AERA Announces 2016-17 Minority Dissertation Fellows
AERA Announces 2016-17 Minority Dissertation Fellows

June 2016

AERA has announced the recipients of the 2016–17 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research and Travel Awards. The program, targeted for members of racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in education research, offers dissertation fellowships and travel awards to outstanding minority graduate students and provides mentoring and guidance toward the completion of their doctoral studies. An important aim of the fellowship is to enhance the diversity of faculty at major research universities.

The fellows’ scholarship and research address important questions in education research across several disciplines including school psychology, human development, sociology, and education policy. The six new fellows and six travel awardees are in the final stages of their dissertation research across a broad range of topics in educational research.

Some topics center on historical aspects of education research, such as the impact of the Black Church on charter schools, and the dissemination of funds to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Other topics examine vocabulary acquisition from visual and textual context, writing quality improvement from dialogic discussion, student agency and knowledge integration in science learning, and the sociocultural context of play across cultures. These studies use a variety of theoretical frameworks and engage a range of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods.

2016-2017 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellows in Education and Travel Awardees


Doctoral Institution

Dissertation Title

Dissertation Fellows



Shireen Al-Adeimi

Harvard University

Does discussion improve writing? Investigating the relationship between discussion, academic language, and writing

Maleka Donaldson Gramling

Harvard University

Teaching and learning from mistakes: Teachers’ responses to student mistakes in the kindergarten classroom

Alejandra Ojeda-Beck

University of California, Berkeley

Incidental vocabulary learning in graphic novels

Saida Lynneth Solis

Harvard University

The sociocultural context of play as a pedagogical tool: Play experiences of indigenous children of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Charissa Tansomboon

University of California, Berkeley

Design of automated guidance to support student agency and knowledge integration in science learning

Katherine Wheatle

Indiana University

“Ward of the state”: The politics of supporting Maryland’s black land-grant college, 1886-1939

Travel Awardees



Danielle Allen

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A site of resistance and/or reclamation: The role of the Black Church in the Charter School Movement

Vanessa Coca

New York University

Stratification into higher education by race and class and the role of high schools

Emi Iwatani

University of Pittsburgh

A critical exploration of the potential utility of rule-induction data mining methods to "orthodox" education research

Abena Mackall

Harvard University

Under supervision: Probation in the lives of adjudicated youth in Massachusetts

Kay Varela

Texas A&M University

“They’re the worst students”: Constructions of criminality, racialized safety, and punishment in Texas public schools

Yu Zhang

University of California, Santa Barbara

Learning 10ness horizontally improves first graders’ estimation of numerical magnitudes


Fellows are awarded a $19,000 stipend to complete their dissertation research and training. The fellows and travel awardees also receive a $1,000 stipend for travel expenses to attend the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, where they will meet with the Selection Committee members and other senior scholars as part of a mentoring and career development workshop. Fellows and travel awardees will present their work to the education research community in a poster session during the 2017 Annual Meeting.

The AERA Council established the Minority Dissertation Fellowship in 1991, setting aside funds to support stipends, Annual Meeting travel, and professional development for this program. In 2015, AERA Council voted to provide additional resources to the program through 2020, continuing its support for minority scholars into the association’s second century.

The AERA Minority Dissertation Fellows are selected based on their potential as faculty members or education research scholars, dissertation studies’ contribution to education research, research methodology used to conduct the studies, and implications of the research. Recent fellows are now faculty members at leading research institutions including Iowa State University, University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wyoming. Other recent fellows are conducting research at university-based research centers or applied research organizations. Their research appears in several peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to our understanding of educational issues.

“We are pleased that AERA can support the next generation of scholars and researchers through this program. AERA is contributing to building capacity among racial and ethnic minority scholars, as well as enhancing the topics studied in education research,” said George L. Wimberly, AERA Director of Professional Development and Diversity Officer.

The application deadline for the 2017–18 competition is November 1, 2016. For further details about the program, eligibility requirements, and application instructions, visit the AERA Funding Opportunities webpage or email the AERA Fellowships Program at

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