Published: Oct. 15, 2021 By

Chris SaldanaThe American Educational Research Association (AERA) selected School of Education PhD candidate Christopher Saldaña for the 2021–22 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research.

This highly selective program, designed for members of racial and ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in educational research, offers dissertation fellowships to graduate students and provides mentoring and guidance toward the completion of their doctoral studies. An important aim of the fellowship is to enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of faculty, scholars and researchers in the field of education research.

Saldaña’s dissertation work focuses on examining K–12 school finance policy and politics in moments of fiscal crisis in the United States. His dissertation is made up of three articles, each one focusing on a unique aspect of school finance policy making during the fiscal crisis.

Read the Q&A with Chris Saldaña: 

How does this fellowship benefit your research?

“This fellowship affords me the opportunity to focus almost 100 percent of my time in the upcoming year on completing my dissertation and navigating the academic job market. This means I can immerse myself in multiple data sets, methods, and research questions, begin to develop a path forward for my research and dedicate my upcoming job search to positions that are most closely aligned to my research agenda. It also means I can spend time thinking about how to shape and position my work to ensure it impacts educational policy and practice.”

What does this fellowship mean to you personally and as a scholar?

“To be honest, I was shocked when I won the award. I know the quality of proposals that are put forward by my fellow graduate students. So it is a tremendous honor to receive the AERA Minority Dissertation fellowship. It is also a testament to the amount of energy and time so many people have invested in me. I think personally, I was happier for everyone around me—my parents, my sister, and my brother, my grandparents, my extended family, and my friends, my advisor, and my dissertation committee and all of my faculty mentors and colleagues at CU Boulder. Earning a PhD and writing a dissertation can be a daunting and isolating process. So many people have encouraged, supported and mentored me, making it so that I have never really felt discouraged, confused or alone.”

How do you envision your research impacting education as a whole?

“The goal of my research is to examine and understand whether and how current K-12 school finance policies and practices enhance or limit the opportunity of students in hard economic times. I want to use my research to offer educational stakeholders recommendations for how policies and practices at all levels might be reimagined and redesigned to offer all students high-quality opportunities to learn, regardless of their background or the economic conditions facing their community, state, or the U.S. economy.”

Congratulations, Chris!