New Grants Launch Affiliate-Led Projects

Congratulations to Michael Light who received funding from the Russell Sage Foundation for the project “Colorism and Criminal Case Processing.” Using arrest data from Texas’s Computerized Criminal History system, sociologist Michael Light will analyze arrests in the state’s 254 counties between 2006 and 2018 to examine the extent to which skin tone inequality is a factor in criminal case processing. Light will address two questions: 1) whether otherwise similar arrestees caught engaging in the same criminal conduct receive outcomes that vary by their skin tone, and 2) if the effect of skin tone varies by the arrestees’ racial category.

The National Science Foundation funded Jenna Nobles and Florencia Torche’s research “The Intergenerational Effects of COVID-19 on Inequality.” Felix Elwert and Deirdre Lyell are both collaborators as well. The team examines the effects of COVID-19 exposure on infant health at birth—with a focus on how the pandemic exacerbates U.S. inequality in early-life resources. Because health in infancy shapes educational attainment, wages, and even longevity, this dimension of the pandemic may be among the most enduring.

Alejandra Ros Pilarz was named a recipient of the Pipeline Grants Competition, a partnership between the Russell Sage Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The award supports early- and mid-career tenure-track scholars who are underrepresented in the social sciences and promotes diversity broadly, including racial, ethnic, gender, disciplinary, institutional, and geographic diversity. For the project, Pilarz, together with UW–Madison alum Laura Cuesta of Rutgers University, will study how regularity in child support receipt has changed over the past twenty years and the extent to which this regularity affects custodial mothers’ employment and economic well-being.

Tova Walsh received a pilot grant from the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research for the project “Black Fathers, Equal Partners in Advancing Maternal and Infant Health.” Together with Alvin Thomas of the School of Human Ecology, Walsh will work to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal child health outcomes. The study aims to include the voices of Black fathers as participants and partners in family, maternal, and infant health, through a survey and focus groups involving both Black mothers and Black fathers. Together with the African American Breastfeeding Network–Milwaukee, the research findings will be used to develop and enhance father-inclusive programming, with the long-term goal of improving access, support, and health of Black expectant and new fathers through child and family services.

The Understanding and Reducing Inequalities Initiative, funded by the UW’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, supports research to build stronger bodies of knowledge on how to reduce inequalities. This spring fifteen projects from across campus received awards, four of which involve CDE affiliates: