Princeton Faculty Awarded Funding for Innovative Education Research Projects

Six faculty members at Princeton University will receive funding to work on innovative, cross-disciplinary education research projects over the next two academic years.

More than $500,000 was awarded to Will Dobbie, Sara S. McLanahan, Eldar Shafir, Nicole Shelton, Stacey Sinclair and Casey Lew-Williams by the Overdeck Education Research Innovation Fund.

The fund was created by the Overdeck Family Foundation, which donated $1 million to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs to support cross-disciplinary research projects across campus involving quantitative data analysis.

Funds will be distributed in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years for the faculty members below.

  • Will Dobbie, assistant professor of economics and public affairs, received funding for a proposal titled “Experimental Evidence on Reducing Problem Behaviors and Improving Employability in Youth Education and Training Centers.” Dobbie’s co-principal investigators include David Deming, professor of public policy, education and economics, Harvard University; and Sara Heller, assistant professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Sara S. McLanahan, William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and director of the Center for Research on Child Well-Being, received funding for a proposal titled “Appending Educational Records to the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.” McLanahan’s interdisciplinary team includes Christopher Neilson, assistant professor of economics and public affairs, Princeton University; Louis Donnelly, research specialist, Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, Princeton University; and Lisa Pithers, associate director, Education Research Section, Princeton University.
  • Eldar Shafir, Class of 1987 Professor in Behavioral Science and Public Policy, professor of psychology and public affairs and inaugural director of the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, and Casey Lew-Williams, assistant professor of psychology, received funding for a proposal titled “Effects of adults’ financial concerns on infants’ language learning in low-income households.”
  • Stacey Sinclair, professor of psychology and African American studies and an associate faculty member at the Woodrow Wilson School, and Nicole Shelton, Stuart Professor in the Department of Psychology, received funding for a proposal titled “Implicit Racial Bias and Academic Outcomes.” Natasha Warikoo, associate professor at Harvard University, will also serve as a co-principal investigator.

Smaller grants totaling around $10,000 were awarded to three Princeton University students. They will be distributed in the 2016-17 academic year to the students below.

  • Leah Gillion, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Demography;
  • Ashleigh Johnson, a senior at the University; and
  • Daniela Urbina Julio, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy.

Priority was given to cross-disciplinary proposals, particularly those including research in education with intersections among two or more of the following disciplines: economics, sociology, politics, psychology and the natural and physical sciences.

 “We congratulate all the researchers who received funding for these innovative research projects,” said Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Wilson School, the Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education and professor of economics and public affairs. “We are particularly excited about the ability to support research with a multidisciplinary lens, which will provide new insights into the best ways to support children and improve our schools.”

Individual faculty members, Princeton students or groups of faculty or students interested in $5,000 grants may continue to submit proposals, which are considered on a rolling basis. Proposals should include a letter of intent no more than two pages long and a detailed budget.

All proposal materials should be submitted to Christine Gage at For letter-of-intent guidelines and other questions, email Ms. Gage or call her at 609-258-3143.

The Overdeck Family Foundation

Demonstrating a passion and commitment to the future of American education, John and Laura Overdeck established the Overdeck Family Foundation in 2011. The foundation seeks to fill children’s untapped potential by funding compelling, innovative programs and projects that have proven, quantifiable results.