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Participant Biographies

2008 Participant Biographies

  • Charles Brua
  • Graduate Student
  • Applied Linguistics
  • The Pennsylvania State University

As I write my dissertation in applied linguistics at the Pennsylvania State University, I naturally sometimes think about my future. Ideally, it will allow me to pursue my primary research interest--how healthcare access is affected by language and by the cultural beliefs of both patients and doctors--in ways that would actually benefit the communities involved. My dream career would involve something like the Indian Family Stories Project, formerly conducted by the University of Minnesota. Researchers in that project talked with American Indians to better understand their attitudes toward treatment of various illnesses then used that information to educate non-Indian medical staff working with the population. The appeal of such a project is that it would allow me, as a researcher and teacher, to be involved in both academia and the larger community, learning in each arena and sharing what I learn with people in both.

My experience with engaged scholarship and community-based research has not been extensive. I have taken one seminar in action research and found its tenets to be both valuable and challenging to implement. For my dissertation, I have interviewed members of three communities--Russian-speaking immigrants, English-speaking doctors, and bilingual interpreters--to explore factors that impede communication and healthcare access. While I plan to share findings with all three groups, my project has not been truly participatory thus far, since it was designed and carried out mainly by me. My hope is to bring future phases of the project more into alignment with engaged scholarship.

  • Rosemary V. Chaudry
  • Assistant Professor
  • Public/Community Health
  • The Ohio State University

As an assistant professor of clinical nursing at Ohio State University, College of Nursing, I am responsible for teaching, scholarship, research, and clinical practice in community/public health. My research interests are public health workforce and infrastructure, community health and wellness, and community services for vulnerable populations. My community-based clinical practice experiences in engagement and research include community health assessment, health education, and collaboration to address health needs of vulnerable populations (e.g., childhood lead poisoning, adolescent mental health). My career goal is to contribute to healthy communities through partnerships that support healthy environments. I strive to meet this goal through research and practice at local and systems levels in areas such as public health strategic planning, the interface of local public health infrastructure and community wellness, community mobilization, and community assessment. A specific goal is to enhance linkages between extension and public health agencies at the local level. Through recent funded outreach and engagement projects, I collaborated with local and state-level Extension faculty to provide community health education and to conduct strategic planning with two local health departments. The collaboration between me and my Extension partners extends to current work in community mobilization for adolescent mental health and in performance measurement of a local rural public health system. I am completing my Master of Public Health degree, and as part of my focus in environmental public health I plan to collaborate with my Extension partners on an engagement project to conduct an environmental health assessment of a rural county in Ohio.

  • Jennifer M. Domagal-Goldman
  • Graduate Student
  • Higher Education Program
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Jennifer Domagal-Goldman is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the higher education program at Penn State University. She is currently in the process of analyzing her dissertation data (45 hour-long interviews with faculty members who incorporate civic engagement and public scholarship into their undergraduate teaching efforts) and writing her thesis. She has worked closely with Penn State's Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy and its Civic and Community Engagement Minor. Jennifer intends to continue her scholarship and professional practice in the areas of university/community engagement, public scholarship, and college student civic engagement. She hopes to find a position in this field in the Seattle area, where she is currently living.

  • Suellen Hopfer
  • Graduate Student
  • Communication Arts and Sciences
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Ms. Hopfer is a doctoral student in health communication in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. As research scholar she is working towards a faculty track career that involves a range of health topics from communication about genetics (having been a genetic counselor for a decade), vaccine communication (conducting her dissertation research on effective vaccine communication for the HPV vaccine), decision-making among adolescents and substance abuse prevention, and immigrant health (preparing for a collaborative project to examine the impact of employer sanction laws on the use of prenatal services for recent immigrants). She has utilized a variety of methodological approaches to effectively reach populations and to design culturally grounded health messages that has included the use of narratives for health promotion.

