Engagement Grants for Emerging Scholars

Each year, 4W awards five to ten Emerging Scholar Engagement Grants of $2500 to graduate and professional students at UW-Madison. 4W Engagement Grants are intended to flexibly support graduate students in any relevant discipline who are engaged in work related to gender and wellbeing. These grants may be used for project expenses or travel related to community-based research or practice, including internships, independent study projects, and pre-dissertation or pre-thesis groundwork. Projects have a research-to-action focus aimed at enhancing gender equity in Wisconsin or globally. They align with 4W’s vision and values, and employ gender analysis and/or use an intersectional feminist lens to address equity for all.

4W is proud to support the following emerging scholars…

Rebecca Alcock: Using Design Thinking for Humanities Centered Innovation

Rebecca AlcockThis project guided undergraduate students through the design thinking process, helping them use design solutions to work through challenges that women face in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya. It emphasizes inclusive innovation and participation of those who have been historically excluded from design processes. Rebecca Alcock is a doctoral student in the College of Engineering studying Operations Research and Global Health. (2019)

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Ruby Bafu: Studying the Impact of School Punishment on Black Girls

Ruby Bafu

This project supports much needed research and education scholarship on the impact of school punishment practices for Black girls in Madison at the intersections of race, gender, and class, expanding our knowledge of Black students’ sense-making processes and their academic experiences and outcomes. Ruby Bafu is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Sociology, a Mellon Mays Fellow, and a Graduate Research Fellow for the Institute for Research on Poverty. In April of 2020, Ruby was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to continue this work. (2019)

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Margaret Baker: Traditional foodways and traditional use of medicinal plants in the Ch’orti’ region of Guatemala

This project employs a participatory action research framework to gather data around traditional foodways and traditional use of medicinal plants in the Ch’orti’ region of Guatemala. Using the transformative power of feminist leadership, Baker will employ a gender focus to seek the guidance and direction of women in the communities, especially curanderas or herbalists, to co-design this project and generate deliverables that will respectfully document their traditional knowledge. Margaret Baker is a master’s student in the Department of Agroecology. (2022)

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Janella Benson: An Exploration of Black Women’s Experience in a Summer Bridge Program

This study looks at the experiences of Black alumnae who participated in a summer bridge program in a Predominantly White Institution and the ways in which their summer experiences influenced their navigation of college during and after major socio-historical events. Janella Benson is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. (2024)

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Molly Clark-Barol: Supporting Women Impacted by Incarceration

Molly Clark-Barol

The FREE campaign organizes Wisconsin women who have experienced incarceration and identify housing as a major barrier to health, wellbeing, and continued freedom for themselves and their families. Using an intersectional approach that centers those most impacted, this project works to reconcile contradictions in current housing policies, improve re-entry policies, and advocate for additional funding for promising models of re-entry housing. Molly Clark-Barol, 4W Program Associate for Research, is a PhD student in the School of Human Ecology and Department of Sociology. (2017)

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Amy Bintliff: Strengthening Wellbeing for Adolescent Girls

Amy Bintliff

This project supported 4W scholar Amy Bintliff’s development of an arts-based intervention called “The Wellbeing Club” for young girls with histories of family stressors. This program used art-based applications of the 4W Wellbeing Model to examine how girls define and experience wellbeing in the face of trauma. It is now administered at the University of California San Diego with plans to be scaled up in other areas of California as well as in Uganda. Amy Bintliff is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Education Department at the University of California, San Diego. (2018)

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Ariel Borns: Understanding Education and Migration for Indigenous Women in Guatemala

This project aims to understand how international development education programs influence young indigenous women’s decisions to study, work, or migrate. Borns will host semi-structured interviews with young indigenous women in Guatemala enrolled in technical training and alternative education programs, as well conduct an institutional ethnography of international development NGOs working in this field. Ariel Borns is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. (2021)

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Mariela Quesada Centeno: Supporting Latin@ Mothers

Mariela Quesada Centeno

This project uses a peer support model to aid Latin@ mothers as they develop new relationships with their babies. The aim is to reduce the observed and documented health disparities in the Latino population in the U.S. and abroad through community-based health and wellness educational opportunities fueled by the community. Mariela Quesada Centeno is a PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies, a Maternal and Child Health Research Fellow at Centro Hispano of Dane County, and the manager of Roots4Change Cooperative, the first woman and immigrant-owned cooperative in Wisconsin. (2018)

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Evelyn Coker: Developing a Gender-Responsive Curriculum for Girls of Color in the Juvenile Justice System

