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The James J. Gallagher Dissertation Award honors the late Jim Gallagher, who was director of the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute from 1970 to 1987. Dr. Gallagher devoted his lengthy career to advancing policy and practice in support of children and families. His work focused on children at both ends of the developmental spectrum—those with disabilities or risk conditions and those with gifts and talents. The annual award provides support for dissertation research focused on issues related to child development and family support. Priority is given to research that is relevant to child and family policy for young children, children with disabilities, or children with gifts and talents.

The amount of the award for 2024 is $4,500. The recipient must be a graduate student currently enrolled at UNC-CH who has successfully defended their dissertation proposal and has an approved plan of research or will have an approved plan by August 2024. The research may already be underway or just beginning. The funds may be used to support research expenses such as data collection, mileage, copying, participant payments, or salary support for the dissertation student or data collectors. The award should not supplant other funds that are already committed to the student’s research and the award cannot fund tuition.

Proposals are due on Friday, June 7, 2024, and are limited to five pages. The proposal should include a description of the research questions and procedures, the policy relevance of the work, an explanation of how the award funds would be used, and contact information for the student. The proposal also should include a letter from the faculty advisor summarizing the student’s academic work to date (not to count in the 5-page limit). If the proposed work is not yet approved by the student’s committee, the advisor’s letter should indicate the date by which approval is expected.

In granting the award, the review committee will consider the importance of the topic and its relevance to child and family policy, the extent to which the research will contribute to the scientific knowledge base in the field, the extent to which the findings will result in information that can be used in designing or improving programs for children and their families, the originality of the proposal, and the quality of the student’s academic work. The award recipient will be announced in early summer.

Proposals, including letters of reference, should be submitted electronically. Electronic submissions should be sent to Please contact Erica Nouri if you have questions about the award or the application process.

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