Four research fellows are joining Search Institute this summer as part of the Search Institute Summer Scholars Fellowships for 2023. Antonia Caba, Wallace Grace, Brian Lightfoot and Melanie Muskin will focus their research on future directions of positive youth development. The Fellowship aims to broaden the pathway into applied research, particularly for scholars from historically institutionally oppressed populations.

The Fellowship runs from June 1 through August 30 and matches a scholar with a Search Institute research team member, as well as a leading scholar in the field, to produce actionable research by leveraging Search Institute’s existing data.

“We are excited to begin our second year of this important collaboration between emerging scholars and Search Institute,” says Ben Houltberg, Search Institute President and CEO. “This is an incredible learning opportunity for everyone involved and we welcome the curiosity, questions, insights and innovations this impressive group of scholars brings to the field of positive youth development research.”

Meet the Research Fellows

AntoniaCabaHeadshotAntonia Caba is a doctoral candidate in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural factors that help LGBTQ+ youth to develop positive, affirmed identities. 

Antonia received a B.S. in Public Health from Miami University and Master of Public Health degree from Yale School of Public Health. Her research with Search Institute will focus on intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural determinants of LGBTQ+ youths’ health and wellbeing.

WallaceGraceWallace Grace is a Doctoral Candidate in Education Policy Studies – Social Sciences and Education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His research interests are in child and adolescent development, education, public policy and human-centered design, and how race, gender, socioeconomic status and their related social mechanisms impact development within and across social contexts. Prior to his Ph.D. work, Wallace worked in a variety of school, district, and educational nonprofit settings around the country in teaching, research, policy analysis and program design and innovation roles. He holds a M.A. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies from Loyola University Chicago, a M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.S. in Economics from Miami University (Ohio).  His research with Search Institute will focus on thriving in Black adolescents.

Lightfoot_Bio_PicBrian Lightfoot is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on equitable, student-centered policies, practices and institutions, and he has published resources on student activism, teacher preparation and youth social capital development. Brian is also the Co-founder and former Chief Program Officer at Formation Ventures, a youth program that supports emerging high school aged entrepreneurs of color. Additionally, he is a consultant at Franklin Street Studios, a boutique learning design studio based in Denver, Colorado that specializes in human centered design, leadership, team development and strategic planning. In all of his work, Brian focuses on authentically and systematically collaborating with students, families and communities to create spaces that build capacity and social capital. His research with Search Institute will focus on youth social capital development.

Melanie Muskin_ColorHeadshot2023Melanie Muskin is a doctoral student in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy where she explores issues of professional dignity and sustainability for public school teachers. Her academic research is informed by a prior career in New York City schools where she served as a teacher and school-based administrator. Melanie has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from Vassar College. Her research with Search Institute will focus on professional dignity and sustainability for public school teachers.

The Summer Scholars Fellowship is an invaluable collaboration between Search Institute and new and emerging scholars in the field of positive youth development. The participating scholars have the opportunity to utilize and leverage Search Institute’s vast data resources, while providing new approaches, insights and perspectives that are vital to the mission of ensuring that all young people thrive.

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