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In The News: Tara Grillos selected for Purdue’s 2024 Trailblazer Award

Tara Grillos
Tara Grillos

Tara Grillos, an associate professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts has been named Purdue’s Trailblazer Award winner for 2024. Grillos was recognized with other 2024 award winners at Purdue’s annual Faculty Honors Ceremony and Reception on Tuesday (May 7).

The Trailblazer Award is presented to outstanding midcareer faculty in the College of Education, College of Liberal Arts, College of Health and Human Sciences, and the Purdue University Libraries whose recent research, scholarship or creative work has made a significant impact in the disciplines of humanities, social sciences and information sciences.

“Professor Grillos’ impactful and influential research in today's dynamic landscape merit her recognition as an important trailblazer at Purdue,” said Sunil Prabhakar, vice provost for faculty affairs.

Grillos’ research focuses on the human dimensions of sustainable development policy. She studies the effects of local governance arrangements on environmental behavior and collective action, as well as the impact of policy on human well-being, health and equity. Her research combines experimental and quasi-experimental methods with fieldwork in various developing nations, including Honduras, Bolivia and Kenya. 

Nominators defined Grillos’ research as trailblazing for her willingness to challenge and amend conventional wisdom in stakeholder participation in local policy and decision-making.

“The research program that has emerged from Professor Grillos’ thinking, field work, and ongoing debates with peers and practitioners has turned out to be not only unusually important and original, but also solidly theorized, empirically rich and operationally feasible,” said one of Grillos’ nominators. He further described her as “one of today’s most conceptually creative and methodologically rigorous scholars who harnesses multiple disciplines to understand what makes development policy work.”

In challenging conventional wisdom, Grillos is attracting attention from academics and stakeholders alike who feel her application of diverse research methods is pushing the field in new directions. She is also supportive of others, acting as both a mentor and role model to young scholars who are looking to undertake their own explorations into research. 

“I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this work, which has allowed me to learn from people all over the world about their needs and motivations; and I’d like to think that my research is, in turn, contributing in some small way to bettering their lives,” Grillos said. “I hope that this recognition will raise further awareness on campus about the environment and development issues facing communities worldwide, and helps validate interdisciplinary approaches to problem-oriented research.”

Grillos received a Bachelor of Science in economics and a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in public policy from Harvard University. Before starting graduate studies, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras.

Learn more about Tara Grillos’ research here.

About Purdue University

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