AERA Honors 2020 Award Winners at Virtual Celebration

October  2020

On October 3, AERA held a Virtual Awards Celebration to honor recipients of the 2020 AERA-wide awards and give attendees an inside look at those with exemplary accomplishments across domains and career stages. The highly engaging celebration drew an audience of over 400 researchers, educational leaders, educators, and other viewers from 36 countries. Co-hosts AERA President Shaun R. Harper and AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine kicked off the celebration by welcoming the global audience.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the field and the 2020 award winners,” said Levine. “The 2020 research awardees are highly accomplished, doing the important work that merits recognition and celebration. We are together celebrating exemplary research and how it can translate meaningfully into the lives of students, educators, and many others.”

Following the introduction, a three-minute video, “A Celebration of Education Research: Honoring Excellence and Accomplishment,” set the stage and mood for the event, highlighting through photos and brief video clips the value of education research and the importance of recognizing significant work in, and support for, the field.

Harper and Levine then paid special tribute to the more than 30 members of the education research community who died in the past year.

“While we are indeed here to celebrate today, we must take a moment to acknowledge the tremendous loss that has been experienced, especially during 2020,” said Harper. “Let me personally express my sincere condolence to those of you who have lost family members, friends, colleagues, and people you know and love.”

The celebration also featured a special presentation by 2019–2020 AERA President Vanessa Siddle Walker, who issued presidential citations to Jacqueline Jordan Irvine (Emory University) and James D. Anderson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign).

“Dr. Irvine and Dr. Anderson exemplify in this generation of scholars the commitment to research excellence, problem solving, and mentorship that defined African American scholarship in history,” said Walker.

Irvine and Anderson each offered reflections to the attendees, thanking those who had mentored and inspired them throughout their careers and providing encouragement to those currently in the earlier stages of their own careers, particularly those who have engaged in scholarship advancing collective understanding of race and racism in education.

Next, Harper and Levine launched the award presentations, which made the most of virtual capacities. Each award winner was introduced by a video that incorporated the recipient’s voice and highlighted their significant contributions to education research. (Click here to watch the individual awardee videos.)

After each video, Harper and Levine engaged in live “backstage” conversation with the award winner, designed to inform and inspire the attendees.

During the conversations, the award winners shared the motivations for their commitment to education research and the approaches behind their scholarship, and provided words of advice for their colleagues. They also expressed their gratitude to their nominators, award committees, and fellow researchers.

“I was compelled to write a book that bears witness to the racism and dehumanization that Indigenous youth experience in public schools, and that bears witness to their resistance, courage, and intelligence.” said Leilani Sabzalian (University of Oregon), winner of the Outstanding Book Award for her book titled Indigenous Children's Survivance in Public Schools.

“I'm passionate about research methods that allow for drawing inferences in educational settings,” said Lindsay Page (University of Pittsburgh), recipient of the Early Career Award. “Causal research is key for asking and answering questions about whether educational research methods work, in what context, and for whom.”

In addition, award winners shared their hopes for the field of education research and commented on what they think should be researched and shared broadly with education stakeholders.

“Academics can be in a bubble and inaccessible. It’s come upon us to take the initiative to make our work accessible and to meet people halfway,” said Jessica Ringrose (University College, London), recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Gender Equity in Education Research Award, sharing her experience of collaborating with institutional as well as political leaders.

Randy E. Bennett (ETS), who received the E. F. Lindquist Award, presented jointly by AERA and ACT in recognition of outstanding research in the field of testing and measurement, resonated with the need for better communication to the public.

"I don't believe that educational research matters as much as it should, but I think we can increase its impact by conducting it even more rigorously and by communicating results that can be easily understood and used for positive effects," said Bennett.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who received the Distinguished Public Service Award for her dedication to increasing participation of women and minorities in STEM and addressing sexual harassment in science, expressed her hope for education research in the future.

"We need education research to help us discover the best ways to prepare both our young people and our displaced workers for the workplace and society in the 21st century," said Johnson.

Levine concluded the celebration by thanking the award winners for their openness to questions and the audience for their participation.

“This is a time to be connected, to bond, to collaborate in new ways, which has been the theme throughout this celebration,” said Levine. “The interaction, collaboration, and friendship that we hope we were communicating to you today is what matters.”

AERA is currently accepting nominations for the 2021 AERA Awards. The call for nominations is available online.