Rice University’s Danielle King, an assistant professor of psychological sciences and a member of the faculty since 2018, has won a coveted National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. The accolade includes a five-year grant that will support her research on preventing and overcoming race-based threats and how employers can improve workplace experiences for employees who face such threats.
CAREER Awards are among the NSF’s most competitive honors, with only about 500 given in a typical year — and few of those go to scholars in the social sciences. According to the foundation, they are awarded in “support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”
When discussing the focus of her work, King said decades of research show that race-based threats occur in many different environments — from racially motivated violence that receives media coverage to daily encounters with microaggressions — and these experiences contribute to a host of negative psychological, social and physiological outcomes.
“What we don’t yet know is whether, which and why organizational proactive and reactive resources impact employee resilience to such threats,” she said.
“Race-based threats compromise employee’s resources, like their time, energy, money and self-esteem, which leads to unnecessary stress,” King added. “And this project seeks to help us uncover organizational means to address that stress and support employee health and thriving.”
King’s project will look at the connection between organizational resources to address race-based threats and employees’ emotional exhaustion and psychological safety. This will include qualitatively, via interviews, and quantitatively, via longitudinal survey data collection, assessing the race-based resources in organizations and their effectiveness at bolstering employee safety and health before and after race-based threats.
The ultimate goal of King’s research is to offer tangible takeaways for organizational science and workplace resilience interventions.
“My hope is that this work will have positive effects on the betterment of workplaces and employees for many years to come,” she said.
Educational components of the project will include the development of new courses concerning race and resilience for delivery to Rice University and Glasscock School of Continuing Studies students, the design of online training materials for organizational use, and the establishment of a research experience partnership between Rice and historically Black colleges and universities that will include hosting a visiting student in King’s WorKing Resilience Lab each summer over the course of three years.
“I am excited about the possibilities for research, education and application development that this grant provides,” she said. “This significant show of support for and investment in my career trajectory and research ideas from the NSF is a huge honor. I feel very grateful.”
For more information on King’s research, visit