The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame has received multiple funding awards totaling nearly $750,000 to continue its work reducing poverty and improving lives through evidence-based programs and policies.
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The transformative gift will help the center expand its work forming and mentoring Notre Dame students, engaging in interdisciplinary programming and research, and promoting a culture of life worldwide through teaching, exchange, and service.
Three University of Notre Dame faculty members — Rebecca Tinio McKenna, Sarah McKibben, and Vincent Phillip Muñoz — have been offered fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2018 award cycle. With 65 total awards, scholars in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have received more NEH fellowships any other private university in the United States since 1999.
In the past three years alone, Notre Dame student Mary Elsa Henrichs’ passions for theatre, English literature, and German have converged in many memorable ways. She’s attended performances of Hamlet in Berlin. She’s worked as a research assistant to two German professors, helping to bring book projects to publication. And she’s spending next semester studying in Heidelberg, Germany, where she hopes to secure a theatre internship. The arts, she said, are a through line between her majors in German and English.
Senior Mary Ninneman has been to Thailand, Greece, and Washington, D.C., studying the causes and effects of human trafficking — and those experiences inspired her to further study the issue in the place she knows best. A history and political science major, Army ROTC cadet, and member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, Ninneman’s four years of academic, internship, and international experiences have culminated in a senior thesis analyzing how the issue she’s most passionate about impacts her home state of Nebraska.
Homelessness in the U.S. is a persistent and complex problem. Each year more than 2.3 million people experience homelessness, 7.4 million people live “doubled up” with friends or family for economic reasons, and many more are on the brink of homelessness. A new study conducted by researchers at the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities shows that emergency financial assistance for people facing homelessness not only reduces shelter entry, but also reduces criminal behavior.
For Christopher Chowrimootoo, there’s nothing unusual about a musicologist teaching in the Great Books program. That’s because, like his research, the Program of Liberal Studies is fundamentally interdisciplinary. He primarily tries to bring music into wider conversations about the “middlebrow” in literature, film studies, and cultural history. This originally pejorative term implied cultural aspiration, using “highbrow” art to achieve a higher social and aesthetic status.
Zhiyong Zhang, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, has been awarded the 2018 Cattell Early Career Research Award from the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology.
Assistant professor Kim Rollings’ research examines how built and natural environments impact mental and physical health. In collaboration with Nancy Wells, professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University, she recently developed an assessment tool that scores elementary school cafeteria environments, suggesting improvements that promote healthier eating.
Sophia Bevacqua ’17, an art history major now serving a five-year fellowship at the Vatican Museums, works with seven laboratories dedicated to preserving and restoring the site’s vast collections. She works with the laboratories to determine which works of art will be restored, which methods will be used to do the work, and how much each project will cost. She then works to match upcoming restoration projects with benefaction from the museums’ pool of approximately 2,400 donors.
The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures has added expertise in modern Spanish and Italian culture and literature this year with two new faculty hires — Pedro Aguilera-Mellado and Charles Leavitt IV. Aguilera-Mellado, who comes to Notre Dame from the University of Michigan, focuses on modern and contemporary Spain. Leavitt, who received a Ph.D. from Notre Dame in 2010, returns to the University after teaching Italian studies at the University of Reading.
Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame, has won the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s 2018 Distinguished Book Award. The honor, conferred upon the most outstanding book published by an SSSR member in the past two years, lauded the “impressive accomplishment” of Smith’s Religion: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters. Smith’s book aims to help the social sciences better understand and explain religion by building an innovative theory of religion that builds on developments in science, theory, and philosophy.
By the time children are 5 years old, there is already a distinct gap between those ready for kindergarten and those who aren’t. And for the children who lag behind — most often those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds — that gap may never close. Chloe Gibbs ’00 wants to determine how preschool can best prepare those children for kindergarten and for success later in life. An assistant professor in the Department of Economics, she has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for her project, Parenting, Preschool, and the Production of School Readiness and Later Academic Outcomes.
Kayla Pierce discusses why she's fascinated by small-group interactions, how emotions can travel from person to person, and why a person's status may matter in that process.
Plenty of scholars study governmental problems and failures in developing nations. Erin McDonnell is interested in what’s going right — examining certain pockets of government in Ghana and other countries to determine how they are succeeding. She has spent a total of almost two years in Ghana conducting fieldwork for her upcoming book, tentatively titled Patchwork Leviathan: Subcultures of Bureaucratic Effectiveness in Developing States.
