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College of Education

Student Spotlight: Ayan Mitra

Holmes Scholar and 2020 AACTE Dissertation Funding Competition winner


Why did you choose a career path in education?

As someone who was always fascinated by how children learn to read — especially in India — with activities like nursery rhymes, I wanted to explore the neuroscientific basis of literacy. My passion for early childhood education and the brain, and my vision of having a greater impact in informing classroom practices, led me down this path in education. Not being a schoolteacher, I nevertheless gravitated toward the classroom environment. I wanted to approach reading from the ground level and align it with the best practices in neuroscience.


What is the focus of your research?

My research attempts to bridge the gap between education and neuroscience. I want to understand how connectivity across different regions of the brain (coherence) is predictive of reading measures in widely used cognitive reading assessments. With rapidly evolving neuroimaging techniques providing better spatial and temporal resolution to brain imaging, it is increasingly important for literacy scholars to theorize the neural basis of reading.

How does your research impact South Carolina?

My research will help teachers and reading specialists in South Carolina understand the brain in relation to literacy. This can help them implement appropriate strategies in the classroom. Understanding how the brain processes written and spoken language might help them devise new curricula. My engagement with this field has already forged connections between education and psychology leading to research, presentations and the Literacy Lab.


What are your professional goals?

My professional goals include securing a position at an R-1 university to further my work, while designing and teaching courses in educational neuroscience in order to equip educators and psychologists with a deeper understanding of current brain research in relation to educational practices. Consequently, coming up with my own neuroimaging lab focused on literacy would be a major milestone.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.