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Faculty Research Fellows Program Heading link

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.

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.

Link to view Dr. Rosario-Moore’s presentation here

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.

Link to view Dr. Lynch’s presentation here

Questions? Contact Sue Farruggia,