2014 Lynton Award Finalists

NERCHE and the Center for Engaged Democracy at Merrimack College are pleased to recognize ten finalists for the 2014 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.  These finalists were selected from an impressive pool of nominees, all of whom are pushing the boundaries of community-engaged teaching, research/creative activity, and service in fundamentally new directions. 

The Award recipient will be announced in early August 2014, and the Award will be presented at the 3rd Annual Lynton Colloquium on the Scholarship of Engagement on September 15, 2014, at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  (Register for the Lynton Colloquium here.)

The Award recipient will also be recognized at the 20th Annual Conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), “Universities as Anchor Institutions: Driving Change,” which will be held from October 5-7, 2014, at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. CUMU is a co-sponsor of the Award.

Lynton Award Finalists

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Semra Aytur
Health Management and Policy
University of New Hampshire

Semra Aytur, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of New Hampshire,  teaches courses in health policy and public health. Her community-engaged scholarship focuses on creating resilient communities, promoting healthy behavior, and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Her work contributes to a national movement recognizing that the root causes of disease are often situated beyond the scope of clinical medicine, woven into the fabric of our society: poverty, discrimination, unequal opportunities for education and employment, as well as disparate access to health-promoting resources such as safe housing, transportation, clean air/water, healthy food, and places to exercise. Dr. Aytur received two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants to develop transdisciplinary collaborations that effect positive changes in areas where people live, work, and play. Additionally, she works with state and municipal partners to develop adaptation plans to better prepare for extreme weather events, such as flooding. These collaborations illustrate that chronic disease prevention, safety, and environmental stewardship can be synergistically addressed through strategies that promote greater social connectedness, civic engagement, and supportive urban design/infrastructure. Dr. Aytur partners with residents and decision-makers in diverse communities to foster a culture of resilience. 


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Valerie Fransico
University of Portland
Valerie Francisco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Portland in Oregon.  Francisco received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at City University of New York, The Graduate Center. Francisco’s dissertation entitled, “Together But Apart: Dynamics of Filipino Transnational Families” examines the strategies of maintaining a transnational family from the perspectives of Filipino migrant women working as domestic workers in New York City all the way to their families in the Philippines. Francisco's research fundamentally interrogates the implications of neoliberal globalization on intimate and micro relations such as those in the family. In her analysis of the hardships in transnational families, Francisco also pays attention to the ways in which migrants engage their experiences of dislocation and diaspora to craft resistance. In journals like The Philippine Sociological Review and Critical Sociology, Francisco writes about how families are changing under neoliberal immigration policies and what types of political subjectivities emerge from those conditions. Francisco's research is informed by the transnational activism of GABRIELA, an alliance of progressive Filipino women's organizations in the Philippines and internationally, and MIGRANTE International, an international alliance of Filipino migrant workers. 


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Tracey Gendron
Virginia Commonwealth University

Tracey Gendron is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Gerontology in the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. Tracey has a Master's of Science in Gerontology, a Master's of Science in Psychology and a PhD in Developmental Psychology. She teaches several graduate and undergraduate service-based courses including grant writing, research methods and old is the new young. She is also a Service-Learning faculty fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University. Tracey takes an all-inclusive approach to teaching about aging, particularly highlighting those understudied and underrepresented groups that are at increased risk of negative health outcomes and discrimination. Her community-engaged research interests include the professional identity development and career commitment of gerontologists, education through community engagement and service-learning, aging anxiety, ageism and gerontophobia, LGBT aging and staff knowledge and quality of care. 


Hicks Travis bio pic.jpg Version2Travis Hicks
Interior Architecture
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Travis L. Hicks, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture, is the Director of the Center for Community-Engaged Design (CC-ED) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Hicks’s vision is of a movement that will change the face of design education and practice in ways that inspire designers to be more engaged in their own communities. Through the CC-ED he builds community partnerships that leverage the power of design in community-based projects, particularly for people who are underserved or where resources are most scarce.A registered architect with over 13 years of professional practice experience prior to joining UNCG, Hicks pursues teaching, scholarship, and service that contribute to the livability and sustainability of the Piedmont-Triad region and partnerships that promote collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and economic development.  “Sustainable Glenwood” and the “Vance Chavis Library” project are two examples of the projects he has executed in collaboration with students, faculty, and community partners, such as Preservation Greensboro, Inc., Community Housing Solutions, and the Greensboro Public Library.
Hicks received his M.Arch. from Princeton University and his B.S. in Architecture, summa cum laude, from Georgia Tech.  In his spare time Hicks plays Irish traditional music on the uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), tin whistle, and anglo concertina.


Katzew Adriana bio pic Adriana Katzew
Art Education
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Adriana Katzew is Assistant Professor in the Art Education Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston). Her teaching focuses on community-based art teaching and learning and on issues of social justice in education. Her scholarship centers on community engagement and social justice, specifically on the intersection between visual arts and Chicana/o and Latina/o activism. Adriana’s area of focus also encompasses students of color in art colleges, and support and mentorship for first-generation college students. Adriana Katzew obtained her doctorate and master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is also an artist working in photography and mixed media. Some of her work tackles issues of social justice, such as immigrant experiences in the U.S.; other visual works emerge from her experiences working in community settings. Adriana has taught photography and creative writing to Latino/a children and youth.


