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Volume 55, Number 4 Fall 2022
Edited by Chris Keys, DePaul University
Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University
The SCRA Research Council is delighted to announce the outcome of the 2022-2024 cycle of recruitment, review and selection of Research Scholar applicants. The SCRA Research Council was founded in 2017 and decided a good way to begin supporting community research would be to help untenured community psychology faculty enhance their research programs and become tenured. Such scholars may become tenured faculty, contribute to the community research literature and mentor future scholars, scholar-practitioners and practitioners for decades to come. The Research Scholar Program has had significant success to date. All Scholars who have sought promotion and tenure have been successful. Scholars have received national recognition for their research and have provided leadership to SCRA. Many represent BIPOC groups that previously had little access to doctoral education. Given these successes, in winter 2022 the SCRA Executive Committee (EC) committed $24,000 to support six Scholars in 2022-2024. In addition to financial support, all Scholars receive mentoring assistance from one or more accomplished senior researchers in community psychology or related field. Scholars also provide mutual support and engage in professional development sessions on regular basis. After carefully reviewing the number of talented applicants, the Council members selected the following very promising assistant professors or equivalent in community psychology doctoral programs or doctoral programs including community psychology for this, the fifth cohort of SCRA Research Scholars:
Francesca Esposito, Westminster University, London
Alexandrea Golden, University of Memphis
Delphine Labbe, University of Illinois Chicago
Renato Liboro, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Sukhmani Singh, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Gabriela Távara, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Lima
This diverse cohort is our most global. In it are faculty from Europe and South America as well as North America including Scholars who have immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, India and Canada. Here below we introduce each Research Scholar with a brief biography and plans for their work as a Research Scholar. We wish them each a most successful Research Scholar experience!
Francesca Esposito is a Lecturer at the University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, a beginning rung on the tenure ladder in the UK. She completed her PhD in 2019 in Community Psychology at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal – under the supervision of Prof. José Ornelas and the co-supervision of Prof. Caterina Arcidiacono.
In her dissertation Life and Lived Experiences of People inside Migration-related Detention: An Ecological Exploration into Rome’s Detention Center, Francesca developed an ecological justice-focused framework to examine everyday life in detention and the lived experiences of people within these sites (both detained people and professional actors). Her research overall revealed the oppressive qualities of immigration detention contexts, and highlighted the need for community psychologists to firmly engage in the struggle against detention and, more generally, all forms of border violence. This work allowed her to be selected for the 2021 SCRA Dissertation Award.
Her current research focuses on immigration detention in Italy, Portugal and the UK, and, in particular, on the gendered and racialised experiences of women confined inside immigration detention centres. In particular, Francesca looks at the lived experiences of women detained under immigration powers in light of an intersectional framework that acknowledges the interplay between gender and other systems of power (e.g., based on constructions of race, class, ability, sexuality, nationality).
Francesca is also a member of the feminist NGO BeFree (Rome, Italy), and she worked several years as an advocate for women survivors of gendered violence. She is currently member of different feminist, abolitionist and no border/anti-detention grassroots groups.
As a 2022-2024 SCRA Research Scholar, Francesca’s goals are: a) to continue and expand her research work on the gendered and racialised harms of immigration detention; b) to make research findings accessible both within and outside academia, using, for instance, audiovisual tools and participatory art-based approaches; c) to apply for a multi-year, external grant; d) to deepen her mixed-methods; and, finally, d) to become a more effective educator and mentor, especially for students/young scholars coming from backgrounds of violence, abuse and structural neglect.
Alexandrea R. Golden, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Memphis. She earned her PhD in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of South Carolina and completed her clinical internship at The MetroHealth System with a focus on Trauma and Community. Dr. Golden went on to complete her postdoctoral fellowship at Cleveland State University in the Center for Urban Education. During her tenure as a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Golden had the pleasure of working with various community partners through research-practice partnerships to translate research to practice in Cleveland area schools and to implement youth participatory action research (YPAR) in more than 30 schools across the state of Ohio.
