The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Faculty Research Grants

Faculty Research Grants in Action: John Campbell

What started as a casual conversation in 2004 between Dartmouth Class of 1925 Sociology Professor John Campbell and McGill University Sociology Professor John Hall turned into a compelling new publication on states’ responses to crisis. Campbell and Hall were sharing a meal, when Hall posed the question, “Denmark is a remarkable place, a really small country doing surprisingly well….How does a little country like this pull this off?”

Both men had spent a lot of time in Denmark, and based on their experiences and research, this simple question turned into a short paper, which then turned into a 300-page edited volume focusing on Denmark, published in 2006. Encouraged by the success of their research, Campbell and Hall looked to see if this was a phenomenon bigger than Denmark, and started writing articles on a number of small countries that culminated in their new book The Paradox of Vulnerability: States, Nationalism and the Financial Crisis (Princeton University Press, 2018).

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Donna Coch

Original article by Charlotte Albright was published in the Dartmouth News on July 25, 2017.

When, in the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill go up a hill, they’re teaching children more than how to fetch a pail of water. They’re also improving their reading skills.

Researchers have found a connection between knowing how words rhyme and knowing how to read them. Good rhymers tend to become good readers. But there’s more to be known about what, exactly, occurs in our brains when we encounter two words that sound alike. For example, what happens if we are shown the pictures of, say, a cat and a hat, rather than the word themselves?

That’s what Professor of Education Donna Coch and her undergraduate lab assistants are learning from an experiment they’re conducting at the Reading Brains Lab in the Department of Education. Supported by funds from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, the study asks participants—about 80 college students—to make decisions about whether pairs of words do or do not rhyme.

“Do you want to try it?” Coch asked me.

“Sure,” I said, hoping that as a 66-year-old avid reader, I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Chris Sneddon

Supported by Rockefeller Center Faculty Research Funding, Professor Christopher Sneddon has conducted detailed research within Geography and Environmental Studies.

Working alongside Coleen Fox, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography, and Francis McGilligan, Professor of Geography and Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences, Professor Sneddon explored dam removal in New England. Together, these three scholars aimed to identify key gaps in scholarship surrounding dam removal.

“The Rockefeller Center’s Faculty Research Grant served as seed money that led to our successful proposal,” said Sneddon. “It was important for allowing us to achieve our research goals. We saw dam removal as an interesting lens into environmental politics in the 21st century United States context.”

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Brendan Nyhan

Supported by Rockefeller Center funding, Professor Brendan Nyhan has conducted detailed research within the Government Department focused on two subject areas: political scandal and public misinformation.

Nyhan began his first project in 2010 and, since then, has examined how political processes are affected by influences such as scandal, corruption, external circumstances, and news released by the media of the time. The Rockefeller Center’s support enabled Nyhan to hire undergraduate research assistants to collect, process, and code data surrounding public corruption. These students gathered data from a public electronic record system for the federal courts. By identifying defendants charged with public corruption, matching these characters to cases, and examining news coverage to determine whether these defendants were public officials or known partisans, these students collected data that was later used to investigate the possibility of disproportionate treatment of defendants.

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Sienna Craig

Sienna Craig is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology. As a cultural anthropologist, the major focus of Professor Craig’s research, writing, and teaching is the social study of medicine. Her research often takes her to the Nepal Himalaya and Tibetan regions of China. During the fall term she sat down with Niki Bakhru ’17 for an interview to discuss her work, and how she was able to put to use a Rockefeller Center Faculty Research Grant she received.

Bakhru: Your research in Nepal dates back to your undergraduate education. What inspired your interest in this region?

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Michele Tine

Extending beyond the walls of the Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth Professor Michele Tine of the Education Department has seen her research succeed as a beneficiary of a grant made possible by the Corrigan Family Gift.

Professor Tine uses her research to build a foundation for solving educational problems faced by children in communities of rural poverty. Shortly after joining the Dartmouth faculty, Professor Tine sought out a Junior Faculty Grant from the Rockefeller Center.

She notes that “The goals of the Rockefeller Center are very well aligned with my own work,” specifically in regards to the public policy implications of her findings. The exploratory nature of Tine’s research restricted it from funding through many traditional sources, but it was a perfect fit for the Rockefeller Center’s mission.

“It’s a fantastic funding mechanism for studies at Dartmouth that might not otherwise be funded,” Professor Tine emphasizes.

Faculty Research Grants in Action: Deborah Nichols

A Rockefeller Center grant proved to be a vital source of funding when Professor Nichols sought to explore an Aztec farming settlement northwest of Mexico City theorized to hold the secrets of how large-scale societies first formed and developed.

With questions as to the continued existence of the site with the growth of Mexico City in the fifty years since the last visit, only the accommodating nature of a Rockefeller Center grant provided the backing necessary to make a return visit to the site in 2013, results of which led to a larger grant from the National Science Foundation.

"These small grants can become the seed for initiating larger projects and being able to establish their feasibility," stressed Professor Nichols. Subsequent site visits, including a six week field study in summer 2014, have involved Dartmouth students in their research and further cemented the Rockefeller Center’s social science mission.

-Written by Tyler Stoff '15, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant

Rockefeller Faculty Grants: New Deadline and Proposal Forms

The deadline for a 2014-2015 Rockefeller Center Faculty Grant is Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Please click here to visit our website for the new proposal announcement and proposal form. 

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center supports an annual competitive research grant program open to tenured and tenure-track Dartmouth College faculty for research on public policy issues relevant to the Rockefeller Center (e.g., healthcare, education, the environment, poverty) as well as on other research topics in the social sciences. The Rockefeller Center Director, the Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, and the other members of the Rockefeller Center's Faculty Council review applications and select the most promising prospects for funding. Proposals for projects that reach beyond traditional faculty research endeavors will be entertained.

Professor Thalia Wheatley's Research in the News

The Rockefeller Center supported the research of Dartmouth Professor Thalia Wheatley in 2009, and several recent articles mention Prof. Wheatley and her related work.  You can find quotes of her social neuroscience research in:

Prof. Donna Coch Presents Research on "The Rhyming Brain in Beginning Readers"

Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department at Dartmouth College, Donna Coch, presented her research "The Rhyming Brain in Beginning Readers" at a presentation to faculty on Monday, December 6, 2010.  Her research was funded by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center.  Professor Coch's research lab studies how reading-related skills develop in young children and how the reading brain works in both children and adults.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center supports a competitive research grant program open to Dartmouth College faculty for research and academic conferences on issues in public policy and all topics in the social sciences. The Rockefeller Center Director, the Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, and the other members of the Rockefeller Center's Faculty Council review applications and select the most promising prospects for funding.

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