Graduate Research Funding

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The Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI) advances research on the patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequalities, how inequality varies across time and space, and how it is perpetuated or mitigated through day-to-day interactions, families, schools, neighborhoods, prisons, employing organizations, local and national labor market institutions, the law, politics, and the state. CSI values theoretically driven empirical research, whether it is in the service of “basic” knowledge about the fundamental nature of inequality or of “applied” knowledge that is relevant to public policy.

CSI invites proposals for grants that will support research on inequality by Cornell University graduate students. The proposed research projects will be judged on their academic rigor and social scientific merit, relevance to contemporary inequality scholarship, and potential to advance the field. Projects that meet these criteria are also likely to lead to publication or to successful external grant proposals, but our primary goal is to support high-quality research on inequality. Grants are open to PhD students in any social science discipline at Cornell. Awards help procure research materials and equipment, software and data, undergraduate research assistance, and research-related travel.

The deadline for the 2018-19 grants was February 15, 2019. We anticipate issuing a new RFP in fall 2019. You can review the 2018-2019 Request for Proposals below.

Please email us with any inquiries.

Seed Grant RFP

Who Can Apply?

We welcome proposals from graduate students at any stage of their training, and who are enrolled in any social science field at Cornell. However, priority will be given to graduate students who are enrolled in Soc 5190 and/or who have demonstrated a commitment to CSI in the past (e.g., by attending events, taking classes from CSI affiliates, etc).

Graduate students who have received small grants in the past are welcome to apply for support for a different project, although we reserve the right to prioritize first‐time applicants.

Proposals to conduct research in collaboration with other Cornell graduate students are welcome, although the $1000 award cap per project will still apply. Proposals to conduct collaborative research with Cornell faculty or with scholars outside of Cornell must demonstrate that the graduate student is taking the lead intellectual role on the project, not acting (implicitly or explicitly) as the senior or external scholar’s RA.

How are Proposals Evaluated?

We invite proposals for grants that will support research on inequalityby Cornell University graduate students in any department or college. The proposed research projects will be judged on academic rigor, social scientific merit, engagement with the inequality literature, and potential scholarly contributions.

Proposals should be consistent with the intellectual mission of CSI:  To advance research on the patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequalities, how inequality varies across time and space, and how it is perpetuated or mitigated through day‐to‐day interactions, families, schools, neighborhoods, prisons, employing organizations, local and national labor market institutions, the law, politics, and the state.  In the past we have received many proposals that have no clear relationship to inequality and/or that demonstrate little familiarity with relevant existing literature on the topic; these proposals do not get funded regardless of the quality of their research design.

Proposals are reviewed by an internal panel, which includes the director of CSI.

How Large are the Awards?

They do not exceed $1000. Proposals that include hiring and training undergraduate research assistants are eligible for a “top up” of up to $500, for a maximum of $1500.

The total resources allocated to the program is $5,000. These funds are generously provided by the College of Arts and Sciences.

What is the Proposal Deadline?

February 15, 2019. Awards will be announced in April or May, and the funds will be available as soon as we can process the paperwork.

What Activities are Supported?

Grants may support specialized research materials and equipment, software that is not already available through CSI or CISER site licenses, undergraduate research assistance, experimental subject incentives, travel to and from research sites (as a supplement to, not replacement for, travel funds provided by the Graduate School or individual departments/fields), and other direct expenses of data collection and analysis. Requests for data purchases should be directed toward CISER first.

Grants cannot be used to cover travel to conferences or workshops to present the results of research (see Graduate School conference travel grants); computer or related hardware purchases; academic year or summer stipends; health care or related benefits; student fees; or publication fees; or payments of any kind to Cornell faculty or staff or to external faculty, staff, or students.

If you have a question about whether a specific expense is allowable, please contact CSI.

How to Submit a Proposal

Proposals should include the following:

  1. Cover letter with the name of applicant, netid, field of study, faculty advisor, anticipated graduation date and a brief overview of the proposal. If this the proposal is for a collaborative project, include the names and academic affiliations of all collaborators.
  2. Body of the proposal must include: title, description of research, objectives, planned activities, and expected outputs.
  3. The research objectives and research design should be as specific as possible. The description of objectives identify the core contributions of the proposed project relative to the existing literature, engaging it in a meaningful and not just perfunctory, fashion.
  4. A budget with an itemized list of, and justification for, expenses. Please review the information on which activities are supported (above)
  5. A timeline for the research
  6. Plans for follow‐up research and, if relevant, external funding proposals
  7. Curriculum Vitae

Not including the CV, the proposal should not exceed 1700 words. IRB approval (or evidence of exemption) is not required before you apply, but we will not release the funds until it is secured.

