Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program

///Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program
Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program 2016-12-19T14:00:26+00:00
Little girl smiling with her head in her hands

About the Fellowship Program

In September 2013, CASCW received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand the infrastructure and capacity of the Center’s Minn-LInK Project through:

  • integration of additional statewide administrative data,
  • development of ready-to-use datasets and tools, and
  • the creation and piloting of the Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program.
Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program Goal: To prepare future researchers for cross-system research using integrated data to better understand child well-being.


Fellows will have the opportunity to learn how to use administrative data for cross-systems research and evaluation purposes.

Training Institute

All Fellows will attend a weeklong training institute August 17-21, 2015, to become more familiar with cross-systems data and to better understand the complexities of the research that will be completed. Fellows will develop skills for conducting cross-systems research by:

  • learning about hot topics in child well-being and needed areas of research;
  • gaining a better understanding of methodology used in cross-systems research including
    • working with and manipulating extremely large datasets,
    • research question development and refinement, and
    • linking, building, analyzing, & interpreting data; and
  • targeting dissemination of research findings to a wide array of audiences.

Following the training institute, Fellows will work on their own research projects—known as Capstone Projects—using Minn-LInK’s integrated data. For more on the Capstone Project, click on the Capstone Project tab above.

Program Requirements

In order to successfully complete the program, Fellows must fulfill the following requirements.

  • Fellows will be expected to attend the entire training institute, to be held August 17-21, 2015.
  • Fellows will be required to develop and complete a Capstone Project using integrated data.
  • All data analysis MUST be performed on designated computers in Minn-LInK offices in Peters Hall, no exceptions.
  • All Capstone research requires University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board approval.
  • All Capstone Projects will be subjected to a 30-day review by CASCW state agency partners.
Fellows will have opportunities for mentorship from 2 specific sources:

  1. Fellowship Mentor—As part of the application process, applicants should identify a mentor (likely their academic advisor or another mentor who can provide ongoing support) who agrees to:
    • Provide a letter of recommendation for the applicant
    • Once accepted, provide feedback on the Fellow’s proposal and project
    • Participate in monthly progress meetings with Minn-LInK staff and the Fellow
    • Review final Capstone project


  2. Minn-LInK Researchers—As part of the Fellowship program, Fellows will receive ongoing support and mentorship from Minn-LInK researchers in coordination with the identified mentor through:
    • Development of data sets for research
    • Assistance in understanding the data
    • Address questions regarding the data cleaning, coding, analysis, and interpretation
    • Monthly check-ins with Fellows
Each Fellow will be required to complete a Capstone Project which they will develop as part of the Fellowship Program. Capstones must include data from two or more Minn-LInK data systems (i.e., use integrated data). Linking data within 1 system (e.g., MARSS and MCA) is not considered integrated data for this Fellowship. Applicants will develop a proposal as part of their application (including rationale, data required, analysis, and dissemination plan). Capstone Project proposals will be refined by Fellows after the training institute and reviewed and approved by Minn-LInK staff before Fellows access their dataset.

The Capstone builds on knowledge gained in the training institute and allows Fellows to gain applied experience conducting cross-systems research with support of mentors and Minn-LInK researchers. Fellows will begin Capstones in October 2015 and complete by May 2016. Findings from Capstone Projects will be presented in a 4-page Minn-LInK Brief. The Capstone Project may also be used as part of a dissertation, journal publication, or conference presentation. All Capstones require Institutional Review Board approval, as well as a 30-day review period with our state agency partners according to Minn-LInK protocol.

Resources to support Capstone Project proposal development include:

  1. Review the Minn-LInK page to learn about the project and the data available.
  2. Review Minn-LInK briefs to learn about previous studies, how Minn-LInK data can be used, and how Minn-LInK researchers keep local stakeholders informed of study findings.
  3. Check out the Minn-LInK introductory packet for more information about what data is available, previous research questions, and the Minn-LInK process.
  4. Read peer-reviewed, published articles to learn how Minn-LInK data can be used to advance science.
  5. Read dissertations developed from Minn-LInK studies to learn how doctoral students have used Minn-LInK as a cornerstone of their doctoral program.
The application for the Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program will be available in January 2015.

Application Requirements

  • Interested PhD students must submit their Fellowship applications by 11:59 PM on March 11, 2015.
  • Fellowship applicants must show an interest in conducting cross-systems research in child and/or family outcomes and demonstrate strong research-based skills, including experience using sound research methods and intermediate to advanced quantitative data analysis techniques.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing in their program and commit to all requirements of the Fellowship.
  • Applicants will need to submit:
    • An unofficial transcript;
    • An essay describing their interest in cross-systems research, their experience working with quantitative data (experience working with large or complex data sets is preferable but not required), and how the Fellowship will be used in their academic career;
    • A brief (3-5 page) Capstone proposal; and
    • A letter of recommendation addressing the applicant’s readiness for cross-systems research, statistical ability, and how this work will support the student’s academic career (supplementary letters may submitted to cover any missing areas).We recommend that the recommendation letter be written by the applicant’s PhD advisor or someone who can speak about the applicant’s readiness for conducting cross-systems research using quantitative data.

Select applicants will be invited for interviews in April 1-10, 2015. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by April 24, 2015.

Reference the Resources tab for assistance with the development of the Capstone proposal.

Meet the Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellows

The Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship Program is intended to prepare future researchers for cross-systems research using integrated data to better understand child well-being. The Fellowship serves to train doctoral students to use integrated, cross-systems data for research and to better understand the complexities of this data. Each student will complete his or her own Capstone Project between September 2015 and May 2016 using data housed at Minn-LInK. The inaugural cohort of Fellows represent a variety of research interests and academic programs across the University.

