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Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations

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John Tarnai Memorial Scholarship

Throughout his career, John Tarnai was a committed member and contributor to meetings of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the International Field Directors and Field Technologies Conference (IFD&TC). He recognized these gatherings as far more than just opportunities to share one’s latest research accomplishments. They were training grounds through which survey professionals – some experienced and some taking their first steps in the field – could engage in a conversation about the work and the profession. In the course of these conversations, those new to the field could better understand what survey research is all about – the methodological and operational challenges, the career opportunities, the professional community, and the importance of collective problem solving in a rapidly changing technological, cultural and political environment.

Many years prior to becoming its Director, John persuaded the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University to provide funding support for various staff besides faculty to attend either AAPOR or Field Directors conferences because he believed that when they returned they would better understand and contribute to the survey work in which they were engaged. For many who attended through John’s efforts, the experience was life changing. Finding ways to extend the training and mentoring of the next generation of survey researchers became one of his passions.

AASRO remains concerned with strengthening academic survey research organizations and preparing our members for the future so that the academic disciplines that depend upon survey data will thrive and bear fruit for us all. That requires continually preparing the next generation of survey research professionals.

It is to that purpose and to honor our colleague that AASRO established the John Tarnai Memorial Scholarship Fund. Since 2012, scholarships have been awarded annually to selected staff members of academic survey organizations for expenses associated with attending the annual meetings of AAPOR and/or the IFD&TC.

Past recipients of this award have included the following colleagues:

2022 Recipients: Emily Dobratz, Office of Measurement, University of Minnesota and Sean Johnson, Center for Survey Research, University of Virginia

2021 Recipient: Robyn Benes, Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

2020 Recipients: Maita Schade, Latin American Public Opinion Project, Vanderbilt University and Charlene Stainfield, Public Opinion Research Lab, University of North Florida

2019 Recipients: Kristen Petersen, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University and Sean McKinley, The University of New Hampshire Survey Center

2018 Recipient: Andrew Hopkins, University of North Florida Public Opinion Laboratory and Casey Seay, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Sociological Research

2017  Recipient: Matthew Strawn, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University

2016 Recipient: Ashley Koning, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, Rutgers University

2015 Recipient: Nathan Palmer, Social & Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University

2014 Recipient: Kyle Davis, Office for Survey Research, Michigan State University

2013 Recipient: Alycia Cameron, Center for Survey Research, Indiana University


To make a donation to the John M. Kennedy Achievement Award or the John Tarnai Memorial Scholarship, please email AASRO Treasurer, Shelly Wymer at

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