Urban Doctoral Fellowship

A research and writing cohort of doctoral students focused on urban issues

Scholarship and effective communication in urban fields increasingly requires multiple competencies that are difficult to acquire working alone within traditional departments or programs. The Urban Doctoral Fellows Program organizes an academic year cohort of up to ten students whose research focuses on urban issues, with an emphasis on strengthening writing and developing effective evidence-based arguments.

The program consists of lunch-time meetings to increase the clarity and substance of Urban Doctoral Fellows’ research, ideas, and approaches and explore their implications from a diverse set of views. Students share and improve papers and presentations aimed at within and cross-disciplinary audiences and learn how various disciplines engage in urban research through discussions with University of Chicago faculty and postdoctoral fellows.

Urban Doctoral Fellows candid May 2024

Meetings are facilitated by Stephen Baker, Senior Research and Evaluation Scientist at the University of Chicago’s Data Science Institute, who organizes and moderates discussions.

The goal of each student’s full-year experience is to generate a paper and talk to be presented at a leading conference in their field. Travel and accommodation funding are provided by the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation. The program has resulted in fellows’ work being presented at many diverse professional conferences and in award recognitions by groups such as the American Sociological Association and the Urban Affairs Conference.

The fellowship has become a well-known opportunity for University of Chicago graduate students, running for over 10 years. Students may come from any department or school at the University of Chicago, and they may be in any year of their PhD.


  • Funding of up to $1,000 per fellow to cover registration, hotel, meals, and transportation costs for presentations at academic conferences.
  • Twice-monthly lunchtime meetings to prepare and review papers and presentations, and discuss urban research with University of Chicago faculty and Institute postdoctoral fellows.

Urban Doctoral Fellows posed May 2024

Example Publications

Recent student publications include (fellows are bolded):

  • Liang Cai, Christopher R. Browning, Kathleen A. Cagney. “Exposure of Neighborhood Racial and Socio-Economic Composition in Activity Space: A New Approach Adjusting for Residential Conditions.” February 2024. Social Forces. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soae021.
  • Geoffrey T. Wodtke, Kerry Ard, Clair Bullock, Kailey White, and Betsy Priem. “Concentrated Poverty, Ambient Air Pollution, and Child Cognitive Development.” Science Advances 8,eadd0285(2022). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.add0285.
  • Zihao Lin. “Writing Down Our Happiness and Dreams: Essay Contest and the Statist Narratives of Deaf Identity in China.” January 2020. Disability & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2020.1715923.
  •  Andrew Greenlee, Dylan Bellisle, et al.“Financial Instability in the Earned Income Tax Credit Program: Can Advanced Periodic Payments Ameliorate Systemic Stressors?” May 2020. Urban Affairs Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078087420921527.
  • Geneva Cole. “Types of White Identification and Attitudes About Black Lives Matter,” July 2020. Social Science Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12837.
  • Jade Wong, Emily Claypool. “Narratives, Masks and COVID-19: A Qualitative Reflection March 2021.” Qualitative Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020973330.
  • Jacob Drucker, Nathan R. Senner, Juan Pablo Gomez.“Behavioral Ecology Interspecific Aggression in Sympatry Between Congeneric Tropical Birds.” July 2021. Behavioral Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arab060.
  • Eve L. Ewing, Bridgette Davis, Samantha Rachel Guz. “’I Hope I Make It’: Alternative School Students’ Attendance and the Need for an Expanded Accountability.” July 2021. Urban Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420859211027618.
  • Stephanie Ternullo. “The Electoral Effects of Social Policy: Expanding Old-Age Assistance, 1932-1940.” January 2022. The Journal of Politics. https://doi.org/10.1086/715244.
  • Jose Eos Trinidad.“Meaning-Making, Negotiation, and Change in School Accountability, Or What Sociology Can Offer Policy Studies.” Feb 2022. Sociological Inquiry. https://doi.org/10.1111/soin.12485.


Learn about the 2023-2024 cohort of Urban Doctoral Fellows.

Learn more about past cohorts in the Urban Doctoral Fellows Program:






  • Fellows meet in 16 weekday sessions, for 90 minutes, throughout the academic year, beginning at the start of the Autumn Quarter. Lunch is provided.
  • Partial hybrid attendance is possible and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Students must be enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Chicago.

Applications for the 2024-25 academic year are closed; candidates will be notified this summer about their application status.

Email bcwilson@uchicago.edu with questions.