Student Research Grants

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The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion offers annual research grants to assist graduate students in their research. Although these grants are normally used for dissertation support, other significant research is eligible. The ordinary maximum award is $3,000. Grants are intended to cover research expenses, travel, research assistance, and up to $1500 in stipend for the researcher's own time. Grant recipients have two years to spend their awards and are expected to submit a brief report on their research. SSSR student research funding is transferred to the principle investigator’s university unless other arrangements are made. Please note that SSSR does not allow for any indirect cost recovery. 

Applicants must have been SSSR members for at least one year at the time they submit their proposals and must not have won the award in the previous three years. Applicants should describe the project they wish to undertake in no more than 3 single–spaced pages, discussing its significance for the social scientific study of religion and briefly identifying the literature on which they are drawing. The applications should include an abstract of no more than 100 words and an annotated budget that describes the rationale for proposed expenditures, as well as information about any other sources of support. The application should be accompanied by a brief curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages) listing the most recent research and publications.

Via the submission form above, candidates should submit PDF files of the abstract, three page proposal, annotated budget, and two page CV. All application packages must be received by May 1, 2021.


Ryon Cobb, Chair Email

Angela McCarthy

Michael Rotolo

Jeffrey Guhin


Amanda Hernandez (Baylor University), “Feminism, Feminists, and Faith: Intersectional Identities and Boundary Work.” This qualitative research project utilizes participant observation, interviews, and content analysis to explore the ways that feminist identification and Christian identification come together. Previous studies have addressed this topic (Manning 1999, Gallagher 2004, Ecklund 2003), however recent changes to the composition of feminism as a social movement (Reger 2019) necessitate revisiting how Christian women reconcile these identities. This study includes women from diverse backgrounds to unpack the ways this reconciliation differs among women of color. This study contributes to the social scientific study of religion by diversifying the lenses through which we study women’s experiences of religion and social movements.

Popy Begum (Rutgers University), “‘God Does Not Judge’: Mapping the Characteristics, Experiences and Service Needs of Muslim and Hindu Sex Workers on Garstin Bastion Road, New Delhi.” Criminologists who have examined the impact of religion on crime have found that it can influence people’s behaviors. Since 9/11, the focus has been on Islam and extremism, but a small body of research has examined the roles that religion play, both positive and negative, in human trafficking. The effect that Islam and Hinduism play in the lives of prostitutes in India remain unclear. Using a sample of 102 sex workers in New Delhi that were recruited via Respondent-driven Sampling, this study explores the influence that religion has in the lives of sex workers, and their experiences and service needs.

Daniel Bolger (Rice University). Although community-based organizations are increasingly relied upon to serve the urban poor, most social service providers are not located in disadvantaged communities. Faith-based organizations (FBOs), however, are overrepresented in under-resourced and non-white neighborhoods. I am requesting $2500 to conduct a comparative, ethnographic study of two predominantly Black neighborhoods in Houston, Texas, to explore how neighborhood organizational infrastructure shapes the work of local organizations—including FBOs and non-religious organizations—as well as the survival strategies of neighborhood residents. The results of the project will have important implications for understanding the role of religious organizations in the U.S. welfare system.

Sharan Kaur Mehta (Rice University), “Divided by Faith or United by Race? Negotiating South Asian Racial Identity and Politics in a Climate of Islamophobia.” The dramatic rise in hate crimes has catalyzed scholarship on race, religion, and the lived experiences of Muslims in the US. However, critical gaps remain in our understanding of racialization across religious tradition, and the role of activism in response to Islamophobia in (re)shaping religious and racial boundaries. Thus, this study will examine how Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu South Asians compare in the way they understand their racial identity and how racial identity is shaped by political participation and activism. I will conduct 60 interviews with community members, leaders, and activists in Houston, Texas and participant observations at selected organizations.

Katheryn Kelley, “Observing A Developmental Trajectory of Religious and Spiritual Struggle in Emerging Adults.” This proposes a longitudinal study of religious/spiritual (r/s) struggles in emerging adults (EAs) and their relationship to normative development. Individuation may produce r/s struggles, as EAs move from the r/s affiliation assigned by parents to one self-chosen. These struggles may produce growth as EAs determine their worldviews and develop adult identities. 200 college students, who completed assessments of identity, individuation, and r/s struggles in their first year of college, will be reassessed during their fourth year using the same measures and a semi-structured interview. We hypothesize that individuation will resolve r/s struggle and this resolution will develop identity.