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John Heinz Dissertation Award

Established in 1993 with support from Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation, the John Heinz Dissertation Award is designed to recognize outstanding doctoral research by new scholars addressing social insurance policy questions. It is one of several Academy programs designed to attract talented individuals to the field of social insurance and encourage the development of new administrators, scholars, and other professionals.
Latest from Former Heinz Winners
About the Heinz Committee
2021 Heinz Award Winner
John Heinz and the Academy
2022 Heinz Dissertation Award

Latest from Former Heinz Dissertation Award Winners

David Autor and Michael Stepner

Michael Stepner, who completed his PhD in economics at MIT, received the Academy’s 2020 John Heinz Dissertation Award for his “Essays on Health and Social Insurance.” Later in 2020, Academy Member David Autor, MIT Ford Professor of Economics and one of Stepner’s dissertation advisors, was recognized by the Heinz Family Foundation with a special 25th Anniversary Heinz Award. The Academy’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Fay Lomax Cook, spoke with both scholars to learn more about their work on inequality and social insurance, their influence on each other, and big research questions for the future given the impact of COVID-19.

Kerwin Charles

1997 Heinz Dissertation Award Winner

Kerwin Charles is the Indra K. Nooyi Dean and Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Economics, Policy, and Management at the Yale School of Management. He was recently interviewed on People I Mostly Admire podcast, part of the Freakonomics Radio Network. Read the article and check out the full episode here.

Manasi Deshpande

2016 Heinz Dissertation Award Winner

Manasi Deshpande’s recent research includes empirical public finance and labor economics, effects of social insurance and public assistance programs, and labor markets. Deshpande is working on a forthcoming project through the University of Chicago, titled, “How Do Expectations about Government Benefits Affect Human Capital Investment?” View the extended abstract here.

In addition, we interviewed Manasi after she won the Heinz Award in 2016; click here to read more about her insights on the Award.

Jacob Hacker

2002 Heinz Dissertation Award Winner

Jacob Hacker’s most recent book, co-authored with Paul Pierson, Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality, hit shelves last summer (2020). The book “addresses the question of how right-wing Republicans have gained and maintained their power despite the fact that their policies result in extreme – and increasing – economic and social inequality” (Booklist review).

You can read more about Jacob Hacker here, and purchase the book here.

Isabel M. Perera

2019 Heinz Dissertation Award Winner

At the end of last year, Isabel M. Perera and newly-elected Academy member, Desmond King, co-authored “Racial Pay Parity in the Public Sector: The Overlooked Role of Employee Mobilization” in Politics & Society. Check out their blog post in Work in Progress, and you can find the free, pre-publication version of the article here.

Sebastian Tello-Trillo

2018 Heinz Dissertation Award Winner

Sebastian Tello-Trillo is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on health policy in the U.S and Latin America, specifically understanding how policies affect individuals’ health behaviors and economic outcomes. He recently shared his thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA and its policy implications, check out an article and the video.

Learn more about Sebastian’s background and research here.

Meet all previous Heinz winners.

About the Heinz Dissertation Committee

Members of the Heinz Dissertation Award Committee are Academy Members who volunteer to read the dissertations of annual nominations and select the winning dissertation for its contribution to the body of knowledge on social insurance, the policy relevance of the findings, the quality of the analysis, and the clarity of the exposition. Many of the members of the committee are former winners of the Dissertation Award themselves.

Jennifer Erkulwater, Chair, is a Professor of political science at the University of Richmond. She 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.

Research: Disability rights and the social safety net, pediatric mental health

Ezra Golberstein, is an assistant professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. 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.

Research: Health care for vulnerable populations, mental health services, long-term effects of exposure to Medicaid, effects of the Affordable Care Act on mental health services and out-of-pocket spending.

Monica Galizzi is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Dr. Galizzi was the winner of the 2005-06 Eckstein Prize from the Eastern Economic Association. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University.

Research: Labor mobility, occupational injuries, labor market attachment

Lauren Nicholas is an associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health. She was formerly an assistant professor in the departments of Health Policy & Management and Surgery at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She received the 2009 Heinz Dissertation Award for her dissertation, Medicare Advantage? The Effects of Managed Care on Medicare Quality, Costs and Enrollment, during her doctorate program in social policy and policy analysis at Columbia University.

Research: Health economics, Medicare, regional variation, end-of-life, surgery

Fernando Torres-Gil is Associate Dean and professor at the University of California–Los Angeles, School of Public Policy. Previously, he was Assistant Secretary for Aging for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was the Chief Advisor to the President and the Secretary on all matters affecting older persons. He received his Ph.D. in social policy, planning and research from Brandeis University.

Research: Aging/gerontology, healthcare, politics

Jeffrey Wenger is 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. Wenger received his Ph.D. in public policy analysis from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Research: Unemployment insurance administration and financing, the role of SNAP benefits on food expenditures, and the role of health insurance in labor market decisions of married couples

Emilie Jackson Receives 2021 John Heinz Dissertation Award

Emilie Jackson was awarded the 2021 John Heinz Dissertation Award for her dissertation “Essays in Public Economics” which was submitted for her doctorate in Economics at Stanford University. Jackson was nominated for this honor by her professor, Mark Duggan, Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Jackson will be joining the faculty at Michigan State University in the fall of 2021.
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Senator John Heinz and the Academy

Senator John Heinz was an early advocate for health care reform, seeking to control costs while improving benefits for all Americans. As a politician who worked for 20 years on Capitol Hill, he believed that bipartisanship, civility and integrity were the key to legislative success. As a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, he sought to defend the nation’s growing elderly population and he was “instrumental in pushing through legislation that put the Social Security system on sounder financial footing”.
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The 2022 John Heinz Dissertation Award

The Academy is now accepting nominations for the 2022 John Heinz Dissertation Award. The deadline to nominate is January 14, 2022. 
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About the Heinz Foundation

Led by Teresa Heinz, the Heinz Family Foundation and the Heinz Endowments concentrates a significant portion of their energies on educating the people who influence social policy areas of women’s economic opportunities, environment, arts, education, human health and aging, and cultural and societal enrichment.

The Academy thanks Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation for its ongoing support of the John Heinz Dissertation Award program at the National Academy of Social Insurance.

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