SESP assistant professor Mesmin Destin was selected for the 2016 class of William T. Grant Scholars. Through the Scholars Program, launched in 1982, the William T. Grant Foundationsupports the professional development of promising researchers in the social, behavioral and health sciences who have received their degree within the past seven years.
Destin will receive $350,000 to implement a five-year research plan that will extend his skills and knowledge into new areas. Destin is one of five new William T. Grant Scholars selected from a group of applicants nominated by their institutions. A committee of senior academics chose the Scholars based on their proposals and interviews.
Destin’s proposed research topic is “Healthy Pathways toward Academic Achievement and Social Mobility for Low-SES Youth.” He will examine whether a school-based intervention to increase school motivation and academic outcomes for disadvantaged adolescents has positive effects on students’ health.
“Adolescents from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are at risk for poor academic outcomes and are likely to face unique health challenges, even if they succeed in school and experience social mobility,” Destin says. His study will test whether students who participate in groups that encourage academic motivation and provide social support and connection have improved health and achievement outcomes. It will also quantify how students’ social interactions and social support may serve as pathways to academic achievement and physical health.
Research on a school-based intervention and assessment “will establish the foundation for a program of research investigating experiences of social support and connection to others as a pathway towards healthy achievement for low-SES adolescents,” he adds.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Destin earned his PhD at the University of Michigan. He is a faculty member at SESP and the Department of Psychology at Nortestern, as well as a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research. His research interests center on the psychological processes underlying associations between socioeconomic circumstances and outcomes such as academic motivation and achievement and the effects of financial assets on goals and behavior. His research projects have focused on small classroom-based interventions to improve school outcomes for low-income and minority youth.
William T. Grant Foundation vice president Vivian Tseng remarked, “Our Foundation is dedicated to funding research to advance theory, build evidence, and improve policy and practice. Key to this goal is supporting a pipeline of diverse researchers who will tackle the weighty issues facing kids and families across the country. This new cohort of Scholars has demonstrated a willingness to expand their expertise and to take some measured risks in order to take on these challenges. We are pleased to have them join our community of William T. Grant Scholars.”
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