Dr. Golden’s scholarship focuses on the resilience and positive development of racially-minoritized youth who experience racism with a focus on Black adolescents. Her work focuses on three interdisciplinary lines of research including: (1) school racial climate, (2) peer racial socialization, and (3) critical consciousness. Dr. Golden is committed to translating her research to community-engaged practice and has done so through program development and evaluation in South Carolina and Ohio. She looks forward to extending her community-engaged research and practice to youth in the Memphis area, a site of historical and ongoing activism for equity for minoritized individuals. Further, she looks forward to her continued work identifying and promoting culturally relevant protective factors to uplift and empower racially-minoritized youth.
Delphine Labbé is an assistant professor in the Disability and Human Development Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Originally from Montreal, Canada, she completed her PhD in community psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Based on her interdisciplinary background, Dr. Labbé’s research focuses on promoting full participation and health of people living with disabilities by better understanding the person-environment interaction and developing interventions to create inclusive communities. Her main areas of study are urban accessibility and social participation, as well as health-promotion interventions through adaptive leisure and recreational physical activity. Using a community-based research approach, she is deeply committed in co-creating knowledge with the people with disabilities and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. municipal, health care), in all aspects of her research.
Delphine Labbé’s goal is to focus on developing her research program in the area of health promotion for people with disabilities, including building her grant-writing skills for the US context. She also wishes to develop her network in community psychology. Her mentor is Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, who holds a dual appointment in the Occupational Therapy Department and Disability and Human Development Department at UIC. Dr. Suarez-Balcazar’s expertise in disability studies and community psychology will support Delphine in her academic pathways. Delphine will use her scholarship to build collaboration with community-based organizations in health promotion and increase her understanding of how to address health promotion challenges for the population at the intersection of race, gender, age and disability. She also wants to participate in different grant writing workshops both nationally and at UIC. The mentorship of Dr Suarez-Balcazar will also be particularly useful to support Delphine in her grant application effort. She also hopes to participate in different writing workshops to improve her publication record. She also hopes that she will be able to exchange with the other SCRA Research Scholars to expand her network, discuss academic career challenges and just meet nice people.
Dr. Renato “Rainier” M. Liboro, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). At UNLV, Rainier is a faculty affiliate of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program of the the Department of Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies; a member of the Graduate College; and the Director of the Community Health Advocacy for Minority Populations, Immigrants, and Other Newcomers, and their Mental Health (CHAMPION Mental Health) research lab. He is also a Collaborator Scientist of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which is located in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Rainier conducts Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) on social inequities and health disparities impacting the mental health and well being of sexual/gender and racial/ethnic minorities, migrants, middle-aged and older adults, and people at risk of or living with HIV/AIDS and other hidden or episodic disabilities, in collaboration with academic colleagues from UNLV and CAMH, and community partners from Southern Nevada and Toronto.
At UNLV, Rainier collaborates with academic researchers from the College of Liberal Arts, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Public Health. More importantly, he also collaborates with community partners such as the LGBTQIA+ Community Center of Southern Nevada, Southern Nevada Health District, Golden Rainbow, Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada, Huntridge Family Clinic, University Medical Center Wellness Clinic, Aid for AIDS of Nevada, and other community-based organizations and agencies.
Since he started his position at UNLV in 2019, Rainier has maintained strong connections with his community partners from Toronto; published several peer-reviewed articles in the Global Journal of Community Psychology, Community Psychology in Global Perspective, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Sage Open, and other journals based on his research work with his Toronto collaborators. He has obtained internal and extramural grants to fund his research; and mentored UNLV graduate students and research assistants on the tenets, principles, and practices of CBPR. In 2021, Rainier, his CHAMPION Mental Health lab research team, UNLV academic collaborators, and Southern Nevada community partners launched two mixed-methods CBPR studies, which they will continue to conduct during Rainier’s time as a SCRA Research Scholar from 2022 to 2024. Their first study, “The Resilience of Middle-Aged and Older Men Who Have Sex with Men to HIV/AIDS: Stakeholder Perspectives in the 21st Century”, aims to explore and examine the various individual and community-level factors that build and promote resilience to HIV/AIDS based on the perspectives and lived experiences of racially and ethnically diverse, middle-aged and older men who have sex with men in Southern Nevada. Their second study, “Awareness and Knowledge on Aging and HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder: Service User and Provider Perspectives in Southern Nevada”, aims to identify and evaluate the levels of awareness and knowledge gaps of older people living with HIV/AIDS and their service providers in Southern Nevada on the interactions between aging and HIV/AIDS, as well as on the condition known as HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.
