The Knapp Thesis Fellowship in the Social Sciences

Knapp Thesis Fellowship in the Social Sciences

Each year two Knapp Fellowships of $1,500 are awarded on the basis of merit to qualified student applicants. Recipients are selected on the basis of proposals submitted to the Committee for Curriculum and Academic Planning (CCAP), as part of the Schiff Fellowship application process. Eligible students applying for the Schiff Fellowship will be automatically considered for the Knapp Fellowship.

However, additional eligibility criteria would include

(1) proposed independent work must qualify as social science research

(2) the applicant may not already have funding from The Samuel and Hilda Levitt Fellowship or from the Pamela Daniels Fellowship.



Addie  New-Schmidt

Addie New-Schmidt

2024 Knapp Thesis Fellowship recipient

Addie New-Schmidt '24 is an Economics major interested in the intersection of policy, economics, and political science. The working title for her senior thesis is "Closing the Gates? The Effects of Affirmative Action Bans on Enrollment and Earnings". Prompted in part by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2023 ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, her thesis uses data from ten state-level affirmative action bans to examine their impact on the racial makeup of universities' freshman classes and the earnings of graduates later in life. By examining labor market outcomes, the research investigates the extent to which affirmative action policies go beyond the university to impact social mobility and racial economic inequality. Addie is also affiliated with the Knapp Center through the Knapp Fellows Program in the Social Sciences, where she works as a fellow for Professor Jennifer Chudy examining the relationship between racial attitudes and political behavior. After graduation, Addie will work as a Research Associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco before pursuing a graduate degree in economics.



Saskia Vanderwiel

Saskia Vanderwiel

2024 Knapp Thesis Fellowship recipient

Saskia Vanderwiel '24 is a psychology major passionate about better understanding the many socio-emotional and cultural influences on mental health, particularly in regard to the etiology and treatment of severe mental illness. In pursuit of these interests, she volunteered at a homeless shelter in her hometown, assisted in the development of a campus-wide depression prevention program, and currently serves as a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project. Saskia’s thesis, which has the working title of “Straying from Religious Values: A Mixed Methods Study of Theo-Ego Regulatory Distress,” investigates the extent to which one’s psychological well-being is affected when their emotion regulation strategies conflict with their religious values. After graduation, Saskia plans to attend a clinical psychology Ph.D. program and utilize the research and clinical skills she will gain to improve mental health care for those experiencing severe mental illness and self-harming behaviors.



Past Knapp Thesis Fellowship Recipients

Eshika Kaul '23
Eshika Kaul '23

Eshika Kaul '23 is an Economics and Peace and Justice Studies double major interested in the intersection of economics, law, and policy. Outside of the classroom, Eshika is a leader in civic engagement as an Alternative Breaks Ministrare Fellow and has leveraged her low-income tax certification to secure benefits for low-income taxpayers at the Harvard Legal Services Center Federal Tax Clinic. These service experiences were the catalyst for her economics thesis, titled “More Money, More Meals? The Effect of the Child Tax Credit on Child Food Insecurity." Eshika's thesis aims to understand the extent to which the pre-2021 Child Tax Credit improves child food security in order to inform debate over whether the Child Tax Credit should return to expanded pandemic levels.

Roxie Miles '23
Roxie Miles '23

Roxie is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy.

She is writing her honors thesis on the protections current international law can offer to people forcibly displaced by climate change. During the fall of 2022, she interned with an asylum-focused immigration law firm in downtown Boston. Roxie also volunteers teaching kindergarteners through the Mission Hill After School Program, which she has been involved with since her first semester of college. She has also advocated for educational access for incarcerated adults by leading a research project for the Educational Justice Institute (TEJI) at MIT during the winter of 2021 and by serving as the current President of its partnered student organization, the Prison Education Initiative (PEI). While studying abroad at Oxford during her junior year, she was appointed President of Student Action for Refugees (STAR) Oxford, the university’s branch of a national refugee advocacy organization. Roxie plans to attend law school upon graduation, and, informed by her thesis work and service experiences, aspires to a career supporting asylum applicants.


Gabriella Garcia '22
Gabriella Garcia '22

Gabriella Garcia is a Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences and Anthropology double major. She is interested in critically examining how multilingualism and culture intersect. The working title of her thesis, advised by Justin Armstrong, is “Romansh on the Radio: an exploration of linguistic and national identity through music and sound”. She is creating a collaborative music anthology with speakers of Romansh, a minority language in eastern Switzerland. Her thesis engages with alternative modes of ethnography and aims to illuminate how Romansh identity is shaped and reinforced by language, music, and the environment.

