MSU Sociology PhD student Lalaki Awudu awarded the Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship

March 22, 2022

Lalaki Awudu, MSU Sociology PhD student, has been selected as the winner of the TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship award for 2022.

"The selection committee was impressed with your overall research trajectory, the originality of your project, and your genuine and explicit engagement with Hamilton’s notion of the African Diaspora," wrote Associate Dean Eric Torng of The Graduate School.

"Additionally, the committee conveyed the following regarding your application: Your dissertation project on the unique experiences of migrant laborers from Burkina Faso and Togo who work in Ghana, “Excluding Migrant Laborers: Social Identity and Natural Resource Struggles in Agricultural Intensification Programs in Ghana,” sounds fascinating and certainly contributes to Hamilton’s research on and interest in dimensions of migration within Africa. Your refreshing scholarship also contributes to recent discourse on the “internal African Diaspora,” another concept that Hamilton explored and theorized. It should also be pointed out that your work speaks to Hamilton’s legacy in another key way. That is, her early scholarship, including her dissertation project, was on Ghana (she conducted extensive fieldwork there and traveled there often) and she worked in the MSU African Studies Center and mentored generations of African students at our university."

The TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship is awarded as a half-time appointment research assistantship.

Awudu is a second year Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department. Her research focuses on migration, community development and sustainability, and gender in the West African region, specifically Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo. She is currently interested in how climate variability, social status and gender influence migration decisions and what this means for community development. She has more than 10 years of research experience in West Africa and has worked with NGOs on monitoring and evaluation projects. She earned a BA in Integrated Development Studies with a major in Economics and Entrepreneurship Development at the University for Development Studies, Ghana and an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana. As an MPhil student, she completed her thesis research on rural-urban migration and livelihood strategies in Ghana. She also worked as an intern with the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation at UCC and is passionate about gender issues within Ghana and the West African region.