The Office of Research, Sponsored Programs & Grants on behalf of the Faculty Research Committee invites doctoral candidates who are advanced to candidacy and are within 18 months of expected graduation to apply for the 2024 – 2025 CGU Dissertation Fellowship Award.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Current Registration as a doctoral student in any field of study at CGU.
  2. Completion of All Coursework for the PhD, with the exception of Dissertation Research units that have been approved by the faculty.
  3. Advancement to Candidacy including approval of the Dissertation Proposal and successful submission of the Advancement to Candidacy Form to the Registrar’s Office on or before the application due date.
  4. A Reasonable Expectation of Completion of all remaining requirements for the PhD degree by the end of calendar 2025.
  5. Doctoral study registration must be maintained during fall 2024 and spring 2025 terms, unless the dissertation is completed earlier.
  6. Recipients of a Transdisciplinary Studies Award may not accept a CGU Dissertation Award and vice versa; recipients may accept one award or the other, but not both awards.
  7. Previous Recipients of a CGU Dissertation Award or a Transdisciplinary Dissertation Award are not eligible to apply.
  8. Recipients of a Crossing Boundaries Research Award are eligible to apply for the CGU Dissertation Award.

Students with suitably transdisciplinary thesis projects may also apply for the Transdisciplinary Studies Dissertation Award, for which deadlines and other application details will be posted on the Transdisciplinary Studies website.

Evaluation Criteria

The Faculty Research Committee and designated reviewers will read all applications and select the
recipients. Many students apply each year, and most of the reviewers of your application will be outside
of your field of study, so it is essential to write clearly and logically for a non-specialized audience. Avoid
esoteric or unusual terms or concepts or define them carefully. The specific criteria of evaluation are as

  1. Command of the material and clarity in motivating and highlighting the merit and significance of the work.
  2. The clarity, validity and feasibility of the proposed methodology and/or research techniques.
  3. The feasibility of the projected timeline.
  4. The case for how a dissertation award will affect the prospects of completion.
  5. Your academic record.

How To Apply

Please submit the following application materials with all required supporting documents (see instructions below) using the airSlate form linked to below, by 5:00PM (pacific) on Monday, April 08, 2024.

  1. A Publishable Abstract*, 100 words or less, of your dissertation project.
  2. A Synopsis of Your Dissertation Research Plan*, not to exceed 1200 words (typically 5-double spaced pages). Most reviewers of each application will be faculty members who are outside of your field of study, so write clearly for a non-specialized audience. Your synopsis should include (and be organized by) the following:
    1. The working title of the dissertation and word count of the synopsis.
    2. The rationale and context of the dissertation within previous scholarship; its specific aims, expected significance, and information-gathering and analytical methods and techniques.
    3. In addition to the synopsis, you may submit up to one-page each of bibliographic information and appendix material.
  3. An Academic Timeline* including the date of your advancement to candidacy and stages of progress (and completion) of your dissertation (one half page maximum).
  4. A Budget Justification* explaining how you would use the dissertation award. Including, if relevant, an itemized budget for research expenses. University tuition and fees may be included, be sure to justify their inclusion (one page maximum).
  5. A Curriculum Vitae* (two pages maximum).
  6. One or more Draft Chapters* from your dissertation (60 pages maximum).
  7. The Certification of Eligibility Statement** signed by the applicant and one member of the applicant’s dissertation committee certifying the applicant’s eligibility to apply for the award. No extra form, document, or email is required, this step is completed during the airSlate application process.

* Required Item

Application Period Closed for 2025 - 2024

Applications are due by 5:00PM (pacific), Monday, April 08, 2024.

Please Note:

  • Key Dates:
    • Application Period Opens: Friday, January 26, 2024
    • Final Application Due Date: Monday, April 08, 2024
    • Award Disbursement #1 (first half): September 2024
    • Award Disbursement #2 (second half): February 2025
  • The Center for Writing & Rhetoric can provide one-on-one consultation support for applicants. The CWR is also hosting several events that applicants might find useful to attend. See the CWR’s Events page for more information.
  • Only doctoral students are eligible for the award.
  • Please note most reviewers of your application will be outside of your field of study, so write clearly and avoid or clearly define specialized terms or concepts.
  • The ORSPG Office will provide a copy of an applicant’s academic transcript to the review committee. Applicants do not need to provide an academic transcript in the application.

Questions? Need Help? Want to Learn More?

Interested in applying? Check out our frequently asked question section below. Interested in speaking with CGU staff about the Symposium? We are also hosting a series of prep sessions for students to assist applicants, see the FAQ section below for more information. Please address any questions about the CGU Dissertation Fellowship Award application process to the Faculty Research Committee via the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where can I explore other outside sources of support for my dissertation research?

