Dissertation Awards

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The Pardee RAND Graduate School promotes the research and writing of innovative and exceptional dissertations through its annual Dissertation Award Competition.

Thanks to the support of many generous donors, each year the School is able to provide students on dissertation status with awards to support dissertations on a wide range of topics.

All Pardee RAND dissertation awards are designed to catalyze superb policy research on some of the most challenging issues, and are awarded through a competitive process.

Awards Available from Pardee RAND

John M. Cazier Dissertation Award in Sustainability

These awards are designed to initiate critical research in environmental sustainability policy and launch the careers of students motivated to pursue research and innovation in this field. The awards will be given to students who identify a compelling policy problem in the area of sustainability and propose research that could lead to innovative and creative solutions to this problem. Students are encouraged to think seriously about current threats to our environment and standard of living, broadly defined, and the use of science, technology and policy to address them. While many of the problems may require a deep knowledge of science and technology, proposals for research that focuses on less technical solutions will also be considered. Sustainability is defined as the existence of conditions and processes necessary and sufficient to enable future humans to sustain cultural levels not less advanced than our own.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Hardika Dayalani: Policy Incentives for Transitioning to Circular Economies in Concrete Construction in Emerging Economies
  • Jonathan Lamb: The Urban Sustainability Dividend: Exploring Novel Local Urban Policy to Balance Environmental, Social, and Economic Well-Being
  • Carlos Calvo Hernandez: Effective Data Dashboard Design for Climate Change
  • Allie Huttinger: Addressing Equity in Policy Responses to Climate Change in Los Angeles County
  • Max Izenberg: Amnesia and Déjà vu at the Same Time: Understanding Decision Models Used in Earthquake Risk Financing by California's Public Entities

The Doris Dong Dissertation Award

This award is designed to support students who are tackling an important policy problem in a creative and original way.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Karen Lee: Comics as Policy Communication
  • Gaby Alvarado: Abortion Policy: Drivers of Change, System Dynamics and Policy Diffusion

The Lovelace Dissertation Award

These awards are made by James and Anahita Lovelace to support dissertations on issues related to children and families.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Katie Feistel: Reducing the Most Common Cause of Congenital Defects: A Mixed Methods Evaluation of a State Mandated Cytomegalovirus Intervention Program
  • Heather Gomez-Bendana: The Impact of COVID-19 Among Families with Children with Disabilities in a Health and Education Context: Resilience Building
  • Josh Russell-Fritch: Improving Long-Term Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes: Applications of State Opioid Policy at the National Scale

The Pardee Dissertation Award for Global Human Progress

These awards are designed to support original and highly creative approaches to solving a policy challenge that affects the developing world especially in Asia or Africa. The dissertation should be in the current area of focus of the Pardee Initiative for Global Human Progress and lead to developing implementable solutions to global or multinational challenges in Asia or Africa.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Lynn Hu: Three Papers on Rural Development and Rural Revitalization in China
  • Rushil Zutshi: #MeToo - Why Now?
  • Keren Zhu: Developing a Multi-Stakeholder Evaluation Framework for Assessing Belt and Road Initiative Project Impacts
  • Mahlet Gizaw: Assessing Sustainability for Programs Implemented in Low Resource Settings

The Anne and James Rothenberg Dissertation Award

These awards are designed to support dissertations that investigate how government, business, and civil society might work more effectively together to help resolve a policy problem. The particular application can be in health, national security, criminal justice, science policy, education, or another area. It is hoped that the dissertations will explore techniques or processes of policy analysis that can help government, business, and civil society work better together.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Annie Chen: Three Essays on Physician Workforce
  • Meghan Franco: Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: Complex Systems for Economic Revitalization in the United States
  • Lawrence Baker: Evaluation of Reentry Intensive Case Management Services in L.A. County
  • Alejandro Becerra: Risk-Transfer Strategies and Economic Consequences: Three Essays on Disasters in Mexico
  • Tal Wolfson: The Effects of Subsidized Child Care on Parents with Young Children in Israel
  • Samer Atshan: Loneliness During COVID-19: A Mixed Methods Approach
  • Pedro Nascimento: Robust Health Policy Under Uncertainty
  • Nabeel Qureshi: Understanding and Tackling Equity Issues in the Treatment of Depression in Primary Care
  • Jarrett Catlin: Responding to Urban Innovation: e-Scooters and Beyond
  • Annie Brothers: Understanding Community Factors and Safety Influence
  • Tim McDonald: Policy Analysis for Complex Adaptive Systems

Susan Way-Smith Memorial Dissertation Grant in Education

The Susan Way-Smith Memorial Award is given in memory of Susan Way-Smith, a Pardee RAND alumna who demonstrated a passion for improving public education throughout her career. The funds support dissertations on education policy.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Melissa Diliberti: Re-thinking and Re-prioritizing Civics Education in U.S. Public Schools
  • Ashley Woo: The Implementation of Anti-Bias Education in K-12 Schools

The James Q. Wilson Dissertation Fellowship

The James Q. Wilson Dissertation Fellowship is designed to help students explore uncharted ground and develop “the next big idea” in areas where Wilson’s own scholarship revolutionized the policy debate: poverty, education, crime and criminal justice, public services, health care, immigration, race, fiscal policy and taxation, and the role of government institutions. The focus should be on improving American social, political, and governing systems with an emphasis on creative problem solving that may or may not involve government intervention.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • Hannah Acheson-Field: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit
  • Max Griswold: An Evaluation of Crime-free Housing Ordinances
  • Jamie Ryan: Unintended Consequences? Institutional Disengagement in Families with Mixed Immigration Status
  • Noah Johnson: Why Don't Men Utilize Parental Leave Benefits?

The Charles Wolf Jr. Dissertation Fellowship

Established in honor of the founding dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School and renowned economist, researcher, educator, and advisor to governments and business, this award is designed to support students whose work goes beyond the conventional wisdom of the moment. Given the focus of Dr. Wolf’s research, special consideration will be given to dissertations dealing with international or transnational economic or security issues.

2021-22 Recipients and Topics

  • James Syme: Much ado about convexity: evaluating relationships between territorial redistricting criteria and representational outcomes
  • Omair Khan: Democratic Constraint on Foreign Policy in a Partisan Political Environment
  • Karishma Patel: Corporate Self-Regulation vs. Government Regulation: What Is Working for the Climate?
  • Krystyna Marcinek: Do Robots Lure Us to War? Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Use of Force in Game Theory and Survey Experiment

Outside Dissertation Awards

Because of their prestige and given limited internal funds, students are also encouraged to apply for dissertation support from government funders, such as the National Institutes of Health or the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as foundations and other funders. Pardee RAND maintains a list of outside dissertation funding opportunities for which students can apply. Pardee RAND students have recently received support from Haynes Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and Spencer Foundation.