Second Annual Junior Scholars Intensive Training Held Virtually

Yet another much-anticipated event waylaid by the safeguards to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the Junior Scholars Intensive Program (JSIT), designed to foster the skills and relationships of early-career and underrepresented retirement and disability researchers, shifted to an online format this summer. The week-long program is a collaborative project between Howard University’s Center on Race and Wealth and the Center for Financial Security Retirement and Disability Research Center (CFS RDRC) at UW–Madison’s School of Human Ecology. Though it is only in its second year, organizers quickly pivoted to ensure participants would have just as successful an experience as the 2019 cohort.

“JSIT is like no other,” says scholar Yang Li, currently a PhD candidate in Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts–Boston. “It offered a behind-the-curtain view into the research process from managing professional relationships to disseminating research results. Thanks to supportive CFS staff, knowledgeable experts, and inspiring fellow scholars, I walked away feeling energized and enriched.”

To supplement its core agenda of research presentations, workshops, and a funding competition, while ensuring scholars could still access JSIT’s important relationship-building opportunities, organizers arranged virtual office hours for scholars with the program’s mentors and speakers. These more advanced scholars carved out dedicated time to work one-on-one or in small groups with their junior counterparts. Ultimately, many participating scholars noted this new element as their favorite among the week’s events.

“This workshop was life-changing for me,” says Yvonne Hampton, currently a PhD candidate in Human Environmental Science at the University of Missouri–Columbia. “I’ve been stuck on my PSID [Panel Study of Income Diagnostics] data, and in one week, I’m analyzing the data I’ll be using for the proposal. I’ve been struggling to find fellow candidates to form a dissertation work group, and in one week I have one. This workshop reignited my excitement for research. It was exactly what I needed.”

The CFS RDRC was established out of a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Social Security Administration, so JSIT organizers hope to renew the program annually for at least three more years. Interested scholars can learn more, including about when next year’s application period opens, on the center’s website.

Compiled grid of photos of JSIT scholars 2020

JSIT scholars 2020

JSIT scholars for 2020

  • Angie Ahmadi, American University
  • Maliha Ahmed, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Philip Danquah, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Yvonne Hampton, University of Missouri–Columbia
  • Melody Harvey, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Weneaka Jones, Marquette University
  • Yang Li, University of Massachusetts at Boston
  • Clarence Merckerson, Southern University and A&M College
  • Eun Ha Namkung, Brandeis University
  • Miranda Reiter, Kansas State University
  • Keisha Solomon, Johns Hopkins University
  • Xianhua Emma Zai, The Ohio State University

JSIT mentors for 2020

  • Fenaba Addo, Lorna Jorgenson Wendt Associate Professor in Money, Relationships, and Equality (MORE), Consumer Science, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Marah Curtis, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Manasi Deshpande, Assistant Professor, Economics, University of Chicago
  • Bradley Hardy, Associate Professor, Public Administration and Policy, American University
  • Damon Jones, Associate Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago
  • Victoria Perez, Assistant Professor, Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

JSIT speakers for 2020

  • Marcy Carlson, Professor, Sociology; Director, Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Jennifer Dykema, Distinguished Scientist, Senior Survey Methodologist, University of Wisconsin Survey Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Jason Fichtner, Associate Director, Master’s in International Economics and Finance; Senior Lecturer, International Economics, Johns Hopkins University
  • Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Haydar Kurban, Professor, Economics; Faculty Fellow, Center on Race and Wealth, Howard University
  • Andria Smythe, Assistant Professor, Economics, Howard University

JSIT data experts

  • Lindsay Jacobs, Assistant Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Corina Mommaerts, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Robert Thomas, Census Administrator, Wisconsin Research Data Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Yulya Truskinovsky, Assistant Professor, Economics, Wayne State University

CFS faculty and staff who organized JSIT

  • J. Michael Collins, CFS Faculty Director and the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Mary Hamman, Associate Professor, Economics, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • Hallie Lienhardt, Assistant Director, Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Amy Marsman, Outreach Specialist, Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Justin Syndor, Associate Director of Research, Center for Financial Security; Associate Professor, Actuarial Science, Risk Management & Insurance, Wisconsin School of Business

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