This year marks the 20th consecutive year TIRF has offered its Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDGs)  to doctoral candidates around the world. With the support of our partners – Cambridge Assessment English, the British Council, and Educational Testing Service, Inc. – along with many individual donors, TIRF has recently completed the process of awarding a total of US $47,000 to 15 grantees, who are from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Scotland, South Korea, Turkey, and the USA.

Including this year’s grantees, TIRF has now awarded a total of more than US $450,000 via its DDG program to 170 individuals from nearly 30 countries. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many donors who have supported our grant-making efforts to help deserving junior scholars. In particular, we want to acknowledge those individuals who have contributed to TIRF’s Russell N. Campbell fund, which is awarded to the highest-rated DDG applicant each year.

We are very pleased to announce the 2021 class of TIRF DDG recipients. Below you will find brief bio statements for each of this year’s grantees, as well as information about their research and the particular TIRF Research Topic(s) each study addresses. Please use the links provided to learn more about our grantees and their outstanding doctoral work!

2021 DDG Awardees

Name & Bio: Christian Fallas Escobar is an associate faculty member of applied linguistics at Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the program in Culture, Literacy and Language at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His areas of interest include linguistic repertoires in multilingual settings, language (raciolinguistic) ideologies, bilingual teacher preparation, and bilingual/second/foreign language education.
TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Policy and Planning & Plurilingualism in Educational Contexts
Project Title: Latinx Bilingual Teacher Candidates’ Negotiation of Language Ideological Orientations: A Critical Ethnography
Name & Bio: Dandan Yang is a Ph.D. candidate at University of California Irvine School of Education. She received her MA in TESOL from University of Southern California and her BA in English Language and Literature from China University of Mining and Technology. Her research focuses on language, literacy, and educational technology. 
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Digital Technology in Educational Contexts
Project Title: Designing an Interactive Bilingual E-book: Promoting Parent-Child Shared Reading and Children’s English Language Skills in an EFL Setting
Name & Bio: Emre Başok is a Ph.D. candidate at The Ohio State University in the Multilingual Language Education program. His research interests lay in language policy, second language writing, and heritage language maintenance. His dissertation explores the implementation of Ohio’s Seal of Biliteracy policy in urban, suburban, and rural school districts.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Planning & Policy
Project Title: A Critical Ethnography of Ohio’s Seal of Biliteracy Policy and Implementation in Urban, Suburban, and Rural District Typologies
Name & Bio: Haoshan (Sally) Ren is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language at Georgia State University. She received her MA from Penn State University. Her work focuses on phraseological analysis of language using specialized corpora and the intersection of language use, language assessment, and language attitudes.
TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Assessment & English as a Medium of Instruction
Project Title: Bridging Corpus Linguistics to ITA Training and Testing – Validation of Functional Language in Academic Lectures
Name & Bio: Josh Sullivan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University. His primary research interest involves investigating the potential of English language programs at historically Black colleges and universities to provide a much-needed financial benefit to these institutions while promoting valuable linguistic and cultural exchange experiences for both domestic and international students.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
Project Title: English Language Teaching Programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Mutually Beneficial Initiative for Students and Institutions
Name & Bio: Mariana Lima Becker is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Instruction at Boston College. Her dissertation research concerns the educational experiences of Brazilian immigrant children in Massachusetts, USA. She focuses on how Brazilian children experience bilingual education in a public school, engage in literacies that are based on Latinx cultural practices of interdependence, and construct a sense of (transnational) belonging.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Migrants and Refugees: Teaching and Assessing English
Project Title: Equity, Interdependence, and Belonging: Brazilian Immigrant Children’s Experiences in a Dual Language Bilingual Education Program and Community Spaces in the United States
Name & Bio: Min-Seok Choi is a doctoral candidate in Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. His research interests include multilingual students’ learning and use of literacy practices, identity construction, and academic literacy development in and out of school contexts. His dissertation examines how international students engage in professional discourse through imagination and develop their unique communicative repertoires.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
Project Title: Disciplinary Language and Literacy Practices for International Students in Architecture: Collaborative Imagining through Studio Desk Crits
