Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Faculty Research Fellows Program Heading link

Application Information

Program Information

The Student Affairs Faculty Research Fellows Program allows faculty to conduct a research project to address important questions concerning Student Affairs at UIC. Faculty Fellows will identify important research questions relevant to UIC Student Affairs and answer those questions during a year-long fellowship program.

The deadline for the 2023-2024 Student Affairs Faculty Research Fellows Program has passed. We thank all prospective fellows for their applications and look forward to announcing the 2023-2024 Fellows in the near future.

Student Affairs Faculty Fellows 2023-2024

How do I, an Undecided Student, select my Applied Health Career: Linking Student Career Goals to an Academic Program, and Student Supportive Services Mentorship Program?

Principal Investigator: Margaret Czart, PhD

A business headshot of Dr. Margaret Czart, who is looking directly at the camera. She is wearing a black suit jacket with a white undershirt.

Project Description

Historically, students chose career goals by reviewing the printed Academic Catalog. In the 21st century the career selection options have grown into very specialized areas. In addition, career building information is now provided mainly in a digital format. Developing career goals is especially challenging with so many career options at various levels. The retrieval of the career opportunity information requires information, digital, and computer literacy skills to access, retrieve, and comprehend the information needed for building career goals. The choice is even more complicated when two programs from different colleges have very similar offerings, but the career similarities and differences are unclear. Often this leads to anxiety and stress for students due to pressure from family to make a wise career choice within a given period. This is especially true for first generation students who may not have the support at home to make a career choice. First generation students include heritage/bilingual speakers and first in their family to attend a 4-year higher educational institution. The College of AHS attempts to assist those Undeclared” and “Undecided” with an interest in health care, helping patients and communities. However, many of the health care fields have also become similar due to the interdisciplinary training. The “Undeclared” or “Undecided” students may have interest in health promotion but would like to start their career sooner than often experienced with more traditional health professions such as medicine and nursing. The goal of this research is to: 1) Assess and evaluate the strategy and information used by the “Undecided” student to select a specific career path within the Applied Health vs. other potentially similar career options, 2) Evaluate the role of academic programs and services have on the “Undecided” career choice, and 3) Propose recommendations to the College of AHS on strategic career goal planning focused on the “Undecided Health Care” students.


Dr. Margaret Czart is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences in the College of Applied Health Sciences. Dr. Margaret Czart’s areas of interest involve Consumer Health Informatics, Public Health Informatics, Biomedical Visualization, and Disability Informatics for consumers and patients. Additional projects include the development and assessment of health information online for patient education and engagement through qualitative methods.

Storytelling for Disability Justice: A Critical Approach to Understanding Student Mental Health at UIC

Principal Investigator: Nicole Nguyen, PhD

A business headshot of Dr. Nicole Nguyen, who is looking directly at the camera. She is smiling, and wears a black shirt with a silver-colored necklace.

Project Description

This research project will take a disability justice approach to student health and wellness initiatives through a story-making methodology that brings together storytelling and social change to “create and share new understandings of difference that disrupt dominant narratives and open possibilities” and can inform campus policies, programs, and practices (Rice and Mündel 2018:215). Indeed, aside from how often students use counseling services on campus, UIC has little qualitative data on how students experience, negotiate, and make sense of campus mental health services. Furthermore, national studies have shown that 44% of students with disabilities are not registered with their Disability Resource Centers and institutions do not systematically ask about disability when other demographic information is collected, making it difficult to understand the complete picture of disability in higher education (Gierdowski, Brooks, and Galanek 2020). To support the university’s efforts to enhance mental health and wellbeing services, this research study asks: How do students with mental health conditions and psychiatric disabilities experience UIC? What on-campus supports, barriers, relationships, and services shape those experiences and how? What broader structural issues, such as housing insecurity, affect their college experiences and how? How might we begin to reimagine campus approaches to student mental health by engaging disability justice principles?


Nicole Nguyen is an associate professor of criminology, law, and justice. She is author of three books: A Curriculum of Fear: Homeland Security in U.S. Public Schools, Suspect Communities and the Domestic War on Terror, and Terrorism on Trial: Political Violence and Abolitionist Futures. She is a steering committee member for the healing justice organization Vigilant Love.

