WSSA Competitions & Awards


Outstanding Emerging Scholar Awards

The Immediate Past-President of the WSSA, the President, and the President-Elect annually choose to honor a junior faculty member at a United States university who has been active in his or her discipline for less than six years.  The awards recognize cutting edge research and substantial contributions to the social sciences, and the strong promise of future such contributions . The recipients receive a cash award, are honored at the Presidential Luncheon, and have an opportunity to present at the conference. 

The accolade began as the "Past-President's Junior Scholar Award", became the "Outstanding New Scholar Award" and, with the 2017 awardees, is now designated the "Outstanding Emerging Scholar Award", which we feel most accurately describes the honorees.

2017's Outstanding Emerging Scholars are
Dr. Subini Annamma, Department of Special Education, University of Kansas; 
AJ Faas, Department of Anthropology, San Jose State University; 
Lauren Balasco, History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences, Pittsburg State University 

Past Winners

WSSA Distinguished Book Award

Each year's Immediate Past-President chairs a committee which chooses to recognize one book published that year for its major contribution to the social sciences.  The author(s) receive a cash award and are honored at the President's Reception and Awards Ceremony.

2016's WSSA Distinguished Book Award Winners are
Dr. Susan Starr SeredSuffolk University;
Maureen Norton-Hawk, Can't Catch a Break: Gender, Jail, Drugs, and the Limits of Personal Responsibility, Suffolk University:  (2014, University of California Press) 

Past Winners

Larry Gould Best Article Award

Each year, a committee chaired by the Editor of the Social Science Journal chooses the best article from those published in the previous year.  The author(s) receive a cash award and are honored at the President's Reception and Awards Ceremony.

2016's winner of the Larry Gould Best Article Award is 
Dr. Lacey Wallace, Responding to violence with guns: Mass shootings and gun acquisition, Social Science Journal,  Volume 52, Issue 2, June 2015, pages 152-167, Penn State Altoona; 

Past Winners

Competitions for Students

Student Paper Competition

The winners of the best graduate and undergraduate paper awards each receive a certificate, a cash prize of $800, and free registration at the conference. Registration confers WSSA membership for one year, including a subscription to the Social Science Journal. Congratulatory letters from the WSSA President-Elect will be sent to the students' department chairs, deans, provosts and other administrators at the students' home institutions.  Authors of excellent papers that are not chosen for the award are eligible to receive a certificate of honorable mention, a cash prize of $400, and a congratulatory letter. Winners' papers will be considered for publication in the Journal. Submissions are due by January 15 of the conference year and students must be registered for the conference for their papers to be given consideration..  For further information, see the Call for Student Papers, which also includes the required submission form. (Note: it is not required that all of the awards be made each year; awards in each category will only be made if the papers submitted are of sufficient quality to merit them.)  

2016's Winners of the Student Paper Competition are
Graduate Co-Winners:
Jesus Madrigal, University of California - Berkeley, for “My Moving Frescoes": Sergei Eisenstein and Mexican Muralism.
Jared L. Talley, Boise State University, for “Look What the Cat Dragged In: Domestic Cats, Their Prey, and Socially Constructed Policy”.
Graduate Honorable Mention:
Reuben Addo, Colorado State University, for Homeless Individuals’ Social Construction of a Public Park".
Undergraduate Winner:
Luke Koran, North Dakota State University, for “A Journey from Frontiersmen to Historian: The Letters of George Northrup”.

Past Winners

Click here for the Student Paper Submission Form

John Wicks Dissertation Paper Award

This is awarded to the author of a selected paper to be presented at the Annual Conference, which is based on a dissertation either in progress or completed before January 15 of the conference year. WSSA will provide a stipend of $1,000. The awardee must participate by way of presenting the dissertation-based paper at the conference. To be considered for this award, a candidate must complete an application letter that confirms his or her participation in the upcoming conference and must provide an endorsement from his or her dissertation advisor or chair which verifies that the paper is based on a dissertation. The application letter and endorsement can be attached to the application submission form below.  Submissions are due by January 20 of the conference year.  The winner will be selected by a Grants & Awards Committee that will be constituted and chaired by the Vice-President of WSSA. The winner's name will be forwarded to the WSSA Communications Director, by March 1st of the conference year, to be posted on this site. If selected as a Wicks Award winner, the awardee agrees to forego any other WSSA award that conference year. The winner of the Wicks Award will be recognized in the Conference Program and at the President's Reception and Awards Ceremony. 

