News


January


In Memoriam: Cynthia (CC) DuBois, 1985–2018
Cynthia (CC) DuBois (SESP PhD ’17), an emerging, award-winning scholar and former IPR graduate research assistant, died as a result of brain cancer on Jan. 2 in Chicago. She was 32.

Food or Water?
While in Kenya studying food insecurity during the first 1,000 days of life, IPR anthropologist Sera Young stumbled upon an equally severe problem facing new mothers and their children: access to water. Young is now working to create a cross-culturally validated household-level water insecurity scale.

December


A Vision for the Future of Education Research
What does it mean to do education research in today's unique political and social environment, in which the United States faces rising inequality? Na'ilah Suad Nasir, president of the Spencer Foundation, addressed her vision for the future of education research in a special lecture hosted by the Institute for Policy Research and School of Education and Social Policy on November 14 at Northwestern University.

Faculty Spotlight: Robin Nusslock
Psychologist and IPR associate Robin Nusslock strives to understand the relationship between the brain and mental and physical well-being, whether by examining how emotion guides our decisions or by developing a "brain stress test" to determine risk for psychiatric illness.

Bridging the Gaps
Colleges have traditionally been targeted to high-income and high-achieving students, but now, nontraditional students enroll at increasingly higher rates. A new book by IPR education researcher James Rosenbaum examines how community colleges can help these students succeed.

Battling "Incredible Certitude" in Science Reporting
In an era of questioning of all facts, it is more important than ever to face up to and report uncertainty when communicating policy analysis and scientific research, IPR economist Charles F. Manski explained in a National Academy of Sciences lecture. 

November


Expanding Development Research at Northwestern
While the overall rate of global poverty has fallen to under 10 percent from 35 percent in 1990, the problem of deep and persistent poverty remains. Development economists and IPR associates Dean Karlan and Christopher Udry have founded the Global Poverty Research Lab, housed in the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The lab will present new opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration across the University—including with IPR faculty already conducting development research—on ways to break the cycle of poverty.

Daniel Galvin Receives Russell Sage Award
IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin recently received a Presidential Authority Award from the Russell Sage Foundation, the U.S.’ premier foundation devoted to social science research, to study the evolution of labor politics and workers’ rights since the 1960s.

Faculty Spotlight: Mary McGrath
“Some of the most important decisions that we make as members of the public are political decisions,” explained IPR political scientist Mary McGrath. “I’m interested in decision-making not in terms of who we normally think of as political decision makers—policymakers and political elites—but how do regular people make these decisions they’re faced with?”

Infographic: How Cash Transfers Help Children in the Long Run
A century ago, a remarkably successful cash transfer program began providing money to mothers in need, increasing their sons’ life spans by about a year, according to research by economist and IPR associate Joseph Ferrie.

Conference Highlights the Power of Social Relationships
The social connections we create throughout life can impact everything from self-esteem and learning to inequality and teacher performance, researchers said during Northwestern University’s international “Social Relationships Across the Life Span” conference.

 

October


The Costs of Striving, Arriving
The stress of poverty can last a lifetime. Even when  people are able to overcome the disadvantages of their youth, many who “make it” face lasting effects  of the journey. “There is no doubt that succeeding brings positive changes in terms of academic, social, and behavioral outcomes,” says IPR health psychologist Edith Chen, “but it turns out that this upward mobility has costs in terms of physical health.”

BMI Blues
Although a new father’s desire to be a positive role model often curbs some poor lifestyle choices that may lead to weight gain, an interdisciplinary group of Northwestern researchers was surprised to find that many men add pounds in early fatherhood.

September


New Faculty Set to Boost IPR in Key Research Areas
Two new fellows have joined IPR this fall, political scientist John Bullock and economist Ofer Malamud, with two more, sociologists Andrew Papachristos and Julia Behrman, arriving in 2018. The new fellows will add their expertise to the Institute's more than 140 IPR faculty fellows and associates, representing 25 departments across nine of the University’s 12 schools.

IPR Director Testifies on SNAP Research Before Senate Committee
On September 14, IPR Director Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist, testified before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee on Capitol Hill in a hearing to discuss nutrition programs covered by the 2018 Farm Bill. Schanzenbach, an expert on the short- and long-term effects of nutrition programs, discussed what current research, including her own, says about the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and offered suggestions for improvements in the upcoming bill.