Name & Bio: Özgür Çelik is a TEFL instructor at Balikesir University, Turkey, and a Ph.D. candidate in the TEFL program at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey. Currently, he is working on developing an academic integrity policy-writing tool for K-12 schools. In his Ph.D. thesis, he aims at exploring how creating a culture of academic integrity fosters the writing skills of EFL learners. His research interests include academic integrity, ELT program evaluation, and policy development.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Planning & Policy
Project Title: Establishing a Culture of Academic Integrity at Secondary Schools to Promote EFL Writing Development
Name & Bio: Pòl Miadhachàin-Chiblow (Paul Meighan-Chiblow, Co-Recipient of TIRF’s 2021 Russell N. Campbell Award) is a Gàidheal (Gael) from Glasgow, Scotland. He is a Ph.D. candidate and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Bombardier Scholar at McGill University. Paul’s relational, community-led SSHRC- and TIRF- funded research will explore how TEK-nology (Traditional Ecological Knowledge [TEK] and technology) could support Indigenous language revitalization and the implications of decolonizing language education for majority languages, such as English.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Research on Revitalization of Endangered Indigenous Languages
Project Title: Indigenous Language Revitalization Using TEK-nology: Can Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Technology Assist in Intergenerational Language Transmission?
Name & Bio: Soohye Yeom is a Ph.D. candidate in Bilingual Education in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Her dissertation research investigates whether an international English proficiency test can reflect relevant skills and abilities in university EMI courses, and whether students’ test scores can be interpreted as indicators of students’ performance in university EMI courses.
TIRF Research Topics Investigated: Language Assessment & English as a Medium of Instruction
Project Title: Using International English Proficiency Tests in EMI Contexts: A Comparison of Tasks and Student Performance on TOEFL iBT Writing Tasks and Course Assignments in Korean Universities
Name & Bio: Tim Kochem is a Ph.D. candidate in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State University. He uses qualitative methods and classroom-based research to explore how content knowledge is transformed into teaching practices. He is currently working on his dissertation, which focuses on knowledge gains in an L2 pronunciation pedagogy using various instructional modalities in an asynchronous online course.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Teacher Education
Project Title: Second Language Teacher Cognition Development in an Online English Pronunciation Pedagogy Course: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Name & Bio: Yan Zhao is a Ph.D. candidate in applied linguistics and educational linguistics from the University of Melbourne. His research interests include test impact, writing assessment, and assessment of integrated skills. His Ph.D. project investigates the impact of a high-stakes English test in China. He was a teacher for five years teaching EFL at secondary and tertiary levels.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Assessment
Project Title: Investigating the Impact of the National Matriculation English Test (NMET) in China: A Mixed-Methods Approach
Name & Bio: Yeonwoo Jung is a Ph.D. student at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. Her research interests lie at the interface of second language (L2) acquisition and L2 instruction. Her doctoral dissertation investigates the effects of multimodal digital feedback on second language development in the context of video-conferencing tasks.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Digital Technology in Language Education
Project Title: Investigating the Effects of Multimodal Digital Feedback on Second Language Development through Video-Conferencing Tasks
Name & Bio: Yi Cao (Co-Recipient of TIRF’s 2021 Russell N. Campbell Award) is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her main research interests include language testing and assessment. Her dissertation explores Chinese EFL learners’ self-assessment within the context of a newly developed self-assessment scale targeting reading proficiency.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Language Assessment
Project Title: Understanding EFL Learners’ Reading Self-Assessment: The Case of an English Reading Self-Assessment Scale in China
Name & Bio: Yingzhao Chen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Studies program at Michigan State University. Her dissertation explores how hyperlinked glosses (i.e., short definitions of words) written in learners’ first or second languages influence vocabulary learning from reading. For her doctoral research, she tracks the amount of time learners spend on each gloss and measures learning gains in terms of learners’ speed and accuracy in recognizing and recalling the newly learned words.
TIRF Research Topic Investigated: Digital Technology in Language Education
Project Title: Comparing L1 and L2 Glosses in Vocabulary Learning from Digital Reading

We also wish to note that the 2021 TIRF DDG Honorable Mention distinction has been awarded to two individuals this year. Although this distinction does not involve a monetary award, we would like to recognize the outstanding work of these two doctoral candidates:

  • J. Dylan Burton (Michigan State University): The Impact of Nonverbal Behavior on Second Language Proficiency
  • Yuliya Desyatova (University of Toronto): Reforming Language Teaching through Learner Portfolios: Complexity of Practitioner Experiences

Please join us in congratulating this year’s DDG awardees and honorable mentionees!