Fellowships for Doctoral Candidates at The University of Texas at Austin

An endowment fund at the University of Texas was established with our first contribution of $1,100 in 1934.  Contributions were made to this fund over a period of years, until the endowment reached sufficient size to support awarding of annual fellowships.  Mildred Englert is the branch member whose donation completed the endowment.  The Austin Branch has awarded graduate fellowships yearly since 1985 to women who are doctoral candidates at The University of Texas at Austin.  Beginning with the 1985-1986 academic year, ninety (90) women have received fellowships from our branch, to financially assist them in completing the final year of their doctoral studies.

Fellowship applications for 2024-2025 school year

AAUW Austin Branch awards a minimum of 3 fellowships per year, each in the amount of at least $2,000 to doctoral candidates at the University of Texas – Austin. This award was established to assist individuals who require financial aid to complete their doctoral program. A prerequisite for the fellowship is doctoral committee approval for the dissertation proposal. 

The deadline for submission is 5:00 PM CST on Monday, March 18, 2024. Announcement of awards will be made by April 15, 2024.

The application and instructions can be found below.

*** Fellowship Recipients for the 2023-2024 Academic Year***

Out of twelve complete applications, the branch fellowship team selected three women who will receive a fellowship in the amount of $3,650 for the coming academic year. One of the fellows explained her research in person at the May branch meeting. The other two provided video presentations.

Saralyn Foster is working on a doctorate in Nutritional Sciences. She has a BS from Texas A&M, and an MS from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has worked as a pediatric dietician at several facilities. She will explain her dissertation entitled Eating Right from the First Bite: Associations of dietary diversity with growth and body composition in high-risk infant populations. One of her greatest achievements is becoming a registered dietician. In that role, she has provided guidance to parents of children with feeding difficulties to improve growth trajectories and worked with children diagnosed with a myriad of congenital disorders to improve their relationship with food. She has continued to pursue her Ph.D. despite the pandemic with three kids at home with virtual schooling for over a year.

Faith Deckard earned a BS in Biology from Trinity University and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is working on a Ph.D. in Sociology. Her dissertation topic is “Bonded: How Commercial Bail Entangles Families through Money and Risk.” Her research systematically traces how families and broader support networks become enmeshed in the criminal justice system and at what consequences to economic, relational, and mental/emotional wellbeing. She is a first-generation college student and a financial provider for her family. Faith’s greatest achievements include serving as a student minority liaison and co-instructor for the Texas Prison Education Initiative where she works to bring college courses to incarcerated women. After obtaining her PhD, she hopes to obtain a tenure track position where she can teach, do research, mentor and serve incarcerated people.

Upasana Garnaik has two law degrees and is currently working on a PhD in Sociology.  She has worked as a legal researcher and as a legal officer. Her dissertation topic is “Between the home and the law: Indian women’s experiences in family housing disputes.” She has conducted a year of ethnographic fieldwork and finds that many of the cases involve domestic violence and the breakdown of marriages. In the future, she plans to work with legal aid office to understand the issues that women face when they file for economic claims against their families. After she earns her PhD, she hopes to secure a tenure-track position at a research university. In previous jobs, she mentored female students and involved them in policy and research projects.

Due to technical problems with her presentation at the meeting, she has given permission for it to be posted on the website for your information.

***   Fellowship recipients for 2022-2023 school year ****

The team had fewer applications to evaluate than in past years but the quality of the applications made it a time-consuming and rewarding process. Three women were selected to receive $2,650 fellowships for the next academic year. All the Fellows will present their research during the May meeting. Congratulations to all three Fellows!

