MSU Sociology PhD students awarded dissertation completion fellowships

August 24, 2021

Kayleigh Ward and Anna Wilcoxson each earned a Spring 2022 Dissertation Completion Fellowship from MSU.

The Graduate School created the Dissertation Completion Fellowship (DCF) to support doctoral students
in their last year. The purpose of the DCF is to help alleviate financial concerns so students may devote
themselves full time to writing and preparing to defend their dissertation. Each year the Graduate School
provides funding that makes available approximately 170 fellowships across the university. Colleges set
the conditions and application procedures for their DCFs and ultimately select their DCF recipients. The
Graduate School then disperses the awards to the recipients. Unlike a graduate assistantship, the DCF
does not include a tuition/fee waiver or health insurance.

Kayleigh is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research interests focus mainly on community development and sustainability in post-disaster communities, especially in Miyagi, Japan after the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake. She focuses on the intersection of disaster and environmental, social, and economic problems. She has several years of experience with NGOs in Japan and in the US. She currently collaborates with NGOs in the following areas: community sustainability and redevelopment, economic empowerment, and community organizing. Her dissertation research titled “Reviving community: building social recovery in rural post-disaster Japan,” focuses on how post-disaster, recovery difficulties in rural communities are a result of both social and economic woes. Her research questions are 1) How is resident social capital impacted by government focus on economic community redevelopment? And 2) How do declines in social capital affect resident’s, farmer’s, and fishermen’s ability to handle rural problems of unemployment, depopulation, out-migration, aging, and industry stagnation? By inquiring about social capital, she uncovers the processes that lead to better or worse community recovery patterns which provide a window into how social development currently operates in rural post-disaster communities.

Anna is in her fourth year of the Sociology PhD program at Michigan State University. Before coming to MSU, she received her M.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago in 2017. Anna is a labor scholar with special interests in informal and precarious labor, workfare, race, and food studies. Anna’s past research has analyzed kitchen job training programs for recently-incarcerated and homeless individuals as part of the neoliberalization of welfare in the United States. Her current research is focusing on Latino immigrants’ experiences as kitchen workers in the restaurant industry in Detroit, Michigan. A previous career as a chef in the food industry fuels Anna’s passion for food and labor studies. She is originally from Winona Lake, Indiana and moved to Lansing from Chicago where she spent the last several years. In her free time, Anna enjoys cooking, playing soccer, backpacking with her family and friends, and cycling.