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New Graduate Student Research Grant Supports the Advancement of Three Projects in Race & Ethnic Studies

The Race & Ethnic Studies Institute announces the inaugural recipients of the RESI Graduate Student Small Research Grants. This grant is designed to support the research enterprise leading to successful completion of some component of the doctoral dissertation, masters thesis or a major publication. 

RESI Graduate Student Small Research Grant

Over the last year, the Race & Ethnic Studies Institute (RESI) has committed itself to increasing the support we provide graduate students at Texas A&M University. The Graduate Student Small Research Grant is a new funding opportunity that aims to bolster graduate students that have shown a commitment to and interest in research within race & ethnic studies. This grant will support a number of preliminary and advanced projects. This program also provides an opportunity for students to enhance and grow their existing grant writing skills. 

The Graduate Student Small Research Grant has two competition cycles, Fall and Spring. Full-time graduate students in good standing at Texas A&M may apply and receive funding of up to $1,000. The funds from this grant can be used towards fieldwork, travel to archives, survey instruments, participant incentives and other related research expenses. The Spring semester deadline for this grant is February 1 at 5PM CDT.

“Project specific research grants, like this one, play a critical role in maximizing the production of knowledge, strengthening graduate students’ research skills and increasing innovation,” says Dr. Wanzer-Serrano, Director of RESI. “Ultimately, many transformative ideas do not materialize into research projects because of a lack of funding infrastructure. We’re committed to advancing race and ethnic studies research as well as the scholars who engage in it.”

Meet the Recipients of the Graduate Student Small Research Grant

RESI is proud to announce the three recipients of this grant, Daniel Camilo Gomez Vasquez, doctoral candidate in Economics, Leslie Torres, graduate student in History, and Mikayla Renwick, doctoral student in Communication & Journalism. Each of their projects is a reflection of their strong capabilities as scholars and their commitment to advancing race and ethnic studies. We’re excited to support their growth and provide funding for their research. 

Daniel Gómez-Vásquez is a doctoral candidate in Economics. Before arriving at Texas A&M, Daniel was a Research Assistant and Program Manager for the Rosario Experimental and Behavioral Economics Laboratory – REBEL in Bogotá, Colombia. In his work, he uses a variety of empirical methods, including laboratory, online, and field experiments, in conjunction with survey and administrative data. His research interests lie in the economics of labor and education, including but not limited to hiring discrimination, employment dynamics in multi-racial or multi-ethnicity settings, informal labor markets, and teamwork cooperation and conflict resolution.

Leslie Torres is a second year master’s student in History with an academic focus on Borderlands history. She is projected to complete her graduate degree in Fall 2024 and continue to pursue a doctoral degree within the department. Leslie studies racial identity and sociopolitical action of late 19th and early 20th century Mexicans and Mexican Americans of Texas. She’s presented her research at the Festival of International Books & Arts as well as the Texas A&M History Conference. Leslie received her bachelor’s degree in History with honors from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Mikayla Renwick is a doctoral student in Communication & Journalism. Her research interests align with Black Geography, Space & Place. Mikayla is particularly interested in investigating what happens at the intersection of class, systemic racism & Black communities both urban and suburban. She is driven by the question, ‘What helps or hinders the Black community’s progression in the United States of America?’ She received her undergraduate degree from Temple University located in Philadelphia, PA in Communication and Social Influence with a minor in Africology and African American Studies. 

The RESI Graduate Student Small Research Projects 

Daniel Camilo Gomez Vasquez 

Project Title: Hiring in a Diverse Labor Market: Spillovers Across Minority Groups

Abstract: The US is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation. Previous research has found evidence of discrimination in the labor market against both Black and Hispanic workers. Daniel investigates whether hiring experiences with workers from one minority group (e.g., Black workers) have positive or negative spillovers on the hiring of workers from another minority group (e.g. Hispanic workers), and whether policies that may be effective in reducing bias against one minority group may prove ineffective, or even backfire, on a different minority group. Daniel employs a set of online hiring experiments, where white participants (the employers) choose whom to hire to solve a task, among other participants of white, Black, or Hispanic race or ethnicity. He then asks: Do positive or negative hiring experiences with one minority group affect subsequent bias and hiring decisions regarding a different minority group? And does the answer depend on which specific minority group (Black or Hispanic) employers have experience first?


Leslie Torres

Project Title: Challenging ‘Bad Sons of Uncle Sam’: Ethnic Mexican Acts of Resistance in Early 20th Century Texas

Abstract: This master’s thesis seeks to understand how ethnic Mexicans in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Texas developed socio political identities in response to state and vigilante violence against their ethnic community. While many ethnic Mexicans undoubtedly felt outrage towards “bad sons of Uncle Sam,” reaction to the suppression of their fourteenth amendment and human rights varied from armed resistance to law-abiding strategies. The thesis will examine the roots and outcomes of ethnic Mexican activists of all stripes in Texas: from mutual aid organizers; to political and public activists; and leaders of armed resistance. Significantly, this thesis will also include evaluation on the role of gender and class in manifestations of diverse resistance, especially in newspaper editorials and mutual aid organizing. Analyzing the diversity of sociopolitical experiences and actions builds upon the growing scholarship on the complexity and heterogeneous nature of a growing ethnic Mexican community within early twentieth century Texas. While older, traditional literature couched this community’s history as a singular, homogenous one, the research incorporated in this thesis from newspaper accounts and editorials, personal memoirs, organizational documents, and governmental investigations will shed light on the complexity behind the ways ordinary individuals responded to racial violence.

Mikayla Renwick 

Project Title: Black Placemaking Geographies: The Development of Communities

Abstract: From early back-to-Africa movements to The Great Migration(s), Black Americans’ desire and ability to find new places to create, live, and imagine freedom is a central aspect of the Black Geography. Understanding who Black people are through the lens of belonging, citizenship, and location helps us see not only the importance of Black Placemaking which Hunter (2016) defines as “sites of endurance, belonging, and resistance through social interaction” but also what plagues Black communities today. This research engages the possibility that Black urban and suburban communities are actively mimicking the Slave Ship. Drawing on scholars such as Katherine Mckintrick, Marcus Hunter and George Massey Mikayla intends to examine the depth of how racist beliefs, practices and attitudes that flourished on the slave ship are now engrained in Black space, place and geography. Her framework offers an illuminating perspective to the issues that happen across Black communities using Philadelphia and the Suburbs of Philadelphia as her case.