A cognitive scientist and two political scientists have been named 2019 recipients of research awards from the School of Social Sciences. Funded by the Dean's Leadership Society, a network of supporters and friends of the School of Social Sciences committed to the school’s success, each honor carries a $5,000 prize.

Nadia Chernyak, cognitive sciences, and Danielle Thomsen, political science, are the 2019 recipients of the Social Sciences Assistant Professor Research Award. Established in 2005, the honor recognizes research excellence accompanied by a strong project proposal from a junior faculty member in social sciences.

nadia chernyakChernyak studies how children learn about their social world, and how the information they gain translates into behaviors toward others. She particularly looks at how early experiences contribute to our understanding of choice, and our morals and generosity toward others. With funding from the School of Social Sciences, she’ll be using recent insights from developmental psychology to investigate the cognitive mechanisms that underpin our abilities to reason about, understand, and rectify pre-existing inequalities. Chernyak joined UCI in fall 2018 following postdoctoral posts at Boston College and Boston University.

danielle thomsenThomsen studies American politics, U.S. Congress, and gender and politics. Her book, Opting Out of Congress: Partisan Polarization and the Decline of Moderate Candidates, examines the rise of partisan polarization in Congress. She also studies contemporary patterns of women’s representation and why the number of Democratic women in Congress has increased dramatically since the 1980s while the number of Republican women has barely grown. With funding from the School of Social Sciences, she’ll be exploring how the experience of running for Congress has changed over the last four decades. Thomsen also joined UCI in fall 2018 but spent the last year as a visiting scholar at Princeton University. She officially began her Anteater appointment in fall 2019.

Heidi Hardt, political science, is this year’s recipient of the Social Sciences Associate Professor Research Award. The award was established in 2011-12 to recognize research excellence and project proposals by newly tenured faculty in social sciences.

heidi hardtHardt studies international organizations and conflict management and has expertise in European, Transatlantic and African politics. She’s a noted expert on security institutions and has done extensive work on and with NATO, including her recent book, NATO's Lessons in Crisis: Institutional Memory in International Organizations, which draws on her 120 interviews with NATO’s high-level elites. With funding from the School of Social Sciences, she’ll further investigate what lessons multilateral military operations learn from combat, and how certain lessons are adopted and implemented into tactical changes while others are not. Hardt joined the UCI faculty in 2014 after completing her Ph.D. at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.


connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766