Patricia Witherspoon Research Award

The University of Texas at Austin graduate students are invited to apply for The Patricia Witherspoon Research Award to offset costs associated with conducting original research in the areas of public service, government, community service, civic life, citizenship, or politics.  Previous research topics have included faith-based organizations, family policy, immigration, and educational interventions. Past award winners have used the funding to pay for focus groups, survey instruments, and other aspects of their research.

Amount of stipend: $2,000

Research Requirements:

Patricia Witherspoon

  • Original research must be conducted in public service, government, civic life, citizenship, or politics. 
  • Preference will be given to students working on master's theses or doctoral dissertations.
  • All research must be overseen by a faculty member.

To apply, please prepare the following for submission through the application portal

  • Contact information
  • Major field of study and current overall GPA. 
  • Two page research prospectus including research question, brief summary of the literature, methodology, expected results and anticipated start and end dates. 

Applicants may also be asked to participate in a face-to-face interview. The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm, Monday, May 3, 2021.

Expectations by the Institute: The recipient will be expected to write a summary of their research for publication for the Institute and, if requested, make a short presentation before the Institute’s Advisory Council. 

2020 Witherspoon Award Winners


Jordon Brown

Jordon is a Ph.D. candidate in Moody College of Communication's School of Journalism and Media. His research mainly involves the study of digital political communication, focusing on how politicians can reach and engage with more voters, particularly young voters. Currently, he is desperately trying to finish his dissertation about how Senate candidates in 2018 used email and Twitter to engage with supporters.


Kassie Phebillo

Kassie is a Communication Studies Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Texas Austin, where she studies the intersection of political communication and higher education. Her dissertation research asks two questions: What do political discussions look like in college classrooms and are professors disclosing their political beliefs in college classrooms?


2019 Witherspoon Award Winners


Jessica Collier

Jessica is a doctoral student in Moody College of Communication’s department of Communication Studies, focused on Rhetoric and Language Studies. Jessica uses primarily quantitative methods to explore how media organizations, political actors, and technology platforms interact in ways that can be beneficial or detrimental to democracy.


Brooke Shannon

Brooke Shannon is a doctoral student in the Department of Government whose research interests include State and local government, social movements, Latino politics, political institutions, political trust, and political participation.




Click for Past Winners