Center for Student Success Research


Who we are

Ryan Wells, Director;

Ryan Wells is associate professor and program coordinator for the higher education concentration. He earned his PhD in higher education from the University of Iowa in 2008. Wells primarily investigates questions of college access, equity, and success for underrepresented and/or under-researched groups. Topics for recent research include the ways that socioeconomic status, disability, and geographic location are related to college success. More info.

Robert Feldman, Senior Fellow

Professor emeritus Robert Feldman was a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and interim Dean of the College of Education in 2016-2017. Robert is author of P.O.W.E.R. Learning: Strategies for Success in College and Life. His textbooks, which have been used by more than two million students around the world, have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.  More info

Zeke Kimball, Associate Director

Ezekiel Kimball is an assistant professor in higher education. His prior professional experience includes work as a director of institutional research, an interim director of student affairs, a residence hall coordinator, and a nonprofit program manager. More info.


Chrystal George Mwangi, Research associate

Dr. George Mwangi is an assistant professor in higher education. Her scholarship broadly centers on 1) structures of opportunity and educational attainment for underrepresented populations along the P-20 education pipeline; 2) impacts of globalization and migration on U.S. higher education at the student, institution, and policy levels; and 3) African and African Diaspora populations in higher education. More info.

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Genia bettencourt, Graduate assistant and Center Coordinator

Genia Bettencourt is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research interests focus on college access and equity, with her dissertation research focused on the experiences of working class students at public research institutions regarding perceptions of class-based allyship and sense of belonging. Genia has a background in student affairs and social justice education, with work experience across residential life, student leadership, and pre-college programs. 

suzan kommers, graduate assistant

Suzan is a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After completing her bachelor and master in Educational Science at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Suzan specializes in internationalization of higher education, study abroad and global competency development. Fueled by her own international experience, Suzan is passionate about researching how students can be supported in broadening their perspectives to create an environment that is appreciative of cultural diversity.

Catherine Manly, research assistant

Catherine Manly is a doctoral candidate in higher education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she teaches statistics for The American Women’s College @ Bay Path University. Her dissertation research investigates the effectiveness of the use of multiple modalities for presenting course content (one aspect of Universal Design for Learning) for improving student learning outcomes in online courses. She is interested in issues of postsecondary access and success, particularly for students underserved by traditional higher education, and the disruptive changes possible because of online and educational technologies.

Victoria malaney Brown, Research assistant

Victoria K. Malaney Brown is Ph.D. candidate in Higher
Education at the University of Massachusetts  Amherst. Victoria's research interests focus on multiracial college students, intergroup dialogue, critical race theory (MultiCrit), and student activism. Victoria's background in student affairs has included residence education, social justice programming, student conduct, student crisis intervention and academic integrity.