Greg Duncan of UCI Honored with $1 mil Swiss Foundation Prize for Child Poverty Research

A UC Irvine scholar regarded as a national leader in the field of early childhood education has received an international award for his groundbreaking work on the lasting effects of poverty on child development, the university announced.

Greg Duncan, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the 2013 Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize that is bestowed by the Zurich-based Jacobs Foundation and comes with a $1.09 million grant.


“I am deeply honored and excited that this prize will help launch new research initiatives that I'm planning,” Duncan says in a UCI statement. “Low-income children enter kindergarten far behind high-income children in terms of concrete literacy and math skills, and they have more difficulty paying attention in class. My research seeks a better understanding of why this is the case.”

Duncan, a Distinguished Professor of Education at the university, explains he will use the funds to work with neuroscientists, developmental psychologists and economists in assessing how poverty-reducing income supplements over a child's first three years of life affect parenting and the child's cognitive development. The experimental study will involve 1,000 families and be conducted at several sites around the U.S., according to UCI.

“Professor Duncan has forged a profoundly interdisciplinary career dedicated to understanding the complex dynamics and contexts of child and youth development,” says Deborah Vandell, dean of UCI's School of Education, in the same release. “In a talented field, he is the preeminent scholar studying the effects of poverty on child and adolescent development.”

That puts him on the radar of the Jacobs Foundation, which was founded by the late Swiss businessman and philanthropist Klaus J. Jacobs and has, since 2009, annually awarded a research prize honoring exceptional achievements in the field of child and youth development.

Duncan will accept his prize at a ceremony in December in Zurich, according to UCI.

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