The University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and the URI Science and Story Lab are excited to introduce the first cohort of SciComm Identities Project Fellows. Out of a competitive applicant pool, thirteen Fellows were selected to participate in this innovative science communication fellowship for pre-tenure faculty of color. The 2023 Fellowship will focus on the intersections of climate change and energy, and Fellows study issues that range from data-driven sustainable transportation to institutional barriers of energy poverty.

Dr. Patton Allison

Dr. Patton Allison is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at Michigan State University. His research interests include experimental studies of turbulent combustion physics, laser diagnostic development, propulsion systems, and applications of sustainable fuels. He teaches courses in propulsion, aerodynamics, combustion, and high-speed flows. He was the recipient of the 2020 MSU Withrow Teaching Award. Prior to Michigan State, Dr. Allison was a postdoctoral researcher at Cambridge University and Ohio State University. In 2013, he earned his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Dominic Bednar

Dr. Bednar is committed to fighting climate change by interweaving academic research on residential energy injustices in a way that engenders community engagement and visioning through the co-development of innovative and impactful solutions.

Dr. Dominic Bednar is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Sustainability and incoming Assistant Professor. His research examines the institutional barriers of energy poverty recognition and response in the United States and explores the spatial, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic patterns of residential energy affordability, consumption, and efficiency. His research also explores equitable and just pathways towards decarbonization and clean energy workforce development in Black and Brown communities. His body of work promotes ongoing policy analysis and program evaluations to improve community health and to effectuate a just energy transition. 

He completed his Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability concentrating on Energy Justice. Dr. Bednar holds a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland and a MS in Natural Resources and Environment (Sustainable Systems) from the University of Michigan. He has been recognized as an Imagining America Publicly Active Graduate Education Fellow (PAGE), Fulbright Scholar, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, Bouchet Graduate Honor Society member, Rackham Merit Fellow, and GEM Fellow.

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Dr. Sergio Castellanos Rodriguez

Dr. Sergio Castellanos is an assistant professor at the UT Austin’s Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department, where he leads the RESET (Rapid, Equitable & Sustainable Energy Transitions) Lab, analyzing just decarbonization pathways for emerging economies, data-driven sustainable transportation approaches, and equitable local energy transitions.  With collaborators, his interdisciplinary projects have been awarded international prizes (United Nations’ Data for Climate Action Challenge), won national competitions (México), and gathered media attention (Forbes, Greentech Media). Prior to UT Austin, he worked as a researcher at UC Berkeley leading bi-national (US-Mexico) projects, helping to bridge the clean energy technology gap between these two countries. Sergio holds an Engineering Ph.D. from MIT.

Dr. Chuqing Dong

Dr. Chuqing Dong is an Assistant Professor of Advertising + Public Relations. Her research focuses on public relations, social responsibility, ethical relationship management, and digital media. Her primary research question asks, “How can public relations assist organizations of different types, such as corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, to be part of meaningful social change?” Dr. Dong’s work has been published in flagship journals in the field of public relations, such as Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Review, and multidisciplinary journals, such as Internet Research, International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (VOLUNTAS), and Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. Her articles have won multiple top paper awards at major communication conferences (e.g., ICA, AEJMC, IPRRC), and she is recently recognized as a Page/Johnson Legacy Scholar by The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication for her work on government public relations and the ethics of care. Dr. Dong earned her Ph.D. from the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. She also received a master’s degree in Public Policy (M.P.P.) and an M.A. degree in Professional Strategic Communication from the University of Minnesota.

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Dr. Christine Ekenga

Dr. Christine C. Ekenga is a Rollins Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

Trained in epidemiology and the environmental health sciences, Dr. Ekenga’s work focuses on investigating the contributions of environmental and occupational factors to human health and well-being. Much of her research focuses on the prevention and control of chronic diseases. In recent years, her work has explored environmental justice issues related to air quality, natural and built environments, and occupational health and safety. She utilizes transdisciplinary and community-engaged approaches to better understand complex public health challenges.

Dr. Ekenga earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from New York University and completed National Institutes of Health postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Jiawei Sophia Fu

Dr. Jiawei Sophia Fu is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the School of Communication and Information of Rutgers University. Her research interests revolve around organizational communication, social networks, digital technology, and social entrepreneurship and innovation. Dr. Fu is dedicated to applying mixed methods to answering one question: How can organizations more effectively tackle societal challenges? Dr. Fu has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and has won awards for her research from the Academy of Management, National Science Foundation, International Communication Association, Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, National Communication Association, and Association for Chinese Communication Studies. She received a master’s degree in Statistics, a management certificate from the Kellogg School of Management, and Ph.D. in Media, Technology, and Society, all from Northwestern University. 

Dr. Sharon Grant

Dr. Sharon Grant is a former Environmental Scientist/Wet Chemist who currently serves as Associate Professor of the History of Christianity at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina. In 2019 she was an applicant and was awarded the Science for Seminaries grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) through its Dialogue on Religion, Science and Ethics (DoSER) project. Dr. Grant began an initiative with the $75,000 grant called the International Center of Faith, Science and History ( ICFSH) to host sustainable programs that integrate religion and science –  on campus, throughout the local community and beyond.

