Student News

PhD Candidate Rachel Ludeke Awarded Social Networks and Health Workshop Fellowship

The annual program is a highly competitive, year-long professional development opportunity
Rachel Ludeke

PhD candidate Rachel Ludeke was selected as a 2020-21 Fellow for the Social Networks and Health Workshop, coordinated by the Duke Network Analysis Center and the Duke Population Research Institute, with support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 

In addition to attending a week-long virtual workshop in August that will introduce attendees to topics in social networks and how they can be applied to research on health, Rachel will be paired with a mentor who will work with her over the next year to help strengthen the methodology of her dissertation research, in which she will use social network analysis to explore transitioning foster youth support networks as they consider educational and employment opportunities after they age out of care. 

Rachel, who is passionate about improving educational access and outcomes for youth involved in the child welfare system, noted that her dissertation research will also employ a mixed methods data collection process. “I will use survey methodology to help construct egocentric networks, determine the size and types of connections that youth have, and will measure the level of perceived support that foster youth derive from their social networks. The second phase of data collection will use qualitative interviewing to explore how youth select mentors, areas of their social support networks that they feel are lacking, and their plans for education and employment after they leave care.” 

Rachel expressed gratitude for this opportunity to further her understanding of social network methodologies and receive ongoing support from her fellowship mentor.  She also expressed appreciation for her faculty mentor,  Associate Professor Darcey Merritt, who encouraged her to pursue the fellowship and has inspired her to reach higher throughout her time at NYU Silver.