PhD Alumnus Adam Alvarez Receives AERA Research Award

Adam Alvarez, a 2018 alum of the PhD Social and Comparative Analysis program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has received the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) 2021 Review of Research Award for his article, “Seeing Race in the Research on Youth Trauma and Education.”

The award, which is given annually to one person, recognized Alvarez for conducting a meta-analysis of a large body of research. He explored  the impact of structural racism on preK-12 student experiences, the students’ response to trauma, and how educators assess those responses.

His award-winning article was published in the Review of Educational Research – the leading peer-reviewed journal in education and has garnered more than 10,000 views and downloads and 14 citations in just one year.

“Receiving the AERA Review of Research Award makes me feel like my contribution is meaningful and impactful,” says Alvarez, an assistant professor of urban education at the Rowan University College of Education’s Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education. “I also felt deeply moved. I was moved because there are so many good researchers out there doing phenomenal work and, for whatever reason, the work goes unread and, certainly, unrecognized.”

Through his research, Alvarez seeks to enhance the collective work on youth trauma. He says that education researchers need to “pause and take note of how structurally racist and White supremacist social systems shape the construct of trauma, the contexts in which children experience trauma, and the institutional approaches to addressing trauma.”

His early career influenced his research. Before going back to school to earn his PhD, Alvarez worked as an elementary school teacher.

He taught students from diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. He said that learning how to create an inclusive environment that accounted for his students’ shared or individual traumatic experiences was one of the most challenging tasks he has ever faced.

“Trying to understand the complexity between people’s shared or individual traumatic experiences in a classroom setting kept me up many nights,” says Alvarez.

Shortly after Alvarez joined the University of Pittsburghs’ PhD program in 2014, he began this research project and worked incrementally on it before submitting it for publication in 2020.

Alvarez credits the Pitt School of Education for providing him with advanced training in research methodology. Those were skills he put to use while conducting the research for his award-winning AERA article.

While at Pitt Education, Alvarez worked as a graduate student researcher in the school’s Center for Urban Education (CUE).

“It was incredible to watch him grow into the scholar he is today,” says Lori Delale O’Connor, an assistant professor in CUE. “He always positions himself as a learner and is focused on the goal of improving education for the most marginalized. I was and continue to be so proud of all of the work that Adam is doing both in and outside the academy!”

Alvarez hopes his article will help to generate valuable critiques and promote innovative research designs.

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