Volume 52   Number 4 Fall 2019

Research Council

Edited by Chris Keys, DePaul University

SCRA Research Council Selects the Second Scholar Cohort

Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University

The SCRA Research Council has been focused both on recruiting, reviewing, and selecting the second cohort of SCRA Research Scholars and on taking part in the SCRA Biennial in ways that promote the research capacity of SCRA and our members. By way of background, the SCRA 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 for decades to come. In winter 2019 the SCRA Executive Committee (EC) committed $5,000 to support two Scholars, a 50% cut compared to 2018 as part of the Society’s financial cutbacks. In addition to modest financial support for two Scholars, all Research Scholars receive mentoring assistance from one or more accomplished senior researcher(s) in community psychology.  The Research Council is delighted to announce the outcome of the 2019 cycle of Research Scholar applications and their review. Council members carefully considered the large number of talented applicants who submitted their materials this spring. Then the Council selected five very promising assistant professors in community psychology graduate programs or programs including community psychology that are featured in this column to be in the second cohort of SCRA Research Scholars.

To introduce the readers of The Community Psychologist to this noteworthy 2019 cohort of Research Scholars, here are a brief biography and a short account of each Research Scholar’s plans.

Sara Buckingham, University of Alaska Anchorage2018-buckingham_figure_1.jpg

Dr. Sara Buckingham is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage primarily appointed to the Clinical-Community Psychology PhD Program. She earned her PhD in the Community and Clinical tracks of the Human Services Psychology Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Dr. Buckingham’s program of research centers on how communities and systems shape acculturation. She examines how people navigate acculturation in context and its impacts on their multidimensional wellbeing. Her work is largely with international migrants, and extends to groups whose cultures have been forcibly suppressed through systemic efforts, such as colonization. Dr. Buckingham aims to identify and support the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs that support inclusion of multicultural community members, as opposed to tolerance or mere integration. 

Dr. Buckingham will work with her mentor to establish a faculty development plan that will support her progress towards tenure. Through the fellowship, Dr. Buckingham will: strengthen her research collaborations by developing national and international research partnerships; increase the visibility of her work by disseminating her research effectively in scientific circles and with the public; and, cultivate her leadership by effectively mentoring a diverse team of future community psychologists and collaborating with community partners. 

Over the course of the fellowship, Dr. Buckingham will work on three community-engaged action research projects: The Native Cultural Identity Project, an NIH-funded pilot test of an Elder-led program designed to support Alaska Native university students’ cultural identity development and emotional/behavioral health; Working Alongside Refugees in Mental Health, an Alaska Community Foundation-funded project aimed at increasing forced migrants’ access to culturally-congruent, linguistically-appropriate, evidence-based mental health care via an innovative provider network; and Untapped Talent, a collaborative project with the municipality of Anchorage examining inclusivity of migrants throughout the city and ways to improve inclusion. 

Simon Coulombe, Wilfrid Laurier UniversitySimon_Coulombe_photo_figure_2.jpg

Dr. Simon Coulombe is an Assistant Professor in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada. He was trained as a community psychology researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec, Canada, where he developed expertise at the intersection of community psychology with positive and environmental psychology. At Laurier, he is the director of the Flourishing Communities Research Group (FCRG), part of the Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action. The FCRG includes approximately 20 undergraduate and graduate students working under his supervision. He is passionate about mentoring students, fostering their engagement in community psychology, and supporting their learning needs and aspirations. Dr. Coulombe is still learning how to best balance that mentoring work with the necessities of growing his research program. 

The studies of his research program are diverse, but they share three overarching goals: 1) understanding better how people with a variety of experiences and identities (e.g., people with mental health issues, LGBTQ+ individuals, newcomers’ families, people in public housing) conceptualize their positive wellbeing as well their individual and collective projects (i.e., personal/community aspirations); 2) mapping out the socio-physical conditions (e.g., school/workplace, housing/community, mental health/social service environment) that present barriers and facilitators to wellbeing and projects; and 3) exploring how people develop their resilience and resistance to such barriers. Although Dr. Coulombe’s research is growing and provides a comprehensive perspective on wellbeing, it is currently very eclectic, and this prevents his work from achieving the most positive impacts for individuals and communities. His main project as a SCRA Research Scholar is to narrow down the scope of his research, by developing a solidified program, supported by an integrated framework that he will develop with the support, feedback and suggestions from his mentor. He wants to thank the Research Council and his mentor for this very exciting, unique opportunity!

