Zachary McDermott


Zachary T. McDermott is a 4th year doctoral student at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. He is funded through a 4-year Institute of Education Sciences-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IES-PIRT) fellowship from 2017-2021. Zac’s broad interests focus on using quantitative methodology in education policy research, with an aim to identify and understand inequity for disadvantaged populations including women in STEM, LGBTQ+ and gender minorities, and students with disabilities (SWDs). An encompassing commonality of several ongoing research projects is to understand students as they transition between schools/academic environments.

Recent, co-authored work published in Science explores the gender gap in Physics, engineering, and computer science (PECS) major selection, finding low-achieving men are majoring in PECS more than women (at any performance level) and this cannot be explained by an extensive set of student-level factors. Other ongoing research includes: using an RD design to investigate differential consequences of high school exit exams on educational attainment by special education status, descriptively exploring variation in special education across schools in Massachusetts, investigating what differentially explains career interest and college majoring decisions by gender and sexual orientation, and studying the effect of STEM high school programs in NYC on student outcomes. Many of these aforementioned projects are in collaboration with advisors Leanna Stiefel (NYU Wagner) and Joseph Cimpian (NYU Steinhardt).

Zac was formerly the Sr. Associate of Research and Data Management at the Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) where his breadth of work aimed to understand how in and out of school factors influence academic performance, attendance, meal participation, and student health— work with Amy Ellen Schwartz, Meryle Weinstein, and Brian Elbel. He earned his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2013 and his M.A. in Applied Quantitative Research from NYU Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences (GSAS) the following year.