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News Release 17-016

NSF Law and Social Sciences program issues new awards

Grants support research into crucial social issues

Past LSS funding has produced breakthrough discoveries in such areas as the causes of crime.

Past LSS funding has produced breakthrough discoveries in such areas as the causes of crime.

February 24, 2017

Critical societal issues ranging from violent crime to the operation of the U.S. legal system demand the best available data and analysis for effective policymaking and an informed citizenry. With that in mind, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded more than $5 million to fund 23 projects and four workshops through its Law and Social Sciences (LSS) program.

LSS focuses on scientific exploration of law and law-like systems of rules. The program funds research on a wide variety of topics relevant to social scientists and legal scholars, including:

  • Litigation and the legal profession.
  • Legal decision-making.
  • Governance and economics issues.
  • Crime, violence and punishment.

"The Law and Social Sciences program addresses some of the most challenging topics facing society, ranging from persistent issues that have been with us for decades, to complications linked to new technology," said LSS program director Scott Barclay. "These new awards promise to add to the body of LSS-supported research that yields new insight into the law through rigorous scientific study."

Scientific studies often approach law and legal systems as dynamic structures involving multiple actors. LSS offers opportunities to incorporate diverse theoretical perspectives, methods of observation and analysis, and contexts for study. Past LSS funding has produced breakthrough discoveries in crime causation, violence, victimization, procedural justice, regulatory enforcement and other areas.

The latest LSS awards involve 33 separate institutions. The project focus, principal investigators and sponsor institutions are:

  • Family Court Decisions About Child Custody in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence, Jennifer Hardesty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Understanding Supreme Court Decision-Making Through Conference Note Transcription, Timothy Johnson, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Ryan Black, Michigan State University
  • Expanding Law and Social Science Research by International Research Collaboration, Valerie Hans, Law and Society Association
  • Conceptualizing Property Takings, Bernadette Atuahene, American Bar Foundation
  • The Effects of Intoxication in Legal Contexts, Jacqueline Evans, Florida International University
  • Legal Integration and Rule of Law: A Comparative Analysis, Susan Hirsch, George Mason University
  • How Do U.S. Immigration Courts Decide Gender-based Asylum Cases? Karen Musalo, University of California Hastings College of the Law; Anna Law, CUNY Brooklyn College
  • The Efficacy of Support Structures for Legal Mobilization, Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Pomona College; Joshua Wilson, University of Denver
  • The Emotional Influence of Gruesome Photographs in the Courtroom, Jessica Salerno, Arizona State University
  • Do Welfare Drug Offender Bans Affect Recidivism? Naomi Sugie, University of California, Irvine
  • Individuals' Assessments of Legitimate Authority, Sanford Gordon, New York University; Gregory Huber, Yale University
  • Sub-national Analysis of Repression Project, Thorin Wright, Arizona State University; K. Chad Clay, University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc.; Christopher Fariss, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • Testing the Impact of Race on Jury Evaluations of Informants, Mona Lynch, University of California, Irvine
  • Crime Risk and Police Notification, Min Xie, University of Maryland College Park; Eric Baumer, Pennsylvania State University
  • Enhancing Public Access: Archiving Court Cases to Study Genocide and Transitional Justice, Hollie Brehm, Ohio State University; Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Do Peremptory Challenges Increase Bias on Juries? Francis Flanagan, Wake Forest University
  • Perceptions of Trust and Procedural Justice as Sources of Receptivity and Resistance to Video Surveillance, Terance Miethe, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Collective Efficacy and Norm Violation: An Experimental Test, Ross Matsueda, University of Washington
  • How Social Security Administration Appeals Fare in the Federal Trial Courts, Christina Boyd, University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc.
  • Can Brief Social Interactions Undermine System Variable Protections Against False Eyewitness Identifications? Amy Douglass, Bates College
  • Genetic Technology Development and International Security Efforts, Noah Tamarkin, Ohio State University
  • Violence, Non-Violence and the Effects of Human Rights Laws, Yonatan Lupu, George Washington University; Geoffrey Wallace, University of Washington
  • Collaborative Multi-Racial Post-Election Survey, Bridgett King, Auburn University; Emily Beaulieu, University of Kentucky Research Foundation

Workshop awards:

  • Legal Education in Crisis? Bringing Researchers and Resources Together to Generate New Scientific Insights, Elizabeth Mertz, American Bar Foundation
  • Using Narrative as Sociolegal Method to Advance Professional Learning and Diversity in the Academy, Judith Grant, Ohio University
  • Research Informing the Policy and Practice Forum on the Sentinel Events Initiative, Inter-Agency Agreement, Department of Justice
  • Analysis of Country Conditions and Decision-Making on Asylum Claims, Eric Hershberg, American University


Media Contacts
Robert J. Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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