Institute nurtures promising social scientists with ‘dream’ semester

Cornell’s Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS) is once again offering a dream semester to the university’s most promising young social scientists, giving them time, money and resources to concentrate on their research at a crucial point in their careers.

The ISS has announced its 2018-19 cohort of 15 faculty fellows. For a semester, each will receive an office at the ISS, partial relief from teaching and major departmental duties, and a $10,000 grant. They also receive professional development opportunities, such as training in working with the media and applying for grants. And they meet regularly over lunch to talk about their work and forge collaborations.


“Looking back, the ISS faculty fellows program was incredibly beneficial as I prepared to go up for tenure,” said Laura Tach, associate professor of policy analysis and management and a member of the 2015-16 cohort. “It gave me the intellectual space to develop a major new data collection project and apply for external funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program also afforded me the time to complete and submit a number of journal articles in time for them to appear on my tenure dossier.”

The 2018-19 cohort includes:

“For many early-career social scientists on campus, time is an especially precious commodity,” said ISS Director Daniel Lichter, professor of policy analysis and management and of sociology. “The fellows program gives them the freedom from teaching and administration to finish a book, complete a major research project or write a new grant proposal. The fellows program is an investment in Cornell’s most promising faculty. It’s a commitment to their success as scholars.”

For example, after Tach’s faculty fellowship, the Gates Foundation awarded her $500,000 to assess the impact of place-based and place-conscious interventions on economic mobility.

The ISS chooses new faculty fellows every three years, and this is the fourth cohort it has hosted since its inception in 2004. The fellows were nominated by their department chairs and deans and selected in a cross-university competition by an interdisciplinary review committee.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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