Sheridan Fuller Named Presidential Fellow

Sheridan Fuller Named Presidential Fellow

Headshot of Sheridan FullerSheridan Fuller, a graduate student in the Human Development and Social Policy program at the School of Education and Social Policy, has received the prestigious Presidential Fellowship at Northwestern University for his work investigating the benefits and pitfalls of the social safety net, which is designed to protect Americans from poverty and hardship.

The highly competitive Presidential Fellowship is funded by the President of the University and awarded by The Graduate School. All recipients become members of the Northwestern Society of Fellows. Fewer than 12 percent of nominated students are appointed to the Fellowship, and they are chosen for their outstanding academic efforts and leadership skills.

“Sheridan is a creative, bright, focused, and highly organized student who is driven by a passion to use research to improve policies and practices that impact low-income Americans,” said his advisor, economist Diane Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research and the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at the School of Education and Social Policy.

“I have the highest expectations for Sheridan’s research career, but what especially sets him apart is also his potential for leadership and his unusually strong people skills.”

Fuller is the fourth School of Education and Social Policy graduate student to win the award in the last six years. Previous winners include Heather McCambly (2019), Mollie McQuillan (2017), and the late Cynthia (C.C.) DuBois (2016), all graduates of the Human Development and Social Policy program.

Fuller’s dissertation involves three studies that combine his knowledge of the federal budgeting process – which he honed as a policy analyst in Health and Human Services and the Education Department for several years – with his interest in understanding how social safety net programs are formed. As part of his research, he looks at who benefits from social programs, and the long-term effects of social support on family health, wellness, and inequality.

Fuller, who often works behind the scenes, has twice been voted by fellow graduate students into leadership positions on committees related to race and inequality. “He is a collaborative, open, and generous person who is deeply committed to contributing to and benefiting from the interchange of ideas across disciplines,” said Cynthia Coburn, chair of the Human Development and Social Policy program. “He is also an active, trusted, and effective leader, participating in efforts to create a more just and inclusive campus at the department, school, and campus level.”

In 2018, Fuller was one of 40 students nationwide to be named a Health Policy Research Scholar by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Before joining the Northwestern community, he earned a master's degree in public policy and bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.

“His ability to get along with others and to lead, combined with the research skills he continues to develop in our program and his driving passion for doing work on important social problems, will likely take his career in exciting directions that will include public service at the highest levels,” Schanzenbach said.

Beyond his academic interests, Fuller is an avid runner and basketball player who uses both activities to destress, ponder, and practice mindfulness. His love of running has increased with age, not just for the physical and mental health benefits, he said, but because of the emotional and spiritual link it provides to his late father, a 30-year Army veteran, affectionately known as “the Colonel.”

Fuller’s father was also a dedicated runner until a rare form of cancer and "father time" began to steal his ritual morning 5K's from him, Fuller said.

“I turned to running as an outlet to process that loss,” Fuller said. “And now, it's become part of my own daily routines and a subtle way of keeping him involved in my life and this PhD journey.”

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/28/21