The University of Chicago and Chapin Hall Announce Joint Research Fund Awards

Universal pre-K, parental absence in China, and machine learning in child welfare to be studied

The University of Chicago and Chapin Hall have announced funding for research projects that examine the impact of universal Pre-K in Chicago, parental absence in China, and machine learning on decision-making in child welfare. The three research teams have been awarded a total of $200,000 from the University of Chicago-Chapin Hall Joint Research Fund. This is the sixth year of the Fund.

The awardees and their projects are:

  • Dr. Fred Wulczyn, Senior Research Fellow, Chapin Hall and Dr. James Heckman, Director, Center for the Economics of Human Development, who will examine the effect of child neglect on the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills due to parental absence. Their proposed study– Left behind: The effects of parental absence on human capital formation among Chinese children–will include analysis of a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset of children and their families in China.
  • Dr. Brian Chor, Senior Researcher, Chapin Hall and Rayid Ghani, Research Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, who will examine the application of machine learning approaches to inform residential placement decision-making in a child welfare system, demonstrating an innovative and important application of machine learning approaches with strong policy relevance.
  • Dr. Nicholas Mader, Senior Researcher, Chapin Hall and Dr. Michael Dinerstein, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, who will study how Chicago’s coming expansion to Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) will influence accessibility of early childcare and education services. Drs. Dinerstein and Mader will conduct econometric analysis to assess how universal pre-K expansion complements or displaces services provided by community-based organizations and highlight how effects vary by neighborhood.

Joint Research Fund awards foster long-term policy-relevant research collaborations between the University and Chapin Hall. The opportunity provides support for translational research consistent with our shared commitment to rigorous inquiry and transformative impact. Over the past five years, 14 research teams have received awards.

“Projects awarded through the Joint Research Fund look to tackle real-world issues facing decision makers,” said Bryan Samuels, Executive Director of Chapin Hall. “This latest round seeks to influence local, state, and international policymaking. Each project is also engaging those closest to the work – a critical element in ensuring the successful implementation of research findings.”

The Joint Research Fund Steering Committee, made up of appointees from the University and Chapin Hall, reviewed a number of highly competitive proposals from partnerships of faculty across the University and Chapin Hall research and policy staff. Faculty and staff interested in participating in future years may visit the Joint Research Fund RFP webpage for more information and may also sign up for updates and reminders from the Fund.

“The Joint Research Fund was established to support collaborative research between the University and Chapin Hall, capitalizing on both institution’s commitment to impactful and rigorous research,” said Daniel Diermeier, Provost at the University of Chicago. “I am pleased to see these projects funded and look forward to hearing of their impact.”