Please email the proposal in one document (.pdf or .docx) to Mary Newhart by February 15, 2019.

How Will Award Recipients Receive the Funds?

Funding for undergraduate research recipients will be transferred to your field department. You must contact your department’s administrative manager to arrange for the hiring of research assistants. All other funds will be made through a single transfer through the Office of the Bursar.

What Strings are Attached?

All funds must be used within one year of the award date.  Recipients will be required to

  1. submit a brief, final report on the use of the funds and the outcome of the research, and
  2. acknowledge CSI support in all presentations or publications that result from the funded

Funded Projects


Karina Acosta, City and Regional Planning
A Spatial Inequality Breakdown of Child Poverty in Colombia

Neelanjan Datta and Germán Reyes, Economics
The Effect of Government Social Programs on Perceptions of Inequality

Erin McCauley, Sociology
Stigma by Association: An Experimental Evaluation of Parental  Incarceration and Teacher’s Evaluation of Students and their Work

Yoselinda Mendoza, Sociology
Housing Precarity Among Mixed-status Latina/o Immigrant Families

Emily Parker, Policy Analysis and Management
Health Without Wealth: How Federally Qualified Health Centers Address Socioeconomic Inequality

Mikaela Spruill and Stephanie Tepper, Psychology
Increasing Support for Reparations: The Role of Framing, Stereotype Endorsement, and Structural Beliefs about Inequality

Phoebe Strom, ILR
Catfight or Contention? Gender Bias and Third-Party Perceptions of Organizational Conflict


David De Micheli, Government 
Racial Reclassification, Education Reform, and Political Identity Formation in Brazil

Yuqi Lu, Sociology
Spatially Concentrated Disadvantage in the Form of Unequal Access to Neighborhood Resources, Amenities and Services: Evidence from Google Maps Data

Vincent Mauro, Government
The Effects of Party System Strength on Redistribution in Sub-national Brazil

Meaghan Mingo, Sociology
Race and Decision-Making in School Discipline

Mario Molina, Sociology
The Co-Evolution of In-group Favoritism and Group Structure

Benjamin Ruisch, Psychology
Learning prejudice: How asymmetries in associative learning shape racial prejudice

Shruti Sannon, Communication
Privacy and Power in Digital Labor Markets


Bridget Brew, Policy Analysis and Management & Sociology
Corrections Officers’ Views and Decision-Making Processes

Kayla Burd, Law, Psychology, and Human Development and Michael Creim, Human Development
Criminal Caricature: A Survey of Crimes Stereotypes

Youjin Chung, Development Sociology 
Sweet Deal, Bitter Landscapes: Gender, Power, and the New Enclosures in Coastal Tanzania

Megan Doherty Bea, Sociology 
Socio-spatial Analysis of Payday Lenders within Changing Contexts of Residential Segregation in the United States

Theresa Rocha Beardall, Sociology 
Police Contracts, Community Contestation, and Legal Authority in Urban Spaces

Delphia Shanks-Booth, Government
Information vs. Ideology: Recognizing (Government) Benefits in the Submerged State


Michael Allen, David De Micheli, and Whitney Taylor, Government
Who Supports Redistribution? Group Norms, Private Preferences, and Social Desirability

Mauricio Bucca and Mario Molina, Sociology
Legitimation or Differential Perception? An Experimental Approach to the Study of Beliefs about Inequality

Alex Currit, Sociology
Social Environment, Activity Spaces, and Health Inequality

Sebastian Dettman, Government
Citizens in Context: Participation, Citizenship and Local Inequality in Urban Indonesia

Allison Dwyer Emory, Sociology/Policy Analysis and Management
Family Experiences of Pretrial Incarceration
(with support from the ISS Mass Incarceration Project)

Yuanyuan Liu, Sociology
Gender Differences in Endogenous and Exogenous Peer Effects on Academic Achievement: A Network Approach


Kyle Albert, Sociology
Professionalization or Profits? Examining the Rapid Growth and Labor Market Value of Occupational Certification Programs in the United States