Summer Research Program Puts Theory into Practice
As part of IPR's annual Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants (SURA) Program, led by IPR education researcher James Rosenbaum, 37 undergraduates worked with 31 faculty members to study social science issues ranging from congressional gridlock to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

Infographic: Persistence of Racial Discrimination in U.S. Hiring
A new meta-analysis by IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian assesses trends in hiring discrimination in the United States, revealing no change in rates of discrimination against African-Americans in field experiments of hiring from 1990 to 2015.

Adam Receives Spencer Award
IPR developmental psychologist Emma Adam received a $1 million, five-year Lyle Spencer Research Award to study the relationship between race-based stress and achievement gaps.

August


A Path Out of Poverty and Poor Health
Simple interventions, IPR psychologists and developmental scientists have found, can help ameliorate some of the challenges faced by low-income households. These interventions do not require elaborate social reengineering or huge financial investment. Instead, they meet children and families where they are, while providing benefits that stay with them throughout their lives.

Faculty Spotlight: Joe Feinglass
IPR associate Joe Feinglass began studying racial disparities in health access, treatment, and outcomes after obtained his PhD in public policy in 1988. For the past 25 years, he has been analyzing and publicizing health data at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where his long-held interest in health inequities has also been shaped by his previous experiences as factory machinist, 1960s activist, campaigner for Chicago mayor Harold Washington, and community college professor. 

Teresa Woodruff Named Dean of The Graduate School
IPR associate Teresa Woodruff, the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has been named dean of The Graduate School and associate provost for graduate education at Northwestern, effective Sept. 1.

July


When Should the Police Use Confrontational Tactics?
Citizens depend on police to provide public safety while maintaining the trust of the community. How can democratic societies balance these two, often conflicting, aims—given citizens’ often divergent views over basic tenets of criminal justice policy? IPR economist Charles F. Manski and Carnegie Mellon criminologist Daniel S. Nagin seek to provide a model that can help.

How Babies' Environments Lead to Poor Health Later
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade with other IPR researchers, underscores how environmental conditions early in development can cause inflammation in adulthood—an important risk factor for a wide range of diseases of aging, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and dementia.

Altered Cortisol Levels Tied to Poor Health
IPR developmental psychologist Emma Adam finds that a lack of variation in the stress hormone cortisol from morning to evening is tied to a wide range of negative health conditions, including inflammation and immune system dysfunction.

J-PAL North America Partners with Local Governments
Under an initiative co-chaired by IPR economist Jonathan Guryan, J-PAL North America is partnering with three city and county governments to evaluate promising solutions to homelessness and other important policy challenges facing state and local governments in the U.S.

Germs at Four, Inflammation at Forty
IPR anthropologists Thomas McDade and Christopher Kuzawa show how children's exposure to germs can affect inflammation and health in adulthood.

IPR Business Director Named Northwestern's Employee of the Year
While IPR Business Director Eric Betzold is known for wearing his purple IPR T-shirt on Fridays and curating an informal Star Wars memorabilia and Mac museum in his office, it is his handling of complex grant transfers and budgets across Northwestern that earns him rave reviews from faculty and funders.

June


Faculty Spotlight: Beth Redbird
IPR sociologist Beth Redbird is pursuing a full and diverse research agenda in her first year at Northwestern. She is studying how groups affect inequality by controlling social resources, whether affluence creates social segregation, and what speeches by political elites might tell us about inequality.

How Do Preemies Perform in School?
Parents of prematurely born babies often fear their children may go on to struggle in school, but findings from a new large-scale study from the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine should reassure parents.

Your Brain on Reward
Why would someone choose to gamble away $700,000 of his or her life savings at a Vegas poker table rather than save it for retirement? For psychologist and IPR associate Robin Nusslock, this choice is an example of a larger and more fundamental question, “To what extent do basic reward systems in the brain inform the decisions—both healthy and unhealthy—that we make in our life?”

New Book Calls for Putting More Humanities Into Economics
In a passionately argued new book, Northwestern University literary scholar Gary Saul Morson and Northwestern President and IPR economist Morton Schapiro make the claim that economics is missing its humanity, and economists must look to literature to make their research work in the real world.

Positive Engagement in Preschool Key to Developmental Gains
For the most part, focusing on the quality of early childhood education has emphasized teachers, often missing the central role that children play in their own development. A new study by developmental psychologist and IPR associate Terri Sabol has found that children's individual engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks was important to the gains they made during the preschool year, even after taking into account differences in classroom quality.

