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Tackling Society’s Challenges

Three Harvard Griffin GSAS students receive 2024 Horowitz Grants 

Three students from the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will receive grants from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy to support research in the social sciences, the foundation announced on May 31. Katherine Ianni, Bethany Kotlar, and Hilton Simmet were among only 20 scholars selected, a group that represented less than 3 percent of the applicants, highlighting the prestige and competitive nature of the awards.  

“This year we received 771 applications, continuing the high number of quality applications of previous years,” said Dr. Ayse Akincigil, chair of the Horowitz Foundation’s board of trustees, in a press release about the awards. “Although many of the proposals were on topics of social and political importance, the foundation’s trustees consider these proposals to be particularly strong, and vibrant examples of how policy research can help meet the challenges of today’s complex society.” 

A PhD candidate in health policy, Katherine Ianni received support for her project, “The Value of Nonmedical Benefits Delivered Through Private Health Insurers in the Medicare Advantage Program,” which employs quasi-experimental research methods to evaluate how providing transportation to non-emergency medical appointments affects access to and utilization of care.  

. . . the foundation’s trustees consider these proposals to be particularly strong, and vibrant examples of how policy research can help meet the challenges of today’s complex society.
—Dr. Ayse Akincigil, Chair of the Horowitz Foundation Board of Trustees 

“Evaluating the value of nonmedical health insurance benefits is critical for understanding how to address healthcare access barriers,” Ianni wrote in a summary of her project on the Horowitz Foundation website. “My project fills a research gap by assessing the impact of nonmedical supplemental benefit provision in the Medicare Advantage program.” 

Bethany Kotlar, a PhD student in population health sciences, received support for her research project, “When the Village is Threatened: The Effects of Maternal Incarceration During Pregnancy and Early Childhood on Family Wellbeing.” The work intersects with the mission of Motherhood Beyond Bars (MBB), the nonprofit Kotlar founded over a decade ago to improve the lives of incarcerated women and their children.  

“Approximately 4 percent of women enter incarceration pregnant,” Kotlar wrote for her project summary. “Prenatal exposure to incarceration may harm children through suboptimal carceral conditions and early disrupted attachment. No studies have prospectively assessed the wellbeing of these children. The purpose of this project is to fill this research gap to inform policies that support child development.” 

PhD candidate in public policy Hilton Simmet, a research associate at Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society, won support for his project, “From Justice to Just Science: The Politics of Inequality Research in the US, France, and India.” The work compares how different countries study global inequality by looking at health-focused, data-based, and community-involved approaches, and tries to understand how basic beliefs about government and society influence public policy. 

Horowitz Foundation logo

The Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, established in 1997, has been a champion of policy-related research in the social sciences. Since issuing its first awards in 1999, the foundation has supported doctoral students whose dissertation proposals have been approved, regardless of their citizenship or residency. The foundation's grants are awarded based solely on merit, reflecting the highest standards of academic excellence and societal relevance. 


Banner images courtesy of The Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy and The Derek Bok Center for Teaching & Learning. 

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