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Zak Montgomery
Wartburg College

Dr. Zak K. Montgomery is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. He earned a B.A. in Economics and Business from Kalamazoo College, where his passion for community engagement first took shape. Dr. Montgomery later received an M.A. in Hispanic Literature and a Ph.D. in Portuguese Literature with a comparative emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese from Indiana University-Bloomington. At Wartburg College, he developed a new community-based, 300-level service-learning Spanish course, Latinos in the United States, where students work alongside Latinos in the local community on issues of mutual importance. Dr. Montgomery also teaches Spanish language, Hispanic culture and cinema, and Luso-Brazilian culture courses. He regularly leads a May Term course to Costa Rica that has a service-learning component, and has led cultural immersion courses to the Wartburg West urban studies program in Denver, Colorado and to Cuernavaca, Mexico. He also serves as chair of the Multicultural and Diversity Studies Committee at Wartburg College and faculty advisor for the Wartburg chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Hispanic Honor Society. Dr. Montgomery’s scholarly presentations and publications focus on community engagement with U.S. Latinos, as well as Luso-Hispanic comparative approaches to literature, particularly in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.


Rosa Jonathan bio pic2Jonathan Rosa
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jonathan Rosa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His community-based research, teaching, and service focus on educational inequality, linguistic marginalization, and racial discrimination in urban contexts. He collaborates with local communities to track these phenomena and develop tools for understanding and eradicating the forms of disparity to which they correspond. Dr. Rosa has successfully partnered with undocumented immigrant communities to challenge stigmatizing portrayals of immigration among mainstream media outlets. He has also teamed with local schools and universities to develop asset-based approaches to language and literacy that view linguistic diversity as a valuable resource to develop rather than a handicap to overcome. Dr. Rosa is currently working with high school students in Holyoke, MA, to document, analyze, and present linguistic assets in this predominantly Latina/o community. In his teaching at UMass, he collaborates with instructors at the Adult Learning Center, a high school equivalency preparation program, to co-design and co-teach courses that bring together students from the university and community as co-learners. Dr. Rosa received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, and his B.A. in Linguistics and Educational Studies from Swarthmore College.


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Alan Tinkler
University of Vermont

Alan Tinkler is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Vermont. Alan’s passion for supporting and working with vulnerable communities was fostered while in the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea. This experience is central to who he is as a teacher and scholar. In Vermont, Alan has worked closely with various community centers, including King Street Center and the O’Brien Community Center, to develop meaningful academic support and advocacy programming to empower community youth. As an extension of his work in teacher preparation where he focuses on building relationships and fostering trust with community partners, he co-coordinated the Partnership for Change, a school remodeling effort, for a year while the Partnership for Change sought an executive director. His university service connects to and reinforces his teaching and together his teaching and service form the basis of research in the areas of service-learning, social justice, inequality, and school transformation. In fact, Alan’s commitment to social justice in a diverse democracy undergirds all of his community engagement and academic work. Alan received his B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver.


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Estrella Torrez
Arts and Humanities
Michigan State University

Dr. Estrella Torrez is an Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Dr. Torrez’s community-engaged scholarship focuses on critical pedagogy, civic engagement, Latino education, Indigenous education, and sociocultural literacies. In 2009, Torrez co-founded the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program (IYEP), a program serving urban Native youth and families in Michigan. From 2011-2013, Dr. Torrez served as a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Detroit Truth and Reconciliation Commission (only the second such commission in the US), where she was charged with interrogating structural racism embedded in housing and educational systems. In her tenure at MSU, she has taught five experiential-based university courses on Latino and Indigenous issues in Mexico and the US Southwest, as well as four on-campus collaborative courses with Migrant Student Services. In the spring of 2013, Torrez initiated Nuestros Cuentos, a collaborative project with the College Assistance Migrant Program and Lansing School District. Nuestros Cuentos uses storytelling to bring together students from MSU’s RCAH and CAMP programs with Latino elementary youth. Torrez received her BS in Elementary Education, MA in Bilingual Education, and holds a Ph.D. from The University of New Mexico in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies. 


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Jomella Watson-Thompson
Applied Behavioral Science
University of Kansas

Dr. Watson-Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science, and Associate Director for the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. Through her collaborative research, teaching and service she partners with communities to address community health and development issues through the application of community-based behavioral psychology. Her research has focused on neighborhood development, positive youth development, and adolescent substance abuse and violence prevention. Dr. Thompson supports community capacity-building efforts to address social determinants of health through community-based participatory research with populations and communities experiencing disparities, particularly in urban neighborhoods. Her research has focused on examining the effects of community-based processes and interventions to promote community mobilization and change in addressing the interrelated conditions affecting community health. Dr. Thompson has extensive experience providing training, technical support and evaluation for community-based initiatives. Dr. Watson-Thompson attained her B.A. in Urban Studies from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, a Masters of Urban Planning, a M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science, and a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology all from the University of Kansas.


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