Rainier currently teaches two courses that are personally meaningful to him. Prior to immigrating to North America, Rainier was a physician and surgeon in his native country, the Philippines. With his considerable medical background and clinical experiences, Rainier has appreciated the opportunity to teach both Health Psychology and Dimensions of Human Sexuality at UNLV. Rainier has also valued his active involvement with the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Solutions (IDEAS) committee of the Department of Psychology of UNLV.
Sukhmani Singh is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work and affiliate faculty member of the Center on Community Safety, Policing and Inequality at the School of Law, University of Connecticut. She is an applied developmental-community psychologist and completed her doctorate and post-doctorate at New York University.
Broadly, Dr. Singh’s research is anchored in intersectional and decolonial frameworks and her scholarship aims to advance systems change, particularly at the nexus of the juvenile legal and education systems. She is an insider/outsider individual in the academy—a first-generation, immigrant woman of color with lived experiences at multiple, interlocked axes of both accumulated privilege and oppression. Therefore, Dr. Singh’s commitment to generating knowledge in anchored in two key touchstones: (i) advancing social justice by shifting the research gaze towards systems and advancing structural solutions, and (ii) centering the principles and praxis of critical participatory research in the knowledge-generation process.
Dr. Singh is currently launching a sequential, mixed-methods, longitudinal, critical youth participatory action research project that examines, through an intersectional lens, the educational and recidivism-related trajectories of juvenile legal system-impacted youth, particularly those who are adjudicated to probation, and incarceration + probation. Over the course of the SCRA Research Scholar program, Dr. Singh will (i) commence and complete the qualitative component of the research project (on-site, case file reviews) and (ii) generate a cross-systems (juvenile and education), longitudinal, quantitative data request that will build on the findings from the qualitative component of the study. Once all data are procured, Dr. Singh will co-create a participatory research analysis team comprised of three young women of color who have been formerly systems-impacted/involved so that we can leverage our partial knowledges (i.e., my research-based skills, their lived systems-experiences). This team will work to both (i) co-analyze data with an aim towards generating policy and practice-based recommendations for systems change at the nexus of the juvenile legal and education systems, and (ii) disseminate our findings to a wide variety of audiences (e.g., juvenile legal system, education system, child welfare, community audiences, etc.).
Dr. Gabriela Távara is an Assistant Professor at the Psychology Department of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, where she also obtained a Master’s degree in Community Psychology. In 2018 she received her PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology at Boston College, where she was trained in Participatory Action Research methods using creative and artistic techniques. Her research has focused on working with indigenous women, both in Peru and Guatemala, survivors of armed conflicts and other forms of gendered racialized violence. Through her work she has engaged with groups of indigenous women using participatory approaches to document their continuous efforts to reconstruct their lives in the wake of violence and ongoing material poverty. Growing in up in Peru she has witnessed how indigenous groups in her country have been historically marginalized and oppressed, particularly indigenous women. Thus, through her work she embraces a decolonial feminist lens and is strongly influenced by the principles of mutual psychosocial accompaniment. She is interested in understanding and accompanying processes by and for indigenous and marginalized women, that can lead to transformational gender justice; that is, processes that can transform underlying structures that give place to forms gender-racialized violence.
Dr. Távara has three major research goals for the SCRA Scholar Program. 1) To carry out a participatory action research process with women from a community-organized soup kitchen (also known in Latin America as ollas communes) in the outskirts of Lima. Women who have organized in Ollas Comunes have been strongly affected by the economic crisis brought by the pandemic and by the current food security crisis. 2) To develop skills as a principal investigator as she conducts, with her community psychology research team in Peru, a two-year qualitative and participatory research study. Through this research they will seek to better understand the psychosocial and cultural process that underpin teenage pregnancy in two indigenous areas of Peru, one in the Andes and the other in the Amazon. 3) To develop skills for training students in community psychology research, both by articulating them in the projects she will carry out, and also through the courses she teaches. Gabriela will be working with Dr. Christopher Sonn, from Victoria University in Melbourne, who has significant experience working with Aboriginal communities and scholars and who incorporates a critical decolonial lens in his activist-research praxis.