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Liann Tucker wins the 2017 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.

Liann Tucker, a graduating senior in sociology, received a 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for her research paper, “Suspension, Substance Use, and School Attachment.”

Using 20 years of aggregated data from a nationally representative high school survey, Tucker found that suspending high school students for alcohol and marijuana use led to more drinking and smoking, rather than less, though the rise in drinking decreased over time.

Working with Professor Robert Faris, she also discovered that students’ bond to their school can mitigate that suspension-related substance abuse.

During most of the 20th century, school administrators suspended or expelled very few students, but a shift towards punitive forms of discipline began in the late 1980s. In every year since 1992, more than one-quarter of all 12th-graders were suspended for one or more days of school. Research on school suspension over the last two decades indicates that the suspensions have been ineffective in reducing misbehavior. Tucker’s research helps us understand how these discipline policies harm students.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research recognizes graduating seniors who excelled in research during their time at UC Davis. Researchers are nominated by their supervising faculty members and their papers or research projects are submitted to and judged by an administrative committee. Tucker is one of two students to receive the award this year; the other winner was Vishal Chakraborty from computer science.