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SPAA PhD Candidate Meril Antony Selected as 2021-2022 ASPA Founders' Fellow


Meril Antony

Meril Antony, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark, has been selected as an American Society for Public Administration Founders' Fellow for 2021-2022. The Founders' Fellows program supports the next generation of public service leaders through a series of professional development opportunities. The fellows attend and present at ASPA’s annual conference on an issue related to their scholarship or work, which is then also published in the PA Times online. Open to graduate students and new professionals in the first three years of their public service career, the competitive program aims to accelerate the careers of rising stars in the discipline.

"I feel ecstatic and honored to be selected for ASPA'S most prestigious fellowship, geared toward doctoral students and early career scholars," said Antony. "This form of validation and recognition for my research is very empowering as I begin to pursue the academic job market in Fall 2021."

As part of the yearlong fellowship, each participant is paired with an experienced scholar in the field with whom they have opportunities to work on research, gain feedback, and get insight on varied topics, including navigating the job market. 

"I am looking forward to meeting the fellows and building a strong peer network,” said Antony. “The fellowship provides us with a unique opportunity to learn from other scholars and build this community of scholars, who are coming together to serve the field of public administration in their unique ways."

Antony’s research interests are centered around urban policy, social equity, public management leadership, and performance management theories. Her dissertation research focuses on the problem of co-production barriers or facilitators in a U.S. school context. Using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, the dissertation will identify agent-based and organizational barriers such as the presence of social/cultural capital and school efforts to curtail or enhance parents' own efforts at home and school toward their child's education.  

Antony joined ASPA in 2017, and over the years, she feels that she has had a fantastic experience in meeting and networking with scholars through the organization. ASPA opened up the opportunity for her to be active in different sections such as the Section for Women in Public Administration (SWPA) and the South Asian Section on Public Administration (SASPA).

“Apart from ASPA, SPAA has been integral in helping me shape my academic career trajectory so far,” said Antony. “The support and mentorship I have received from the faculty, staff, and my peers over the years has been incredible. It has allowed me to pursue my intellectual journey and be empowered at the same time."