17th Annual Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards

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We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards.

During a ceremony at the Survey Research Laboratory on the Urbana campus, three doctoral students were honored for the quality of their work utilizing survey research methodology. The two winners of the 2018 Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards received $2,500 awards and plaques commemorating their achievement. Two other students received honorable mention certificates and $300. Drs. Ferber and Sudman, in whose memory the awards were established, were eminent scholars at the University of Illinois in the field of survey research.

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The winners are (left to right): Cassandra Nikolaus, Ryan Stock, and Peter Ondish (Jessamyn Perlus is not pictured).

Ryan Stock, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, is the winner of the Robert Ferber Dissertation Award. His advisor is Trevor Birkenholtz, and his dissertation is: Encircling the Sun: Shedding Light on the Gender Dimensions of Dispossession and Resistance at Solar Parks in Rural India. Expanded energy production and concomitant rising CO2 levels are seen as necessary to help raise India’s 363 million poor out of poverty. In efforts to slow rising emissions and scale up energy generation, the Government of India launched the 2010 Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. Many of the projects are ground-mounted solar parks. Enclosing these marginal spaces for solar park development is of particular concern to poor and rural Indian women who use these spaces for fuelwood foraging, fodder and grazing livestock. Herein lies the paradox: UN-linked climate mitigation schemes (i.e., solar parks) are designed with methods to empower women. However, these solar parks likely reproduce uneven power relations at the local scale. This dissertation research is a comparison study of two solar parks in India.

Cassandra Nikolaus, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, is the winner of the Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award. Her advisors are Brenna Ellison and Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, and her dissertation, Prevalence and Consequences of Food Insecurity among College Students focuses on further understanding experiences of food insecurity, the lack of sufficient and nutritious food, among U.S. college students. The proposed work will evaluate and compare the different methods of assessing food insecurity. This will allow us to identify the most precise methods for identifying students who are experiencing food security challenges. Further, we will be able to understand how food insecurity experiences may impact their sleep patterns, stress levels, academic progress, diet quality, and overall well-being. Ultimately, this will assist us in efficiently and effectively helping students in need.

Peter Ondish, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, received the Robert Ferber Honorable Mention. His advisors are Dov Cohen and Chadly Stern, and his dissertation is entitled Ideological Differences in the Use of Social Class Categories to Organize Society.

Jessamyn Perlus, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology, received the Seymour Sudman Honorable Mention. Her advisor is James Rounds, and her dissertation is entitled “On Very Thin Ice”: Impostor Phenomenon and Careers of Women Graduate Students.

(Click recipient name to view abstract)

The 2018 Robert Ferber Award Winner Ryan Stock, Encircling the sun: Shedding light on the gender dimensions of dispossession and resistance at solar parks in rural India

Introduction: Expanded energy production and concomitant rising CO2 levels are seen as necessary to help raise India’s 363 million poor out of poverty. In efforts to slow rising emissions and scale up energy generation, the Government of India (GoI) launched the 2010 Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), comprising a vital component to India’s commitments to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement (Government of India, 2008; MNRE, 2012). Many of the JNNSM projects are ground-mounted solar parks (MNRE, 2016) installed on government “wastelands” (Rignall, 2016). Enclosing these marginal spaces for solar park development is of particular concern with poor and rural Indian women who are tasked with daily household reproduction, utilizing these spaces for fuelwood foraging, fodder and grazing livestock. Herein lies the paradox: UN-linked climate mitigation schemes (i.e. JNNSM solar parks) are designed with methods to empower women, defined as “gender positive” (UNFCCC, 2012). However, these solar parks likely reproduce uneven power relations at the local scale, potentially leading to negative gender-based impacts and furthering gendered social asymmetries. To quote one my female informants in Charanka village, “How can we eat? We cannot find jobs at the solar park. We don’t have land. The solar park took our land (respondent CI.002, semi-structured interview, 2/12/18).” This dissertation research is a comparison study of two solar parks in drylands regions in India (Gujarat Solar Park and Kurnool Solar Park), drawing upon the fields of human geography, political ecology, critical agrarian studies and gender studies.

Research Questions: 1) How and through what processes are the costs and benefits of the Gujarat Solar Park and the Kurnool Solar Park distributed across differently situated individuals based on gender, caste, and class?; 2) Do these projects influence already gendered social-economic-political asymmetries?; 3) How are project-associated land enclosures resisted and narratives of sustainable development contested by adjacent resource-dependent people?

Methods: 1) Survey questionnaires administered to households (n=400) across villages (n=8) in the two solar regions, using an every third household technique; 2) Semi-structured interviews (n=84) with villagers, government officials and employees from companies operating at the solar parks in Kurnool district, Patan district, New Delhi, Gandhinagar and Hyderabad in the languages of Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, Urdu or English; 3) Participant observation at the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited and Gujarat Energy Development Agency in Gandhinagar, as well as Solar Energy Corporation of India and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in New Delhi; 4) Discourse analysis on policy documents (n=24) from the state and national scales and technical documents.

Conclusion: Currently, the gender and caste-based impacts of “green grabs” via projects like the GSP have been insufficiently explored in the literature of political ecology. This research seeks to bridge this lacunae and is imperative, given the rapid spread of renewable energy technologies like the GSP, not only in India but throughout the Global South. While the Government of India develops more solar parks to profitably mitigate climate change and generate much-needed renewable energy, marginalized populations shouldn’t be left in the dark.