Ms. Hopfer has engaged in community-based research as part of the Migrant Clinicians Network to reduce health disparities and ensure improved health among seasonal migrant workers to the United States. Ms. Hopfer's work with migrant workers has ranged from developing literacy educational materials on the prevention of pesticide exposure in pregnant mothers to prevention of intimate partner violence. Additionally, Ms. Hopfer has been involved with developing communication tools to assist in international humanitarian response during disaster recovery. As part of this research, she has given talks internationally and published first author, peer-reviewed papers. Her work has contributed to minimizing organization communication breakdowns during response to international humanitarian response when delivering aid services. This work has contributed toward public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) in developing neighborhood projects to revitalize communities.

  • Lamis Jomaa
  • Graduate Student
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • The Pennsylvania State University

I am a Fulbright student and a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University. My current research interests include school wellness policies and the involvement of students in the process of development and implementation of policies, and its impact on their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors leading ultimately to positive health outcomes.

My earlier professional experiences included working in community settings at my home country, Lebanon. One of which is working as a field coordinator within a project that empowers children and adolescents living in impoverished areas to identify major health issues of concern for their communities, seek reliable information, and practice peer-to-peer education. I also assisted in organizing a health fair at the end of this project through which young participants expressed their thoughts and opinions, shared information and recommended practices with their parents and peers through various creative means.

As an active volunteer in the school nutrition committee within a local NGO, Greenline; I sharpened further my skills in planning, implementing, and evaluating nutrition, health, and environment-related projects within the school context. I participated in organizing 'Training of Trainees' workshop on nutrition and health-education theories addressing school principals, teachers, and local nutrition and health educators actively involved in health- promotion planning.

Fulbright's rich experience and my current research work provide me with unique opportunities to further expand my academic and professional knowledge that I am willing to translate into community-based research and practice.

  • Lisa Maya Knauer
  • Assistant Professor
  • Anthropology
  • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

I am starting my 6th year as assistant professor (tenure track) of anthropology at UMass Dartmouth. My goal is to help create a community-oriented university-based research center, where I could meld teaching (my classes use the university and surrounding communities as sites of ethnographic inquiry) and research. My lifetime of community involvement and arts activism helped propel me into graduate school. In the 1990s I helped found an artists' collective that created site-specific public art reclaiming lost historical narratives, and in 1995-6 I directed a project about how urban renewal had erased an Atlanta neighborhood called Buttermilk Bottom from the map but not from popular memory. We worked closely with current and former residents to select sites, collect narratives and shape the project to have some lasting meaning; we used our social capital as artist/researchers and outsiders to “give back" to the now-dispersed community and donated our files to a local archive. Other projects on "queer spaces” and landmarks in public interest law were also developed collaboratively. My overarching research interests are race, ethnicity, urban public space, diaspora, and transnationalism. My ongoing research on "black" Cuban cultural expression in New York and Havana evolved from years of participation in the rumba "scene", and I try to incorporate my collaborators' interpretations, sharing drafts when possible. I often provide advice and logistical assistance to cultural producers in Cuba and New York. My work with the Central American communities has evolved along similar lines and I regularly translate and assist with administrative matters.

  • D. Eric Malm
  • Assistant Professor
  • Business
  • Cabrini College

Dr. Eric Malm joined the Business Department at Cabrini College as tenure-track assistant professor in the 2007-2008 school year. Before joining Cabrini Eric founded and ran a market research and marketing business for 12 years, which was eventually acquired by a regional venture capital company. His work background has given him first-hand experience managing and growing a small business, as well as providing insights into the technical and business operations of 'big company' clients, Eric was attracted to Cabrini by the opportunity to teach a broad array of courses, including economics, statistics, management information systems, and small business management. Since arriving at Cabrini Eric has pursued several opportunities to expose students to the real world joys and challenges of running a small business. He has organized a Saturday seminar course where local business people will "tell their stories" to business students, and has designed a new course on small business management, to be offered this fall. In spring 2009 Eric will teach a seminar course where juniors will conduct research on small businesses for the neighboring city of Norristown, PA (Cabrini's anchor partner for community based research and service-learning). Eric has a Ph.D. in economics from Temple University, where he specialized in econometrics and energy economics. He has published papers in Energy Journal, Utilities Policy, and the Journal of Website Promotion, and has presented before numerous groups.