  • Margaret Fink, PhD, Disability Cultural Center Director
  • Nico Darcangelo, PhD, Disability Cultural Center Associate Director

Student Affairs Faculty Fellows 2022-2023

Stoking Our Flames: Piloting a Stepped Care Model at UI College of Medicine

Principal Investigator: Kathleen Kashima, PhD

Dr. Kashima

Project Description

The research focuses on a new model for addressing student mental health and well-being on campus that leverages community navigators. 1) Increase student awareness of information about resources and services. 2) Improve student satisfaction by decreasing perceived barriers to access.


Kathleen Kashima, PhD, is the senior associate dean of students and a clinical assistant professor in Psychiatry and assistant professor in Medical Education at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine (UI COM). In her dean’s role, she oversees admissions and college-wide student services for the college’s three campuses (Chicago, Peoria, Rockford). She has been a medical student affairs dean at UI COM for 25 years and has worked in higher education for over three decades. Dr. Kashima received her undergraduate degree in psychology, graduating with Honors and Distinction, from Stanford University, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She completed postdoctoral fellowships in Health Psychology at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, and at the Center for Cognitive Therapy, Newport Beach, California. A licensed clinical psychologist, she has patients at UIC’s Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Dr. Kashima has also served in various leadership positions. She was a fellow in the 2021-2022 U of I President’s Executive Leadership Program and has enjoyed being involved in system-wide committee work focusing on student mental health and mentoring programs. At the national level, she is the immediate past-chair for the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Student Affairs (GSA), and has served as the Chair for the Gold Humanism Honor Society Advisory Council.
  • Michael Gerges, Department of Pediatrics
  • Raphael Florestal-Kevelier, UIC Counseling Center

A Photovoice exploration of challenges to adult learners across UIC: Participatory action research with Collaboratory for Health Justice’s (CHJ) Life Scholars

Principal Investigator: Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD

Dr. Hebert-Beirne

Project Description

We aim to use a participatory action research methodology, Photovoice, to examine constraining and facilitating factors influencing the experience of Life Scholars at UIC. Life Scholars are community members engaged as COVID-19 public health outreach workers in Chicago neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, who after two years of gaining public health knowledge and skills, have enrolled in UIC degree programs to advance their leadership careers. The Life Scholars program is an outgrowth of the Community Health Response Corps, a community-based COVID-19 effort co-led by the School of Public Health Collaboratory for Health Justice and the Chicago Department of Public Health designed to reduce secondary transmission of COVID-19 while building the capacity of Community-based Organization and community members to be a part of the hyperlocal public health system. These adult learners who are predominately Black and Latinx were experiencing challenges to employment and career pathways at the time that they were hired as outreach workers. As part of this work, UIC SPH CHJ has been investing in pathways to higher education for the community member who have experienced disrupted higher education experiences due to financial and/or social challenges. We have provided support during the admissions process and continue to provide a facilitated, cohorted model, peer support space. Using a qualitative inquiry process with Life Scholars as co-researchers, photos, collective narratives based on the photos, and group discussion will be analyzed for common patterns to inform institutional and/or policy recommendations exhibited at the Life Scholars Photovoice Exhibit. Strategic UIC stakeholders will be invited to the exhibit and a post event discussion group to identify solutions to the issues elucidated by the participatory action research.


Jeni Hebert-Beirne is an Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health (SPH). Jeni is a community-based participatory researcher (CBPR)  who uses qualitative, community-engaged research approaches to promote health equity at the neighborhood level focusing on understanding the lived experience of those most impacted by structural drivers of health inequities and identifying community-led and/or system-level solution. Jeni co-founded the Collaboratory for Health Justice CHJ, which seeks to enhance reciprocal engagement between UIC SPH and community partners, and UIC Partnerships for Antiracist Campus Transformation. Through her CDC NIOSH, and NIH NIDDK and NIEHS-funded research, she is invested in sustaining long-term academic-community partnerships to advance health equity research. She is also a faculty member and former co-chair of Radical Public Health, a student-driven movement at UIC to address root causes of health injustices, resulting in among other things, the establishment of a course at UIC SPH Epidemics of Injustice which is open to community partners and seeks to prepares public health leaders and community members with the tools to bring about social change and address structural determinants of health.
  • Edgar Gutierrez, MPA Collaboratory for Health Justice, Public Health Workforce Career Coach

Strong Like a Mother: Experiences of Student-Mothers on Campus and Visions for an Equitable Future

