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    Grand Rapids, Mich., April 19, 2024 – In recognition of Clara Elizabeth Piano’s outstanding research in the fields of family economics, law and economics, and public choice, the Acton Institute will be awarding her the 2024 Novak Award. 

    Clara Elizabeth PianoNamed after the distinguished American theologian, the late Michael Novak, this $15,000 award rewards new outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society. This award recognizes those scholars early in their academic career who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of religion’s connection to human dignity, the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life. 

    Clara Elizabeth Piano is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Austin Peay State University. Piano has been published in many academic journals, such as the Journal of Law & Economics and Public Choice, as well as in popular outlets, such as Public Discourse and Law & Liberty. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University (2021). Piano will also be speaking on “The Fertility Gap: Barriers to Fertility Around the World,” this summer at Acton University. 

    Piano currently resides in Nashville, TN with her husband, two children, and their beloved dog. In the Fall of 2024, Piano and her husband (also an economist) will be joining the Economics Department at the University of Mississippi. 

    The Novak Award forms part of a range of academic grants and awards available from the Acton Institute that support those engaged in serious reflection and research on the relationship between religion, the free market, limited government, and the rule of law. Details of these academic scholarships may be found at

    Follow Acton news and events for more information about the Calihan Lecture, in which Piano will discuss some of her research and be presented with the Novak Award.

    About the Acton Institute

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1990, the Institute works internationally to “promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” For more information, visit

    Interviews with Acton Institute staff may be arranged by contacting Eric Kohn, Director of Marketing & Communications, at (616) 454-3080 or at [email protected].