TIRF has been supporting junior researchers and their work via the Foundation’s Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDG) program over the last nineteen years. During this period of time, TIRF has awarded more than US $400,000 total to 155 individuals from nearly 30 countries, spanning all the continents of the world excluding Antarctica.

For almost two decades, TIRF has benefited from the support of many organizations and individuals in offerings its DDG program. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to TIRF’s Russell N. Campbell fund, which is awarded to the highest-rated DDG applicant each year.

We would like to recognize the sponsorship of the following organizations, who have contributed significantly to TIRF’s DDG program in recent years: Cambridge Assessment English, the British Council, and Educational Testing Service. We remain ever grateful for these organizations’ roles in helping TIRF advance its mission.

We are very pleased to announce the 2020 cohort of TIRF DDG recipients and to share a brief bio data statement for each of this year’s grantees. In the PDFs linked to below for each of the grantees, you can learn more about their studies and the particular TIRF Research Priority each of their proposals addresses.

2020 DDG Awardees

  • Name & Bio: Amanda Earl is a doctoral candidate in International Educational Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include educational policies and teaching practices that affect multilingual students, particularly rural and Indigenous students in Latin America and recent immigrant students in the US. In a context of expanding global access to and diversification of postsecondary education programs, her dissertation examines the pedagogical implications and possibilities of intercultural higher education for Indigenous youths living and working in plurilingual and pluricultural communities.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Endangerment and Revitalization
  • Project Title: Understanding Roles and Meanings of an Intercultural Higher Education for Rural Youth and Communities in Mexico
  • Name & Bio: Ayşenur Sağdıç is an Applied Linguistics Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University. Her main research interests include second language acquisition with a focus on technology-mediated task-based pragmatic development, instruction, and assessment. Her dissertation examines the extent to which task-based digital simulation practice with more and less explicit pragmatic feedback contributes to English-as-a-foreign-language learners’ immediate and retained English pragmatic development.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Digital Technology in Language Education
  • Project Title: Learning by Simulating: Investigating the Development of L2 Pragmatics in a Task-based Digital Simulation with Feedback
  • Name & Bio: Carolina Arias is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her doctoral research interests involve English for specific Purposes, needs analysis research, task-based language teaching, and vocational education and training. Her study explores how real-world tasks (identified through a needs analysis) can be used to inform the design of pedagogic tasks relevant to real-world contexts of agricultural professions.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Content-based Instruction
  • Project Title: English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in the Field of Agriculture
  • Name & Bio: Celia Reddick is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. Her dissertation explores the role that English medium of instruction (EMI) policies play for refugee children’s experiences of school and their aspirations for the future. Despite growing populations of refugee children navigating EMI policies globally, there is little research about the linguistic implications of displacement for refugee families and the schools where they seek education, a gap her project seeks to address.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Migrants and Refugees: Teaching and Assessing English
  • Project Title: Language for an Unknowable Future: How Language Shapes the Lives of Refugee Children
  • Name & Bio: Heesun Chang is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. His research interests involve second language assessment, corpus linguistics, educational measurement, and quantitative methodology in applied linguistics. His dissertation focuses on a corpus analysis of the linguistic characteristics of prospective international teaching assistants (ITAs) in ITA assessment.
  • TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Assessment &
    English as a Medium of Instruction
  • Project Title: Linguistic-Level Authenticity in ITA Assessment: A Corpus Analysis of Linguistic Characteristics of Prospective International Teaching Assistants
  • Name & Bio: Hyunah Kim is a Ph.D. candidate at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Most of her research addresses issues regarding linguistically and culturally diverse students through educational measurement and language assessment. Her mixed-methods dissertation research investigates how items in a provincial achievement test disadvantage ELL students with immigration backgrounds due to their lower level of cultural knowledge.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Assessment
  • Project Title: Effects of Cultural Familiarity on Canadian Elementary Students’ Performance on a Standardized Reading Test
  • Name & Bio: Jade Kim is a doctoral candidate in Language and Literacies Education at the University of Toronto – OISE. Focusing on seminar-type university courses at the graduate level, her dissertation explores international students’ plurilingual experiences and practices as they participate in spoken class interactions. Her research interests include classroom discourse, plurilingualism, and international student experience.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
  • Project Title: Plurilingual Practices in Graduate-Level Seminar Classes: International Students Speaking English as an Additional Language
  • Name & Bio: Kendi Ho is a Second Language Studies doctoral candidate, CELTA Trainer, and Lecturer at the University of Hawai‘i. Her research interests include language assessment for program development and evaluation, workforce English for adult immigrants, and health communications in elder care. She has presented at AAAL, TESOL, and Cross Cultural Healthcare Conferences. She is also a Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellow and Ruth Crymes TESOL Academy Fellow.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
  • Project Title: Health Communication in Home Care for Elders in Hawai‘i
  • Name & Bio: Lei Jiang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. He received his MEd from Harvard University, and his BA from Fudan University (Shanghai, China). His dissertation analyzes national longitudinal datasets to examine how nested individual, family, school, and state factors have contributed to English learners’ college access. He recently published in Applied Linguistics, Language and Education, and Research in Science Education.
  • TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Migrants and Refugees: Teaching and Assessing English
  • Project Title: High School English Learners and Access to Higher Education: From College Aspirations to College Enrollments
  • Name & Bio: Mama Adobea Nii Owoo (Russell N. Campbell Awardee) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Language & Literacies Education department at the University of Toronto – OISE. Her research interests include language policy, southern theory, and teacher education. Her dissertation research focuses on how teachers perceive and reconstruct language policy in implementing instructional policy for multilingual learners in Ghana.
  • TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Planning and Policy & English as a Medium of Instruction
  • Project Title: Language Policy as Personal Experience: Rereading Medium of Instruction policy in Ghana
  • Name & Bio: Tsung-han Weng is a Ph.D. candidate in TESOL and Applied Linguistics at the School of Education, University of Kansas. His research looks at the broader intersection of sociology, education, and linguistics, covering interdisciplinary research works in the social science field. He is particularly interested in the real-world problems related to languages, such as academic discourse socialization of second language learners and teachers, bilingual and biliteracy development in transnational contexts, and language policy and planning.
  • TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Policy and Planning & Language Teacher Education
  • Project Title: Local Appropriation of Global and Multicultural Education Policy: Agency and Dilemmas in High School EFL Schools in Taiwan


Finally, we wish to congratulate the individuals who received an Honorable Mention distinction during this year’s DDG competition. While no funding is provided to these individuals, their studies and scholarly promise certainly deserve attention from TIRF and its supporters.

Honorable Mentionees

  • Andrew Scott (Lancaster University): The Pedagogic Discourse of Teacher-led Responses to Student Writing: An Investigation into the Knowledge, Language and Pedagogy of Teacher Feedback Practices in Academic English Writing Classrooms for International Students
  • Carmen Durham (University of Maryland, College Park): Bridging and Expanding Language Through Digital Tools: Pre-Service Teachers Learning About Technology
  • Pakize Uludag (Concordia University): Developing and Validating a Rubric for Assessing the Construct of Integration in L2 Integrated Writing Tasks

Please join us in congratulating this outstanding class of grantees and honorees!