Announcing the 2020 Research Fellows

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Collaboratory is excited to announce the selection of our inaugural Research Fellows, each of whom will be exploring the intersection of higher education community engagement with key areas of global relevance. 

The Research Fellowships recognize exemplary and emerging scholar-practitioners who are committed to advancing the field of community engagement. Fellows explore research and programmatic efforts that enact Collaboratory’s mission and support member institutions and the broader field of higher education community engagement. Fellowships are designed to give practitioner-scholars a national platform to pursue research and programmatic ideas that correlate with ongoing Collaboratory initiatives. 

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Stella Smith, Jessica Givens, and Matt Seto as our new Research Fellows!

Dr. Stella Smith

Research Fellow

Prairie View A&M University

Dr. Stella Smith is the Associate Director for the Minority Achievement, Creativity and High-Ability (MACH-III) Center and an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Prairie View A&M University. A qualitative researcher, Dr. Smith’s scholarly interests focus on the experiences of faculty and administrators of color in higher education; African American females in leadership in higher education; diversity, equity and inclusion of underserved populations in higher education, and P–20 educational pipeline alignment. For the entirety of her professional career, she has worked in areas that promote access for underrepresented populations to higher education. Dr. Smith is a strong advocate for social justice and passionate about creating asset based pathways of success for underserved students. Dr. Smith was recognized with a 2014 Dissertation Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education and as part of the 2019 Class of 35 Outstanding Women Leaders in Higher Education by Diverse Issues in Higher Education.  She is the Managing Editor the Journal for Minority Achievement, Creativity and Leadership and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Family Strengths. Dr. Smith earned a PhD in Educational Administration with a portfolio in Women and Gender Studies from The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Smith’s fellowship will work to develop criteria for what “anti-racist community engagement” looks like – she will explore common characteristics, principles, focuses, etc. that are present when community-university partnerships are conducted in an anti-racist way. Dr. Smith will work to develop an anti-racism scorecard that can help institutions recognize and identify community-engaged anti-racist work and intentionally incorporate anti-racism work into efforts across campus.

Jessica Givens

SDGs Research Fellow

Arizona State University

Jessica Givens is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) & Beyond Task Force Coordinator at Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory co-chaired by the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Based in the largest and most innovative university in the country, Jessica co-creates strategy and execution of projects related to the SDGs with an emphasis on driving tech-based green growth which scales now and beyond 2030. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology & Ecology and Master of Science & Technology Policy from Arizona State University.

Jessica’s fellowship will explore the intersection of higher education community engagement with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The  17 SDGs were adopted by all 193 United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. By understanding community-university partnerships in the context of the SDGs, institutions can respond at the local level with clear evidence of how their existing work already supports the 17 global goals. Jessica’s work will inform how institutions can better understand how SDGs can be incorporated into engagement efforts across campus.

Matt Seto

Assessment Fellow

University of Washington Tacoma

Matt Seto is a technical project manager at the Office of Community Partnerships at the University of Washington Tacoma. He also works with the Center for Applied Urban Research under the same office. Matt’s background is as a software developer working at several Seattle-area startups before moving back to Academia. His graduate work centered on applying cloud-computing solutions and automating processes to collect voluntarily generated spatial data and aggregate them through a pre-defined logic model. Matt has two young kids and spends as much time as possible with them outdoors.

Matt’s fellowship will work to identify new algorithms and methods for assessing the strength of relationships between internal and external partners using Collaboratory data. He will explore not only the cumulative count of partnership activities but also weigh variables such as time spent co-engaged, the outputs of a partnership, the number of participants and supporting staff engaged in a partnership, the interconnectivity of a partner and the university, etc.. From these methods Matt will identify common characteristics of ‘strong’ relationships, with the goal that practitioners can promote them in new and emerging partnerships.

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