Building on her self-published journal, Get L.I.T. (Learning Intentional Tools), Coker will develop a curriculum for Black and Brown teen girls in juvenile justice settings. The lessons will feature trauma-informed approaches that help girls better understand themselves through reflective journaling, self-regulation, mindfulness, and structured processes for making healthy decisions and reducing recidivism. Evelyn Coker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and doctoral student in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work. (2021)

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Margaux Crider: Exploring Agroecological Perspectives Connecting Women, Farming, and Faith

Margaux Crider

In collaboration with a community of Dominican sisters at the Sinsinawa Mound, this project supports pre-thesis research on how faith, gender, and place inform socio-ecological relationships and guide decision-making. Margaux Crider is a master’s student in Agroecology and a Graduate Associate at the Center for Culture, History, and Environment in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. (2020)

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Samantha Crowley: Unmasking Disparities Related to COVID-19 and Gender

Samantha Crowley, 4W Project Assistant

This research uses gender analysis to explore the direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls. Research will guide policy recommendations to elected officials related to alleviating disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. Samantha Crowley was the 4W Project Assistant from 2o19 to 2021 and recently received her MPH from UW-Madison, studying reproductive health policy. We look forward to cheering her on while she attends medical school at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health! (2020)

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Rebecca Dower: Gathering Narratives to Foster Native Food Sovereignty

Rebecca Dower

This research involves the collection of oral histories from food sovereignty leaders in the US and Canada and growing food with the Fort Peck community in Northeastern Montana. It involves First Nations and Native food sovereignty initiatives across Turtle Island (North America). Rebecca Dower is a graduate student in the department of Civil Society and Community Studies in the School of Human Ecology. (2017)

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Hilary Emerson: Debuting Lina Mangiacapre’s short and feature films at the UW-Cinematheque

This project involves the American debut of Lina Mangiacapre’s Neapolitan feminist and transfeminist filmography. Emerson is working to translate, transcribe, and analyze the intersection of art, politics, and mythos in Mangiacapre’s works, raising awareness around the nonbinary transfeminist artist’s radical politics of peace and subversive philosophy of wellbeing. Hilary Emerson is a doctoral student in Italian Literature, Cinema, and Society with a PhD minor in Critical Gender, Sexuality, and Screen Studies. (2021)

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Alisha Esselstein: Supporting International Transitional Justice for Women

Alisha Esselstein

This project supported research at the Gender Justice Program at the International Centre for Transitional Justice in New York City. As a public interest law student, Alisha Esselstein studied regional conflict and gender in Nairobi, Kenya and Cuernavaca, Mexico. She formerly served as a Research Assistant at the Law and Society Trust, a human rights organization based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she worked on women’s rights, transitional justice mechanisms, and constitutional reform. (2017)

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Khrysta Evans: Experiencing Black Girlhood Together

Khrysta Evans

This work examines the experiences of Black girls currently attending high school in predominantly white Wisconsin school districts. It will inform our understanding of Black girls’ meaning-making about the messages they and other Black girls receive in schools, as well as whether they utilize peer groups to navigate these messages. Khrysta Evans is a PhD student in Educational Policy Studies. She founded Black Girl Magic, a student-centered elective that creates a space for self-identified Black girls to define Black girlhood and create community to affirm each other socially, academically, and spiritually. (2020)

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Sophia Friedson-Ridenour: Measuring Strategies for Women’s Empowerment in Ghana

Sophia Friedson Ridenour

This work examined gendered constraints to economic and social empowerment for vulnerable youth and women. It has led to two recently published articles, Gender analysis for One Health: theoretical perspectives and recommendations for practice (2019) and The Limitation of market-based approaches to empowerment: lessons from a case study in Northern Ghana. Sophia Friedson Ridenour is currently a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab. She completed her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at UW-Madison, where she worked as a graduate assistant for the 4W Initiative and a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Research on Gender and Women. (2015)

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Regina Fuller: Promoting Sexual Education and Adolescent Reproductive Health

Regina Fuller

This project supported 4W scholar Regina Fuller’s work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), where she reviewed contraceptives procurement and work plan data for 46 countries and made recommendations for increasing programming among youth and women to increase their contraceptive uptake. Regina Fuller is a PhD student in Educational Policy Studies and Comparative International Education, as well as a recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship. (2019)

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Rose Hennessy Garza: Collaborating for Participatory and Inclusive Sexual Violence Prevention Research in Wisconsin

In collaboration with partners from universities throughout Wisconsin, Rose will be engaging in participatory action research to develop an inclusive and stakeholder-driven research agenda to prevent campus sexual assault. Rose Hennessy Garza is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Implementation Science and Engineering Lab within the School of Medicine and Public Health at UW-Madison. (2021)

