Two doctoral students in the UMass Boston Gerontology Department have been accepted into a prestigious summer program that helps students develop their dissertations prior to defense.

Haowei Wang and Shiva Prasad were two of only 12 campus graduate students accepted into the UMass Boston Social Science Research Council (UMB-SSRC) Transdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Development Summer Institute. This year, the Summer Institute will focus on work investigating issues related to immigration.

The Dissertation Proposal Development Program, launched last year, was founded in partnership with the Social Science Research Council to help foster strong graduate-level research practices on five campuses across the United States. In addition to the Summer Institute at UMass Boston, sister programs have been established at Northwestern University, Cornell University, University of California Santa Cruz, and University of Minnesota.

Over the course of its implementation, the program has been supported by the National Science Foundation. Participation in the program has been associated with faster doctoral degree completion and higher success rates in winning additional dissertation research grants.

The Summer Institute will consist of workshop training sessions, writing labs and formal receptions, all of which will help students further develop their dissertation topics. In addition to attending these extensive workshops, each student will also be endowed with a stipend of $3,000.

Wang is examining internal migration in China and the extent to which it effects family relationships. “Examining the impact of internal migration on Chinese aging families would shed light on immigration research in other countries,” she said.

Wang hopes that her research findings might inspire other researchers and policy makers to focus their efforts on improving the overall well-being of immigrant families.

Prasad’s topic is “The association of social networks and its stability with caregiving and health among LGBT older adults.”

“I am looking forward to the summer institute to brainstorm my ideas, fine tune my research questions, explore methodology from multiple disciplines, and develop a grant proposal,” he said.

The UMB-SSRC Summer Institute attracted interest from students across all fields of study, according to Andrea Leverentz, associate professor of the Sociology Department and director of the summer program. “This time around, we have students from Urban Leadership and Education, Management, Counseling Psych, Applied Linguistics, Global Governance, Public Policy, Gerontology, Global Inclusion,” said Leverentz.