Principal Investigator: Dalal Katsiaficas , PhD

Dr. Katsiaficas

Project Description

More than one in five undergraduate students in the United States are parents, the vast majority of whom are mothers. Living at the intersection of multiple marginalities and privileges based on race/ethnicity, immigration status, religion, socio-economic status, and sexuality, student-mothers are developing amidst a backdrop of politicized rollbacks to their reproductive rights, limited access to basic services and increasing costs of raising a family. This sociopolitical context presents an important moment to better understand the experiences of student-mothers and move towards actionable change to support equitable educational futures. To date we still know very little about who our student-mothers are, what strengths they possess to navigate the higher education pipeline, what resources they rely upon and how college campuses can best support their needs. Therefore, this study explores the specific experiences and needs of student-mothers at UIC in an effort to support their academic journeys, well-being and futures. Utilizing a participatory action research frame, this qualitative study will shed light on the nuanced interplay of identities, communities, inequalities, oppression and privilege as they shape experiences of motherhood on and off campus, their experiences as students, the supports and obstacles they face as well as their hopes and desires for the future.


Dalal Katsiaficas is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and the Director of the Development of Immigrant Youth in Action (DIYA) Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a cultural developmental psychologist, her research focuses on the positive social development of immigrant-origin youth as they emerge into adulthood. Specifically, her work examines the social responsibilities of immigrant-origin youth as well as the impact of undocumented immigration status on educational experiences. Her latest work focuses on the developmental and social implications of the process of emerging into motherhood.

Student Affairs Faculty Fellows 2021-2022

Improving the Transition to College for Students with ADHD: Piloting a Summer Readiness Program for Incoming UIC Students

Principal Investigator: Michael Mienzer, PhD

Dr. Meinzer

Project Description

College students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at greater risk for a host of academic and mental health difficulties compared to their peers without ADHD. Mitigating the risk for these adverse outcomes for this high-risk group represents a critical concern. This mixed-methods study aims to: (1) examine how a summer preparatory program for UIC freshman and transfer students with ADHD compares to existing UIC resources in terms of academics, mental health, and resource utilization, (2) refine the SUCCEEDS Summer College Readiness Program based on feedback from students and their caregivers, and (3) qualitatively uncover the challenges UIC students with ADHD (and their caregivers) experience during the transition to UIC.


Dr. Michael Meinzer is an Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at UIC. His work focuses on the development and implementation of tailored programming for adolescents and young adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental health concerns. Other areas of interest include depression and suicide prevention, school-based mental health, and increasing access to empirically-supported mental health care in underserved populations.

Promoting Educational Equity: Identifying and Understanding Transformative Social-Emotional Student Supports

Principal Investigator: Amanda L. Roy, PhD

Dr. Roy

Project Description

Latinx and Black youth have expressed being motivated to pursue higher education for humanitarian reasons, where they view college not simply in terms of their own personal economic mobility, but also as a way to uplift their families and communities (Uriostegui et al., 2020). Transformative social and emotional learning (T-SEL) practices that address issues of identity, agency, and belonging may support UIC undergraduate students’ motivations for higher education and, as a result, promote student engagement and academic success. The Office of Student Affairs oversees campus programs and services that aim to support students both academically and socially. However, it is unclear whether, and how, UIC programs and services integrate T-SEL principles and practices into their interactions with undergraduate students. This mixed-methods study will examine (1) the extent to which T-SEL practices are used by UIC student supports and services and (2) how UIC undergraduate students perceive and respond to T-SEL practices in the support that they receive.


Dr. Amanda L. Roy is an Associate Professor in the Community and Prevention Research Program within the Psychology Department. Her research explores the ways that (1) neighborhood risk and resilience and (2) family poverty shape individual health and development. In recent work, she is examining how young people from minoritized backgrounds make educational and career plans and the ways that their understanding of societal inequity and their motivations to effect social change play a role in this decision-making process. She is collaborating on this work with Dr. Christine Li-Grining at Loyola University.

Pathways from Community College to a 4-year University: Experiences of Students with a Foster Background

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Geiger, PhD

Dr. Geiger

Project Description

Despite the known benefits of earning a college degree, it is estimated that approximately 3-5% of youth with foster care experience graduate with a bachelor’s degree, compared to almost a third of the general population in the U.S. Despite recent estimates showing a growing number of youth in care pursuing community college, with many transferring or desiring to transfer to a 4-year institution, little is known about how these youth experience the transition from community college to a 4-year institution and how programs and staff serve a role in supporting this transition. This study aims to increase our understanding of this transition from the perspective of the student through in-depth interviews. This knowledge can inform multiple areas of practice within student affairs, financial aid, admissions, transfer services, first year initiatives, and various supports on and off-campus.