2016's winner of the John Wicks Dissertation Paper Award is 
Joseph Kellner, University of California - Berkeley, “The End of History: Belief and the Soviet Collapse” 

Past Winners

Click here for the Paper Submission Form

Poster Competition

The poster competition occurs on the Friday morning of the conference, at the Association Buffet Breakfast. The competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. The contestants are expected to attend the conference and be available at the breakfast to answer questions about their posters. WSSA will provide the means by which the posters can be displayed, including the display boards and display apparatus. The posters must be displayed on no more than two standard size poster boards (22 X 28). The posters should depict recent student research and/or student class projects. Poster proposals must be submitted no later than December 1 of the year before the conference. The winner will receive a $250.00 cash award and free registration at the conference of the year following their award.

In 2016, no prize was awarded. 

Past Winners

Click here for the Poster Submission Form

Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science

The Lamb Prize, rewarding undergraduate innovation and good writing, is awarded annually based on an evaluation of applications by an independent Selection Committee, chaired by Dr. Donna Lybecker of Idaho State University. Dr. Lybecker is a member of the WSSA. Other members of the Selection Committee are: Sandy Davis of Colorado State University (WSSA member); Pinky Wassenberg of University of Illinois, Springfield; Robert Durant of American University; and Nicholas Lovrich of Washington State University (WSSA member). The Lamb Prize is underwritten by the extended family of Bert & Phyllis Lamb through Negotiation Guidance Associates

The Lamb Prize is also supported by an 18 member Advisory Consortium representing faculty, agency personnel, and undergraduates from institutions nationwide.

The deadline for application for the prize is the third Monday in February of each year.  For 2017, that is February 20.  The winner will receive public recognition and a $1,000 prize, and his/her reasonable travel expenses to the 2017 WSSA conference will be reimbursed. Further information can be found at, along with the applicant submission form.  The  application or nomination period for the 2017 Prize opens on November 1, 2016.

2016's winner of the Lamb Prize was
Quinn Massaroni, Bryant University, “A United States Sustainable Energy Transition Based on Successful International Models “ 

Grants for Students

Local Participation Grants

For local area students who are traveling less than 250 miles to the Annual Conference site. WSSA will provide free conference registration (which includes a non-subscription WSSA membership and a ticket to the President's Luncheon). Grantees must participate (by way of either presenting a paper or a poster, or by serving as a member of a panel) in the conference. Any authorized Dean of a higher education institution within the designated local area may certify up to five students from his or her institution to receive these awards. The list of certified students must be forwarded from the Dean to the WSSA Communications Director, Kate Herke, by March 1st of the conference year.

Click here to email Kate Herke

Travel Grants

For students who are traveling more than 250 miles to the Annual Conference site. WSSA will make a grant of up to $500 each, plus complimentary registration, toward defraying the awardees' necessary travel expenses. Grantees must participate (by way of either presenting a paper or a poster, or by serving as a member of a panel) in the conference program. The student must complete an application letter to the Student Grant & Award Coordinator,  confirming his or her participation in the upcoming conference and the need for the amount of the grant to defray travel expenses. Submissions must include a budget narrative and a one paragraph statement of interest/need, and are due by February 15 of the conference year. Preference will be given to students whose papers have been accepted to a panel.  Recipients for grants will be selected by a Grants & Awards Committee that will be constituted and chaired by the Student Grant & Award Coordinator. No more than ten (10) awards may be made annually by this Committee. The list of grantees will be forwarded to the WSSA Communications Director by March 1st of the conference year. Checks for the grant amount will be issued by the WSSA Communications Director following participation by grantees in the Conference.

Click here for the Travel Grant application