WRI addresses public policy issues impacting Southern New Jersey through applied research, community engagement and organizational development. Primary content areas are population health, criminal justice and public safety, and organizational and community development.

In an effort to encourage and support more original research about southern New Jersey, WRI has created a Graduate Summer Research Award. Interested Ph.D. candidates are encouraged to discuss potential research ideas with their advisor, and to consult with Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong, WRI’s Director, about whether a potential project would benefit from collaboration and support by WRI.

Applicants are encouraged to learn about WRI’s mission and current and past projects before application. Topics have included juvenile delinquency prevention, prisoner re-entry, population health and wellness, smart regional growth and economic development, strengthening families and youth success, and enabling community access to data to facilitate evidence-based decisions.

Ideal proposals will extend a PhD student’s existing dissertation project to include either a Southern New Jersey population, a geographic region in Southern New Jersey, or a topic of particular concern to residents of Southern New Jersey. Award amounts are approximately $4,000 per year, and recipients may apply for awards in subsequent years. To complete projects, award recipients may also utilize existing WRI operational and community resources. The award is distributed as additional compensation during the summer.

Upon appointment, award recipients are expected to submit a timeline for completion of the research project. Upon completion of the research project, recipients are also expected to present their results at a community forum organized by WRI. Additionally, those awarded fellowships should plan to attend the Walter and Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship dinner, held annually in late spring. This event is WRI’s main fundraiser and supports student opportunities, as well as the Graduate Summer Research Award.

Those interested should contact Director Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong at

Past Fellows

In 2017, WRI awarded its Inaugural Endowed Graduate Fellowship for South Jersey Initiatives to Nathaniel Merrill. Nathaniel is a doctoral student in the Computational and Integrative Biology program at Rutgers-Camden.