Six Early Career Researchers Selected for 2018 Scholars Program

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 William T. Grant Scholars awards. Launched in 1982, the Scholars Program supports the professional development of promising researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences who have received their terminal degrees within the past seven years. To date, the program has sponsored more than 180 talented researchers.

Scholars 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, they build mentoring relationships with experts in areas pertinent to their development, and further their research and professional development through annual retreats with fellow Scholars, Foundation staff, and other senior researchers.

The William T. Grant Scholars Program seeks to contribute to a new generation of scholars who can inform our nation’s efforts to reduce inequality in for young people

Senior Vice President Vivian Tseng remarked, “We are pleased to support a stellar group of new William T. Grant Scholars. They are tackling the important inequality challenges of our times, including racial disparities in school discipline, discrimination against LGBTQ youth and families, unstable work for parents in the service sector, and the risks facing low-income young women on social media. By supporting their research agendas and professional development, the William T. Grant Scholars Program seeks to contribute to a new generation of scholars who can inform our nation’s efforts to reduce inequality in for young people.”

2018 William T. Grant Scholars

Anjali Adukia is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. With her Scholars award, she will investigate whether different approaches to school discipline, such as restorative justice, police officers in schools, or bans on corporal punishment, either exacerbate or reduce racial and gender inequality in students’ behavioral and academic outcomes, specifically for the young men of color who are disproportionately impacted by such practices. To study the impact of these approaches and to illuminate the mechanisms that underlie their effects, Adukia will leverage three natural experiments involving disciplinary interventions. She will also extend her prior work on educational inequality in international contexts to the U.S. by working with mentors Jon Guryan, an economist at Northwestern University and expert in school research in urban communities, and Martha Minow, a legal scholar at Harvard Law School, who will support Adukia in incorporating a legal framework into her research.

Rachel H. Farr is an assistant professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts and Sciences. Her Scholars Program research explores practices that may reduce the harmful effects of discrimination experienced by racially and economically diverse adolescents with LGBTQ parents. Farr will examine how racial and LGBTQ discrimination influence adolescents’ outcomes, as well as whether the influence differs depending on socioeconomic or adoption status. Using a mixed-methods approach that involves qualitative interviews and analyses of survey and census data, she will identify whether certain parenting practices, peer relationships, and community climates may buffer the negative consequences of discrimination among adolescents with multiple marginalized identities. Farr will deepen her expertise on adolescence, as well as expand her methods and statistical skills through mentoring relationships with professor of psychology Christia Brown. Professor of counseling psychology Sherry Rostosky will provide guidance on qualitative methods and studying discrimination, LGBTQ parent families, and adolescence.

Mark Hatzenbuehler is an associate professor of sociomedical sciences and co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. His Scholars award centers on the question of whether, how, and for whom litigation and agency enforcement of civil rights protections in schools reduces homophobic bullying. To examine these questions, Hatzenbuehler will take advantage of an unprecedented multi-source, multi-level data structure that links legal, administrative, and survey data from teachers, schools, and communities with a population-based study of over 5 million California high-school students (obtained from the California Healthy Kids Survey) in nearly 3,000 schools spanning a fifteen-year period. With his mentors, Stephen T. Russell, professor of child development at the University of Texas at Austin, and Suzanne Goldberg, professor of law and director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University, Hatzenbuehler will develop skills in new methods and research settings, as well as further grow his knowledge of structural levers for addressing inequality for youth.

Simone Ispa-Landa is an assistant professor of human development and social policy at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. With her Scholars award, she will investigate how school discipline approaches can be improved to reduce racial inequality and be more developmentally appropriate for adolescents. Through in-depth qualitative interviews and observations, supplemented with analyses of administrative data, Ispa-Landa’s research will examine how different disciplinary approaches, including restorative justice, police presence, and parent involvement in discipline decisions, coexist within a school and shape the experiences of students of different racial groups, as well as how students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders navigate disciplinary environments that include multiple options for handling school discipline. To augment Ispa-Landa’s expertise in the sociology of race, ethnicity, and gender, Robert Crosnoe, professor of liberal arts at the University of Texas at Austin, will mentor her in adolescent development, and Aaron Kupchik, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, will provide mentoring on school security and discipline.

Daniel Schneider is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His Scholars Program research examines whether policies designed to reduce work schedule instability and unpredictability for adults working in the service industry impact the health and well-being of their children. The project will collect original survey data from approximately 20,000 respondents who work at 100 large retail firms, all of whom are parents of children ages 5¬¬-18. In addition to the survey portion of the study, the second phase of the research will use a difference-in-difference design to evaluate the effectiveness of laws that regulate work scheduling practices. Schneider will receive mentorship from Ariel Kalil, Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, who will mentor him in the field of child development. Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Public Policy and Economics and Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities at UC Berkeley, will mentor Schneider on causal inference and program evaluation. Both mentors will also help Schneider to effectively communicate his findings to policymakers.

Pamela Wisniewski is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida College of Engineering and Computer Science. Her Scholars Program research seeks to uncover ways to prevent the online sexual predation of low-income young women of color. Wisniewski will undertake a three-phase mixed-methods research plan. In phase 1, she will conduct a 30-day daily diary study to examine the risk and protective factors that lead low-income young women of color toward or away from online sexual predation risks. Phase 2 will involve a mixed-methods study of young women’s interactions with others on social media. In phase 3, she will build upon the findings from the first two studies to develop and study a technology-based intervention to help teens decode online risks and respond to them. In addition to expanding her research focus and methodological expertise, Wisniewski seeks to gain deeper knowledge of adolescent psychology and ecological momentary assessment with mentor Candice Odgers, and computational mining of internet usage data with Dr. Sriram Chellappan.


Each year, the Foundation selects a handful of 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 of prominent senior academics. A small group of finalists are invited to New York for interviews. The online application for 2019 awards opens on April 23, and all applications are due by July 5, 2018 at 3:00 PM EST.

Read more about funding criteria, eligibility, required documents, and applying online.

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