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Irving K. Zola Emerging Scholar Award

Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies

SDS's Irving K. Zola Award is given to an emerging scholar in disability studies. 

The Society for Disability Studies is pleased to announce that Michael E. Skyer has won the Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies for his paper Bodies in Dependence: A Foucauldian Genealogy of the Americans with Disabilities Acts.

Michael is a PhD. candidate at the University of Rochester in the Warner School of Education and Human Development. He is also a Senior Lecturer at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Two Zola Award Honorable Mentions were also awarded to:

Sona Kazemi PhD, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Global Migration, Disability, and Medical Humanities in the Department of English at the Ohio State University, for her paper Silent Global and Oppressive Local: Fetishization of the Disabled War Veterans in Iran through the Ideological Construction of “Living Martyrs.”


Patrick Smyth, a Ph.D. student in English at The Graduate Center, CUNY, for his work Negotiated Access.

SDS is pleased to make these awards to support excellence in scholarship, and a commitment to think deeply about social justice for all members of society.


The Irving K. Zola Award is given to an emerging scholar in disability studies. A typical nominee completed a Ph.D. within the past seven years and does not yet have tenure. However, applications will also be accepted from independent scholars with or without degrees and those who received their degrees earlier but only recently moved into the area of disability studies. Emerging scholars who work in non-academic settings are also welcome to apply. Anyone who is currently enrolled in a graduate degree program or who has less than seven years of career experience in the field of Disability Studies is eligible to apply.

The research submitted must be relevant to disability studies, which we define broadly to include the examination of concepts and values related to disability in all forms of cultural representation throughout history, as well as analyses which deepen our understanding of the personal and social dimensions of the lived experience of disability.


  • In a given year, an applicant may submit only one paper for consideration.
  • Past awardees are not eligible to apply.
  • Individuals who submitted papers unsuccessfully in past years may apply again.


The winner will receive:

  • Consideration for publication in SDS's journal Disability Studies Quarterly.
  • A certificate of recognition.


All applications must be submitted by November 15, 2018. The 2018 recipient of the award will be announced in early January.

To be considered for the competition, all manuscripts must adhere to the following criteria:

    • its overall length must not exceed 30 pages (double spaced, 12 point font);
    • citations should follow the formatting appropriate for the author’s field of study;
    • it must be written in English;
    • it must be available in alternative formats (e.g., large print, Braille, audiotape) upon request of the Awards Committee;
    • it must have content reflecting on a topic relevant to disability studies;
    • it must be written by a single author who is also primarily responsible for the research described;
    • it must not have been previously published.
    • Please send 1) a cover letter about your work overall, 2) the manuscript, and 3) a CV. Application packets can be sent electronically to: and to with “ZOLA” in the subject line. Materials sent via USPS should be sent to Society for Disability Studies, PO Box #5570, Eureka, CA 95502, USA. Do expect a confirmation email.—

Previous Awardees of the Irving K. Zola Emerging Scholar Award

    • 2017: Lydia X. Z. Brown
      for Legal Ableism, Interrupted: Developing Tort Law & Policy Alternatives to Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life Claims. Lydia is a candidate for a Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. Their BA from Georgetown is in Arabic and Psychology. Lydia has varied teaching experience in disability studies at Tufts and MIT, often participating in experimental education programs and addressing issues of identity, ethics, and Islam.
      Two Zola Award Honorable Mentions
      Sara Acevedo, a Ph.D. student in Anthropology and Social Change at the California Institute of Integral Studies for her paper: Neuroqueering Composition: Sensual Reflections on the Inconclusive Life of Thoughts.
      Alyson Patsavas, a 2017 Ph.D. in Disability Studies from the University of Illinois, Chicago, receives an honorable mention for her work: The Promise of Able-Bodiedness.
    • 2016: Krystal Cleary, Renee Mullaney, Jean Fanzino
    • 2015: Priya Lalvani (Honorable Mention: Sonya Loftis)
    • 2014: Amanda Cachia (Honorable Mention: Jessica Waggoner)
    • 2013: Cassandra Hartblay
    • 2012: Jina Kim
    • 2011: Bethany Stevens