Ebony Thomas Awarded Prestigious Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

May 16, 2014 -- Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an assistant professor in Penn GSE’s Reading/Writing/Literacy Division, was awarded a 2014 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. The prestigious fellowship enables scholars to focus on research that the Academy considers likely to make a “significant scholarly contribution” to the field of education, and provides funding to release recipients from one year of teaching.

“This is one of the most distinguished awards that an early career education researcher can receive,” says Andy Porter, dean of Penn GSE. “It’s a great honor for Ebony, and for Penn.”

Dr. Thomas received the fellowship for her project titled “Healing Fictions: African American Middle Schoolers ‘Restorying’ History Through Children’s and Young Adult Literature.” Thomas will examine how young African American adolescents navigate disconnections between literary representations of the past and their everyday experiences through the stories they tell. In particular, she is interested in how Black middle school students in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia read and interpret historical literature, and how they construe meaning from it.

The National Academy of Education/Spender Foundation also honored three Penn GSE doctoral students with Dissertation Fellowships. Recipients are Shani Evans (Education, Culture, & Society and Sociology), Holly Link (Educational Linguistics), and Cécile Evers (Educational Linguistics and Anthropology).  According to Susan Goldman, chair of the selection committee, “the award is a strong expression of the organizations’ confidence in these students’ potential contribution to the history, theory, or practice of education.”

Update: We are pleased to announce that a second member of the Penn GSE community, Dr. Erika Kitzmiller, has been selected as National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Kitzmiller is currently a qualitative researcher with the Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy initiative. Of 365 applicants, only twenty-five were selected for this fellowship.