The 2021 Heinz Dissertation Award Committee

  • Ezra Golberstein, Chair, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
  • 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
  • Fernando Torres-Gil, Associate Dean and Professor, University of California–Los Angeles, School of Public Policy
  • 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.


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.


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. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Social Welfare at the University of California–Los Angeles and Professor of Gerontology and Public Administration at the University of Southern California. He served as Staff Director for the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging and held key positions in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He is the author of a number of publications including, “Diversity in Aging: Challenges Facing Planners and Policy Makers in the 1990’s”, and “The New Aging: Politics and Change in America”. A founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, Professor Torres-Gil currently serves on the Advisory Board of “The Journal on Poverty, Income Distribution, and Income Assistance” of the Social Insurance Research Network (SIRN). He received his Ph.D. in social policy, planning and research from Brandeis University.


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.