Political science doctoral students recognized by Horowitz Foundation

REBECCA PERLMAN and SHIRAN SHEN, doctoral candidates in the Department of Political Science, are two of 20 scholars to receive national research grants from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy.

Perlman and Shen were chosen from a field of more than 670 social sciences scholars.

Rebecca Perlman, left, and Shiran Shen
Rebecca Perlman, left, and Shiran Shen

“This year the foundation saw a marked increase in not just the number of applications, but also the number of applicants holding citizenship in other countries, although surprisingly all recipients attend U.S. institutions,” said foundation Chairman Mary E. Curtis in a statement. “The winners were chosen by the trustees for their potential to contribute to social policy on both a global and local level. As we look forward to celebrating our 20th year in 2018, we hope to continue aiding international scholars at home and abroad.”

Perlman’s research focuses on how governments and international organizations regulate risk in the face of scientific uncertainty, public pressure for risk reduction and a growing international emphasis on regulatory harmonization/coordination across borders. In her research project, “When Regulations Fail: Setting Standards Under Asymmetric Information,” Perlman examines data on pesticide regulation and finds that “as regulatory actors have sought to make regulations more responsive to scientific developments, they have actually created a situation in which powerful, innovative firms have been able to manipulate regulatory outcomes in their favor.”

Perlman received a master’s degree in international political economy from Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Princeton University.

Shen’s research seeks to integrate relevant techniques from environmental engineering, Earth systems and computer science to better understand the big questions in the social sciences, especially in the realm of environment and energy. Her dissertation project, “Political Pollution Cycle: The Inconvenient Truth and How to Break It,” examines the challenges of addressing air pollution in China and other countries by their local politicians. She finds that “the strategic timing of economic activities” may advance the careers of local politicians, “but it contributes inconveniently to air pollution and incurs considerable human costs.”

Shen received a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from Swarthmore College.

The Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy supports the advancement of research and understanding in the major fields of social sciences. The organization provides small grants to PhD students to support their dissertation research. Since its inception in 1997, the foundation has awarded grants to more than 200 scholars from over 100 international universities.

The 2017 grant application period is now open. For information, visit www.horowitz-foundation.org.