Division Awards

Outstanding Dissertation Award

Committee Chair (2023-24): Roy Chan, rchan@leeuniversity.edu
Committee Co-Chair (2023-24): Lorenzo Baber, ldbaber@illinois.edu

Committee Members: 
Linda DeAngelo, University of Pittsburgh
Antonio Duran, Arizona State University

Please consider nominating a student for the AERA Division J – Postsecondary Education Outstanding Dissertation Award. The emphasis of this award is on recognizing a doctoral student who, through the dissertation work:

  • advances knowledge in higher education, broadly defined;
  • makes innovative use of research methods, extending the approaches available to conducting research in our field;
  • integrates relevant research and theory into the research;
  • suggests particularly insightful implications for improving practice (for EdD dissertations), or generates and/or extends theory in potentially useful ways for researchers, policymakers, and/or practitioners (for PhD dissertations); and
  • produces a well-written and well-organized dissertation.

The dissertation must be completed and accepted by the institution in the current academic year. Eligible applicants must have degrees conferred between August 2022 and July 2023. All candidates must be current AERA members. To nominate someone for this award, please submit a letter from the dissertation chair (up to 1,000 words) and a dissertation abstract (1,000 – 2,000 words) to rchan@leeuniversity.edu. Self-nominations are encouraged.

2024 Award Nomination Deadline: November 1, 2023

Please direct any questions to Roy Chan at rchan@leeuniversity.edu, Chair of the AERA Division J Outstanding Dissertation Award Committee.

Previous award winners:

2023: Taylor Odle, University of Pennsylvania, Three Essays in Economics, Education Policy, and Inequality; Honorable Mention: Jessica Weise, Auburn University, (Student) Activism as a Queer Worldmaking Disruption to White Supremacy and Heteropatriarchy within and Beyond Higher Education

2022: Heather McCambly, Northwestern University, Change Agents or Same Agents?: Grantmakers and Racial Inequity in U.S. Higher Education

2021: Sacha Sharp, Indiana University Bloomington, Black women graduate students’ ethnic self-evaluation explored through identity expression on social media as an extension of higher education environments. #BlackWomenOnCampus; Honorable Mention: Jacqueline Mac, Indiana University Bloomington, Becoming minority-serving: Understanding how institutional agents transform their institutions to better serve target populations

2020: Kayla Elliott, Florida Atlantic University, The Influence of state performance-based funding on public Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A case study of race and power; Honorable Mention: Damani K. White-Lewis, University of California, Los Angeles, The facade of fit and preponderance of power in faculty search processes: Facilitators and inhibitors of diversity

2019:  Jason Chan, University of California Los Angeles, Geographic constructions of racial identity: The experiences of Asian American college students in the Midwest;  and B. Noble Jones, University of Georgia, Inside the black box: The garbage can model of decision-making in selective college admissions

2018: Katharine M. Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison, The evolution of poverty in higher education: Material hardship, academic success, and policy perspectives; Honorable Mention: Jeremy T. Snipes, Indiana University, Ain't I Black too: Counterstories of Black atheists in college

2017: Erich N. Pitcher, Michigan State University, Being and becoming professionally other: Understanding how organizations shape trans* academics' experiences

2016: Amanda R. Tachine, University of Arizona, Monsters and Weapons: Navajo Students’ Stories on their Journeys Toward College, and Amelia Marcetti Topper, Arizona State University, A Multiplicity of Successes: Capabilities, Refuge, and Pathways in Contemporary Community Colleges

2015: Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Lipe, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Aloha as Fearlessness: Lessons From the Mo‘olelo of Eight Native Hawaiian Female Educational Leaders on Transforming the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Into a Hawaiian Place of Learning

2014: Krispin Barr, North Carolina State University, The Historical Legacy of a Secret Society at Duke University (1913-1971): Cultural Hegemony and the Tenacious Ideals of the "Big Man on Campus"

2013: Lauren Germain, University of Virginia, “I have the power to change this": College women’s agency and sexual assault

2011: Julie Schell, Teachers College, Venturing Toward Better Teaching: S.T.E.M. Professors' Efforts to Improve Their Introductory Undergraduate Pedagogy at Major Research Universities

2009: Tami Lea Moore, Washington State University, Placing Engagement: Critical Readings of Interaction between Regional Communities and Comprehensive Universities

2008: Christopher P. Loss, Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, From democracy to diversity: The politics of American higher education in the Twentieth Century

2007 - Frank Harris III, University of Southern California, The Meanings Men Make of Masculinities and Contextual Influences on Behaviors, Outcomes, and Gendered Environmental Norms: A Grounded Theory Study