Volume 53, Number 4 Fall 2020

Research Council

Edited by Chris Keys, DePaul University

Research Scholars: Success and Selection

Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University

Quick background: The 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 community research literature and mentor future scholars, scholar-practitioners and practitioners for decades to come.


Selection: The Research Council is happy to announce the outcome of the 2020-2022 cycle of recruitment, review, and selection of Research Scholar applicants. In winter 2020, the SCRA Executive Committee (EC) committed a total of $5,000 to support two Scholars. In addition to financial support for two Scholars, 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 diverse, talented applicants, the Council members selected the following five very promising assistant professors in community psychology doctoral programs or doctoral programs including community psychology for this the third cohort of SCRA Research Scholars.

Success! The SCRA Research Council is delighted to congratulate Elan Hope from North Carolina State University on achieving promotion to associate professor with tenure! Elan is a Research Scholar in the initial cohort of Scholars selected in 2018.

To introduce the readers of The Community Psychologist to this cohort of Research Scholars, here are brief biographies of each Scholar and a short account of their plans as a Research Scholar. We wish each scholar great success in her research in particular and academic career in general!

Meeta Banerjee


Dr. Banerjee hopes to accomplish three goals as a Research Scholar. First, begin to develop and procure research partnerships with community-based partners. Relocating to South Carolina, Dr. Banerjee finds it important to begin developing partnerships with community stakeholders and leaders as well as foster research collaborations with community psychology faculty in the surrounding areas.  Second, Dr Banerjee hopes to establish multi-year funding from both national institutions and foundations such as, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, W. T. Grant, and Spencer Foundation. Finally, Dr. Banerjee hopes to learn qualitative methodologies such as PhotoVoice to begin to develop a deeper understanding of race-related factors in African American/Black and Latinx children and youth. Dr. Banerjee’s underlying goal is to move the field forward in reducing health and mental health-related disparities for both African American/Black and Latinx communities. Dr. Banerjee is currently receiving mentorship for the SCRA Research Scholar program from Dr. Bret Kloos of the University of South Carolina and Dr. Emilie P. Smith of Michigan State University. She is excited to be a SCRA Research Scholar and looks forward to receiving guidance from her mentors within the field of Community Psychology.Dr. Meeta Banerjee is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical-Community program at the University of South Carolina. During her postdoctoral program, she was an International Jacobs Pathways fellow and a NIH minority postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in the Institute for Social Research. She received her Ph.D. in Ecological Community Psychology with a specialization in Applied Developmental Science from Michigan State University. Dr. Banerjee’s research examines the interaction between ecological contexts (e.g., schools, families, neighborhoods, communities, racial discrimination) and parenting practices. She is interested in how these processes directly and indirectly influence psychosocial and educational outcomes in African American/Black and Latinx communities. Dr. Banerjee uses mixed methods to examine explicitly how race-related processes in the family (e.g., parental ethnic-racial socialization, youth’s ethnic-racial socialization practices, parents’ racial identities) influence ethnic minority youth.

Natalie Kivell


Natalie’s research program is participatory, action-oriented, and community-based. She employs critical methodologies to advance the theoretical and empirical foundations of the phenomena and process of social transformation. Natalie’s interests include: building and applying critical social theory and participatory and critical methodologies; challenging epistemic authority and violence through the de(re)-centering of knowledge(s); and engaging in and studying intersectional social movements. Her research is grounded in an anti-racist and anti-oppressive praxis, actively building a culture of inclusion for students – opening space for students from historically marginalized communities to see (and create) a space for themselves in her lab, at WLU, and in CP more generally. In her position at WLU, she is co-director of the Access and Equity Lab with Dr. Ciann Wilson.

 Natalie will be working with two mentors during her SCRA Scholar appointment – Dr. Urmitapa Dutta of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Dr. Regina Langhout of the University of California, Santa Cruz. These two critical scholars, each inspiring so much of Natalie’s work, will support Natalie’s development of accessible and actionable publications from a critical perspective. They will help her to navigate translating critical methodologies into publications and grant applications.

Mariah Kornbluh


Mariah Kornbluh is an Assistant Professor in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of South Carolina. She earned a Ph.D. in Ecological-Community Psychology from Michigan State University and held a postdoctoral position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the School of Human Ecology. Dr. Kornbluh is committed to elevating the voices of young people by democratizing research through youth-led participatory action research methods (YPAR) and efforts to bolster social capital. She explores how young people develop critical consciousness (i.e., understandings of social inequalities, agency to work towards social change, and participation in social change efforts). In particular, she is interested in how perceptions of inequality and civic identity impact young peoples’ health, well-being, and learning. Her research has been funded by the State of California, Spencer Foundation, the SCRA Policy Council, and the SCRA Council on Educational Programs. During this year as a Research Scholar, Dr. Kornbluh plans to enrich and build upon emerging community partnerships, as well as secure multi-year grant funding. Dr. Kornbluh will continue to work towards connecting with stakeholders and young people that serve children and adolescents to form long-term partnerships in South Carolina. Specifically, she hopes to employ mixed methods to explore the role of social capital networks, civic participation, and critical consciousness in informing intervention design and development. Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc of Georgia State University will serve as her primary mentor. For more information on her recent research, and the Youth Empowerment in School and Systems Lab see: or follow @KornbluhMariah.

Delphine Labbé


Delphine Labbé (twitter: @labbedel) 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 Montreal. Her postdoctoral fellowship was at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Given 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 interests are developing accessible cities and creating health-promoting interventions through adaptive leisure and recreational physical activity. Using community-based research, she is deeply committed to creating knowledge and interventions with people with disabilities and relevant stakeholders from different sectors (e.g. municipal, health care) in all aspects of her research (

Delphine Labbé’s Research Scholar main goal is developing her research program in health promotion for people with disabilities, including honing 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, the head of the Occupational Therapy Department at UIC as well as an affiliated professor in the Disability and Health Department. Dr. Suarez-Balcazar has expertise in health promotion of Latino families with children with disabilities as well as a double lens of expertise in disability studies and community psychology. Her talents will help Dr. Labbé to better understand the American context of disability, grant writing and building community collaborations. Dr Labbé’s also seeks to extend her research program to conduct intersectionality studies on health promotion needs of people with disabilities that experience other discrimination or limitations because of their ethnic background, their gender or their immigration status. Dr. Labbé also hopes that she will be able to exchange with the other SCRA Research Scholars for their perspectives to develop her research program.

Vanessa Volpe


Dr. Vanessa Volpe is an Assistant Professor in the Applied Social and Community Psychology program in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University and director of the Black Health Lab (@Blackhealthlab). She earned her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an applied community health psychologist, her program of research centers on systems of oppression as social determinants of racial health disparities in the United States. It explores the ways in which Black and Latinx communities actively resist and protect themselves against these systems. She aims to use critical strengths- and community-based contextual approaches to use the knowledge gleaned from research as the springboard for healing programming and policy.

Over the course of the Research Scholar appointment, Dr. Volpe will develop and investigate a local Black community-centered, strengths-based coalition to address the health impacts of online structural racism. The end-goal of this research is the collaborative development of a systems-level intervention and/or policy recommendations. She also hopes to use this investigation as a springboard for large-scale grant funding applications in collaboration with communities. Dr. Volpe will work with her mentor, Dr. Branda Nowell, organizational-community psychologist and Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University, to solidify her training in coalition-building, systems-level, and CBPR approaches and engage in career trajectory and funding planning.

You can contact Dr. Volpe at and follow her on Twitter @DrVanessaVolpe. Learn more about her and the Black Health Lab at