Professor Becky Francis will replace Sir Kevan Collins as chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation.
Francis will leave her role as director of the UCL Institute of Education and start in her new post in the new year.
The EEF is a charity set up with a £125 million grant from the Department for Education. It trials different evidence-based resources to find out what will work in schools.
Collins announced earlier this year that he was stepping down from the role after eight years.
Sir Peter Lampl, the EEF’s chair, said he was “delighted” with the appointment of Francis.
“She brings a wealth of experience of education research and a deep-rooted commitment to tackling inequality and low social mobility. Becky will lead a brilliant and dedicated team and I look forward to working with her in the years to come.”
Francis said: “Under Kevan’s leadership, the EEF has become a world leader in education research and changed how teachers access and use evidence.
“It is a great opportunity to lead the EEF at a time of expansion and have a significant impact on schools and disadvantaged pupils in England. I look forward to working with Peter, Stephen and the superb team at the EEF.”