The Edward and Estela O'Brien Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Award

Soledad O'Brien and Pardee RAND's inaugural O'Brien IDEA Scholar, Ingrid Estrada-Darley

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

The Edward and Estela O'Brien Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Award (IDEA) is funded through the generous support of award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien, a longtime Pardee RAND Graduate School supporter and member of the Pardee RAND Board of Governors, in honor of her parents.

The O'Brien IDEA program provides full-tuition scholarships annually to entering Pardee RAND Ph.D. students. In addition to two years of tuition support, O'Brien IDEA scholarship recipients will also be provided with a specially assigned faculty mentor and other professional development support.

O'Brien IDEA scholarships are awarded to students whose background or experience, when evaluated holistically, suggests they are uniquely able to contribute to the diversity of the Pardee RAND community and to the academic profession as a whole. The scholarship is intended first and foremost for students who are underrepresented in the student body population, have overcome obstacles such as socioeconomic or educational disadvantage, or are the first generation in their family to attend college and/or pursue an advanced degree.

Elements of the O'Brien IDEA Scholarship

Tuition scholarship

The O'Brien IDEA scholarship, in combination with Pardee RAND's generous tuition scholarship, fully funds two years of tuition. This award enables our Ph.D. students to focus on research and academics.

Faculty mentoring

The faculty mentoring program offers O'Brien IDEA Scholars supplemental formal mentoring, in addition to the academic advising, career services, and peer support resources that all students receive to assist with the completion of their Ph.D. program. It is designed to improve mentoring for students who are not yet at the dissertation stage and have not yet advanced to candidacy.

Conference support

Dedicated funding is available to O'Brien IDEA Scholars with the goal to present at one conference each year for four years starting in the second year. The conference support funding includes travel costs, conference fee, and payment for poster printing, as applicable.

How to Apply

For consideration, interested applicants should mark the O'Brien IDEA Scholarship checkbox when filling out the Pardee RAND application.

For more information please contact us at or visit our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page.

O'Brien IDEA Scholars

Ingrid Estrada-Darley

Ingrid Estrada Darley

Ingrid Estrada-Darley is the 2019 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. "As an O’Brien IDEA scholar at Pardee RAND," she says, "I am empowered to pursue policy research topics that influence the daily lives of young children and families of color. I am currently working on multiple projects that explore the impact of Medicaid policies on the health and wellbeing of children and pregnant women."

At Pardee RAND, Ingrid's focus includes early education, community-based health care, mental health, child and family resilience, immigration, and social determinants of health.

View her bio

Khadesia Howell

Khadesia Howell is a 2020 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. She is excited by her scholarship and the opportunities Pardee RAND offers because, she says, "Due to the trend of communities not being included and engaged, we have witnessed outcomes that are detrimental to population health, thus adding to the rising costs of healthcare and the weakening of the economy. I want to combat these problems by including communities for more effective and efficient change."

At Pardee RAND, she is focusing on the intersection of health policy and ethics/bioethics, public health policy, women’s health, the social determinants of health, drug policy and decriminalization, and vulnerable populations.

View her bio

Carlos Villegas

Carlos Villegas is a 2020 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. He explains that the "question of why my family and relatives underperformed academically and socially, understanding my struggles, and the spatial distribution of services and choice led me to pursue my academic background in policy and economics." At Pardee RAND, he says, "I want to actively explore tools that can be leveraged to answer pressing policy questions while reflecting on the implications of these tools on the public’s livelihood."

At Pardee RAND, his research focus includes emerging technologies, disaster response and recovery, urban resilience, housing policy, smart cities, and urban governance.

View his bio

Alejandra Lopez

Alejandra Lopez is a 2021 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. Before coming to RAND, she conducted research in theoretical and applied mathematics as a Purdue Doctoral Fellow. She has also worked with the American Institute of Mathematics and the Climate Research Network to create a mathematical model to analyze pathogen mutation and seasonal forcing in zoonotic spillover.

At Pardee RAND, her research interests range from migrants, forced migration, and immigration legislation to math, robust decision making, and space science and technology.

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Christina Crowley

Christina Crowley is a 2021 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. Prior to joining Pardee RAND, she was a public health epidemiologist at the Rhode Island Department of Health, conducting syndromic surveillance using pre-hospital patient care records and evaluating outcomes of expanded distribution of naloxone among law enforcement agencies on subsequent opioid overdose reversals. She has also investigated preventative strategies to reduce transmission of HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted diseases, specifically in the LGBTQ+ community and persons with substance use disorder.

Her research interests include health care, health equity and policy strategies that improve population health and socio-economic well-being.

View her bio

Adrian Luna

Adrian Luna is a 2022 recipient of the O'Brien IDEA scholarship. Before coming to RAND, he conducted research on financial economics and investment hedging.

At Pardee RAND, his research focus includes affordable housing, homelessness, and socioeconomic mobility.

View his bio