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Announcing the New Sara McLanahan Award

By PAA Web posted 06-28-2022 12:50


The PAA Awards Committee and Board of Directors is pleased to announce the creation of a new PAA Award in memory of Sara McLanahan.

The McLanahan Award will be given biannually in honor of Sara McLanahan, who was a remarkable scholar, mentor, and policy advisor. The award will go to a senior scholar in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the study of family change, the well-being of children and families, and related social policies.

Sara McLanahanThe award will recognize an individual’s own intellectual contributions that reflect cumulative accomplishments and establishment of an excellent publication record of research on families and children, ideally with public policy relevance and implications. Consideration will be given to an individual’s mentoring of other scholars who have made notable contributions to research on children and families; the latter would reflect the cumulative and generative effects of mentoring early career scholars whose work contributes toward the same ends of illuminating family circumstance and enhancing child wellbeing.

Over the course of her career, Sara McLanahan made foundational contributions toward understanding family circumstances and change, illuminating how to enhance the wellbeing of children, and improving public policy to better meet the needs of families and children. She was among the first to describe the implications of divorce and single parenthood for children, she developed a prescient new (and ongoing) study focused on unmarried parents and their children – the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. She identified the growing inequality in children’s outcomes/experiences as a result of different family patterns by socioeconomic status (‘diverging destinies’). After 11 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she began as a postdoc and rose from assistant to full professor, she moved to Princeton University in 1990, where she was founding Director of the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and became Editor-in-Chief of the Future of Children journal.

During her distinguished career, McLanahan received numerous awards and honors (including being inducted to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011), and served as President of PAA in 2004. In addition to her many own accomplishments, she trained, mentored, and collaborated with a number of junior scholars, who have extended her scholarly reach and influence on the field; she helped launch literally hundreds of scholars into their own impactful careers in population research, sociology, and public policy.

The first McLanahan Award will be presented in 2024 and given biennially in even years. Nomination instructions will be on the McLanahan Award webpage in the Fall of 2023.

If you have the means, please help PAA grow the Sara McLanahan Award fund to help support the promotion of future scholars.