The Oviatt Library hosted the 2nd Annual Research Fellows Colloquium Wednesday, giving distinguished faculty an opportunity to share their research.
The Research Fellows program was introduced by Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of academic affairs, in August 2007 in an effort to showcase a wide variety of faculty research.
“Reflection is not honored as much as it should be,” Hellenbrand said. “It’s so essential for what we do. How do you teach at a university without doing research?”
Deans from the various campus colleges recommend their candidates from their respective departments to the Research Fellows Committee, which then makes the final decision on which appointed fellow will represent their college.
“This program is very competitive,” Hellenbrand said. “It’s an appointment of distinction.”
Professors chosen for the 2009-10 year included Robert Conner, Victoria Jaque, Ardavan Asef-Vaziri, Daisy Lemus, Julie Gainsburg, Luiz Mendes, Yifei Sun and Nayereh Tohidi.
The faculty members were given one semester to dedicate to their particular area of study and were required to report the status of their research to the dean and provost at the end of their allotted semester.
The various research showcases covered a wide range of topics, from Sun’s assessment on urban and economic development in China to Lemus’ study on the motivations for planning for retirement.
Sun, geography department associate professor, said China’s rapid climb to the second largest economy in the world led him to pursue research on the country’s technological innovations and global connections.
Lemus, assistant professor in the communications department, said she was drawn to the topic of retirement as her area of research because the process is no longer as predictable as it was before.
“Nowadays some people retire early or never retire at all,” Lemus said. “This leads to a lot of implications of what our retirement plan turns out to be.”
Other appointed fellows chose to focus their research on a more sociological area of study.
Nayereh Tohidi, gender and women’s studies professor, analyzed the roles of various demographics in the current social movements in Iran.
Tohidi examined the role of Iranian youth and women to better understand the country’s rapid social change.
She said she uses her existing knowledge and research as part of the curriculum for the classes she teaches on campus.
“I often use my own findings in my courses,” Tohidi said.
Tohidi added that she served as a consultant for the United Nations on topics relating to gender and society development issues in the Middle East.
She added that she typically does her research during the summer and on weekends, and the program gave her the gift of free time.
“The program gives faculty a chance to carry out our research,” Tohidi said. “The teaching load can get so heavy that you don’t normally have the time to dedicate to it.”
Tohidi said she plans to continue her research project, intended for publication, and aims to complete it next semester.
“Now I’m just concentrating on writing,” Tohidi said. “When my book is done, my research will be done.”
Marianne Afifi, associate dean of the Oviatt Library, moderated the event that took place in the library’s presentation room.
Afifi said the library delights in its role as host of the Colloquium each year.
“We always have a very nice audience,” Afifi said. “I think it’s important to have an event like this in the library.”