Dr. Jennifer Geiger is an Associate Professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her research focuses primarily on promoting access and success in postsecondary education settings for youth in an formerly in foster care. She leads the Sparking Success Scholars Program at UIC that aims to improve college experiences for students with a foster care background through raising awareness, sharing information, community building, and providing comprehensive support.

Student Affairs Faculty Fellows 2020-2021

Queerying Our Campus: An LGBTQIA+ Campus Climate Study (2020-2022)

Principal Investigator: Nic M. Weststrate, PhD

Nic M. Weststrate, PhD

Project Description

In a proud moment earlier this summer, UIC was recognized as Illinois’ best college for LGBTQIA+ students. This accolade reflects UIC’s robust commitment to fostering the well-being and success of LGBTQIA+ students through inclusive policies, programs, and services. Little is known, however, about how these institutional commitments translate to LGBTQIA+ student experiences. Research has shown that student perceptions of campus climate are related to academic and psychosocial outcomes. In partnership with the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center, the present research project will illuminate the experiences, needs, and concerns of LGBTQIA+ students through a campus climate study. Utilizing a sequential mixed-methods design, this campus climate study will proceed in three stages: (1) in-depth qualitative interviews to center diverse student voices and inform survey development; (2) a largescale quantitative survey to generate a broad understanding of campus climate and to examine links between experiences and outcomes; and (3) focus groups to contextualize survey findings and provide policy recommendations. The results of this campus climate study will enable Student Affairs professionals and other campus stakeholders to develop intentional policies, programs, and services that meet the emergent and evolving needs of LGBTQIA+ students in these unpredictable and uncharted times.


Nic M. Weststrate, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Learning in the Department of Educational Psychology and a member of the Center for Research on Health and Aging in the Institute for Health Research and Policy at UIC. His research investigates optimal psychosocial development across the lifespan, with an emphasis on the development, manifestation, and transmission of wisdom. His recent research explores intergenerational storytelling within the LGBTQIA+ community as a context for wisdom sharing among youth and elders.

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on the Academic Engagement and Retention of UIC Undergraduate Students: A Mixed-Methods Study

Principal Investigator: Alexios Rosario-Moore, PhD

Alexios Roasrio-Moore, PhD

Project Description

As students have returned to UIC’s campus, administrators lack data that examines the scale and character of the pandemic’s impact on undergraduate students, their academic engagement, and decision-making related to retention or departure. COVID-19 has had a disproportionately negative economic and health-related impact on Cook County, and a disproportionately negative impact on Black and Latinx communities. This mixed-methods study is designed to assess and describe racial and ethnic disparities in the pandemic’s impact so that the university can better support the students who are most affected by this crisis.


Dr. Rosario-Moore’s research focuses on racial and socioeconomic equity in secondary and post-secondary education through an integrated analysis of federal and state policy, organizational sense-making and implementation, and perception and decision-making among students and families. Prior research has examined the influence of federal accountability regimes on racial and ethnic disparities, the influence of race and social class on the college choice process, and an analysis of a collaborative university-public school partnership. He currently teaches courses in the M.Ed. in Urban Higher Education program and the Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership program.

Scanning for Engagement: How People Assess Support and Fairness in Organization

Principal Investigator: John Lynch

John Lynch

Project Description

Engagement is a crucial issue to organizations, whether they be employers or universities. In the workplace, employee engagement takes the form of cognitive, emotional, and physical energy workers commit to their jobs (Rich, LePine, & Crawford, 2010). On-campus, student engagement similarly takes the form of immersive participation in class and other co-curricular activities (Astin, 1984). Whether at work or school, engagement can facilitate performance and learning, and thus, understanding what drives engagement is important for organizations. Drawing from theories related to fairness, inclusion, and identity, we are investigating how student-workers’ interpretation of their work (and school) environment can shape their level of engagement. This research contributes to theory by considering how people scan their social environments. This research also will contribute to practice by identifying ways organizations can encourage engagement amongst their employees and students.




John Lynch is an Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in Management from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and his Master of Arts in Counseling and Personnel Services at the University of Maryland. Before getting his doctorate, John worked in higher education, specifically Residence Life and Greek Life. He now researches employee identity management, stigmas in the workplace, and employee volunteering programs. John’s teaching interests include organizational behavior, human resource management, and leadership.

Questions? Contact Sue Farruggia,