Patricia Witherspoon Research Award


Patricia Witherspoon Research Award

Are you interested in conducting original research in the areas of public service, government, community service, civic life, citizenship, or politics?   

About Award

The University of Texas at Austin graduate students are invited to apply for The Patricia Witherspoon Research Award to offset costs associated with conducting original research in the areas of public service, government, community service, civic life, citizenship, or politics.  Previous research topics have included faith-based organizations, family policy, immigration, and educational interventions. Past award winners have used the funding to pay for focus groups, survey instruments, and other aspects of their research. The recipient will be expected to write a summary of their research for publication for the Institute and, if requested, make a short presentation before the Institute’s Advisory Council. 


Original research must be conducted in public service, government, civic life, citizenship, or politics. Preference will be given to students working on master's theses or doctoral dissertations. All research must be overseen by a faculty member. 

To apply, please submit the following in the application portal:

  • Contact information

  • Resume

  • Major field of study and current overall GPA

  • Two-page research prospectus including research question, brief summary of the literature, methodology, expected results, and anticipated start and end dates


Stipend Award




Application opens: March 25, 2024

Deadline to apply: May 6, 2024

Selections notifications will be sent out by May 31, 2024.


Applications now closed

Congratulations 2024 Recipient

Kayee Zhou


Kayee Zhou is a Ph.D. Candidate in Public Policy with an MPA and MA in Political Science. As a social science scholar, she possesses interdisciplinary training in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, with expertise in causal inference, structural equation modeling, survey analysis, network analysis, and machine learning in text analysis, as well as conducting interviews and focus groups. Her research interests focus on immigration and immigrant policies, race, ethnicity and identity politics, governance, and the public policies of China.

Her dissertation project on U.S. local governments’ immigrant integration policies is a three-paper format that addresses the following questions: (1) How do local integration policies affect immigrants’ political participation, the primary outcome of political incorporation policies? (2) How do immigrants with different group identities (e.g., members of immigrants, members of racial and ethnic groups, or members of the American society) respond to local integration policies in terms of their political actions? (3) How do local governments cooperate with immigrant-focused nonprofit organizations in terms of helping immigrants incorporate into the U.S.?

Past Awardees

2022 Recipient

Benjamin White is a fourth-year graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Brigham Young University in 2018. With an emphasis on political psychology, his research explores how gender shapes interactions with American politics. His work has examined the gendered aspects of campaign finance, political participation, voter support, and political communication. His dissertation explores how gender acts as a heuristic when people engage with various political issues on social media, and argues that gender stereotypes can (dis)advantage certain people or messages on social media, diminishing or amplifying certain voices. He also does research on online violence against women in politics.

2021 Recipient

Kristina Miller is a 4th Year PhD student in Rhetoric/Political Communication in Moody College of Communication.

"I have always seen them (young activists) as true community leaders who drive meaningful policy change in America. Comparing how news articles and journalists frame activist involvement in politics and how activists themselves rationalize their actions and tell their stories can help paint a picture of what engaged citizenship looks like in the current political climate and, why action beyond just voting, is important. I look forward to continuing this work and the doors this award opens up for my research!" -Kristina Miller, UT 2022