SOLER Faculty Committee

Co-Chair: Soulaymane Kachani, Senior Vice Provost

Co-Chair: Janet Metcalfe, Department of Psychology

Sarah Hansen, Department of Chemistry

David Helfand, Department of Astronomy

Garud Iyengar, Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Caroline Marvin, School of General Studies

Malia Mason, Management Division, CBS

Ellen Meier, Teachers College

Letty Moss-Salentijn, College of Dental Medicine

Brent Stockwell, Department of Biological Sciences

Gregory Wawro, Department of Political Science

Tian Zheng, Department of Statistics 


Sandesh Tuladhar

Sandesh Tuladhar

Associate Provost for Online Education

Merrell Norden

Merrell Norden

Associate Director of Online Education

Program Director Adam Brown

Adam Brown

Program Director

SOLER Student Assistants (SSAs)

Read about the SSA position here.

John Thorp (Senior SSA) is a 5th-year PhD candidate in Psychology in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a BA in the Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience from the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies as well as a BA in Jazz Studies. John is currently pursuing his PhD with Dr. Lila Davachi, investigating the ways that motivational and affective states shape our memory. During the 2021-2022 academic year, he is also serving as a Lead Teaching Fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning; John is looking forward to complementing his advocacy and liaison work in that role with efforts to address the mechanistic questions SOLER is built to ask. In the evenings, John is most likely to be found at the Jazz Gallery, Roulette Intermedium, or Film at Lincoln Center.

Josh Friedman is a 6th-year PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Cognitive Science in Education. He has over 10 years of experience in learning facilitation, 5 years teaching internationally across 5 continents, and 5 years as a researcher in educational and social cognitive psychology. He completed his undergraduate studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, receiving a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Philosophy, and is currently pursuing his PhD with Dr. John Black, investigating how nonverbal communication between teachers and students shapes student learning processes. During the 2023-2024 academic year, Josh plans on defending his dissertation, continuing to teach undergraduates at Hunter College, and continuing research into how nonverbal behavior is both a predictor of and a tool to enhance student learning within the Columbia community. As a long time formal and informal educator, Josh believes strongly in the power of connection, interdisciplinary work, and rigorous research and experimentation to improve the state of learning for the future. On the weekends, Josh can be found in his garden, or seeking out artistry in the big city.   

Anna Gasha is a 5th-year PhD candidate in Historic Preservation at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Her doctoral research focuses on how multilateral organizations disseminate scientific knowledge through their disaster risk reduction and response efforts for built cultural heritage. She received a BSc in Materials Engineering and a BA in History of Art and Architecture from Brown University, and an MS in Structural Engineering from UC Berkeley. Her passion for teaching and understanding how students learn began as an undergraduate teaching assistant for courses across computer science, architectural history, and engineering. Anna’s main interest in pedagogical and educational development is creating inclusive classroom environments for students with differing levels of familiarity with the subject matter. At Columbia, she has been a teaching assistant for MS Historic Preservation courses and served as a Teaching Observation Fellow at the Center for Teaching and Learning (2022–2023). She is currently based in New Orleans, LA, with her two cats.

Connor Martini is a 5th-year PhD candidate in Religion at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. After three years working for a nonprofit women’s college in Rwanda, Connor joined Columbia University in 2017, earning his MA in 2019 and MPhil in 2021. Connor’s dissertation, “The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Presence and Wonder and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” is an ethnographic study of the astronomers looking for life in the universe. Connor aims to demonstrate how this scientific project, defined by the relationships forged between practitioners and the yet-unseen presences for whom they search, can be more fully understood through the tools and rubrics of religious studies and the methods of qualitative research. Connor has also made pedagogical training in tools and strategies for inclusive teaching a priority during his graduate studies. Over his nine teaching appointments, Connor has endeavored to create a classroom environment in which all students feel comfortable, supported, and capable.

Elissa Sorojsrisom is a 4th-year PhD candidate in the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) Department. She is co-advised by Dr. Eaton in E3B and Dr. Ambrose at New York Botanical Garden. Her dissertation research investigates the evolution and development of plant life cycles, with a focus on the fern gametophyte. She completed her ScB in Biology at Brown University and earned a Certificate in Natural Science Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design. Prior to beginning her PhD, she worked in the paleontology collections at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, where she developed training materials for student workers and educational programs for the public. She was also a core developer for BCEENET, an NSF-funded network that develops open-access teaching materials for undergraduates. As part of her dissertation, she creates pedagogical tools and materials for teaching Python programing, botany, and genome evolution. Elissa has also been a part-time freelance scientific illustrator for over 10 years, and she is passionate about interdisciplinary education and the value of visual communication in the sciences. She believes learning should be a joyful and enriching experience that helps students feel more empowered, confident, and connected to the world. 

Avery Kim (Fellow in Academic Administration) is a 6th-year Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She received her BAs in Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. For her dissertation, Avery investigates the formation and evolution through multiphase and multi-scale gaseous medium in the Milky Way galaxy and the Local Group. Her research involves the application of machine learning and data science techniques to gain novel insights into the physical processes shaping galaxies. In addition to her academic pursuits, Avery is a part-time freelance designer with over ten years of experience. Her ambition is to integrate her artistic expertise into the classroom, driven by her belief in active learning. When she is not in front of the computer, Avery is likely playing tennis or visiting an art museum.

Former SSAs:

  • Byung Cheol Lee (Marketing)
  • Sanjana Rosario (Marketing)
  • Ksenia Rybkina (Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Studies) 
  • Niharika Telrandhe (Public Health)
  • Chenyou Wu (Teachers College)