Multiple NSSR Students Win Fellowships and Grants

Recently, a number of NSSR students have received widely recognized awards to support their research. Three students in Anthropology won awards to help them with their dissertation fieldwork from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Students in Sociology, Economics, and Anthropology have won National Science Foundation Grants. These are prestigious national awards, so congratulate these students when you see them around campus.

The Wenner-Gren Foundation has three major goals – to support significant and innovative anthropological research into humanity’s biological and cultural origins, development and variation, to foster the creation of an international community of research scholars in anthropology, and to provide leadership at the forefronts of the discipline.

The NSSR winners are:

  • Charles A. McDonald, a PhD student in anthropology and history, has won a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. His research investigates a constellation of political projects led by Jewish converts, immigrants, and the state that seek the inclusion of Jewish people and history in contemporary Spain. Although commonly taken to be multiple manifestations of a single phenomenon—the “return to Sepharad”—his research inquires into the divergent actors and objectives that animate such “returns.” The project proposes that an ethnographic investigation into the forms of knowledge and materials that are enlisted to claim people, places, and things as Spain’s Jewish heritage has the potential to reconfigure broader debates about personhood, historical production, and the vexed conditions of European multiculturalism.
  • Scott Brown, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, has won a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. His work examines emergent practices of social design, inquiring into the ways in which practitioners render issues of social and political complexity into problems of design. His work will focus on everyday practice and forms of knowledge within social design firms in New York City, as well as the training of future practitioners in Malmö, Sweden.
  • Marisa Solomon, a PhD student in Anthropology, has won a Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship. Her work tracks how trash gathers a set of material, economic, political, and affective relations as it moves through states of use and disuse, problem or profit, existing as both a nuisance to be cleaned and a vital resource. From the streets of Brooklyn to the mega landfills of Virginia, her work examines how trash – a symbolic and material agent – becomes a generative force shaping spatial transformations and logics of race and class.


The National Science Foundation NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. More info here. [link]

The NSSR winners are:

  • Tim Rosenkranz, a Sociology student, won a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. His dissertation explores the destination marketing efforts of several nation-states in two different field-sites (USA and India). It addresses the question of how National Tourist Offices manage image production in local travel media and industry? This qualitative research analyzes local fields of global production that turn nations into destinations. Read more here.
  • Lauren Schmitz, Economics PhD student, won dissertation fellowships from both the U.S. Social Security Administration [link] and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her dissertation, “The Impact of Working Conditions on the Health of an Aging Workforce”.  Her research examines the relationship between work and health over the life course to better understand how various working conditions influence health disparities as workers age.  Research on a comprehensive set of working conditions over the course of a worker’s career will contribute to a better understanding of how occupation affects health in the years leading up to retirement.  The NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant is a highly competitive federal research grant that allows doctoral students to undertake significant data-gathering projects and conduct field research.  The Dissertation Fellowship Program in Retirement Research provides funding opportunities for doctoral candidates to pursue cutting-edge research on retirement issues.  It is administered by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) and funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration.  Read more about her work on the NSF or CRR websites.
  • Randi Irwin, an Anthropology student, has won the National Science Foundation’s Dissertation Grant in Cultural Anthropology. She will conduct research that explores strategies for property utilization, particularly through deferred oil contracts, in the contested territory of the Western Sahara. This research considers how property and citizenship might be configured inside of and beyond the contract, in order to produce a particular way of legitimating the transfer of land plots for future oil extraction and making political claims to sovereignty. Read more here.


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