Professor named AERA fellow for progressive educational research

Christina Breitbeil

The American Educational Research Association, a national research society devoted to education, has named sociology professor Chandra Muller one of its 22 fellows nationwide for 2014, which, according to Muller’s colleagues, brings important recognition to the University. 

Muller, who is also an faculty research associate at the University’s Population Research Center, will join 557 current fellows when she is inducted on April 4 at the Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting. Muller said she researches how education can shape opportunities in life, which helps to understand which groups of people are being left behind in schools and what can be done to help them.

“It sounds a bit cheesy, but I do think that education improves lives and makes the world a better place,” Muller said. “My research is geared at understanding how it can improve lives over the long run and for people from all backgrounds … Is it the piece of paper associated with the degree that you earn, or is it that you learn different ways of thinking and learning in and out of class that makes it so that college graduates earn more money and are healthier even much later in their lives?”

Robert Crosnoe, sociology and psychology professor, said Muller being named a fellow for AERA benefits the University as a whole.

“Having her be an AERA fellow brings recognition to the University, which has many AERA members, including me, and highlights that UT is a leader in educational research,” Crosnoe said. “One important feature of Dr. Muller’s work is that she has been a pioneer in creating data resources for researchers to study educational inequality … Thus, not only does she do high-quality work, she has immeasurably increased the ability of other researchers to do high-quality work.”

Mark Hayward, sociology professor and director of the Population Research Center, said Muller is an important asset to the Center and the AERA fellowship recognizes her contributions.

“She is the intellectual anchor for a tremendous group of researchers and graduate students,” Hayward said. “She has laid important groundwork for a more sophisticated understanding of how education shapes the transition to adulthood and has far-reaching health and labor market effects far into the adult life course.”