Arnaud Zimmern, a Ph.D. candidate in English who is also pursuing a graduate minor in the history and philosophy of science, discusses why he chose to apply only to Notre Dame, the value of the digital humanities, and conducting research that matters.
After receiving her Ph.D. in medieval studies from Notre Dame in 2017, Megan Welton spent a year as an Arts and Letters postdoctoral fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway in England. She is now a researcher on the NWO-VICI project, “Citizenship Discourses in the Early Medieval World” at Utrecht University.
A more accurate measure of the poverty rate, based on how much people consume, highlights the dramatic decline in poverty over the past four decades, a fact that is missed by the official government poverty numbers. This can be visualized in a new poverty dashboard developed by professors James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame and Bruce Meyer of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
Anre Venter, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology, designed a project to provide three Vietnamese-American undergraduate research assistants an opportunity to explore their identity in Vietnam. While research has been conducted in the area of ethnic identity development in minority groups, Venter believes little has been done in comparing the process of ethnic identity development within particular ethnic groups.
Ukraine is on the brink of war-related environmental disaster according to new research published by Kristina Hook and Richard Marcantonio, both doctoral candidates in anthropology and peace studies.
Music has the power to inspire, to sustain, and to build community. And students and alumni of Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Calvin M. Bower Doctor of Musical Arts program are playing a vital role in re-energizing the church and the academy through sacred music. With tracks in choral conducting and organ, the program offers an academically rigorous curriculum with a wide range of opportunities for performance, academic, and community engagement. The latest step forward for the DMA program is a generous gift from James and Molly Perry to endow and rename it in honor of Calvin M. Bower, professor emeritus of musicology.
Ying Alison Cheng, associate professor of psychology and fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame, will lead a $1.4 million project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences to develop the intelligent diagnostic assessment program (i-DAP) for high school statistics education.
Brad Gregory, director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study and Dorothy G. Griffin Professor of Early Modern European History, received a 2018 Expanded Reason Awards honorable mention for his book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society.
“African-American cultural experience is one that can't be bound by national boundaries,” said Mark A. Sanders, a professor of English and Africana studies at the University of Notre Dame. Sanders researches early 20th-century American and African American literature and culture. He has worked extensively on the Harlem Renaissance, writing one book and co-editing another on the poet Sterling Brown. He is now working to bring together scholars to translate work by African-descended writers from across the Americas.
Laura Dassow Walls, the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, has won the 2018 Christian Gauss Award from Phi Beta Kappa for her biography, Henry David Thoreau: A Life. The prize, which recognizes outstanding books of literary scholarship, will be presented at a reception in Washington, D.C., in December.
In a first-of-its-kind study, Notre Dame anthropologist Lee Gettler and psychologist Patty Kuo focused on how dads’ biology around the birth of their children relates to their parenting down the road. Dads whose cortisol levels were elevated while they held their newborns on the day of their birth – either skin to skin or clothed – were more likely to be involved with indirect care and play with their infants in the first months of their lives.
It was a New Year’s Eve celebration that Mary McGraw '17 will never forget. McGraw was ringing in the new year with eight Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, Ireland. This intimate moment isn’t something that most study abroad students get to experience while in Ireland. In fact, most people will never know what it’s like to see these nuns behind closed doors. It took several months in Kylemore for McGraw to develop trust with the nuns and, ultimately, a relationship that allowed her to gain a unique perspective into their everyday lives. A studio art major with a photography concentration, McGraw was able to pull back the curtains and capture even more intimate moments through her camera lens — a project that led to her senior thesis.
Kate Marshall is associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include media theory, narrative, and the philosophy of science. "I spend a lot of time working on problems in contemporary fiction and how they relate not only to the long history of the novel and other forms of literary representation but also the way that they relate to other ways of thinking in the contemporary world," she says."
Kristin Valentino is dedicated to understanding how adversity in early childhood — such as chronic poverty or maltreatment — can affect children’s mental and physical health later in life. And she wants to know how psychologists can best intervene and improve outcomes for those children. The William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Associate Professor of Psychology has been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue exploring these issues in her latest project, “Pathways Linking Early Adversity and Support to Behavior and Physical Health.”
Joseph Parent, an associate professor of political science and associate director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, recently studied how states respond to shifts in power, questioning the conventional wisdom that great powers become more aggressive when they are falling. “In fact, decline is one of the biggest causes of peace,” he said. “It turns out that states were very aware of their declining power and they knew that if they started something, it would end badly for them.”