    For information on where to explore outside sources of support for dissertation research, the Office of Advancement offers a personal fellowships search service — please contact the advisor at You may also consult the Financial Aid site, portals for individual schools, and the Transdisciplinary Studies program. There are also useful online search engines for graduate student funding sources on the UCLA and Cornell websites.

  2. Is the CGU Dissertation Award open to Joint Doctoral Students?

    Yes, the CGU Dissertation Award is open to all CGU doctoral students including joint, dual, and interfield doctoral students.

  3. Which award should I apply for? One of the dissertation awards (CGU and TNDY) or the research award?

    The TNDY and CGU dissertation awards are intended to support dissertation research and writing. These awards are for students who have already advanced to candidacy or will advance to candidacy by August 2024.

    The Crossing Boundaries Research Award is intended to support research that will lead to a dissertation proposal. Students who are finishing coursework, preparing for qualifying exams, and/or working on their dissertation proposal should apply for the Crossing Boundaries Research award and not a dissertation award.

    Please note that students who have advanced or will advance to candidacy by June 2024 are not eligible for the Crossing Boundaries Research Award.

  4. I am applying for the CGU Dissertation Award, should I also apply for the Transdisciplinary Studies Dissertation Award

    Students applying for the CGU Dissertation Award may consider applying for the Transdisciplinary Studies Dissertation Award if they believe their project utilizies transdisciplinary methodologies and perspectives in innovative, creative, and compelling ways. Otherwise, we recommend that students working within a single field, utilizing uni-disciplinary methods, and/or on a problem of relevance to only one disciplinary field apply only for the CGU Dissertation Award.

    If you are uncertain whether your research qualifies as “transdisciplinary,” please do not hestiate to email with questions.

  5. What does “Advancement to Candidacy” mean?

    The term “Advancement to Candidacy” means that you meet all the qualifications as specified by your program (i.e., completed all required coursework for the degree program(s), passed qualifying exams or completed your portfolio, completed all research tools, and any other requirements as outlined by your program, etc.). Each doctoral program is different, so please confirm with your faculty/departmental advisor on the exact specifications required of your degree program to advance to candidacy.

  6. Should applicants have their faculty advisor/chair certify applicant eligibility via email?

    No, faculty advisor/chair certification of eligibilty is automatically handled via the application form. Neither the applicant nor the certifying advisor will need to submit a separate email.

    We do recommend that applicants notify the faculty advisor certifying their eligibility for the award that they have or will submit an application for the award and to expect an email from airSlate requesting certification.

  7. How do I create an abstract? What are the best practices?

    Review the recording from the on abstracts below to learn about the key components of a well-crafted abstract.

    View the Guide!

  8. What should the “budget justification” contain? Does it need to be written out in prose format? Can I use a bulleted list? Can I use a spreadsheet?

    The budget justification lists and justifies how applicants will use the funds to support their research and writing. Applicants may use a written description, a bulleted list, and/or a spreadsheet. Any of the formats or a combination of formats is acceptable as long as the format details and justifies how the award funds will assist the applicant in completing their dissertation.

  9. Can I use the award funds to cover tuition/fees and living expenses?

    Yes, applicants may use the award funds to cover doctoral study tuition and fees, and living expenses. Applicants should discuss the use of funds to cover tuition and living expenses in their budget justification.

  10. What should the “academic timeline” contain? Does it need to be written out? Can I use a spreadsheet?

    The academic timeline describes the different stages, milestones, and/or steps and the time the applicant anticipates it will take to complete them. The timeline may be written out or detailed in a spreadsheet or some combination thereof. Any of the formats or a combination of formats is acceptable as long as the format details and justifies how the award funds will assist the applicant in completing their research.

  11. I am doing human subject study stuff, is there anything special I need to do?

    Yes. First, talk to your faculty and/or research advisor. Second, reach out to the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB’s “focus is to facilitate faculty investigators and help train student investigators to understand and carry out the fundamental purpose of all IRBs, which is to assure the Investigator’s Respectful Behavior toward every person who participates in research as a ‘human subject’.”

    The IRB advises that asking whether a project is HSR is really asking two questions: (1) Is it research? (according to federal regulations) and (2) Does the research involve human subjects?

    Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research:

    1. Obtains information or biospecimens through intervention or interaction with the individual, and uses, studies, or analyzes the information or biospecimens; or
    2. Obtains, uses, studies, analyzes, or generates identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens.

    Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program that is considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration and service programs may include research activities. For purposes of this part, the following activities are deemed not to be research:

    1. Scholarly and journalistic activities (e.g., oral history, journalism, biography, literary criticism, legal research, and historical scholarship), including the collection and use of information, that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected.
    2. Public health surveillance activities, including the collection and testing of information or biospecimens, conducted, supported, requested, ordered, required, or authorized by a public health authority. Such activities are limited to those necessary to allow a public health authority to identify, monitor, assess, or investigate potential public health signals, onsets of disease outbreaks, or conditions of public health importance (including trends, signals, risk factors, patterns in diseases, or increases in injuries from using consumer products). Such activities include those associated with providing timely situational awareness and priority setting during the course of an event or crisis that threatens public health (including natural or man-made disasters).
    3. Collection and analysis of information, biospecimens, or records by or for a criminal justice agency for activities authorized by law or court order solely for criminal justice or criminal investigative purposes.
    4. Authorized operational activities (as determined by each agency) in support of intelligence, homeland security, defense, or other national security missions.

What To Learn More? Have a Question That is Not Answered Here?

The CWR is hosting several events that may be of interest to applicants during the spring term. All events offered through the Center for Writing & Rhetoric are free and open to students, alumni, staff, and faculty. See the CWR’s Events page to veiw all the events.

Otherwise, please address any questions about the CGU Dissertation Award application process to the Faculty Research Committee via the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The Claremont Graduate University Dissertation Award is generously funded by the “Richter Memorial Funds Master Code, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.” The Office of Research, Sponsored Programs, and Grants thanks them for their generous support of our students and their research.

2023 – 2024 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Adriana Ariza

Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

“Navigating Racial Oppression: Exploring How Ethnic Identity & Critical Consciousness Influence the Positive Development of Young BIPOC”

Young Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States navigate a significant amount of racial oppression to develop into healthy, thriving adults. Perceived racial discrimination, a psychological consequence of racial oppression, is linked to negative health outcomes and threatens the positive development of young BIPOC (García Coll et al., 1996). This study tests whether a positive sense of ethnic identity and critical consciousness act as pivotal developmental strengths that ameliorate the harmful effects of perceived racial discrimination and in turn bolster indicators of thriving, as measured through a positive youth development framework.

Edward Flores

School of Educational Studies

“K-12 Ethnic Studies: Developing Critical Consciousness for Academic Achievement and Community Engagement”

Empirical evidence suggests that K-12 Ethnic Studies courses have positive academic and social outcomes for students, yet there is limited understanding of the pedagogical practices that develop critical consciousness. Using a mixed methods approach that combines interview and survey data from students and educators, this study examines the development of critical consciousness and its connection to community engagement via academic achievement. Furthermore, the study will focus on the experiences of students and educators who leveraged Ethnic Studies pedagogy to establish an Immigrant Justice Program during the height of anti-immigrant rhetoric espoused by the Trump administration.

Lavanya Jawaharlal

School of Educational Studies

“Exploring the Interpretation and Implementation of Migrant Programs: A Migrant Director’s Perspective”

Every year, approximately 3 million farm workers are responsible for 75% of the United States’ agriculture. As these workers move seasonally, their children, estimated around 650,000, migrate between district and state lines. These migrant students are significantly marginalized and underserved with only 50.7% graduating from high school. This dissertation focuses on supplemental K-12 migrant programming by exploring how Migrant Directors navigate needing to adhere to policy while prioritizing the unique needs of their student population. The research includes a nation-wide survey and pre/post interviews to study the variation of policy interpretation and implementation across regional and state territories.

Shine Kim

School of Educational Studies

“Degrees of Reflexivity: A Qualitative Study Examining Power and Its Potential Implications Among Faculty Advisors and PhD Advisees”

Academic victimization—harassment that occurs within academia—is widespread among PhD students. However, the overarching issue is not academic victimization; rather, it is abuse of power. While power itself is not corrupt, it is crucial to investigate as faculty and students may have differing perspectives on the role of power in the advisor-advisee relationship. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation study is to employ a qualitative research approach and analyze student and faculty perceptions of power through interviews and Reddit data. Findings of this study will inform policy and programs that can prevent misuse of power towards PhD students.

Rida Leonard

School of Arts & Humanities

“Reconfiguring the Domestic Space in Nineteenth Century American Literature”

In the scholarship that considers ways in which the concept of domesticity features in the lives of black and white women in history, there is less discussion of how these women’s unique challenges led them to alter the traditional domestic space. This dissertation first assesses a range of nineteenth century American newspapers to build a historical context and then closely analyzes select literary texts of the time, to argue that the distinct racial circumstances that framed black and white women’s struggles enabled them to reform the domestic space as needed, and ultimately create new meanings for American womanhood.

Shante Morgan

School of Arts & Humanities

“In Search of Empowerment: The Genealogical Roots of Womanism”

This project examines womanist thought as a contemporary source of identity, empowerment, and liberation for Black American women. It’s been 40 years since the term was introduced as an alternative to feminism, but Black women thinkers are still divided over its use. This study combines methods by using a phenomenological research design to survey and interview Black women scholars and an archival analysis to construct a raciolinguistic-genealogy analysis of the development of womanist thought. This study hypothesizes that language is political, contested, evolving, and personal. The research will infuse a reflection on womanist thought into contemporary academic pedagogies and genealogies.

