About the Heinz Dissertation Committee

The 2020 Heinz Dissertation Award Committee

  • Ezra Golberstein, Chair, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
  • Jason Barabas, Professor of Political Science, Stony Brook University
  • Jennifer Erkulwater, Professor of Political Science, University of Richmond
  • Monica Galizzi, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Lauren Nicholas, Assistant Professor, Departments of Health Policy & Management and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University
  • Margaret Simms, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute (Retired)
  • Jeffrey Wenger, Researcher, RAND Corporation and Faculty Fellow at the School of Public Affairs, American University


Ezra Golberstein is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. He is a health policy researcher and health economist. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on health care for vulnerable populations, with a current focus on mental health services. In his recent work he has examined the long-term effects of exposure to Medicaid in early childhood, the effects of Medicaid eligibility expansions on mental health services, and the effects of the Affordable Care Act on mental health services and out-of-pocket spending. He also publishes on the relationships between health and human capital, on spending growth in Medicare, and on long-term care. He has been a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2015.


Jason Barabas is a Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University. Prior to his arrival at Stony Brook University, Barabas was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar at Harvard University from 2004 to 2006. He has also held faculty appointments at Florida State University and Southern Illinois University in addition to serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University's Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. Barabas is the author of several articles on public opinion, deliberation and Social Security. His research has been been published in the American Journal of Political Science, the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, and Public Opinion Quarterly among other journals. Barabas was the co-winner of the National Academy of Social Insurance’s Heinz Dissertation Award in 2001 for his work, "Americans Discuss Social Security: How Deliberation Affects Public Opinion." A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance for more than ten years, Barabas received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 2000.


Jennifer Erkulwater received the 2003 Heinz Dissertation Award for her essay, The Forgotten Safety Net: The Expansion of Supplemental Security Income. Dr. Erkulwater received her doctorate in Political Science from Boston College. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2008, Prof. Erkulwater is an associate professor of political science at the University of Richmond. 



 Monica Galizzi is a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Her research focuses on labor mobility and on the socio-economic outcomes of occupational injuries and explores the nature of long-term socio-economic outcomes experienced by workers injured on the job. She has written on the role played by wages, workers’ status, career perspectives, and gender in explaining differences in labor market attachment. She has also researched the return-to-work patterns of injured workers and the different earnings and wealth losses experienced by male and female injured workers. Prof. Galizzi was winner of the 2005-06 Eckstein Prize from the Eastern Economic Association. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University.


Lauren Hersch Nicholas received the 2009 Heinz Dissertation Award for her dissertation, Medicare Advantage? The Effects of Managed Care on Medicare Quality, Costs and Enrollment ,while receiving her doctorate in social policy and policy analysis at Columbia University. Nicholas is an assistant professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also an assistant professor at the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, as well as faculty affiliate at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She has been a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2013.

Margaret C. Simms, now retired, was an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute and Director of the Institute's Low-Income Working Families project until April 2018. A nationally recognized expert on the economic well-being of African Americans, Simms spent 21 years with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in a number of leadership positions. Simms was a senior research associate at the Urban Institute from 1979 to 1986 and directed the Institute's Minorities and Social Policy Program from 1981 to 1986. She was a faculty member at Atlanta University from 1972 to 1981; she also taught at Clark College (Atlanta) and the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 1977 and 1978, she was a Brookings economic policy fellow at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Simms has edited many books and monographs, including "Job Creation Prospects and Strategies" (with Wilhelmina Leigh); "Economic Perspectives on Affirmative Action"; and "Slipping Through the Cracks: The Status of Black Women" (with Julianne Malveaux). She was editor of the "Review of Black Political Economy" from 1983 to 1988 and board chair of the Institute for Women's Policy Research from 1993 to 1998. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 1994, she served as its President from 2007 to 2009. Simms earned her master's degree and doctorate in economics at Stanford University.‚Äč


Jeffrey Wenger is currently a Senior Policy Researcher at RAND Corporation and a Faculty Fellow at the School of Public Affairs at American University. He was formerly Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Georgia's School of Public & International Affairs, Department of Public Administration and Policy. From 2000 to 2003 he worked as a research economist for the Economic Policy Institute. His research focuses on the administration and financing of unemployment insurance benefits, the role of SNAP benefits on food expenditures, the role of health insurance in labor market decisions of married couples. Recent work has been published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Industrial Relations, the American Journal of Economics and Sociology and the Journal of Pension Economics and Finance. He is the co-author of Health Insurance Coverage in Retirement. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2006, Wenger received his Ph.D. in public policy analysis from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.