Minn-LInK_MinhaeMinhae Cho is a doctoral student in School of Social Work. She received her B.A. and Master’s degrees in Child Welfare from the Sookmyung Women’s University, South Korea, and also completed her M.S.W. at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She worked for six years at an adoption organization as the secretary-general in South Korea. Based on her work and academic experiences, her research interests are the well-being of vulnerable children and families, especially how society responds to these families with social change. In this capstone project, she will investigate the prevalence and patterns of psychotropic medication use among children in Minnesota foster care system. This capstone project also examines the impact of demographic characteristics and child welfare involvement history on the use of psychotropic medications. Her advisor is Dr. Wendy Haight and a mentor for this project is Richard Lee, MD.
Minn-LInK_SarahSarah Cronin is a PhD student in the Educational Psychology department studying Counseling Psychology. Her recent research endeavors include high school counselor effectiveness for first-generation college students, school counselor technology use to communicate with parents, and evaluation of an online parent education program. Sarah’s capstone project with Minn-LInK will observe high school math achievement in Minnesota. More specifically, Sarah will inquire about the effect school and family resources have on high school math achievement for rural to urban geographical settings. Resources include variables such as socioeconomic indicators, school counselor to student ratios, advanced and remedial course availability, and teacher’s years of work experience. Sarah’s academic advisors are Drs. Geoff Maruyama and Marguerite Ohrtman. Dr. Marguerite Ohrtman is her mentor for this project.

Minn-LInK_AdeleAdele’s research interests include in general behavior analysis and the assessment of challenging behavior among children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  More specifically, she is interested in identifying risk factors for the development of self-injurious behavior among young children with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The capstone project Adele will be completing will aim to evaluate the educational placements and academic outcomes of young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who received individual or family skills training (i.e., early intensive behavioral therapy) at ages 3-5.  The primary analysis and research question of this capstone project will focus on to what extent a delay in early intervention services impacts the long- term educational outcomes for children diagnosed with ASD.

Minn-LInK_DylanDylan Galos is a PhD student in Epidemiology. Dylan earned his MS in Environmental Health Sciences from The Ohio State University in 2011 and BA in Biology from New Mexico State University in 2009. His primary research interests are in social epidemiology, quantitative methods, occupational health and child and family health. Using data from Minn-LInK, Dylan will write his dissertation focusing on: 1) the incidence of intergenerational child maltreatment in Minnesota; 2) the impacts of intergenerational child maltreatment on education; 3) the impact of bias in self-report of child maltreatment. Dylan’s advisor J. Michael Oakes, his email is oakes007@umn.edu


Minn-LInK_AleksisAleksis is currently a fourth year graduate student in the School Psychology program at the University of Minnesota. After graduating from The College of St. Scholastica with a B.S. in psychology and sociology, Aleksis served as an AmeriCorps member in an elementary school in Duluth, MN. Aleksis’ AmeriCorps experience and an internship at a county jail sparked his interest in how various systems can better serve the needs of youth. Aleksis’ research interests revolve around the intersections of race, disability, and socioeconomic status, and how these factors are related to education and life outcomes. His research aims to raise awareness of issues that youth with disabilities face and disseminate findings for practitioners to understand how to effectively work with these youth. This project focuses on developing an understanding of the characteristics, needs, and outcomes of youth with disabilities who interact with the juvenile justice system. Specifically, this project has two aims: (1) to describe the topography of youth with disabilities who interact with the juvenile justice system; and (2) to determine what factors may be related to differential contact and disposition outcomes for youth with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers. The results from this project will be used to raise awareness of the issues youth with disabilities face in the juvenile justice system. Dr. Amanda Sullivan is Aleksis’ mentor for the Fellowship.
Yes. All Fellows are required to attend the training institute in August 17-21, 2015. The week-long seminar will provide Fellows with valuable information about Minn-LInK, general information about the complexities of cross-systems data use, and how other researchers use integrated data.
The training institute will provide Fellows with the opportunity to hear from researchers in the field whose work relies on the use of cross-systems data. Fellows will also have the opportunity to work with sample data sets to better understand the structure of Minn-LInK data. Information presented during this week will also be critical for Fellows when refining research questions and methodology plan.
Data available through Minn-LInK can be found here. The variables listed are commonly used indicators; please contact Minn-LInK staff with any questions regarding the availability of other indicators.
Fellows should consult mentors on subject knowledge, statistics and research methodology, etc. Fellows should create a plan with their mentor for check-in and advising. In addition to ongoing mentorship with advisors, Fellows will receive technical assistance from Minn-LInK staff as needed.
Applicants are not required to incorporate STEM into their proposals. However, applications that address topics related to STEM will be given priority given the nature of the Fellowship’s funding source, the National Science Foundation.
Minn-LInK houses highly sensitive data and due to the nature of our data sharing agreements with state agencies, data sets (including de-identified data) may not leave the specified computers in Peters Hall.
Yes. The minimum dissemination requirement is a 4-page Minn-LInK Brief, but Fellows may also use the Capstone Project to support their dissertation.

Other suggested uses of this research experience include coursework, independent study, conference presentation, or peer-reviewed journal publication.

Fellows will receive a stipend of $3000. The suggested use is for dissemination, but it may be used to support your work as a Fellow in some other way.

Application Process for the Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship

Thank you for your interest in the Minn-LInK Doctoral Fellowship. The application is now closed. The Fellowship will welcome its first cohort of PhD students in the 2015-2016 academic year.

The Fellowship Program will accept up to 7 PhD students from a variety of disciplines to spend the year developing and executing a cross-systems Capstone Project focusing on child and family outcomes using Minn-LInK’s integrated data.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SMA1338489.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.