Katharine Conklin '22
Katharine Conklin '22
Katharine is an Education Studies and Religion double major interested in the way students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a person of color (BIPOC) experience community and mentorship at boarding school. The working title for her thesis is “BIPOC Student Experience with Mentorship and Community in Elite Boarding Schools” in which she will consider how historically marginalized students form a sense of belonging and natural relationships with mentors. By considering the way BIPOC students engage with their community and mentoring relationships, she will assess both the way students are supposed through their relationship dynamics with faculty/staff at the school. Katharine will use a qualitative research approach to collect and analyze data, and her writing will be grounded in the methodology of portraiture. 

2020-2021 Knapp Thesis Fellowship Recipients

Kelsey Dunn: 2020-2021 Knapp Thesis Fellow
Majors: Environmental Studies and Political Science

Kelsey Dunn '21

Kelsey is an Environmental Studies and Political Science double major interested in pursuing political and legal pathways to address environmental and climate injustices. The working title of her thesis project is "'Our House is on Fire': Tracing the History of the United States Climate Movement." Her thesis identifies three distinct but related currents in the movements' history (20th-century mainstream environmentalism, climate justice, and the youth climate movement), with a particular focus on the role of grassroots activism. By bringing these currents into conversation with each other, her thesis evaluates how today's energetic movement builds upon and diverges from the movements' past. 



Tara Wattal: 2020-2021 Knapp Thesis Fellow
Major: Economics

Tara Wattal '21

Tara is an Economics major who is interested in critically examining our institutions and implementing public policy that ensures the well-being of all individuals. Her thesis, entitled "A Safety for Sickness? The Effect of Local Paid Sick Leave Mandates on COVID-19's United States Spread," investigates the impact of state, county, and city-mandated United States Paid Sick Leave mandates on COVID-19 era worker outcomes. These outcomes include stay-at-home advisory compliance, illness contraction, and mortality. If her research finds evidence that on-the-books Paid Sick Leave mandates allow workers to stay home, tend to their illnesses, take care of loved ones, and limit the pandemic's spread, we may view such policies as critical tools in promoting public health and a component of workers' rights.

2019-2020 Knapp Thesis Fellowship Recipients

Makiko Miyazaki the 2019-2020 Knapp Thesis Fellow
Major: Political Science

Makiko Miyazaki '20

Makiko is a Political Science major who has pursued International Relations through the Madeleine K. Albright Fellowship; journals Wellesley Globalist and International Relations Council Journal; and a year-long study abroad at the University of Oxford, where her thesis was inspired. Titled “Understanding the Munich Agreement: British Policymaking Elites’ Threat Assessment of the Soviet Union and Germany Between 1933 and 1938,” her thesis examines to what extent there was consensus among the 1930s British policymaking elites that the Soviet Union posed a greater threat to Britain than Nazi Germany, such as to understand why Britain did not collaborate with the Soviet Union in curtailing German revisionist ambitions.


Julia Oppenheim the 2019-2020 Knapp Thesis Fellow
Major: Anthropology

Georgia Oppenheim '20

Georgia is an anthropology major and a chemistry minor, with an interest in applying chemical analysis to the study of human origins. Her thesis project, supervised by Prof. Adam Van Arsdale and Prof. Elizabeth Minor, is titled "Experimental investigation of phytoliths and combustion features and their relevance for the 'Cooking Hypothesis' from East Turkana, Kenya." The project seeks to understand how archaeologists can study early hominin fire use in archaeological contexts. Specifically, she uses experimental archaeology to understand how plant microfossils (phytoliths) are affected by different fire modalities. For this project, she conducted paleoanthropological fieldwork in Koobi Fora, Kenya, and research at the National Museums of Kenya.  

2018-2019 Knapp Thesis Fellowship Recipients

Photo of Emily Moss '19
Major: Economics and Political Science
Hometown: Bedford, Massachusetts

Emily Moss '19

Emily Moss ’19 is an Economics and Political Science major from Bedford, Massachusetts. Outside of her studies, Emily leads the resource advocacy program at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter where many of the homeless women she assists are fleeing domestic violence. This trend motivated Emily to study the intersection of gender-based violence and housing insecurity. Her economics thesis titled “Why She Didn’t Just Leave: The Effect of Nuisance Ordinances on Domestic Violence” evaluates the impact of local nuisance ordinances (which enable landlords to evict tenants who frequently call for emergency services) on domestic violence survivors’ ability to call for help while keeping their home.

Major: Anthropology
Hometown: Sri Lanka

Kavindya Thennakoon '19

Kavindya is an anthropology major and a cinema and media studies minor, with an interest in understanding how to rethink traditional approaches to education. Her thesis project, supervised by Prof. Justin Armstrong, is titled, "Re-imagining Local Education Systems through Design Anthropology." The project combines design anthropology and cinema and media studies along with Kavindya's interest in education reform to explore how stories from grassroots educators, students and classrooms can help articulate ‘why’ local education systems have failed to become relevant to the emerging world. She will be conducting field work in her home country of Sri Lanka, where she has experienced firsthand the impact of a failing education system that is disconnected from both grassroots realities and the world beyond.