  • Elizabeth A. Mellin
  • Assistant Professor
  • Counselor Education; Youth Mental Health
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Elizabeth Mellin, Ph.D., LPC, brings several years of child and adolescent mental health clinical and research experience to this workshop. Prior to joining Penn State University as an assistant professor in 2006, Dr. Mellin was a child and adolescent counselor, clinical supervisor, and grant writer for a public community mental health program in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a nationally published author on child and adolescent mental health topics. Her research is focused on improving service outcomes for low-income youth and their families with specific focus on improving the preparation of the current and future mental health workforce. In addition to her appointment as an assistant professor at Penn State University, Dr. Mellin is actively involved in engaged scholarship with rural and urban communities in Georgia focused on improving the recruitment and retention of counselors in public mental health settings.

  • Joanna Lyons
  • Graduate Student
  • Adult Education
  • The Pennsylvania State University

My affiliation with The Pennsylvania State University is two-fold. I am a doctoral candidate in the Adult Education program and I am also a staff member at the Office for Research Protections CORP. In my current position I am responsible for the Continuous Quality Improvement and Post-approval Review programs for all Penn State campuses and colleges, except for the College of Medicine. As a doctoral candidate, I am interested in describing and characterizing the experiences of research participants.

As a native of the area where I work and study, I recognize the critical role community involvement plays in the research of this institution's investigators. I have coordinated Penn State research for eight years and have been a research volunteer in over 30 research studies.

My goal is to continue to work in the field of research protections as a practitioner and as a researcher and to contribute to strengthening the human participant research protections program.

Engaged scholarship needs the participation of research volunteers, a resource that must be protected and cultivated. Learning about the perceptions of experienced and previously non-experienced volunteers as they encounter the research world will provide a foundation upon which to build educational outreach programs that will benefit the potential volunteers, their communities, the individual investigators and the research community by showing respect for the contributions made by communities and their members and demonstrating the value placed on their participation. Focusing on these issues regionally will highlight particular needs of a geographic area and its population.

  • Scott Michael Robertson
  • Graduate Student
  • Information Sciences and Technology
  • The Pennsylvania State University

I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Information Sciences & Technology at Penn State University. My research interests in disability studies and assistive technology focus on technological empowerment, self-advocacy, disability community and culture, and support resources for education and daily living.

I'm a co-investigator of the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership for Research & Education, a community-based participatory research partnership between academic researchers, the autistic adult self-advocacy community, and autism community members. The AASPIRE project investigates barriers to healthcare access and usage experienced by autistic adults.

Another CBPR project we're exploring involves collaboration between architecture researchers and autistic self-advocates in designing physical environments that suit autistic persons' sensory processing differences.

My lifelong disability advocacy roles include mentoring, teaching, national public speaking, writing/blogging, leadership, and self-advocacy. I've served on several advisory committees and work groups for Pennsylvania's Bureau of Autism Services, including the workgroup that developed the first autistic adult-specific Medicaid Waiver in the U.S. I've been a leader in many disability advocacy organizations (e.g. the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Autism Higher Education Foundation, ASCEND (the Asperger Syndrome Alliance for Greater Philadelphia)). I've also given more than 50 presentations on disabilities, including several keynotes.

  • Sara Smits
  • Assistant Professor
  • Sociology
  • Saint Anselm College

Sara Smits has completed her first year as an assistant professor of sociology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. As a new faculty member, she hopes to convey her passion for community service and activism to her students through active engagement in the classroom and in her research. Her research interests include social movements, militarism, and peace and war studies, with a particular interest in the social consequences of war in post-war Vietnam. During her time as a graduate student at Syracuse University, Sara was actively involved in the Syracuse Peace Council and Peace Action of Central New York, where she conducted community-based research with anti-war protestors. In addition, before starting graduate school she served as an Americorps*VISTA volunteer and later assistant director of Common Cents New York, where she worked in the New York City schools to design service learning projects in the school's surrounding neighborhood. Sara plans to continue her active engagement in her new position and is currently working with colleagues to bring community-based and participatory action research to Saint Anselm College.

