New William T. Grant Scholars Awards: 2014

We are pleased to announce the 2014 class of William T. Grant Scholars. Launched in 1982, the Scholars Program supports the professional development of promising early-career researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. To date, the program has sponsored more than 150 up-and-coming researchers. Each Scholar will receive $350,000 to execute rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.

As they commence their projects, Scholars will build mentoring relationships with experts in areas pertinent to their development. Their professional development will also be furthered through annual meetings with fellow Scholars, Foundation staff, and other senior researchers.

Said Vivian Tseng, Vice President of Program, “This terrific group of young Scholars is tackling important questions facing young people of color in our nation’s schools, neighborhoods, and social service systems.”

Each year, the Foundation selects four to six new William T. Grant Scholars from a highly competitive pool of applicants who are nominated by their supporting institutions. The applications are reviewed by a Selection Committee comprised of prominent senior academics. A small group of finalists are invited to New York for interviews.

William T. Grant Scholars: 2014

Noelle M. Hurd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Virginia. Through three interconnected research projects, Dr. Hurd’s grant, entitled “Critical Contexts for the Formation of Natural Mentoring Relationships among Economically Disadvantaged African-American Adolescents,” will examine how family and neighborhood settings support the development of mentoring relationships between economically disadvantaged African-American adolescents and the adults in their everyday lives. This project will develop her skills in the design and implementation of multilevel and mixed-methods studies to assess family- and neighborhood-level influences on natural mentoring relationships. Patrick Tolan, professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, will mentor Hurd in multilevel study design and measurement. Jean Rhodes, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Mary Waters, professor and chair of sociology at Harvard University, will co-mentor Hurd in qualitative and mixed-methods research.

Michael J. MacKenzie is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, Columbia University. His grant, “Children in Limbo: A Transactional Model of Foster Care Placement Instability,” will examine why some children in the child welfare system experience placement disruptions that increase in frequency and speed over their time in care. MacKenzie will expand his expertise to become better skilled at assessing adolescent development and transitions as well as developing novel longitudinal designs that allow for a more nuanced look at children’s experiences of life disruptions. The former will be supported through the efforts of mentor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, the Virginia & Leo Marx Professor of Child Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. The latter methodological portion will be supported by Professor John Schulenberg at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and the Center for Human Growth and Development.

Rebecca M. B. White is an Assistant Professor at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University. Her grant, “A New Look at Neighborhood Ethnic Concentration: Implications for Mexican-Origin Adolescents’ Cultural Adaptation and Adjustment,” will examine how ethnically concentrated neighborhood settings influence Latino adolescents’ development, with a special emphasis on a set of developmental competencies that are salient to ethnic minority youth. White will expand upon her expertise in family, developmental, and public health sciences to gain knowledge in mixed-methods field work and sociological theory. Sandra Simpkins, a developmental psychologist at Arizona State University, will mentor White on qualitative and mixed methods. Christopher Browning, professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, will provide guidance on exposure-based field methods and mainstream neighborhood theory.

Joanna Lee Williams
is an Assistant Professor at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. Her grant, “Benefits and Challenges of Ethnic Diversity in Middle Schools: The Mediating Role of Peer Groups,” will examine how ethnically diverse peer groups provide psychosocial and academic benefits to early adolescents. Williams, a developmental psychologist, will gain expertise in social network analysis, ethnographic methods, mixed-methods research, and sociological perspectives on peer groups. Sandra Graham at the University of California, Los Angeles will provide expertise in ethnicity and school-level diversity as contexts of development. Jill Hamm at University of North Carolina will provide guidance in social network analysis and middle school peer groups. In the later years of the award, Prudence Carter, an educational sociologist at Stanford University, will provide expertise on mixed-methods data collection in diverse schools.

David Scott Yeager is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin. His Grant, “Toward a Sociological, Contextual Perspective on Psychological Interventions,” will examine how and to what extent the effects of social-psychological interventions vary across different settings. Yeager, who has a strong background in adolescent development research and in evaluating psychological interventions in education seeks a better integration of theory and data on social settings in order to strengthen understanding of the scalability of these types of interventions. Robert Crosnoe and Chandra Muller at the University of Texas will provide guidance on the measurement and analysis of settings. Uri Treisman, a public policy expert, will share his expertise about carrying out policy-relevant analyses as well as on communicating the findings to the general public. In addition, Tony Bryk at the Carnegie Foundation will serve as an informal mentor and provide statistical guidance.