The National Poverty Fellows (NPF) Program is a federal government-university partnership administered by IRP that seeks to build the capacity of postdoctoral researchers to conduct high-quality policy-relevant research on poverty and inequality in the United States. Currently, fellows work in residence at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation at the Administration for Children and Families in Washington, DC, where they actively participate in research and evaluation activities.
As part of the program, fellows visit the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW–Madison as scholars in residence two times per year, are paired with a senior IRP scholar mentor for the duration of their fellowship, and receive support to participate in academic conferences throughout the year.
Calls for applications are released each fall for fellowships that begin the following academic year.
Current National Poverty Fellows
National Poverty Fellow
Amelie Hecht is a National Poverty Fellow in residence at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) during the 2020–2021 academic year. During her fellowship, she will be mentored by Professors Judith Bartfeld and Barbara Wolfe, both IRP affiliates. Hecht’s research interests center around health and nutrition policy, with an emphasis on disparities by income and race/ethnicity. Her dissertation research explored the implementation and impact of the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program, which allows high-poverty schools to serve universal free meals. Hecht completed her PhD in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2020.
National Poverty Fellow
Nicol Valdez is a National Poverty Fellow in residence at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) during the 2019–2020 academic year. During her fellowship, she will be mentored by IRP Affiliate and Professor of Sociology Jenna Nobles. Valdez’s primary research focus centers around American stratification, immigration, and poverty with an emphasis on undocumented status. Her dissertation research, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, sets out to understand what it means to be a Mexican-American family, documented and undocumented, living in New York and North Carolina. Her work at OPRE focuses on projects related to underrepresented groups’ access to social services, while also working with the Office of Refugee Resettlement on their annual survey and research methods for data collection. Valdez completed her PhD in Sociology at Columbia University in 2019.
Past National Poverty Fellows
Colin Campbell received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina, where he was a fellow in the Royster Society of Fellows. His dissertation examines the effect of dropping out of high school on later life poverty, the influence of early life family characteristics on educational achievement in low-income households, and the social determinants of public support for anti-poverty programs. His research focuses on poverty persistence and mobility out of poverty, the lasting effects of childhood poverty, and attitudes toward anti-poverty policies. Colin served as an Associate Editor of Social Forces from 2010 to 2014.
Colin is a fellow at ASPE where his focus is on poverty analyses, income and wage mobility, and longitudinal and panel data analysis.
Nicole Deterding earned her Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her work examines the relationship between education and the labor market for disadvantaged students. She is particularly interested in the role of the growing for-profit sector in educating returning students, which she examined in her dissertation, entitled “Start, Start Again: The College Pathways of Economically-Vulnerable Mothers.” Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Nicole worked on large implementation and impact studies of higher education interventions as a Research Associate at The Urban Institute and earned a Master’s Degree in Education Policy Studies from The George Washington University. Nicole’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation IGERT Program, The RISK Project, The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the Multidisciplinary Program on Inequality and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Nicole will be a fellow at OPRE-ACF beginning in September of 2015 and will be mentored by Sara Goldrick-Rab.
Lincoln Groves has an M.A. in Applied Economics from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Syracuse University. He is interested in the human capital development of young adults at-risk of living in poverty, as well as the role of public policy in facilitating more favorable outcomes for these groups. In his dissertation, he investigates how three large-scale social insurance programs—AFDC/TANF, Medicaid, and Social Security’s Student Benefit Program—affected the educational attainment and work experience of vulnerable young adults. Before his graduate studies in Syracuse, Lincoln worked as an economic research analyst in Washington, DC—with both the government (USDOJ, Antitrust Division) and a private sector consulting firm (MiCRA, Inc.)—and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. Lincoln will be a fellow at ASPE beginning in August 2015. Lincoln will be a fellow at ASPE beginning in August 2015. He will be mentored by Timothy Smeeding.
Melody Harvey is a National Poverty Fellow at the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) during the 2018–2020 academic year and is being mentored by IRP Affiliate and Associate Professor of Consumer Science J. Michael Collins. Her research interests include consumer policy, social policy, and higher education policy as they affect economically vulnerable Americans. Her work at OPRE focuses on family economic stability and research methodology. Prior to joining OPRE, she was an assistant policy researcher at RAND Corporation, where she led quantitative analyses on a program evaluation of a permanent supportive housing program and worked on projects concerning financial decision-making, working conditions, and social programs. Melody Harvey has a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Kathleen Moore has a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and Masters of Public Administration from the University of Utah. Her research interests include low-income housing and homelessness policy. Moore’s dissertation estimated discrimination rates for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) holders through a multi-city online experiment. Moore is a fellow at ACF-OPRE and is being mentored by IRP Affiliate and Professor of Social Work Daniel Meyer.
Melinda Petre earned her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation focuses on the returns to cognitive and noncognitive skills in different labor market contexts, such as employer learning about these skills and skills as an explanation of the racial wage gap. She is interested in researching policies that help to reduce poverty and inequality by developing skills and closing gaps from an early age.
Melinda is a fellow at OPRE and works on a variety of projects related to economic mobility, geographic poverty trends, low- and middle-skills labor sector analysis, skills acquisition and development, housing stability, and safety net studies.
Megan Reid earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 and worked as a Project Director at the National Development and Research Institutes before beginning her position as a National Poverty Fellow. Her research focuses on social inequalities, families, housing, and disaster. In her dissertation, she focused on analyzing the experiences of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina and developed the concept of temporal domination to explain how time structures social inequalities. Her most recent project focuses on understanding parenting and partnering among low-income Black couples in New York City. In a recent article she identified the “vetting and letting” process of cohabiting step family formation.
Shomon Shamsuddin received his Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy from MIT prior to beginning his position as a National Poverty Fellow. His research explores how housing and education policy affect urban inequality and socioeconomic mobility. His recent work examines barriers to college access and degree completion for low-income and minority students, with attention to the role of information, behavioral qualities, and institutional characteristics. He also studies how housing authorities have used different approaches to redevelop public housing into mixed-income communities and the resulting impacts on families and neighborhoods.
Shomon is a fellow at OPRE where he works on projects related to housing stability, economic mobility, geographic poverty trends, skills acquisition and development, and safety net studies.
Sharon Wolf received her Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from New York University, where she held an Institute for Education Sciences Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Training Fellowship, as well as an American Psychological Foundation Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship. Drawing on theories and methods from developmental and community psychology, her research explores how poverty and inequality affect the pathways through which key settings for children’s development—families and schools—influence children’s academic success. Her work involves conducting both descriptive research to shed light on key levers of change within families and schools, as well as designing and testing interventions aimed at improving these levers to inform anti-poverty and education policies. Her dissertation focused on the effects of a conditional cash transfer program in New York City on adolescents and their families, and considered how inequality in schools moderated program impacts on this anti-poverty initiative.
Sharon is a fellow at ASPE engaged in projects related to early childhood care and education.