Dr. Jones to design and lead the EASEL team’s portfolio of research, programmatic, and policy work. Rebecca’s research focuses on two areas: the development of executive function, self-regulation, and social-emotional skills across early and middle childhood, with an emphasis on understanding how poverty and trauma impact brain development and learning; and the design, implementation, and evaluation of SEL programs and strategies in both US and international settings. Rebecca is the lead author of SECURe, a PreK-3rd grade curricula and accompanying adult-focused workshops designed to promote social-emotional skills among students, educators, and families; and the lead developer/trainer for Brain Games, a set of play-based activities designed to build executive function skills among young children. Rebecca is a consultant for a number of organizations, including the International Rescue Committee and the National Governors Association. Before joining the EASEL Lab, Rebecca was the professional development coordinator at an education and civil rights non-profit, and an early childhood educator and home therapist for children with autism spectrum disorders. Rebecca has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College (2004) and an Ed.M. from Harvard University (2011).

Bryan Nelson — Research Assistant, EASEL Lab

Bryan Nelson is the lead research assistant on the Taxonomy Project at the Ecological Approaches to Social and Emotional Learning Lab, the research project behind Explore SEL. His research interest lies at the intersection of neuroscience and psychology, particularly as it relates to social emotional learning and applied programs. He has an Ed.M. from the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

Other EASEL Staff and Graduate Interns