Working to Preserve and Restore Fertility
Oncofertility specialist and IPR associate Teresa Woodruff is making great gains in the field of women’s reproductive health that could help preserve women’s fertility—and even restore the fertility of women affected by cancer.

Teachers Benefit from Proximity
A study by education professor and IPR associate James Spillane suggests teachers may benefit from the chance encounters that stem from working near one another inside the school building.

Destiny Peery Brings Interdisciplinary Approach to Law and Bias
A JD with a PhD in social psychology, IPR associate Destiny Peery explores the intersection of law and issues of race, identity, equality, and discrimination. Her scholarship seeks to understand how the law defines and understands discrimination, with one goal being to determine how legal institutions can catch up with dynamic perceptions of race and ethnicity.

Exploring the DNA of Discovery
As part of the Science in Human Culture Program, sociologist and IPR associate Steven Epstein focuses on the relationships among social movements, domain experts, and health institutions.

Trivial Times: Fake News Guides Real Opinions in Digital Media Environment
IPR associate Stephanie Edgerly, who joined Medill in 2012 after finishing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin, explores how young people interact with media in the context of news, entertainment, and sharing via social networks. That research is closely intertwined with the fake-news phenomenon.

SESP Community Honors Dean Peterson
The Student Affairs Office, long considered the heart of the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), will be renamed the Penelope Peterson Office of Student Affairs, Northwestern University Provost Dan Linzer announced during a May 31 celebration of Peterson’s tenure as dean.

May


Dissecting Key Aspects of the Political Landscape
The 11th annual Chicago Area Political and Social Behavior Workshop (CAB) focused on key aspects shaping the current political landscape, “highlighting the reach of politics in topics such as wealth, geography, homes, and journalism,” said IPR political scientist James Druckman in opening the workshop on May 5 at Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus.

The Vital Role of Government Statistics
According to a recent bipartisan report between the American Enterprise Institute and the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, government data are critical not only to policy, but to businesses and families—even your local weather anchor—and should not be a partisan issue.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Pairing early childhood education for low-income children with career training for their parents in a single program has the potential to break the cycle of poverty, according to IPR researchers studying the CareerAdvance program.

Combating Medical Students' Racial Bias
Although many medical schools include diversity training in their curriculum, racial disparities in quality of care persist. Research shows these sometimes stem from physician attitudes, leading to differences in treatment and undermining trust in medical care. A new study by psychologist and IPR associate Sylvia Perry and her colleagues identifies one possible cause of biased attitudes and proposes possible solutions.

Infographic: Income Segregation in French and U.S. Cities
Large U.S. cities are more socioeconomically segregated than French metropolises of the same size, according to research by IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian published in Demography.

April


A Moment of 'Democratic Imperative'?
When and why do governments become less authoritarian? Why have some countries moved from authoritarianism toward instability, while others have become more democratic? Are democracies in the United States and Western Europe headed for breakdown? At an April workshop led by IPR political scientist Rachel Beatty Riedl, an international group of scholars discussed how past cases of democratic change can inform the contemporary moment.

Faculty Spotlight: Heather Schoenfeld
From a forthcoming book on the rise of mass incarceration to studies of state prison reforms, IPR sociologist and legal scholar Heather Schoenfeld applies a historical-sociological lens to understanding how the United States became the world's biggest jailer, and what policies might do to change it.

Creating Order Out of War
"Civil war" usually conjures up images of "anarchy and a collapse of order," according to political scientist and IPR associate Ana Arjona. But are civil wars always chaotic? According to Arjona's new book, Rebelocracy: Social Order in the Colombian Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2016), not necessarily.

Research Suggests Divide in How Millennials Value News
The way young adults consume news varies by socioeconomic background, according to a study by assistant professor of journalism and IPR associate Stephanie Edgerly. The research also highlights that millennials today are highly skeptical of news in general and do not believe everything they read.

IPR Economist Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Charles F. Manski has been named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association. He was recognized for the far-reaching impact of his research, his exceptional service to the economics and statistics professions, and the exemplary role he has played in advising the nation on research and public policy.

Food Security and Women's Empowerment
The 61st session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women was dedicated to examining women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. In a panel organized by the Women’s U.N. Report Network, two Northwestern professors described some of the causes and consequences of women’s food insecurity, as well as how it holds women back.

Infographic: Cash for Carbon
A recent study in Uganda, led by IPR development economist Seema Jayachandran and her colleagues, suggests that paying people to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation, and therefore carbon emissions.