Yuzhu Zeng

Division of Politics & Economics

“How State Capacity Shapes China’s Internal Migration”

Migration is a fundamental demographic phenomenon, often determining the dynamics of economic growth and social policy. With rapid development, advancing economic complexity and aging population cohorts, China presents a special case for understanding the implications of domestic migration in the context of state governance and economic growth. This study aims to investigate government performance and policy tools on subnational interprovincial migration flow to explain regional economic development and inequality. Understanding this nexus of governance, policy and migration will help determine China’s economic futures and social trajectories.

2022 – 2023 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Danielle Blazek, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (DBOS)

Increasing Organ Donation Registration by Diminishing Straightlining Online and in Motor Vehicle Departments

The goal of this dissertation is to save lives by reducing the detrimental tendency to straightline, which is responding with identical answers to a series of questions (Schonlau & Toepoel, 2015), when asked to register as an organ donor. Study 1, an already conducted online experiment, changed the placement of a donor registration question. Registrations increased by more than 200%. Study 2 will test the same approach with real registration data of over 1 million people. Study 3 will investigate alternative solutions (i.e., manipulated instructions) to straightlining to increase responsive responding, donor registrations, and ultimately, save lives.

Carmen Macias Limon, School of Educational Studies (SES)

Examining the Community Cultural Wealth of Undocumented Community College Transfer Students

Successful undocumented students are often an untold story. The purpose of this study is to examine the successful transfer experiences from community colleges to four-year universities of approximately 50 undocumented students. Using semi-structured interviews, this qualitative study employs Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth model to explore how different forms of capital propel undocumented community college students to succeed in higher education. Findings will focus on the power of agency through the strength of their own cultures, families, and communities. Practice and policy recommendations can support and improve the educational experiences and outcomes of undocumented community college students.

Lisa Matthews, School of Arts & Humanities (SAH)

Mourning at Mount Vernon: Memory, Commemoration, and Thanatourism in the Creation of 19th century American Identity

This project explores the connections between George Washington’s Mount Vernon as the first historic home preserved and displayed for public consumption and the development of American identity in the antebellum and Reconstruction periods. Mount Vernon, as a loci of memory and commemoration, preserves space focused on the death and national loss of Washington, thus serving as a locale of thanatourism. By interpreting and applying meaning to a space where death and mourning occurred, this work of history incorporates tourism studies in analyzing Washington’s meaning as an example of American patriotism in a period of disunity, rebellion, and reunification.

Tara Parnitvithikul, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (DBOS)

Reactions to Others’ Misfortune: The Role and Utility of Deservingness in the Attributional Process

This dissertation will integrate two theoretical perspectives and empirically test the unique and combined effects of perceived responsibility and judgments of deservingness. Both cognitive appraisals independently predict reactions to others, and deservingness is partly determined by perceived responsibility. However, this research will examine both cognitive appraisals as parallel predictors of other-directed moral emotions and helping judgments. This research is designed to yield both theoretical and practical contributions. Findings will provide theoretical clarity on the relationship between deservingness and responsibility and may generate insight on how to elicit favorable responses toward those judged as responsible for their misfortunes.

Ruizhi Yu, Center for Information Systems & Technology (CISAT)

PICT-SA: A Quality-Compliance System Architecture to Improve the Performance of Integrated Emergency Care Clinical Decision Support System

Emergency Care System (ECS) provides acute resuscitation to improve Patient Health Outcomes (PHOs). The Emergency Care Clinical Decision Support System (EC-CDSS) uses information technologies to enhance the functional efficiencies of ECS. However, evidence is insufficient on how to implement and evaluate the EC-CDSS. The reasons are the lack of quality attributes and stakeholder involvement. This dissertation identifies four quality attributes (PICT: Performance, Interoperability, Cost, and Timelines) and four stakeholders (dispatchers, on-scene providers, on-facility providers, and allied health workers). A PICT-compliance system architecture (PICT-SA) of EC-CDSS is designed to explore how to improve PHOs by achieving quality attributes while satisfying stakeholders.

Zhamilia Klycheva, Division of Politics & Economics (DPE)

Severity of Civil Conflict Through the Multi-Lens Looking Glass: Political, Economic and Social Determinants of Violence

Can we decrease civil violence and lessen human loss? No agreement exists on the determinants of violence, yet different disciplines offer valuable input. Bringing multiple fields and the most robust findings together, this dissertation proposes a multi-disciplinary research design leveraging latest statistical and machine learning techniques. It will test both individual effects of political, social and economic factors, namely State Capacity, Repression, Regime Type, Social and Economic Inequalities and Adjacent Conflict’s impact on the severity of intrastate violence as well as their interactive effects to reveal the major triggers points of violence escalation.