Rachel Behler, Sociology
‘Locating’ HIV Risk Behaviors: Examining the Role of Individual-Organization Affiliation Networks in HIV Transmission

Justine Lindemann, Development Sociology
Reimagining the City: Race, Food, and the Production of Space

Tamara McGavock, Economics
Crisis, Sibling Inequality, and Transfers as Compensation: Evidence from Indonesia

Paul Muniz, Sociology
A Multi-level Model of Permanent Supportive Housing Retention in Los Angeles, CA

Mallory SoRelle, Government
Consuming Citizenship: The Political Development and Consequences of US Consumer Financial Protection Policy

Martha Anna Wilfahrt, Government
The Politics of Social Service Delivery in Rural Senegal, 1880-2012


Rachel Behler, Sociology
‘Locating’ HIV Risk Behaviors: Examining the Role of Individual-Organization Affiliation Networks in HIV Transmission

Hilary Holbrow, Sociology
Shall I Stay or Shall I Go? Local Institutional Determinants of Immigrant Integration

Ankita Patnaik, Economics
Making Leave Easier: Better Compensation & Daddy-Only Entitlements

Emily S. Taylor Poppe, Sociology
Going it Alone: Legal Mobilization and Efficacy in the Foreclosure Crisis


Daniel DellaPosta, Sociology
Differentiating the Effects of Status and In-Group Preference in Social Exchange: A Laboratory Experiment

Alicia Eads, Sociology
A Threat to the System: Political Responses to Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party

Emily S. Taylor Poppe, Sociology
Client Attributes and Legal Outcomes: How Race and Gender Impact Lawyers’ Actions

Kyle Siler, Sociology
Influences of Luck on Subsequent Decision-Making in Online Poker


Carlo Lutz, Sociology & Inequality
Rwandan Miracle- The Role of Top-Down Leadership in Development

Joyce Main, Learning, Teaching, & Social Policy
Graduate Student- Faculty Advisor Relationships: Does Gender Match Matter for Student Educational and Employment Outcomes

Emily Rosenzweig, Social Psychology
Implicit Gender Identity and its Behavioral Implications


Emily Hoagland, Sociology
The Effects of Organizational Support on the Perception of Women Political Candidates

Christin Munsch, Sociology
Talking to Men about Masculinity: A Qualitative Examination of Masculinity and Compensation


Emily Hoagland, Sociology
Supporting Women Candidates: The Effects of Fundraising Organizations on the Political Success of Women

In Paik, Sociology
Developing a Diverse Academy: Examining Women and People of Color in the Ph.D Pipeline

Jared Peifer, Sociology
Religion in the Financial Market: The Case of Religious Mutual Funds

Chris Yenkey, Sociology
Financial Illiteracy as a Contributor to Wealth Inequality in Developing Countries: A micro-level analysis of shareholding on the Nairobi Stock Exchange

2007-2008 (In partnership with the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center)

Nicolas Eilbaum, Sociology
Undocumented Immigrants in New York City: Hope and Fear

Jennifer Lauture, Sociology
Never-Married Black Women: The Roles of Social Distance and Racial Exclusion

Bartolo Ligouri, Sociology
High Stakes Tests and Teacher Resistance: New York City Schools in an Era of Increased Accountability

Catherine Taylor, Sociology
Stress, Status, and Gender in Decision-Making Groups

Jennifer Todd, Sociology
Under Pressure: Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement in the Era of School Accountability

Yujun Wang, Sociology and Michael Genkin, Sociology
Understanding Onomastic Mechanisms in Immigrant Assimilation

2006-2007 (In partnership with the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center)

Youngjoo Cha, Sociology
The Increase in Gender Earnings Inequality among Professional and Managerial Workers and the Gendered Norm of Overworking

Diana Hernandez, Sociology
Living in Paradox: Low Income Families, Home and Neighborhood Challenges and (Non)Participation in the Legal System

Li Ma, Sociology
Social Inequality during the Deinstitutionalization of Hukou in China

Christin Munsch, Sociology
Campus Climate Survey

Catherine Taylor, Sociology
Stress, Gender, and Numerical Minority in Goal Oriented Groups

Sarah Thebaud, Sociology
Institutions, interactions and entrepreneurship: A cross-national study of gender inequality in venture creation

Chris Yenkey, Sociology
Jeri Grows up Fast: An Ethnographic Account of Emerging Stratification in Rural Brazil