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LaShanda Harbin: Advancing Safety for Black Queer Students: Chicago High School Students’ visions for safe educational spaces

This project seeks to understand Black queer students’ perspectives regarding safety in Chicago public schools. Harbin plans to conduct individual interviews and focus groups where participants will engage in collective Freedom Dreaming, a process that involves the imagining of free and equitable futures. LaShanda Harbin is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. (2022)

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Linnea Hjelm: Exploring Youth Leadership in Violence Prevention

This study involves working collaboratively with the RCC Sexual Violence Resource Center [RCC] based in Madison. Hjelm will work with a youth organization called the GameChangers to examine the motivations of youth to lead and direct violence prevention initiatives, the value they ascribe to their participation, and assess students’ social connectedness and psychological well-being. Linnea Hjelm is a PhD student in the department of Civil Society and Community Studies in the School of Human Ecology. (2023)

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Quanda Johnson: Journeying through Art and Song in Black Brown and Tan 

4W provided support for scholar, poet and performer Quanda Johnson for her concert, Verisimilitudes: A Journey Through Art Song in Black, Brown, and Tans. This work is centered on ancestry, voice and truth through a vast array of strategies, including the arts, as well as championing gender equity and celebrating women of color. Quanda Johnson is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at UW-Madison, with a focus in African Diaspora Studies and Performance as Activism. (2019)

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Laura Killingsworth: Sharing Women’s Stories

Laura Killingsworth, 4W Collections and Special Projects Manager

To highlight women’s contributions at UW and beyond, this project supported the curation of two women’s book collections in the In Her Honor Gathering Space in Memorial Union’s Hamel Library. Laura Killingsworth is a recent graduate of UW-Madison’s Information School with a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies. (2019)

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Kristin Kohlmann: Exploring traditional birth attendant’s roles in providing maternity care to displaced women in South Sudan

In settings affected by conflicts, displacement, and natural disasters, community health systems, including the support of community health workers and traditional birth attendants (TBAs), are often the only option for delivering life-saving services. This project aims to understand the roles TBAs play in providing maternal care and to examine how recent displacement secondary to flooding has affected the availability and utilization of maternal and reproductive health services in South Sudan. Kristin Kohlmann is pursuing an M.D. degree at the School of Medicine and Public Health. (2022)

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Kurt Kuehne: Studying “Social Distancing” of Domestic Workers in Singapore 

Kurt Kuehne

This project examines how state-designated “male” and “female” migrant populations in Singapore are forced into gendered employment configurations—including distinct forms of social boundary-making, debt financing models, employment legislation, and labor dispute systems. Kurt Kuehne is a Sociology PhD candidate focusing on international labor migration, urban sociology, and social marginalization. (2018)

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Anupama Kumar: How does the Indian State “See” Women?

This study employs archival research to shed light on how and why governments designed programmes promoting community based organizations like Kudumbashree that support women in getting access to microcredit and starting their own businesses. One of the questions that this project attempts to answer is what governments see as the role of women in these processes – do they view women primarily as caregivers within the home or as economic agents who must provide for their families. Anupama Kumar is a PhD student in Sociology who studies gender, development and the welfare state in the Global South. (2024)

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Joonwoo Lee: Providing Equitable Access to Gender-Affirming Care for TNB Individuals in South Korea

This project involves a qualitative study focusing on South Korean Trans and Non Binary (TNB) people’s experiences in the referral letter process, a letter required to access gender affirming services. Lee will disseminate the Companionship Model of referral letter writing to local clinicians and physicians directly working with TNB people to increase the number of Korean clinicians capable of offering affirming referral letter session. This model has been co-developed by Lee and his advisor, Stephanie Budge and has been disseminated to training clinicians at UW Madison. Joonwoo Lee is a PhD student in the department of Counselling Psychology. (2023)

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Mengyao Niu: Teaching Science to Girls and Women in Kenya 

Mengyao Niu

Through portable, affordable, and high-resolution paper microscopes called “foldscopes,” girls and women in rural Kenya are learning about science and STEM-related careers. The project also trains science teachers on how to use foldscopes in their teaching. As of March 2020, four primary schools in Kenya have formed science clubs for girls and are using foldscopes for STEM activities. Mengyao Niu is a PhD candidate in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program (MDTP). (2019)

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Cyra Polizzi: Enriching Theater with Accessibility, Sustainability and Feminism 

Cyra Polizzi

With a focus on community wellness and transformation, this interactive play teaches audiences about various systems of oppression that influence how we contextualize our world through theatre. Cyra Polizzi is a performing artist and graduate student affiliated with the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies and the Center for Culture, History, and Environment in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. (2019)

