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Graduate Student Opportunities

Howard B. Kaplan Memorial Assistantship

This award honors the research legacy of Dr. Kaplan and is intended to support (through the generosity of the Kaplan family and friends) graduate students in the Sociology Department of Texas A&M University for the research and writing of their dissertation.

The first Howard B. Kaplan Memorial Assistantship was given out in 2012. All applicants will be considered, but preference will be given to those students using Dr. Kaplan’s theoretical approach and/or his unique data set. Applications should be addressed to the Howard B. Kaplan Memorial Scholarship and should include an updated curriculum vitae as well as a one-page statement of the dissertation project. A departmental committee will choose the recipient.

Information on how to apply for this award can be found on the page for the Howard B. Kaplan Memorial Assistantship.

Previous recipients include:

  • Wan Huang (2020)
    Focusing on migration and deviance, Wan’s dissertation project intends to investigate juvenile delinquency in the context of China’s large-scale rural-to-urban migration, using qualitative and quantitative data she collects from correctional institutions in the less-developed area of the country. In the project, she uses Dr. Kaplan’s theory of self-referent behavior as well as his integrative theory to explore the mechanisms of adolescent’s delinquent involvement in the reality of the rapidly developing country. Additionally, Wan has worked on one separate paper that uses the KLAMS data to examine the intergenerational transmission of delinquency and the moderating effect of living without parents. The paper with preliminary results was presented at the 2019 Southwestern Social Science Association’s annual meeting in San Diego, California. It will be further developed and submitted to a journal related to family and deviance by the end of 2020.
  • Kirstie Boyett (2019)
    Kirstie’s project focuses on the implications of sexual victimization. Sexual violence (SV) is defined as any completed or attempted nonconsensual sexual act (Center for Disease Control). It is known that sexual violence has negative ramifications for the survivor, but previous studies primarily focus on the psychological consequences, including clinical depression, acute stress, self-injury, and/or self-esteem issues (CDC 2019). Little is known of what factors precede victimization. Identifying such factors could help with intervening in sexual violence victimization. For this project, Kirstie will utilize the Howard Kaplan’s Longitudinal and Multigenerational Survey (KLAMS) data to explore the risk and protective factors related to sexual violence.
  • Katie Constantin (2018)
    Katie’s dissertation explores how status relationships between punishers and the punished within public goods settings affect the degree to which individuals punish free riders. She is using a standard, public goods game with a 2×2 factorial design to test several competing propositions derived from the Theory of Status Characteristics and Expectation States (SCES).In addition to working on her dissertation, Katie also worked on two separate papers that used the KLAMS data. Both were presented at the 2018 Southern Social Science Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The first paper was entitled “Do Experiences of Sexual Assault Contribute to Deviant Behavior?: A Test of General Strain Theory”, and the second paper, entitled “Life Expectations for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse”, was coauthored with Melissa Ochoa and Kimber Harvey.
  • Kimber Harvey (2017)
    Kimber’s dissertation explores how legitimacy might influence the relationship between authoritarian parenting (harsh parenting) and deviance. She hypothesized that both adolescents’ negative beliefs and their siblings’ negative beliefs regarding their parent’s parenting styles will increase their deviance (compared to authoritative parenting). Her dissertation also explores how the type of parent (biological vs. step parent) affects the parenting – deviance relationship.While working on her dissertation, Kimber also lead a team of undergraduate students. She taught them how to conduct literature reviews and analyze quantitative data using R – a free software statistical computing and graphics.
  • Alma Trevino (2016)
    For her dissertation, Alma investigated the social psychological consequences of poverty on the educational success of Latino students using responses from the second generation of KLAMS participants. In addition to her dissertation, Alma also spent several years working on the organization, digitization, maintenance, and storage of the KLAMS data.
  • Richard Abel (2015)
    Richard worked alongside several other students examining the moderating effects of socio-criminal backgrounds on the relationship between new criminal justice involvement, self-feelings, and academic outcomes.  Additionally, he helped mentor five undergraduate students. Three students conducted research investigating the feelings and experiences of non-heterosexual men and women in the workplace that was later presented at student research week and the Southwestern Social Science Association annual meeting. Another student constructed a literature review concerning new developments in General Strain Theory, and the last student completed exercises in data management.In addition to this work, Richard also advanced his dissertation, which integrates General Strain Theory and the stress process paradigm by using second-order confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling with latent variables to evaluate the contemporaneous and lagged effects of global ostracism through a pathway of negative emotions on outcomes of delinquency, depressive symptoms, and substance use.
  • Xavier Serna (2014)
    Xavier’s thesis investigated whether paternal incarceration increased the risk of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use for their adolescent children. Results confirmed a bivariate relationship between paternal incarceration and children’s self-reported cigarette smoking, beer, hard liquor, and overall alcohol use but these relationships were explained by demographic and other risk factors. Marijuana use was found to be significant, with paternal incarceration increasing the odds of use.In addition to working on his own research, Xavier helped to label all 9 waves, helped digitized personal information that was in print only, geocoded neighborhood characteristics for Generation 2, using 2000 and 2010 Census survey data, and prepared the vice-principal surveys from 1972 for possible analysis (moving from Excel files to Stata data files connectable with main data).
  • Huong Le (2013)
    Huong’s dissertation explored the impact of sexual identity change on mental health outcomes, using the fifth and seventh wave of 1st generation KLAMS studies. She used identity control theory to explain how lack of identity verification, caused by a shifting sexual identity, leads to stress, which can manifest as higher reported counts of negative mental health symptoms. Her results show the most relevant factor regarding sexual identity mobility and negative mental health outcomes is fluidity (change over time) in sexual orientation itself, rather than stigma alone. This finding provides support for identity control theory interpretations. There were no differences found in negative mental health symptoms for those that reported stable sexual orientations.
  • Calixto Melero (2012)
    Calixto examined the intergenerational transmission of health status, risk behaviors, and perceptions of self that may influence health. The results of this work were presented in a paper, entitled “The intergenerational transmission of self-rated health: Can parental self-evaluations of health influence child self-evaluations”, at the 2014 Southwestern Social Science Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Howard B. Kaplan Memorial Award in Medical Sociology



This award is established to support graduate students doing research in one of the substantive areas that defined the distinguished academic career of Dr. Howard B. Kaplan, namely mental health, self-concept and health, or deviance, by providing funds up to the amount of $500 to contribute to expenses associated with attending the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). The award recipient will be invited to attend the Reeder dinner as a guest of the Medical Sociology section. Self-nominations are acceptable, but the nominee and nominator must be current section members of the ASA Section on Medical Sociology. For more information about how to apply for the award, please check the section’s website.

Previous recipients include:

  • Wallis Adams, Northeastern University (2018)
  • Suzan Walters (2017)
  • Bianca Manago, University of Indiana, Bloomington (2016)
  • William McConnell, Indiana University, Bloomington (2015)
  • Allison Houston, State University of New York (2014)
  • Alexander Lu, Indiana University (2013)

more awardees