McQuillan, Viano Receive Prestigious Dissertation Fellowships

McQuillan, Viano Receive Prestigious Dissertation Fellowships

McQuillan_VianoSamantha Adler Viano, Mollie McQuillan

Northwestern University's Mollie McQuillan and alumna Samantha (Adler) Viano have received highly competitive 2017 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Dissertation Fellowships.

McQuillan, a doctoral student at the School of Education and Social Policy, and Viano, who is pursuing her PhD at Vanderbilt University, were two of 35 dissertation fellows selected from a pool of roughly 500 applicants. They’ll receive $27,500 for a period of up to two years to complete research and attend professional development retreats.

McQuillan, who also recently received a prestigious 2017 Presidential Fellowship, will study how educational policies and school climate impacts the stress levels and health of students who don’t neatly fit into traditional gender roles and norms, particularly those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ).

McQuillan’s research draws upon her personal and professional experiences as a former soccer player, hockey coach and seven years as a public school teacher. Now the mother of one-year-old twins, she recently gained a parent’s perspective.

“American schools have become a central battleground in the debate over policies intended to protect LGBTQ students,” said McQuillan, who is pursuing her PhD in human development and social policy.  “The controversies have centered on issues of ideology and rights, but little attention has been given to the effect school practices have on the mental and physical health of gender-expansive youth.”

McQuillan has a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from the University of Chicago and two master’s degrees; one in teaching from the University of Saint Thomas and another in human development and social policy from the School of Education and Social Policy.

Viano, a doctoral candidate in K-12 educational leadership and policy at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, received her master’s in education from the School of Education and Social Policy and is an alumna of the NU-TEACH program. She worked as a high school math teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

Viano will use her fellowship to continue studying whether online learning is helping students recover from failing a course.

“People have been searching for a reason why the high school graduation rate is reaching record highs every year,” Viano said. “My dissertation aims to see if credit recovery courses, which are online courses specifically for students who previously failed the course, can help explain the increase.”

Information on the recipients and their research can be found on the 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellows page.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/31/17