  • Stephanie Springgay
  • Assistant Professor
  • Art Education and Women's Studies
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Stephanie Springgay is an assistant professor of Art Education and Women's Studies at Penn State University. Her research focuses on relational art practices, gender and youth studies, embodiment, feminist pedagogy, and visual culture. In addition, as a multidisciplinary artist working with installation and video-based art, she investigates the relationship between artistic practices and methodologies of educational research through a/r/tography (see http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/Artography/). She is the co-editor of Curriculum and the cultural body, Peter Lang (2007) with Debra Freedman and author of Body knowledge and curriculum: Pedagogies of touch in youth and visual culture, Peter Lang (2008). Along with her co-investigators, she has just completed a three-year community-engaged research study with intergenerational immigrant families in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. This study, funded through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant, examines individual and collective experiences of place through the creation of community-engaged art projects. The collaborative art works, created between contemporary artists, educational researchers, and participating families were installed in public venues such as urban bus shelters, as banners on street lights, and in the community-centre square. Currently she is working on a youth participatory action research study which examines the creative lives of youth, youth agency, and pre-service teacher education in diverse contexts. The study will explore youth cultural formations (e.g. hip hop, performance art, interventionist art, zine writing, and video art to name a few) as examples of youth citizenship and as forms of civic engagement.

  • Melissa Terlecki
  • Assistant Professor
  • Psychology
  • Cabrini College

I am an assistant professor of psychology at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA. Cabrini College is a Catholic, four-year, liberal arts institution focused on service learning and the common good (Cabrini College was the first Pennsylvania school to incorporate service learning in curriculum). Cabrini is also moving towards integrating undergraduate research into more of its academic programs. There, I have spearheaded a new, community-based, interdisciplinary research project which integrates curricula/course programming and experiential learning. The pilot course (and subsequent fieldwork), Environmental Psychology, involves students studying local and global environmental issues, specifically those revolving around a local watershed. It is co-taught by my self, a psychologist, and another Cabrini faculty who is a biologist, thus allowing students to make important interdisciplinary connections between natural and social sciences. The course is also linked to several non-for-profit organizations within the local community, additionally allowing students to transfer knowledge outside of the classroom. I have had some service learning training at my own institution, as well as presentation/publication opportunities at a local and national level in regards to this project (i.e., Council on Undergraduate Research National Conference, National Science Foundation STEM-CCU Stage I proposal). I hope to expand this experience into the creation of a larger model for community-based, interdisciplinary projects that can be transferred and applied to other disciplines and communities (for use at Cabrini and beyond).

  • Caryn Winters
  • Graduate Student
  • Film and Media Studies, College of Communications
  • The Pennsylvania State University

I have always had an ongoing scholastic affair with public policy, civic discourse, the intertwining of race and class, and democratic theory. As a 2nd year doctoral student in Penn State's College of Communications, my exploration into many of these issues is framed around questions of communication. Through studying democratic deliberation, civic engagement, critical media studies, and public scholarship, I apply a multi-disciplinary approach that is both intriguing and equally useful in the pursuit of a career as a tenured activist-scholar.

As a graduate of a Jesuit institution, being a person with and for others has been a prominent theme in my scholarly and extracurricular endeavors. I was a founding member of Loyola's Society for Civic Engagement, in addition to presiding over Bridging the Gap, an organization that encouraged proactive conversations about diversity amongst the Loyola and larger New Orleans Metropolitan communities.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA in Fort Worth, TX, I worked as a community organizer in one of the city's lowest socioeconomic areas. While pursuing my M.S. in Interpersonal Communication, I worked as tobacco intervention youth specialist at Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center. These professional experiences intensify my scholarly ambitions.

One question that I am especially interested in investigating is how the absence of a rich conception of diversity in higher educational institutions may hinder the deliberation and engagement that may occur in higher education institutions. Further, I am currently investigating the impact of Facebook.com on youth involvement and deliberation in response to the Jena 6 incident.