The 2018 Seymour Sudman Award winner Cassandra Nikolaus, Prevalence and Consequences of Food Insecurity among College Students
This research focuses on further understanding experiences of food insecurity, the lack of sufficient and nutritious food, among U.S. college students. The proposed work will evaluate and compare the different methods of assessing food insecurity. This will allow us to identify the most precise methods for identifying students who are experiencing food security challenges. Further, we will be able to understand how food insecurity experiences may impact their sleep patterns, stress levels, academic progress, diet quality, and overall well-being. Ultimately, this will assist us in efficiently and effectively helping students in need.
The 2018 Robert Ferber Honorable Mention Peter Ondish, Ideological Differences in the Use of Social Class Categories to Organize Society
Why do liberals and conservatives consistently fail to see eye-to-eye on social policies that seek to reduce economic inequality in the United States? In my dissertation, I integrate historical and cultural perspectives with contemporary research on ideological motivations to propose that social policy disagreements result from a fundamental difference between how liberals and conservatives attempt to understand a complex and ambiguous social world. I propose that broad disagreements on economic policy are the result of a cultural divide in how liberals and conservatives organize and understand the social world based on systemically produced socioeconomic groups. In other words, the extent to which liberals and conservatives organize the world based on “social classes” of individuals who have similar opportunities, psychological experiences, and shared fates in society. In my dissertation, across five studies, I use nationally representative panels and classic psychological paradigms adapted for online use to assess divisive political attitudes. In particular, I test the hypotheses that 1) liberals and conservatives differ in their tendency to organize and understand society through a lens of class, 2) that this tendency is grounded in fundamental motivational differences between liberals and conservatives (e.g., motivations for hierarchy or equality), and 3) that these motivations shape preferences for social policies that seek to address economic inequality (e.g., tax breaks for billionaires, government scholarships for the poor).
The 2018 Seymour Sudman Honorable Mention Jessamyn Perlus, On Very Thin Ice”: Impostor Phenomenon and Careers of Women Graduate Students
The Impostor Phenomenon (IP) is characterized by denial of competence and discounting achievements combined with a fear of failure, and fear and guilt about success (Clance & Imes, 1978). People with impostor feelings often overwork, which can lead to accolades, yet paradoxically hinder subsequent achievements. The purpose of this study was to explore how graduate student women describe IP and how they perceive it to affect their career process. The mixed-method design incorporated data from two focus groups, 506 survey responses, and eight interviews. Nearly 3 in 4 women self-identified with IP, however, it emerged in different ways (e.g., fear of making mistakes, second-guessing merits). Impostor feelings were associated with perfectionism, core self-evaluations, symptoms of anxiety, and depression. Regarding career-related consequences, women often inhibited themselves by not submitting applications, not venturing outside their comfort zone, isolating, procrastinating, setting low goals, or quitting. Results also uncovered poor psychometric properties of the widely used Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale. Overall, findings point to the urgency of clarifying the construct and future replication studies with other populations and methods, particularly given the proliferation of writing about “imposter syndrome.” Results may inform modifications to graduate training programs and interventions to promote women’s career development during their time in graduate school and in their subsequent careers.

 

Past award winners and dissertation abstracts.

Questions about the Ferber-Sudman Awards may be directed to Sharon Shavitt at shavitt@illinois.edu.

 

Robert Ferber (1922–1981) and Seymour Sudman (1928–2000) were eminent scholars in the field of survey research. It is in memory of their contributions both to the field and to their students that these awards have been endowed.

Robert Ferber

  • Robert FerberRobert Ferber spent his entire academic career at the University of Illinois (1948–1981). He received a B.S. in mathematics from the City College of New York in 1942, and an M.A. (1945) and Ph.D. (1951) in economics and statistics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ferber was professor of marketing, research professor of economics and of business administration, and the founding director of the Survey Research Laboratory from 1964 until 1981.

    In addition to authoring numerous monographs, articles, and chapters in books, Ferber was the author or co-author of 17 books, including Social Experimentation and Economic Policy (1982). Always active in his field, Ferber was the associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (1959–1963), editor of the Journal of Marketing Research (1964–1969), president of the American Marketing Association (1969–1970), and editor of the Journal of Consumer Research (1977–1981).

    Ferber used to joke that one of his greatest achievements was recruiting Seymour Sudman to the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1968.

Seymour Sudman

  • Seymour SudmanSeymour Sudman received his B.S. in mathematics from Roosevelt University in 1949 and a Ph.D. in business from the University of Chicago in 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and also the director of sampling and a senior study director at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).

    In 1968, Sudman joined the faculty of the University of Illinois and the staff of the Survey Research Laboratory. He was professor of business administration and of sociology and research professor and deputy director at SRL. In 1985, he was named the Walter H. Stellner Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Department of Business Administration.

    Sudman was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). In 1987, he was awarded the AAPOR Award for lifetime achievement, along with his longtime collaborator Norman Bradburn.

    The author of 19 books and hundreds of articles and presentations, Sudman is remembered for several major works, including Thinking About Answers: The Application of Cognitive Processes to Survey Methodology (1996) with N. M. Bradburn and N. Schwarz.