This year we were also able to recognize and award three “Honorable Mention” distinctions for work showing exceptional promise and impact.  These awardees will receive additional funds to carry out their dissertation research.

Denise Johnson, School of Arts & Humanities (SAH)

Tarrying with Sights/Sites/Cites of Trouble

Ariella Azoulay and W. J. T. Mitchell have called for a new users’ manual for photographs, urging that theory move away from the gaze to understand photos as agents capable of operating outside hierarchies of power, time, and space. When understood in this capacity, the trouble of photographs can be discerned. Joining this work, Tarrying with Sights/Sites/Cites of Trouble develops an analytic tool concerned with the observation or “sight” of trouble, the space or “site” in which trouble is recorded, and the idea or “cite” of trouble that floats through photos to shape what trouble often seeks to engage – freedom.

Shawnika Johnson, Division of Politics & Economics (DPE)

African American Female Legislative Behavior in the Georgia State Legislature: Position, Policy, & Power

African American women have been involved in American politics since the 19th century.  However, their political contributions have often been in non-traditional political settings. In the 1960’s, African American women occupied mainstream political positions; but dismal research has been conducted on their political behavior, and on the salient policy issues authored by them.  This dissertation employs feminist qualitative research methods and traditional political science quantitative methods to explore how the intersectionality of race, class, and gender influences the political behavior of African American female legislators in the Georgia General Assembly compared to other legislators between 2017 and 2022.

Qing Yan, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (DBOS)

“What is Your Best Experience at Work?” A Mixed-Method Exploration of the Lived Optimal Experiences at Work among Chinese Adults

In today’s workplace, disengagement and burnout prevail, calling for optimized working experience, motivation, and effectiveness. The existing knowledge bases of optimal experience (flow) are insufficient in illustrating the lived optimal experiences at work (OEW) as perceived by diverse individuals. The field of positive work and organizations is rife with abstract concepts while the subjective working experience is rarely studied. Taking a positive-focused, phenomenological, constructivist view, this research uses interviews and a survey to explore the lived OEW among Chinese adults. The research will yield a theoretical model to expand the knowledge bases, and a change model to inform positive interventions.

2021 – 2022 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Heather Burrow, School of Arts & Humanities, Department of Religion

As Above So Below: Reconstructing the Neo-Babylonian Worldview

This project examines how the Neo-Babylonians linked beings, events, and objects into an overall perceptual framework for reality in order to reconstruct their worldview using the transdisciplinary approach of worldview analysis. Underlying beliefs, feelings, and values that generate speech and behavior is a deeper level of culture that shapes the assumptions people make about the nature of things, conceptual categories, and the logic that organizes these categories into a coherent understanding of reality. This has the potential to present a more contextualized view of Neo-Babylonia. One is then better able to understand its more observable religious, political, and social features.

Rebekah Call, School of Arts & Humanities, Department of Religion

Establishing New Parameters for Understanding Gender Roles Through Analysis of Ezer K’negdo in Genesis 2:18

Multiple religious traditions have used the Hebrew phrase ezer k’negdo [King James Version: “help meet”] in Genesis 2:18 as a foundation for defining gender roles. However, the apparent clarity in translation belies the ambiguity of this phrase in the Hebrew. This dissertation pushes back on traditional scholarly approaches to the text, and employs a close, layered contextual methodology to analyze the usage of these words throughout the entire Hebrew Bible. This method provides new parameters for understanding ezer k’negdo and gender roles that are centered in the text.

Chungeun Koo, Department of Politics and Economics

How Social Mix Brings About Social Outcomes: Mechanisms and Relevant Factors

While social mix has been an important principle in housing and community policy for decades, its effects are still doubted in research side. Previous works has shown mixed results about whether social mix brings positive social outcomes or not. This may be because we don’t know much about the intricated process from social mix to social outcomes. Therefore, this study tries to identify the mechanism and to find related factors. By offering better understanding of how social mix works, this study will shed light on what the policy makers should consider when designing the social mix policy.

Elyse Postlewaite, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

Understanding the Development of Student Self-Directed Learning in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Mixed-Methods Study

Self-directed learning (SDL) is a significant set of learning skills that allows individuals to advance academically, professionally, and personally in life (Candy, 1991). Despite their importance, few students are consistently self-directed (Zimmerman, 2002). Mixed-methods and longitudinal research is needed to understand the context-dependent patterns of SDL development (Hoyle & Dent, 2017). This dissertation study uses a longitudinal survey and interviews with 7th-12th grade students to examine how age and context impact the development of SDL. These findings are essential for elucidating when and why students’ SDL skills develop and what steps educators can take to help students in this process.