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Prerna Rana: Understanding How Women’s Groups Catalyze Food Justice in India

Engaging with women-led community groups in rural India can reveal nuanced understandings about the unique roles that women’s groups play in promoting health and nutrition in their communities. Using a food justice lens, Rana will explore the ways that women drive conversations about nutritional wellbeing and use collective action to catalyze change in local institutions. Prerna Rana is a doctoral student in the Department of Civil Society and Community Research. (2021)

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Anika Rice: Uncovering Gendered Barriers to Agroecological Practices 

Anika Rice

Through studies in Rabinal, Guatemala, this work explores how women’s knowledge shapes – and is shaped by – agroecology, the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. Anika Rice is a master’s student in the Geography Department whose research focuses on agrarian change, gender, agroecology, feminist political ecology, transnational migration, and farmer-to-farmer pedagogy. (2019)

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Kimberly Rooney: Developing high school-level teaching materials featuring women authors of sub-Saharan Africa

Rooney will be developing a set of high school-level teaching materials that feature Fatou Diome and Scholastique Mukasonga, female sub-Saharan African authors, and their penetrating views on the school. She will collaborate with French and English Language Arts teachers from three Wisconsin high schools, and will develop lessons that center African women’s voices and foster critical dialogue on the very educational apparatus through which students are learning. Kimberly Rooney is a PhD student in the Department of French and Italian. (2023)

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Makamae Sniffen: He Lei Aloha o Kaleleonālani: The Beloved Queen Emma Naeʻa Rooke

This project focuses on Queen Emma Naeʻa Rooke in order to create a more holistic history that amplifies Native Hawaiian women. Historical accounts of mōʻī wahine Emma, a Native Hawaiian queen, have often credited her husband, King Kamehameha IV with the establishment of educational and medical institutions. However, this study challenges that narrative and demonstrates the active role she played during the 1800s in investing in the health and intellectual well-being to support a thriving lāhui (nation). Makamae Sniffen is a doctoral student in Educational Policy Studies. (2024)

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Valerie Stull: Improving Humanity Through Edible Insects 

Valarie Stull

In collaboration with the MIGHTi Project, this research assesses ways to optimize the use of edible insects for human nutrition, smart economic development, recycling, and agroecosystem sustainability. Valarie Stull is a PhD research associate in the Global Health Institute investigating issues at the intersection of agriculture, the environment, and global health. (2018)

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Lauren Vollinger: Synthesizing Lessons from the 4W STREETS Fora 

Lauren Vollinger

4W scholar Lauren Vollinger participated in a scholarly exchange with UW through the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Traveling Scholars Program. During her time at Madison, she worked with the 4W STREETS Project to document the 4W STREETS of Hope Fora, published under the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace. Lauren Vollinger is a PHD student in Ecological-Community Psychology at Michigan State University. (2019)

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Theresa Watts: Assessing Women’s Risks for Acquiring HCV

Theresa Watts

This in-depth literature review uncovered 10 key themes across 29 studies related to risks for acquiring hepatitis C virus (HCV) among young adult women in the United States: drug use as a coping strategy, transition to injection drug use, awareness of HCV, social norms of drug use, relationship between drug use and sexual activities, incarceration re-entry, housing instability, lack of community HCV resources, social constructs, and policies affecting drug markets. Theresa Watts graduated from UW–Madison in May 2019 and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno–Orvis School of Nursing. (2018)

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Paris Wicker: Studying Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction 

Paris Wicker

This project supported professional training for 4W scholar Paris Wicker related to wellbeing conceptualization and agency in college access and preparation programs. It also informed Wicker’s work on how Black and Indigenous women teach, learn, and embody wellbeing and self-care in educational spaces, and how it shapes student engagement and development. Paris Wicker is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with a minor in Sociology studying the intersections of wellbeing praxis, racialized experiences and resilience, and college student engagement in higher education. (2019)

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Pearly Wong: Understanding Gender and Environmental Justice in Pharping, Nepal 

Pearly Wong

Through integrated research and community education, 4W scholar Pearly Wong studied how gender and caste impact women’s notions of health, gender, disasters, and the environment. Pearly Wong is in a joint PhD program in Cultural Anthropology and Environment and Resources with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. (2018)

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Emily Young: Graduate students’ experiences with mental health and disability access supports at a large research University

This project explores how graduate students with mental health conditions or disabilities negotiate university policies for disability access and mental-health support while charting out unique pathways to finishing their degrees. Young plans to conduct student interviews focused specifically on the intersection of gender, disability, and violence in female graduate students’ experiences of policies and resources to support their mental health and disability access. Emily Young is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. (2022)

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