Spencer Foundation grants awarded to UIC researchers

Danny Martin

Danny Martin, recipient of a $130,000 Spencer Foundation grant.

Three University of Illinois at Chicago researchers are recipients of Spencer Foundation grants designed to advance education-related research.A Midcareer Grant award to Danny Martin will expand his investigation of math learning among African-American students; a Small Research Grants program award to Federico Waitoller will advance his research on how parents of students with disabilities perceive school choice in urban settings; and a Small Research Grants program award to Amanda Roy will support her work studying education and work decisions among low-income, racial/ethnic minority youth.

Martin, UIC professor of curriculum and instruction and mathematics, will receive $130,000 to support his project, “Theoretical and Methodological Considerations in Studying the Mathematical Lives of Preschool-Aged Black Children in Everyday Settings.”

The award will allow him to extend his work into the early childhood education context, focusing on research and policy issues, particularly as they relate to mathematics education that is responsive to the needs of black children. As a part of his project, Martin will engage in a nine-month apprenticeship within Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative, as well as other professional development opportunities and conferences nationally.

Martin’s previous research has focused on understanding the role of race and identity in black students’ mathematical experiences, taking into consideration sociohistorical and structural forces, community and school issues, and individual agency. His work, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, has covered education levels from middle school through college and has examined black parents and families.

At UIC since 2004, Martin holds a joint appointment in the College of Education and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He teaches mathematics courses for preservice teachers, elementary math methods, and graduate courses in mathematics education. He previously taught mathematics for 14 years at Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, California, where he served as department chair.

Martin, who was a National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow, earned his Ph.D. in mathematics education and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from Carroll College.

Federico Waitoller

Federico Waitoller, recipient of a $50,000 Spencer Foundation grant.

Waitoller, UIC associate professor of special education, earned $50,000 through the Small Research Grants program at the Spencer Foundation for his project, “Leveling the Landscape through School Choice? Urban Parents of Students with Disabilities Charting the Education Marketplace.”

Waitoller, who joined UIC’s College of Education in 2011, said his study will use an innovative mixed-methods approach that merges geographical analysis and in-depth ethnographic interviews. The aim is to understand how perceptions of urban social landscapes shape the ability of parents of students with disabilities to engage with school choice.

His research focuses on urban inclusive education. In particular, Waitoller’s work focuses on policies and practices that generate or reproduce inequities for students of color with disabilities. He is also interested in examining how these inequities are affected by the production of space in urban economies and the role of teacher learning and school/university partnerships in developing capacity for inclusive education.

Waitoller earned his Ph.D. in special education from Arizona State University, his master’s degree in special education from the University of Washington and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia College.

Amanda Roy, recipient of a $50,000 Spencer Foundation grant.

Roy, assistant professor of psychology, was awarded $50,000 as co-principal investigator of a project entitled “On the Brink of Adulthood: Understanding Education and Work Decisions Among Low-Income, Racial/Ethnic Minority Youth.”

Roy and Christine Li-Grining of Loyola University Chicago will examine data on post-high school plans, predictors of such plans, and related decision-making among low-income, racial/ethnic minority youth who participated in the Chicago School Readiness Project as Head Start preschool students.

They will also conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews with participants to learn more about teens’ decision-making processes related to goal-setting and pursuits, facing obstacles, and revising goals.

The study, which aims to inform policy and intervention efforts to reduce socioeconomic disparities in education, is an extension of Roy’s ongoing work that explores the ways that poverty and environmental risk factors, such as neighborhood poverty and crime, can influence health and development.

Roy, who came to UIC in 2014, is a former postdoctoral research associate with the Chicago School Readiness Project and the MacArthur Network on Housing Quality and Child Development. She earned her doctorate and master’s degree in community psychology from the New York University, and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

The Spencer Foundation was established in 1962 to support education research, fellowship and training programs. Its Midcareer Grant program aims to enrich the work of academic scholars who are seven to 20 years post-doctorate and intends to provide support for those who are interested in advancing their understanding of a compelling problem of education by acquiring new skills, substantive knowledge, theoretical perspectives or methodological tools. The Small Research Grants program supports academic work that will contribute to the improvement of education in a broad range of topics and disciplines.

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