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Ph.D. Student Awarded Three-Year Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for Social Justice–Oriented Research

Gina (Diagou) Sissoko/Photo courtesy of Gina (Diagou) Sissoko

Graduate Center Ph.D. student Gina (Diagou) Sissoko (Clinical Psychology/GC and John Jay) was awarded a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship though a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The award provides annual funding of $27,000 for three years.
The fellowship is designed to give scholars the opportunity for uninterrupted focus on their research. Sissoko’s current research focuses on colorism and violence exposure as social determinants of mental health and criminal legal involvement among black women and girls. Her proposed project examines the effect of skin tone and Afrocentric stereotypicality on culpability assessments among black women survivors of intimate partner violence. 
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be awarded this prestigious fellowship,” Sissoko says. “In the field of psychology, many people are uncomfortable with intersectional approaches to research, because there is still an assumption of homogeneity among marginalized groups.
“Because all of my mentors are intersectional researchers, it can sometimes feel as if you're in a bubble and once you present your work to larger audiences, they question why factors beyond race and gender should matter. Receiving this award affirms that the field as a whole is shifting towards a more sophisticated understanding of oppression.” 
Sissoko has been the recipient of multiple prestigious awards and fellowships, including a Junior Scientist Fellowship from the American Psychological Association (APA), a Doctoral Student Research Award from The Graduate Center, a Livingston Welch Research Award for academic excellence, and a Vera Institute of Justice Summer Research Fellowship.
“Gina is a brilliant and passionate researcher and student, who now joins an elite group of Ford Fellows who are collectively changing the world with their scholarship,” says Professor Kevin Nadal (GC/John Jay, Psychology), who is Sissoko’s mentor. “It is very meaningful for her to receive this award, as it furthers both the missions of both John Jay College and our clinical psychology program of advocating for social justice. I’m so proud of her and am confident she will represent us well.”
Sissoko, a second-year student, has an extensive publication record that includes 17 professional presentations, five peer-reviewed publications, and three book chapters. Her research has already shown to have an impact on policy, and her book chapter, “Mothering under Criminal Community Justice Supervision in the USA,” has led to improved training content for New York probation officers.
She attributes much of her academic success to the mentorship she receives from faculty at The Graduate Center, as well as CUNY’s interdisciplinary nature. In addition to Professor Nadal, she is mentored by Professor Lorie S. Goshin (GC/Hunter, Nursing) and Professor Maureen Allwood (GC/John Jay, Psychology/Clinical Psychology). Sissoko earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies from Hunter College.

Submitted on: MAR 27, 2020

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