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Six professors receive UCLA Public Impact Research Awards



UCLA CTSI News Archive


Top row, left to right: Elizabeth Barnert, Kelly Lytle Hernández and Alex Hall. Bottom row, left to right: Dana Cuff, Thomas Smith and Laura Abrams

CTSI congratulates Dr. Elizabeth Barnert, a former 2016-2018 UCLA CTSI KL2 Scholar, for being named among the UCLA Public Impact Research Awardees

Spanning work that could help Los Angeles meet skyrocketing demands for housing to research that uses big data to help build a more just society for communities of color to multiple projects related to climate change, UCLA faculty are doing work that has clear and immediate benefits to local and international communities.

To recognize such work, the Office of Research & Creative Activities is bestowing its inaugural Public Impact Research Awards, which were established in collaboration with the UCLA Centennial Celebration but put on hold because of the pandemic.

Two faculty members from north campus and two from south campus will each receive $10,000, along with two joint transdisciplinary awardees who will split the same prize. The award ceremony will be held on June 1.

Laura Abrams and Elizabeth Barnert

Laura Abrams is a professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and Elizabeth Barnert is an associate professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. After a 5-year-old was prosecuted in a California juvenile court in 2015 for a curfew violation, Abrams and Barnert conducted research that helped lead to a higher minimum age law to protect younger children. California Senate Bill 439, passed in 2018, excludes children age 11 and under from juvenile court jurisdiction.  

“I consider this project and the social policy impact to be the most important achievement in my career,” Abrams said. “I hope to inspire future scholars to conduct research that they are passionate about and that makes a difference.”

Advocates have since partnered with Abrams and Barnert to lead other states to pass or consider similar legislation. Thanks to their research, professional groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, now endorse a minimum age of 12 for juvenile court jurisdiction; their research was also used to draft a congressional bill that would set the minimum age for prosecuting youth in the federal criminal legal system at 12.

“I believe in a healthy and just society where all children have the support they need to thrive,” Barnert said.

See the full UCLA Newsroom release.