Vinh Tran, School of Educational Studies

Developing a Cross-State Policy Transfer Framework for K-12 Math and Science Education Using Unsupervised Learning Techniques

K-12 student performance in math and science has long varied widely among states. However, there is no established system to facilitate state-level policy borrowing to improve math and science achievement across the country. Using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), this study develops an interstate policy exchange framework for K-12 math and science education by employing clustering techniques. States are grouped based on their similarity in terms of the student population and other relevant factors. States with the highest math and science scores are assumed to have successful and suitable policies for others in the same cluster.

Yaqiong Wang, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

Promoting Positive Development Among Rural, Left-Behind Youth in China: A Mixed-Methods Approach

Sixty-one million youth in rural China are endangered by prolonged parent-child separation due to rural-to-urban migration. A deficit-based view has dominated the research of these left-behind youth (LBY) as an at-risk population. However, there is a lack of understanding of what rural LBY need to succeed despite adverse conditions. This study will develop a survey to assess the individual strengths and environmental supports that enable positive developmental trajectories for Chinese LBY. The study will yield an important research tool for policy makers, educational practitioners, and youth workers to implement practices and policies that promote positive development among LBY in China.

2020 – 2021 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Claudia Caceres, Center for Information Systems & Technology

A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment among Small Farmers: A Case Study in Western Honduras

Small farmers in Low Income Countries are especially vulnerable to climate change patterns because they depend heavily on rain. Many of these farmers live in precarious conditions, food insecure and are a priority in climate change adaptations plans. To help build climate change resilient communities among rural farmers, the first step is to understand the impact of climate change on the population. This Dissertation aims to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to assess climate change vulnerabilities among rural farmers. This dissertation first proposes a comprehensive framework for vulnerability assessment that integrates both community level and individual household level indicators.

Amy Nantkes, Department of Politics and Government

Project 100% and Immigration Rhetoric in San Diego County

In 1997, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and District Attorney approved Project 100%, an anti-fraud initiative mandating warrantless blanket home inspections for all welfare program applicants in the county, the first of its kind in the United States. Key reforms involving immigrants and welfare usage were occurring at the state and federal levels, with elite rhetoric framing of this issue playing a significant role in public opinion and policy formulation. Blumer’s Group Position Theory (1958) is used as a framework for discourse analysis on policy rhetoric, with contemporary implications for Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside counties.

Ester Navarro Garcia, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

Understanding other people’s minds: psychometric assessment and examination of the cognitive processes that predict theory of mind in bilinguals.

Understanding the perspectives of others is a critical skill. Psychologists call this skill “Theory of mind”. Although all individuals possess a theory of mind to varying degrees, bilinguals are especially adept to perspective-taking. This means that, for example, bilinguals might be more aware of the need to keep others safe during the COVID-19 emergency. Unfortunately, this promising field of research faces two challenges: the lack of research a) on the uniqueness of theory of mind, and b) on how bilinguals use theory of mind. This dissertation empirically addresses these two challenges to improve our understanding of the minds of others.

Adrienne Ortega, School of Educational Studies

A Mixed Methods Inquiry into the Decision-Making of California’s Principals During Local Control

In 2013 California changed how it funded public education through the passage of the Local Control Funding Formula, granting school districts the power to create their expense plans using a new funding formula based on the needs of students within a school district. Local control funding, based on the notion of subsidiarity, aims to return the control of finances and decision-making to the least centralized decision-making level. This study will explore the ways local control influences principals’ decision-making and an explanatory mixed methods approach, through the lens of Complex Adaptive Systems, will be conducted.

Ran Zhao, Drucker School of Management

Credit Derivatives and Corporate Default Prediction

There have been 91 defaults among U.S. CDS reference entities between 2002 and 2018. Within this sample, the five-year CDS spread significantly enhances the explanatory power of benchmark corporate default prediction models with equity market covariates and firm attributes. This finding holds among financial and nonfinancial firms, and both within and without the great financial crisis. Moreover, the predictive power of CDS spread is concentrated among entities with higher CDS market liquidity, while the illiquidity component of the CDS spread itself does not explain default. These results confirm the relevance of information contained in credit risk pricing to default prediction.


Erica Abed, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

Can Metacognitive Monitoring Ability be Trained?

Low performers greatly overestimate their performance on a task, but high performers underestimate their performance; the Dunning Kruger Effect (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). This disadvantages low performers because they do not know, for example, when they need to study more. How can these metacognitive errors be remediated to improve performance? Although most research has attempted to reduce metacognitive errors in low performers by training cognitive ability (e.g., improving task performance), training metacognitive ability would be more efficient and more likely to transfer to other tasks. This dissertation empirically tests two methods for improving metacognitive accuracy in high and low performers.

