Transformative Research

Dr. Claudia Geist was appointed as our first Associate Dean for Research this January. She has spent much of her first six months consulting and assessing how to best support our faculty’s research endeavors, while jumping on board to support ongoing and upcoming research projects. Here, Dr. Geist tells us the most recent happenings in Transform faculty research:

Pandemic-related campus closures and transitions to online-everything have certainly affected the rhythm of everyone’s work. Both before and through these uncertain times, however, Transformers are not only actively engaging with students in the [virtual] classroom, contributing to our local communities, mentoring students, all while contributing to their respective fields through their research.  

While, many Transform faculty members’ summer research plans have been disrupted, we are redistributing our time and effort to continue advancing our scholarship agendas. Dr. Darius Bost (Ethnic Studies), for example, was recently awarded an Eccles Centre – The British Library fellowship, which included time in London. Though he is unable to travel to London, he continues to research for his next book on black queer visual cultures in the anglophone black diaspora from Utah, as part of a (remote) fellowship with Harvard.  

Dr. Hōkūlani Aikau’s (Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies) study on the cultural and climatic impact of taro farming in Belau (also known as Palau) is also on hold. However, Dr. Aikau is using the summer months to collaborate with scholars from the Santa Clara University. Together they will apply for a National Science Foundation (NSF) planning grant which will study how minoritized students overcome barriers for success.

Meanwhile, Drs. Annie Isabel Fukushima (Ethnic Studies) and Sarita Gaytàn (Gender Studies), with Dr. Leticia Alvarez Gutiérrez of the ECS department, are tackling urgent current events and shed light on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Latinx communities, including Latinx educators and students. At the same time, Dr. Fukushima is collaborating in a project to depict Gender Based violence in Utah, as part of a 1U4U campus grant. This interdisciplinary project brings together expertise from the School of Medicine, College of Social and Behavioral Science, the School of Business, and the School Dentistry. Yet another example of how Transform faculty play a vital role in interdisciplinary effort to both uncover and combat violence, and injustice.

Dr. Ella Myers’ (Gender Studies) current research is an urgent reminder for anyone who doubts the important role of theory in addressing current events. This fall, Dr. Myers is working on her next book, Gratifications of Whiteness: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Enduring Rewards of Antiblackness (under contract with Oxford University Press). This work draws on Du Bois’  to explore the multiple racialized rewards of whiteness, but also addresses strategies that can disrupt white supremacy and the racial capitalism that sustains it.

Our faculty, like our communities, are adjusting and shifting. We know that despite the uncertainty, Transformers will continue to push groundbreaking research.

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