LaVar J. Charleston Ph.D.


LaVar Charleston

LaVar J. Charleston is the Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also serves as the coordinator for the LAB’s research and evaluation division. In addition, he teaches courses in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Wei LAB is an externally funded multi-million dollar research unit. The mission of Wei LAB is to design, conduct, and disseminate research that informs policymakers, practitioners, and concerned citizens on how to best promote equitable and inclusive learning and work environments in education in general, and higher education in particular.

Dr. Charleston’s research focuses on graduate school preparation and success, with particular expertise in underrepresented student groups and students interested in science fields. Additionally, he has a special research interest in the academic development of Black male student athletes. His scholarly work has received support from the Lumina Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Additionally, Charleston is currently an editorial board member for the Journal of African American Males in Education, a reviewer for the American Educational Research Journal (Social and Institutional Analysis), a reviewer for the Journal of Science Education and Technology, and a reviewer for AERA Open. Charleston currently directs the Graduate School Academy and his prior appointments include assistant director for development and marketing at the Center for African American Research and Policy, as well as associate editor of the Annuals of the Next Generation journal.

Dr. Charleston graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and a concentration in marketing from Ball State University in 2002. He was a Division I athlete, receiving several awards including the Ray Louthen Senior Leadership Award and the Mid-American Conference West Co-Championship for Football in 2001. Upon graduation, Charleston worked as a product line manager for Borg Warner and later became an assistant director of admissions at Ball State, before pursuing a PhD and transitioning to a career in research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.