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Ph.D. Candidates Zabala, Lowell Awarded Russell Sage Foundation Grants


Ph.D. candidates Warren Lowell (Public Policy and Sociology) and Pamela Zabala (Sociology) received inaugural Dissertation Research Grants from the Russell Sage Foundation. 

This new grant supports dissertation research projects in the social sciences that address the Russell Sage Foundation’s priority areas, which include social problems and policies in the United States. Lowell and Zabala are among the first 30 recipients of the grant. The recipients will receive up to $10,000 in funding. 

Here’s a look at this year’s Duke’s recipients:

A headshot of Warren Lowell

Warren Lowell

Lowell is a joint public policy and sociology Ph.D. candidate. He studies social inequality and housing policy, hoping to identify modern explanations for persistent racial-ethnic inequalities and policy solutions for a more just and equitable housing system in the United States. His research is informed by the years he spent as a social worker providing mental health services to children in Boston and as a housing policy researcher and advocate in Minneapolis. 

Lowell’s research, “Real Estate Investors and the Future of Black Neighborhoods in the American South,” uses a combination of interviews and administrative data analysis to understand the strategies real estate investors use to enter housing markets in majority-Black neighborhoods and what growing investor activity means for these neighborhoods. 


A headshot of Pamela Zabala

Pamela Zabala 

Zabala is a sociology Ph.D. candidate, concentrating on race stratification and organizational sociology. She is also enrolled in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate Program at Duke. In 2022, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education recognized her as a Rising Graduate Scholar.

Zabala’ research, “The Black (But “Not Black”) Sheep of the Diaspora: How Dominican Immigrants Understand Racial and Ethnic Identity in the U.S.,” uses in-depth interviews to examine the relationship between Dominicans living in the U.S. and U.S.-based concepts of race and Dominican racial identity.



Tips for Future Applicants:

“Get started early and get other eyes on your work! I shared an original draft with my advisors and committee members a couple weeks before the deadline, and they really helped push me to improve the writing and overall strength of my proposal through multiple iterations.” — Warren Lowell

“Future applicants should make sure that their research aligns with one of the Foundation’s funding priority areas and they should make that relationship evident in their proposal. Additionally, they should thoroughly describe their research design and be clear on why the proposed methods are most appropriate for addressing their research question.” — Pamela Zabala