    • Emily Lessig earned her undergraduate degree from Hanover College and an M.S. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is working on her Ph.D. in the Integrative Biology Department. Her research uses a highly social cichlid fish, Burton’s Mouthbrooder (Astatotilapia burtoni), to examine the neural and molecular mechanisms through which the brain processes and responds to social stimuli depending on an individual’s ability to recognize and cooperate with others. Her three greatest achievements include co-founding an organization called the Community College Field Biology Alliance (CCFBA), teaching and mentoring undergraduate students and continuing to ask scientific questions as a graduate student.
    • Maria Roxana Loza earned her undergraduate degree from Rice University and her M.A. from Kansas State University. She is a first-generation college student,
      immigrant and parent. She taught elementary school before applying to
      graduate school in the English Department. Her dissertation is entitled:
      “Shelter(ed) Childhoods: Mental Health and Immigration in Latinx Children’s
      and Young Adult Literature”. Her three greatest professional achievements
      are securing a recruitment funding package for her doctoral work so she could focus on research for three years, publishing an essay in one of the first scholarly anthologies to focus on Latinx children’s literature, and receiving an invitation to publish an essay on antiracist pedagogy in a peer-reviewed journal.
    • Patrizia Perazzo earned a B.A. from the University of Tulsa and an M.A. from Boston
      College. She is working on her Ph.D. in the Department of Education
      Psychology in the College of Education. Her dissertation is entitled “The
      Venezuelan Diaspora: The experience of immigrants in the U.S. fleeing the
      political and economic crisis in Venezuela” where she examines the
      relationship between cultural stress and psychological symptoms. Her
      greatest achievements are to be the first person in her family to obtain a graduate level education in the United States and being the first choice for pre-doctoral clinical internship. A third achievement is that throughout the grueling process of graduate school, she has learned to stay true to herself by finding activities that bring her joy outside of academics.

***   Fellowship recipients for 2021-2022 school year ****

Twenty-four doctoral candidates at the University of Texas submitted applications for the AAUW branch fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year. The fellowship committee consisting of Nancy Andren, Elizabeth Newell, Joyce Pulich, Ruth Rubio, Mary Ellen Scribner, and Janet Widoff, reviewed their applications, statements, references and academic credentials.  The team was impressed by the background and research effort of all the doctoral candidates.  After careful deliberation, five women were selected to receive $3,000 fellowships during the 2021-2022 academic year.  The recipients are:

      • Emily Carl works in the Clinical Psychology program. Her dissertation topic is “Exercise for depression: A network meta-analysis.” Emily does volunteer work with veterans with mental health issues.
      • Pooja Mandke from the Cell and Molecular Biology program is working on “Roles of HMGB proteins in modulating the processing of alternative DNA structures.” In addition to this important cancer research, she is a STEM mentor.
      • Stephanie Valenzuela studies in the Chemistry program. Her dissertation topic is “A Deep Dive into how Dynamic Covalent Bonding Pairs can be used to Create Reconfigurable Networks, and Empowering Elementary School Teachers in STEM through Academic Research.” She is very involved in outreach to underserved populations.
      • Dominica Whitesell works in the Geography program. Her project is entitled “A Deep Dive  How Dynamic Covalent Bonding Pairs can be used to Create Reconfigurable Networks, and Empowering Elementary School Teachers in STEM through Academic Research.” She actively works to increase diversity and feminism in the geography department.
      • Anais Zimmer is doing important climate change work in the Department of Geography and the Environment. Her dissertation title is “Human Environmental Interactions in the Deglaciating Alps and Tropical Andes.” She is an ultra-marathon runner and has won several high-altitude races in the Andes and the Alps.

***   Fellowship recipients for 2020-2021 school year ****

Twenty doctoral candidates from a broad range of disciplines at the University of Texas submitted applications for the AAUW fellowships for the 2020-2021 academic year. The scholarship committee, consisting of Elizabeth Newell, Janet Widoff, Mary Ellen Scribner, Jean Bessent, and Joyce Pulich, reviewed the students’ applications, statements, references and academic credentials. The committee members agreed that the applications were exceptional and the choice was difficult. After careful consideration, they selected five women to receive awards of $2,800. The recipients are:

  • Lucy Le Blanc, a PhD candidate in Microbiology at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology.
  • Sierra Mendez, a fourth-year doctoral student in Rhetoric & Writing.
  • Williamena Granger, a PhD candidate in Architecture who explores the corona virus crisis as it manifested itself at a care center for the elderly,
  • Caroline Johnson is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of Texas.
  • Maro Youssef is a dissertation away from a PhD in Sociology at the University of Texas.

A complete list of UT Austin Doctoral fellowship recipients is up-to-date and available at AAUW_AustinBranch_GraduateFellowships_UTAustin_2021

For information about fellowships and grants available from AAUW National, visit www.aauw.org/what-we-do/educational-funding-and-awards/.