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The Phelan US Centre PhD Summer Research Grants

Our Summer Research Grants aim to encourage innovative research on the United States and to support students pursuing postgraduate research.

I have benefited immensely from the Summer Research programme as it enabled me to continue and finish my data collection for my PhD project

Julia Leschke – 2020-21 Grant Recipient

Our summer research grants aim to encourage innovative research on the United States and to support students pursuing postgraduate research on topics related to the Centre’s overall mission of promoting internationally-oriented scholarship on America’s changing role in the world. The Summer Grant scheme is open to all LSE PhD students who are conducting US-related research, although research proposals should fall under one of the US Centre’s core research themes. The 2021-22 academic year marks the fourth year of the Summer Grant scheme.   

The grants provide support to the development of early career scholars at the LSE while also aiming to help with research activities including data collection, field work, and designing and implementing a survey. The grants are not intended for language study or purchasing equipment. The award will be for one year and will be £2500. £1500 of the grant will be given up front and the further £1000 when the report is submitted. 

Read the donor report of the successes of the 2018-19 programme. For more information on previous years' research projects click here.

PhD-Grant-RecipientsPast and present PhD Summer Research Grant Recipients: Agnes Yu, Lindiwe Rennert, Denise Baron, Nilesh Raut, Matthew Purcell, Alberto Parmigiani, Tommaso Crescioli, and Asli Ceren Cinar


2021-22 Research Projects

1. Power of Perception: The Impact of Candidate Characteristics on Voting Behaviour

Asli Ceren Cinar, Department of Government

It is well-known that women candidates work on their voice pitch to overcome gender stereotypes and signal specific qualities to voters or the media. This study project will explore how nonverbal communication and voice pitch influence today's political leader preferences. As gender norms shift in the US, we might expect effects to be different today than a decade ago. 

I plan to analyse how verbal presentation on various policy issues interacts with a candidate's age and gender to affect voters' perception formation. My core research question is "to what extent does a candidate's voice pitch and facial attractiveness affect voters' perceptions and vote choice?" 

2. Essays on Economic and Political Inequalities in the United States

Alberto Parmigiani, Department of Government

This project aims to critically reassess the relationship between income and political participation in the United States, researching this link in the current period, when scholars have emphasized the importance of identity politics vis-à-vis economic self-interested rational decisions. More specifically, I examine the effect of income changes on a number of political activities in the last decade, which has been characterized by an increasing level of economic inequality and polarization.  

Making use of nationally representative surveys and voter files, I describe the likelihood of political participation, such as voting in federal elections and donating money to politics, for different income levels and other socioeconomic characteristics. Then, I intend to causally estimate the effect of the economic shock due to the pandemic on the decision to donate and turn out to vote for the 2020 election.  

3. Changing Ways, Changing Minds: Exploring the determinants of maternal health across the mid-20th century for the US South

Matthew Purcell, Department of Economic History

The importance of public health policy to governance has become clear in the last couple of years. COVID-19 has highlighted the complexity of disseminating technical knowledge across large, diverse populations. My project addresses these themes by examining how new knowledge and best practices about maternal health were disseminated across racial and class boundaries in Florida from 1931 to 1968. Using social capital theory, the project argues that changes in the regulation of midwifery linked the medical establishment with marginalized communities. This social network allowed for the transference of medical knowledge and resources.  

The project’s core questions are: 1) How did regulation contribute to the decline of maternal mortality rates across the period? 2) To what extent did the policy address racial and spatial disparities? 3) What can the midwife program teach us about the importance of social capital linkages in confronting complex health challenges? 

4. Perceptions of Surveillance: Exploring feelings held by Black residents of the Greater Boston Area toward automated camera enforcement for roadway infractions

Lindiwe Rennert, Department of Geography and Environment

Countless evaluations have demonstrated that automated camera enforcement (ACE) is an effective tool for upholding adherence with traffic laws, improving roadway safety, and cultivating driving behavior change. However, since its introduction to the US in the 1980s, implementation of ACE has sparked much controversy. ACE policies host implications for both in-person police presence and algorithmic discrimination, yet the interactions of ACE with race, oppression, liberation, and mobility have been largely overlooked. 

This research tackles the following question: How do Black community leaders and Black decision-makers in the Greater Boston Area (GBA) understand the potential use of ACE for both traffic and transit roadway violations? I will convene eight focus groups: four comprised of Black decision makers, and four of Black community leaders. This work seeks to add nuance to the policy approach to ACE while amplifying the voices of communities historically abused by systems of policing, surveillance, and enforcement.