Student Interest

Improving Education and Reducing Inequality
in the United States

The Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) and the William T. Grant Foundation (W.T. Grant) request proposals for research projects that investigate educational opportunity and success in the U.S. by utilizing data on academic achievement from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA). The archive, constructed by Sean Reardon (Stanford University) and colleagues, contains data on the results of over 300 million standardized achievement tests taken by about 40 million public school students from 2009 to 2015. This new data was made public on December 5, 2017. The New York Times mapped these test scores in two interactive charts that demonstrate the effectiveness of school districts nationwide.

RSF and W.T. Grant seek research projects that use SEDA data files in combination with other data sources to analyze the effects of different policies, practices, and social conditions on academic achievement gaps, or the effects of these achievement gaps on other social and economic outcomes. We are particularly, though not exclusively, interested in studies aimed at understanding how to reduce educational inequality and other forms of inequality.


Rural Sociology Graduate Program at Penn State University

Announcing the availability of a PhD research fellowship in Rural Sociology at Penn State University. The successful student will be funded as part of a The Pennsylvania State University Microbiome Center initiative to start Fall 2018. Five Ph.D. fellows will be funded, one of which will focus on social dimensions of microbiome research and applications of that research. Fellows will engage in an interdisciplinary effort to understand how microbiomes interact directly, as a result of microbial flow from food cultivation through human digestion, and indirectly, through their chemical and physical influences on products at each stage. In addition to being part of the cohort, the student will be required to develop his/her own related but independent research project to fulfill the requirements of the PhD in Rural Sociology.

The student would begin in fall semester 2018 and would be eligible for up to three years of funding, a full waiver of tuition expenses, and a package of benefits (including health insurance). Opportunities for professional development are also encouraged, including contributions to peer-reviewed publications and presentations at professional meetings.

Interested applicants should apply for admission to the graduate program in Rural Sociology at Penn State University by January 5, 2018. In addition, applicants should send a cover letter describing interests and qualifications and a CV to Dr. Leland Glenna ( by the same deadline (January 5, 2018). For more information about the graduate program, contact Dr. Kathryn Brasier, Director of Graduate Studies in Rural Sociology ( Additional information about the Rural Sociology Graduate Program can be found below and at the program’s website:

More information can be found here:


Rural Sociological Society Community, Family, and Health Research Interest Group Ronald Wimberley Student Paper Competition Submission Deadline: Friday, May 4th, 2018

The Community, Family, and Health Research Interest Group (RIG) is proud to announce the fifth annual Ronald Wimberley student paper competition designed to encourage and support graduate and undergraduate student research on rural communities. The call for papers is open to a wide range of topics in keeping with the spirit of the award’s namesake, Ronald Wimberley. Emphasis should be placed on the improvement of the quality-of-life in rural communities. Preference will be given to those papers that make a strong contribution to our understanding of rural community life and health. How are rural communities adapting to challenges brought about by scientific changes, economic transformation, or health needs?

Graduate Paper Competition: Papers submitted for the graduate student paper competition will be held to a high standard with respect to the level of scholarship. The length of the paper should range from 20-30 pages and should include a relevant review of the literature, original analysis, a clear discussion and set of conclusions, complete references, and be written at a professional level.

Undergraduate Paper Competition: Papers submitted for the undergraduate student paper competition will be similarly held to a high standard appropriate to the level of undergraduate scholarship. The length of the paper should range from 10-20 pages and should include a relevant literature review with complete references that is clearly and legibly written. Papers that include original analyses will be rated higher, but this is not a requirement for submission.

Instructions for Submission: To have a paper considered for review for either award, first, submit an abstract to present the paper at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society. Second, submit your manuscript as an attached Word (.doc or .docx) file to Amanda McMillan Lequieu at by May 4 th, 2018. Please do not submit your paper in .pdf format, as we will need to edit them to make judging anonymous. In the subject line of the email enter either “submission for graduate student paper competition” or “submission for undergraduate student paper competition.” When the submissions are received, they will be sent to a panel of judges who will not be made aware of the author’s identity. Winners of the paper competition will be honored at the RIG reception during the RSS annual meeting, where they will receive a certificate and their award honoraria (see below). Winners will be notified via email by July 1st, 2018.

Deadline for submissions: Friday, May 4th, 2018

Honoraria: Graduate Paper ($250); Undergraduate Paper ($200): to be used to defray part of the cost of registering for and attending the 2018 RSS Annual Meeting


2018 Diversity Travel Award

The Rural Sociological Society (RSS) and the Committee on Diversity are pleased to announce that travel awards are available to support the attendance and participation of minority participants at the annual conference to be held in Portland, Oregon. These awards will be awarded on a competitive basis and are meant to assist participants in defraying costs associated with attending the RSS meeting.

We anticipate granting awards at the minimum amount of $500 per recipient or at a maximum amount of $750; however, the amount of funds and the number of awards may fluctuate depending on the number of applications and the need described therein.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

To be eligible for the award, an applicant must be:

  • An active participant of the meeting by presenting a paper, participating on a panel, or presenting a poster on research. We encourage applications from both academics and nonacademics.
In addition, for students:
  • A student pursuing a degree relevant to rural studies in an academic institution.
  • A student member of the Rural Sociological Society at the time of receiving the award.

To apply, an applicant must submit:

  • A completed Travel Award Application (see below)

Completed applications should be submitted via e-mail to Loka Ashwood ( not later than Thursday, February 15, 2018, 11:59 pm (EST).

The Diversity Committee will make selections and announce decisions by March 31, 2018. No part of the application may be submitted by fax and only applications from individuals on their own behalf will be accepted.

For more information click here. (


Submission Deadline: February 16, 2018

Notification Date: May 2018 

Award Date: August 2018 or by special arrangement

This year the RSS Council has authorized the use of Endowment funds to support Master’s theses, Ph.D. dissertations, and Early Career Research awards to support research activities conducted during the 2017-2018 fiscal/academic year. Proposals are invited to conduct research on all topics encompassed by the field of rural sociology. The awards are designed to stimulate research that will help develop the careers of future rural sociologists and support the broader mission of the Rural Sociological Society. Award winners are strongly encouraged to submit papers based on their research to future RSS Annual Meetings. The RSS Endowment Committee will oversee the awards process.

The RSS Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Research Award Competition

Graduate student members of the Rural Sociological Society are eligible to apply for master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation research awards. Dissertation awards can be made for up to $5,000. Master’s thesis awards can be made for up to $2,500. Proposals approved for funding may receive budget allocations below the requested amounts, based on availability of funds and recommendations of the Endowment Committee.

The RSS Early Careers Research Awards Competition

Members of the Rural Sociological Society who received their Ph.D. on or after January 1, 2018 are eligible to apply for RSS Early Career Research awards. Because the size of these awards is modest, proposals will generally involve small-scale projects that will enhance opportunities for scholars to pursue expanded research efforts in the future. The Early Career Research awards have previously been made for up to $5,000.

Submission Guidelines for Awards Competitions

The deadline for submission of proposals and required supporting materials is February 16, 2018. Proposals received after that date will not be reviewed or considered for funding. All proposals must be submitted electronically compiled into a single Adobe Acrobat .pdf format to Jennifer Sherman (, chair of the Awards and Endowment Committee. Nominees who are unable to meet these submission requirements and/or who cannot save their files in .pdf format should contact Jennifer at (509)335-4163 or at the email listed above at least two weeks in advance of the due date so that alternative arrangements for submission can be made.

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