“I was lucky to figure out what I wanted to do with my career pretty early on. Following experiences in college, I knew I wanted a career in research focusing on policies that affect kids, families, and neighborhoods.”
Graduate Scholarship Recipient
Dissertation Proposal Title: Exposure to Crime, Disorder, and Juvenile Justice: Urban Youth Outcomes in Context
Dissertation Description: Johanna’s dissertation represents the first large-scale analysis of racial and income-based disparities in school safety and the impact of feeling unsafe at school on educational outcomes. “Using a unique longitudinal dataset of survey responses from the universe of New York City middle school students and a variety of econometric methods, I provide insight into the causal relationship between feelings of safety and academic achievement,” Johanna said. “The longitudinal data allow for observation of survey responses over time for more than 340,000 individual students,” Johanna said, adding that “if there are systematic differences in feelings of safety at school by income level or race and ethnicity, safety may contribute to persistent achievement gaps, preventing equally promising students within the same schools and classrooms to perform differently on assessments.”
Profile: Johanna, a native Californian, earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Brown University. While she was a student there she enrolled in a course called “Children and Public Policy” that had an externship component. “For the class, I taught a debate course in the juvenile prison in Rhode Island, as part of the Urban Debate League which aims to bring the tools and skills of classical debate to low-income students,” Johanna said. The experience of entering the prison each week, getting to know the young incarcerated men, and observing the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the prison system and the lack of educational opportunity available in the prison, fundamentally changed her career trajectory and goals. After graduation she worked as a policy analyst in Oakland at Social Policy Research Analysts in the Bay Area before returning to the East Coast to work as a program analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice, and pursue her M.P.A. at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Inspiration: Ingrid Gould Ellen is Johanna’s dissertation chair and academic advisor and “has been a model for the type of researcher, teacher, and mentor that I would like to be.” Johanna said Dr. Ellen’s research is rigorous and policy-relevant and addresses important urban policy questions about housing, poverty, education, and crime. “I am lucky to have worked with her at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at NYU since 2007.”
Aspiration: Johanna aims to become a professor at a university where she can teach and conduct research that has real-world impact.
Making a Difference: Johanna said she is most proud of her doctoral program, “and working on research that (hopefully) advances public policy to improve opportunities and equity for low-income youth, their families, and neighborhoods.”
Institute for Education Sciences-funded Pre-doctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Fellowship, 2010-2012.
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