NaYoung Hwang holds a PhD in Education from the University of California, Irvine. Her research focus includes inequality in education and educational policy. NaYoung has worked on school discipline, growth mindset, curriculum policy, and youth employment. NaYoung's work has been published in Educational Researcher, American Education Research Journal, Youth & Society, and Journal of Research on Adolescence.


As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in her native South Korea, NaYoung was able to witness firsthand the influence of socioeconomic background on a child’s English language achievement and, ultimately, educational prospects. In addition, by teaching English to adult professionals, she observed the crucial influence of one’s childhood access to language education on her/his future employment opportunities in English-obsessed Korea. These experiences, combined with her work as a volunteer teacher in Korean orphanages, spurred NaYoung’s interest in the impact of education on social stratification.

NaYoung is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, where she explores policies and methods that can improve the abilities and prospects of children from underprivileged backgrounds. Her current project centers on student-teacher demographic matching, student-teacher familiarity, and Indiana’s third-grade retention policy.