Emerging Scholar Spotlight: Mollie McQuillan

Emerging Scholar Spotlight: Mollie McQuillan

McQuillanMollie McQuillan

Mollie McQuillan, a doctoral student in the human development and social policy program, is featured in the Society for Research on Adolescence's Emerging Scholar Spotlight.

The piece highlights McQuillan’s unconventional path into human development and social policy and her research into “gender-expansive” adolescents: teens who don’t fit into societal ideas of masculinity and femininity, including those with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities.

McQuillan earned degrees in political science and psychology at the University of Chicago and worked for an immigration law firm before getting a master’s in teaching.

For a decade, McQuillan worked with teens as a high school teacher and varsity athletic coach in Minnesota, where she saw firsthand the many ways protective policies and affirming practices influence gender-expansive students and employees, and the developmental costs of not providing such supports.

“American schools have become a central battleground in the debate over policies intended to protect LGBTQ students,” McQuillan says. “The controversies have centered on issues of ideology and rights, but less attention has been given to the effect district policies and practices have on the mental and physical health of gender-expansive youth.”

At Northwestern, McQuillan’s research explores the intersection of educational policies, adolescence development, and health of gender-expansive youth.

Her new undergraduate course on gender identity, minority stress, and policies in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) was featured as part of The Graduate School’s (TGS) inaugural “Hype Your Research” program.

McQuillan is a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow for 2017-2018, an award given to scholars who show unusual promise in educational research and was awarded a Presidential Fellowship, the most prestigious university-wide fellowship for doctoral students.

McQuillan also recently received a research grant from Northwestern’s Institute for Innovations in Developmental Science for a clinical study examining how social stressors, including those in schools, influence the physical health of transgender young people. 

Jacqueline Stephens, a human development and social policy doctoral student, also was awarded this research grant for her work on a study with SESP's Claudia Hasse, assistant professor of human development and social policy and director of the Lifespan Development Lab. 

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 7/20/18