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Two Northwestern Faculty Named Guggenheim Fellows

Prestigious fellowships awarded to Monica Prasad and Jennifer Richeson

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences faculty members Monica Prasad and Jennifer Richeson are among the newly named 2015 Guggenheim Fellows, with a total of 175 scholars and artists from the United States and Canada selected from more than 3,100 applicants. They are two of the 13 social scientists to receive the award this year.

Awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the fellowships are appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. 

Monica Prasad

Prasad, professor of sociology and faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern, studies comparative-historical sociology, economic sociology and political sociology.

With her Guggenheim fellowship, Prasad is writing a book on the Reagan tax cut of 1981, based on access to previously unseen documents from the Reagan presidential library. 

“The idea is that the U.S. has fallen into this low-tax regime where politics is always about cutting taxes, and the Reagan tax cut was really the start of that,” Prasad said. 

Prasad’s most recent book, “The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty” (Harvard University Press, 2012), received several awards, including the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) award for the best book in sociology. The book develops a demand-side theory of comparative political economy to explain the surprisingly large role of the state in the United States, its origins in the 19th-century revolution in agricultural productivity and its consequences for undermining a European-style welfare state and leaving U.S. economic growth dependent on “mortgage Keynesianism.”

Her first book, “The Politics of Free Markets” (University of Chicago Press, 2006), also received a book award, and she counts a Fulbright and a National Science Foundation Career Award among her other honors.

Jennifer Richeson

Richeson, MacArthur Foundation Chair and professor of psychology and African-American Studies, researches the social psychological phenomena of cultural diversity. Her work concerns social group membership, particularly the ways race and gender impact the way people think, feel and behave. 

“The fellowship will allow me to integrate the insights from my own research on interracial interactions and diversity with those emerging from organizational psychology, sociology and political science in a book project on what I call the ‘paradox of diversity,’” said Richeson, also an IPR faculty fellow at Northwestern.

“Specifically, how can we understand why actual and perceived increases in racial/ethnic diversity can yield both more egalitarian and more exclusionary racial attitudes, and, similarly, engender mixed outcomes in other important life domains, for example, social isolation, creativity, task performance.” 

Richeson’s work has been published in various scholarly journals, including Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Nature Neuroscience, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Her work also has appeared in popular publications such as The Economist and The New York Times. She was a visiting fellow at Stanford University's Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity in 2004-05. In 2009 she received the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions to Psychology from the American Psychological Association. She was named one of 25 MacArthur Fellows in 2006 for her work as a leader in “highlighting and analyzing major challenges facing all races in America and in the continuing role played by prejudice and stereotyping in our lives.”

Guggenheim Fellows cite influence of Institute for Policy Research

Both Prasad and Richeson cite IPR, where they are faculty fellows, as instrumental in helping them to shape their research. 

“Just going to the (IPR) colloquia week after week allows me to see all of these different methods that people use in their research and familiarizes me with all of the different kinds of research that are happening,” Prasad said. 

“The rich interdisciplinary, intellectual environment that is IPR consistently motivates me to think beyond my own academic discipline to understand the research questions I pursue,” Richeson added. “My fellowship project is definitely a product of this type of broad, cross-disciplinary thinking and perspective.”

Since its establishment almost 90 years ago, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted over $325 million in fellowships to almost 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates and poets laureate, as well as winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal and other important, internationally recognized honors.

“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation. “Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”