Tammy Johnson, School of Educational Studies

Secondary English As a Foreign Language Teachers and Teaching: Cultural Practices, Products, and Perspectives

Learning English is a global phenomenon, if not a necessity, for economic and political reasons in the world today. However, effective instruction of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) has differing views on how culture and language should be taught. Developed by the author, the study uses the Culture Teaching Model, which emphasizes that effective cultural instruction should incorporate practices, products, and perspectives. Based on 40 interviews with secondary school teachers from developing countries in different parts of the world, the study will explore the importance of culture, teachers’ beliefs, and effective instructional practices in teaching English in diverse classrooms.

Elizabeth Kuo, School of Educational Studies

Southeast Asian Americans Students’ Perspective on Factors and or Influences that Lead to High School Dropout

Southern California has a large concentration of Southeast Asian Americans (SEAAs), a population with high rates of high school dropouts. Students who drop out of high school face a number of negative outcomes such as lower aspiration and higher economic constraints. However, limited research on SEAAs and qualitative research have been conducted to understand the underlying reasons why student’s dropout from their own perspective. The proposed phenomenological study will be conducted in Southern California to understand the factors that influences their decision to drop out of high school from SEAA students’ perspectives.

Kelsey Picken, School of Arts & Humanities

Philanthropy and the Public Good: The Future of Culture in Los Angeles

Compiling documents, interviews, and reports, this dissertation will align philanthropic histories of Los Angeles with the urban impact of their missions on the greater social, economic, and political spheres of the city and provide predictive models for future impact. In line with the goals and vision of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), this study seeks to deepen current knowledge on the challenges and opportunities of philanthropy as it relates to cultural institutions and the individuals who influence their own communities as donors.

Andrea Ruybal, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

Attribution Theory and Increasing Social Support for Women with Postpartum Depression: An Exploration of Stability, Onset Controllability, and Perceived Effort

Guided by attribution theory, the current studies seek to assess whether emphasizing the temporary nature, the uncontrollable development, and that effort is being given to overcome postpartum depression (PPD), will result in increased positive emotion and greater social support for women with the ailment. This approach will be tested via eight vignettes about PPD and through eight anti-stigma video PSAs. This set of studies will demonstrate the applicability of attribution theory to PPD, provide insight into the stigmatization of women with PPD and reduce that stigma, while also expanding the current understanding of attribution theory through a novel approach.

2018 – 2019 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Charlina Gozali, School of Educational Studies

From Early Childhood to Adulthood: Leader Development in Indonesia

The purpose of this mixed-method study is to examine individual and environmental factors that influenced the development of Indonesian teacher leaders. The teacher leaders were recruited by Indonesia Mengajar (IM), a highly selective education intervention program in Indonesia aiming to improve educational conditions in remote areas through the mobilization of local stakeholders. A survey will be sent to all 746 IM alumni to date and follow-up interviews will be conducted with at least 40 participants. Findings are intended to inform practice and policy on ways to nurture the potential of future generations of Indonesian leaders.

Joseph Kimani Mbugua, Center for Information Systems & Technology

Deep Learning for Early Detection, Identification, and Mapping of Cassava Diseases Using Multispectral Aerial Imagery

Cassava is one of the major sources of human carbohydrates in the world, providing food to more than 700 million people. In sub-Saharan Africa, the crop is also a major source of income for smallholder farmers, especially women. Production of the crop is, however, hampered by two main viral diseases, namely: cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) which cause huge harvest losses that threaten food security in the region. To control the diseases and avert the food security crisis, there is a need for the development of cheaper methods for monitoring the diseases. Multispectral aerial imagery and new machine learning methods provide an efficient and cost-effective method for developing tools for early detection of these diseases. This research uses high-resolution multispectral cassava images to create an end-to-end system for early detection and identification of cassava diseases in East Africa.

Rocío Mendoza, School of Educational Studies

A Doorway to Academic Success: The Undergraduate Research Experiences of Students of Mexican Descent

Despite increases in college enrollment, students of Mexican descent continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in college degree attainment numbers among racial/ethnic groups. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) designated undergraduate research as a “high impact practice” that can address academic disparities. Much of the literature on undergraduate research, however, have not included diverse racial/ethnic groups or diverse institutions. This case study will examine undergraduate research from the perspective of students, faculty and staff at a public, state university and answers the call in higher education research to critically examine “best practices” across diverse student populations, environments, and contexts.

Justyna Misiewicz, School of Arts & Humanities; Music

Aesthetics of the Unseen: Sacred Music in Turbulent Time of Eighteenth-Century Kraków, Poland

During the eighteenth-century, sacred music served to bring the congregation closer to God while satisfying the church as well as the king. Composers strived to achieve the goal by working with the measurable, the versatile compositional techniques, and the aesthetic elements of music. Recent interest in historical performance practice brought to light many forgotten sacred compositions of the era. This study takes as an example three sacred concertos composed during a turbulent time of wars and political instability in Kraków, Poland, to show that the aesthetics of sacred music of the past are still relevant to the twenty-first-century audience.

Joey Torres, Social Science, Policy & Evaluation – Politics & Government

God’s Chosen Candidate? The Pulpit Freedom Sunday Initiative as A Christian Right Social Movement and Its Impact on Religion and Politics

The dissertation examines the controversy over the Johnson Amendment. It prohibits nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing electoral candidates. Violation of the provision includes the loss of tax-exemptions. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization, the Amendment impedes the First Amendment rights of churches. Since 2008, the organization sponsored the Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative which encourages clergy to break the law by officially endorsing candidates from the pulpit. This dissertation sets out to examine: the Christian legal organizations that promote the initiative, evangelicalism’s propensity as a social movement to support it, and the clergy’s willingness to become involved.

2017 – 2018 CGU Doctoral Dissertation Fellows and Thesis Projects

Harold (Jake) G. Campbell IV, Politics and Policy

Divvying Up Dollars: Experimental Applications of a Survey-Based, Budgeting Game to the Assessment of Stated Preferences for Public Spending

While public opinion polling has examined policy issues surrounding federal spending and budget deficits, it has not fully captured the complexity of voters’ preferences regarding public spending. Building on the public choice literature, this dissertation employs a budget allocation game (AGAME) adapted from Beardsley, Kovenock, and Reynolds (1974) to understand voters’ budgetary preferences. The adapted instrument simulates realistic tradeoffs faced in national budgeting and allows for measurement of voter preferences for tax increases or reductions, debt repayment, and eleven categories of government program spending including unemployment benefits, defense, education, housing, and science. A series of experimental applications will study the value of this improved methodological approach while examining the effects of policy relevant information on stated preferences for public spending.

Candice D. Donaldson, Psychology

Preventing College Student Prescription Stimulant Misuse: An Application of Vested Interest Theory

Vested Interest Theory suggests that the perceived importance and hedonic relevance of an expected behavioral outcome affects attitude-behavior consistency. Applied to college students’ nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NUPS), the theory suggests that attitudes alone will not predict usage, because the attitude-behavior relation is moderated by vested interest. To limit NUPS, persuasive information must affect not only attitudes, but also vested perceptions regarding stimulant use and college success. This research is designed to influence attitudes toward NUPS and perceptions of NUPS’ role in college success. These cognitions are hypothesized to affect college students’ resistance to, or cessation of NUPS.

Joseph J. Jablonski, Jr., Politics and Policy

The Dark Side of President Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism: Its Racism/Ethnocentrism

The dark side of Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism, that is, its racism/ethnocentrism, is brought into an original light. Wilson’s political thought is shown to be a historicism informed by his underlying racist world view. Wilson departs from Lincoln’s Second Founding and the 1787 Founding insofar as Wilson repudiated the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence on historicist grounds. Wilson’s racist historicism is shown to contain elements from Hegel and Social Darwinism, and his idea of Providence. Wilson’s thought is shown to be an example of the American white supremacist tradition justifying his strengthening of the Jim Crow regime.

Anna Ma, Mathematics

Stochastic Iterative Algorithms for Large-Scale Data Analysis

Advances in technology have led to a world where large-scale data collection is ubiquitous. However, traditional techniques for processing data are not designed for such large-scale data sets, and are thus quickly becoming outdated. As a result, there is an immense demand for efficient, scalable, and robust algorithms for data analytics. Interest in a specific class of algorithms, Stochastic Iterative Algorithms, has grown in recent years due to their ability to handle large-scale data. This work aims to adapt, improve, and design algorithms for large-scale data analytics, as well as provide theoretical guarantees for algorithmic performance.

Meghana (Meg) Warren, Psychology

Allyship at Work: Going beyond Diversity Policies and Practices

How can historically privileged (e.g., White) employees be allies to historically marginalized (e.g., Black) employees? This mixed-method dissertation will document privileged and marginalized employee perspectives on exemplary (i.e., extraordinarily committed) allyship. Study 1 will qualitatively interview 15 exemplars to catalogue their virtues and relational behaviors. Study 2 will quantitatively examine whether exemplars (= 50) differ from comparison lay employees (= 50) on hypothesized virtues and relational behaviors, and gather inclusion stories. Study 3 will experimentally test whether marginalized employees (= 150) perceive allies’ (versus lay employees’) relational behaviors as more inclusive and, in turn, intend to behave prosocially.