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Dr. Amal Ibourk

Dr. Amal Ibourk is an assistant professor of Science Education at Florida State University. Her racial identity is a mixture of Arab and Amazigh, which is an indigenous group of North Africa. She is a first-generation college student and grew up in Tangier, Morocco before moving to the states. Her research encompasses the three areas of (1) science learning, (2) science teaching, and (3) identity. Under the umbrella of science learning and teaching, she looks at how they both take place in classrooms and across different settings as students and teachers engage with three-dimensional science learning and learning technologies. Dr. Ibourk is interested in how preservice elementary teachers (PSETs) and in-service teachers navigate their roles as science learners and teachers and how leveraging technology-enhanced instruction (e.g., using visualizations and simulations) can support their science learning and teaching. In her research, she uses the lens of identity to examine how storied-identities, or identities that are shaped by stories, inform PSTs’ and in-service teachers’ practice, learning to teach, and teacher professional identity. Furthermore, she uses a storied-identities lens to investigate the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) identity of youth and how it informs their trajectories in the STEM pipeline. Her work also explores equity, diversity, and social justice issues in science education. Dr. Ibourk was awarded the prestigious NSF CAREER grant for her project entitled: Developing Elementary Teachers’Self-Efficacy to Teach about Climate Change Using Community-Based Practices. This recent work funded by NSF (2022- 2027) will look into developing PSETs’ and in-service elementary teachers’ climate change literacy, self-efficacy towards teaching climate change, and the construct of climate change identity. 

Dr. Won Jung Kim

Dr Won Jung Kim is an assistant professor at Santa Clara University, School of Education and Counseling Psychology. Kim’s research explores and works toward justice-centered K-12 science education in formal (e.g., elementary/secondary schools) and informal (e.g., science museums) learning contexts. She believe that one way to center justice in/through science education is to provide students with learning programs that matter to their lives and concerns, such as programs involving climate change and its cascade effects. Her work involves research practice partnerships (RPP) with students and their teachers in South Korea (Korea hereafter) and the US (primarily in Lansing, Michigan and East San Jose, California) across different learning spaces. Through RPP with teachers and students, she has co-designed and implemented long- and short-term curricula that focus on the science of climate change, its societal consequences and predictions, critical consciousness of climate-justice issues.

Dr. Cynthia Lima

Dr. Cynthia Lima is an Assistant Professor in STEM Education in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research focuses on developing, implementing, and examining STEM approaches based on math modeling and scientific inquiry to support teachers’ learning. Her interdisciplinary research uses STEM learning environments anchored on phenomena to promote understanding of the concept of energy and participation in STEM practices. Dr. Lima is also interested in equity and innovations in STEM assessment for diverse populations. Dr. Lima has secured funding from the National Science Foundation and other national organizations to support her research. She has presented at local, national, and international conferences. She is committed to equity and increasing participation in STEM among diverse populations.  

Dr. Naaborle Sackeyfio

Dr. Naaborle Sackeyfio is an Assistant Professor of Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University. Her research interrogates energy and resource politics, political economy, and the intersection between gender and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. She also examines the dynamics of eco-governance, economic change andempowerment for West African women. She is the author of Energy Politics and Rural Development: The Case of Ghana (Palgrave, 2018).  Her publications have appeared in the journals such as New Political ScienceAfrican Affairs, and Review of Black Political Economy

Dr. Parth Vaishnav

Dr. Parth Vaishnav is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He says, “My research aims to understand how technology can help solve social problems. Much of my work focuses on the environmental and human health consequences of energy production and use. I employ quantitative decision analysis, buttressed by qualitative insight, to understand how economic, political, and operational realities constrain technology deployment. I focus on finding strategies to decarbonize the economy, and to adapt to the warming that has and will occur even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions very rapidly. I am particularly interested in finding ways to make both mitigation and adaptation equitable. My projects fall into two broad categories: (1) the environmental consequences of electrification, and (2) the consequences of automation for the environment, equity, and work.”

Dr. Jennifer (Akila-Ka) Warren (Ma-at)

Dr. Jennifer R. Warren is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University (GMU). She is jointly appointed in the Department of Communication, Women and Gender Studies, and African/African American Studies. Dr. Warren is a health communication expert and the Director of the Communicating Equity and Healing Justice Research Lab at GMU where she collaborates with faculty and mentors students across disciplines and institutions to identify contributory factors to and mechanisms of racism that undermine reproductive health and resilience among African American women. In advancing this work, Dr. Ma’at is interested in exploring the relationships among reproductive health, climate change, energy insecurity, and science communication. She has been honored and received several awards as a research scholar and leader in health disparities research. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the Program of Health Disparities Research at the University of Minnesota’s Medical School and serving as an in-residence health disparities scholar for preventive medicine residents at Anschutz Medical School in Denver, CO, Dr. Warren served as faculty for ten years at Rutgers University in New Jersey where she received the highest university award for community-based health equity research.  Before joining GMU, Dr. Warren founded and directed the nonprofit, Center for African American Health Disparities Education and Research (CAAHDER), Inc, which was internationally honored for its research in infectious diseases.