Spotlight Exclusives

Emerging Poverty Scholars Bring Insights to Nation’s Capital

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The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison brought their 2021-2023 Emerging Scholars to Washington last week, and Spotlight was fortunate to spend some time with the group and hear about the work they are doing.

IRP’s Emerging Poverty Scholars Fellowships provide exceptional junior scholars from underrepresented racial and ethnic populations with flexible funding over a two-year award period.

The Fellowship supports the career development and success of these scholars by

  • Enhancing the resources available to them.
  • Providing high-quality one-on-one mentoring from nationally renowned senior poverty scholars.
  • Fostering interaction among a diverse set of scholars through quarterly meetings with the Emerging Scholars cohort and experts in the field.
  • Providing opportunities to highlight the research of the Emerging Scholars through IRP products and events in order to broaden the corps of U.S. poverty researchers.

Fellowships may be used for a wide range of professional development activities, including

  • Engaging in substantive and methodological training.
  • Travel for data collection, collaboration, or research presentation.
  • Funding research assistants
  • Securing release time from teaching
  • Summer salary support.

Bios for the current set of IRP Emerging Scholar fellows:

  • Brittany Battle: Brittany Pearl Battle is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University. Her research interests include social and family policy, courts, and carceral logics. Her book project (under contract with NYU Press), They’re Stealing My Opportunity to Be a Father, examines how the child support system (re)produces carcerality as a state intervention in the family. Battle is also the co-founder of Triad Abolition Project, a grassroots organization based in Winston-Salem, NC, working to dismantle the carceral state. Her project for the Emerging Poverty Scholars Fellowship will examine the experiences of low-income people and communities in diverse judicial settings and forms of community confinement.
  • Jamein Cunningham: Jamein P. Cunningham is an Assistant Professor in the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy at Cornell University with a joint appointment in the Department of Policy Analysis & Management and the Department of Economics. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Cornell Population Center and the Cornell Center for Social Sciences. His interests lie at the intersection of economic history and urban economics, with particular emphasis on the lasting impact of public policies from the 1960s and 1970s. Cunningham’s research agenda currently consists of four broad overarching themes focusing on institutional discrimination, access to social justice, crime and criminal justice, and racial inequality. He plans to focus his time as a Fellow completing two new projects: “Access to Public Assistance and Infant Mortality: Evidence from the Legal Services Program in the 1960s”; and “The War on Drugs, Byrne Grants, and Incarceration,” with co-author Robynn Cox.
  • Ivis Garcia: Ivis Garcia is an Assistant Professor in City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. Her most recent community engagement research has sought to elucidate currently existing as well as historic relationships between market typologies, the structured dynamics of housing stratification and distribution, advocacy, and community organizing strategies in diverse (primarily Latino) communities. Her work has implications pertaining to inequality in recovery from disasters and the role of the state in housing policy more generally. In addition, Garcia chairs Planners for Puerto Rico—a group of academic and practitioner planners—in which she collaborates on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and is a board member of the National Puerto Rican Agenda. Garcia plans to use this fellowship to follow the relocation experiences of 100 households in two rural Puerto Rican communities affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Her work will enhance the scientific understanding of post-disaster community relocation decisions amidst uncertainty within communities of color.
  • Deyanira Nevarez Martinez: Deyanira Nevarez Martinez is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University. Using qualitative methods, her research focuses on the role of the state in informal and precarious housing and a major theme in her work is the criminalization of poverty. Additionally, her work has looked at issues of gentrification, racial equity in land-use and transportation, racial segregation, and bail reform. As an Emerging Poverty Scholar, she plans to launch a research project that seeks to examine ethnographically how Latinx individuals in farm-working communities in Michigan and their families experience homelessness and housing precarity and how they navigate the homelessness and housing services bureaucracy. This is especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely and disproportionately affected this community in an increasingly xenophobic political environment.
  • Elizabeth Iris Rivera Rodas: Elizabeth Iris Rivera Rodas is an Assistant Professor of Quantitative Methods and Sociology of Education in the Department of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University’s College of Education and Human Services. As an economist of education, Rivera Rodas’s scholarly interests involve the economics of urban education, residential and school segregation, and structural educational inequities by race and ethnicity. Her current research, which is supported by a two-year American Educational Research Association–National Science Foundation Research Grant, explores the structural barriers that contribute to Latinx mathematics achievement. The projects she will advance as an Emerging Poverty Scholar extend this research and investigate the structural and intentional processes within mathematics tracking and the impact on postsecondary enrollment and completion in STEM fields for Latinx high school students.


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