Mariah Kornbluh, University of South CarolinaMariahKornbluh_figure_3.JPG

Dr. 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 employs innovative mixed-methods and community-based research to examine factors promoting young people’s health and wellness, as well as to document key leverage points for meaningful community engagement in systems, services, and settings that promote health equity. Her research has been funded by the State of California, Spencer Foundation, the SCRA Policy Council, as well as the SCRA Council on Educational Programs. 

During the course of her appointment as a Research Scholar, Dr. Kornbluh plans to: 1) explore the ecological landscape of her new community, and 2) apply for multi-year grant funding. Relocating to the southeast, Dr. Kornbluh will be working to connect with stakeholders and young people that serve children and adolescents in order to form long-term partnerships. This also includes developing new partnerships with community psychology faculty within the region, as well as partaking in regional events. Dr. Kornbluh also plans to apply for grant funding focused on training and early career development (NIH K Early Career Award, or William T Grant Scholars). Specifically, she hopes to develop skill sets in new methodologies (i.e. GIS mapping, Longitudinal Social Network Analysis) in order to examine the impact of community factors on young people’s psychological and physical health, as well as the role of social support networks, civic participation, and empowerment in addressing psychological and physical health disparities. A team of mentors will assist her with different aspects of this work. 

Victoria Scott, University of North Carolina CharlotteVictoria_Scott_final1_figure_4.jpg

Dr. Victoria Scott is an applied, interdisciplinary social scientist in community psychology, clinical psychology, and business administration. A faculty member of the Community Psychology Program at UNC Charlotte, she concentrates on improving systems to promote health and equity and thus wellness. 

Dr. Scott joined SCRA in 2007 and worked closely with SCRA members to advance community psychology. She co-founded of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and co-edited Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice (Scott and Wolfe, 2015) to expand the literature for community practitioners. In 2013-2016, she served as Administrative Director of SCRA, leading a 10-month, intensive strategic planning effort. One result of the strategic plan was the development of SCRA’s Research Council. Currently, Dr. Scott is co-authoring the 4th edition of Community Psychology: Linking Individuals and Communities (Kloos et al., 2012). 

Dr. Scott’s contributions to community psychology were recognized with the SCRA Early Career Award and the Don Klein Publication Award to Advance Community Psychology Practice in 2015. In 2017, Dr. Scott and her colleagues received the American Evaluation Association Outstanding Evaluation Award for their evaluation of a national community health capacity building initiative. 

As a continuing Research Scholar from Cohort 1, Dr. Scott will continue to work with a senior community psychology faculty member. The second year of mentorship will focus on “stretch opportunities” (i.e., activities that provoke discomfort in the interest of growth and social progress). One specific “stretch” goal for her is to meet with congressional staffers to bring her research on workplace lactation support to policy makers to advance public support for breastfeeding. This goal reflects Dr. Scott’s fervent commitment to promoting health equity by connecting research with practice/policy. 

Guillermo Wippold, University of South CarolinaGuillermo_Wippold_figure_5.jpg

Dr. Guillermo M. Wippold received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida (UF). His dissertation examined the associations of perceived socioeconomic status, perceived stress, resilience, and health-related quality of life among urban adults. At UF he worked to develop and implement health promotion interventions grounded in a community-based participatory research framework with various communities, including African Methodist Episcopal Churches and YMCAs. At UF, Dr. Wippold also served as Clinical Co-Director of Equal Access Clinic Free Therapy Night, an after-hours volunteer clinic that provided free mental health services to uninsured and underinsured individuals. He then completed his internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). At KUMC, Dr. Wippold dedicated a significant portion of his time to providing mental health services to underserved individuals, including individuals in rural Kansas and individuals enrolled in a Ryan White program. He also provided mental health services at clinics serving low-income individuals in underserved areas of Kansas City. 

In fall 2018, Dr. Wippold started a position in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). While at the UofSC, he has established partnerships with the South Carolina Community Health Worker Association (SCCHWA) and the South Carolina Free Clinic Association (SCFCA). He is currently working on a project with the SCCHWA that seeks to improve preventive health behaviors among African American men in South Carolina. Additionally, in fall 2019 he is beginning a project with various member clinics of the SCFCA to investigate the personal and contextual factors associated with health-related quality of life among users of the clinics. Those factors will then serve as a basis for a tailored, health-related quality of life intervention among uninsured individuals. He is excited to play a role in helping to empower underserved individuals in his community and nationally to take charge of their health.

Congratulations to these five SCRA Research Scholars! We wish them a generative and productive Scholar experience. The Research Council very much appreciates the support of SCRA and the senior members of our field who are serving as mentors!

Next spring the Research Council is planning to conduct another application cycle for the 2020 Research Scholars. Watch for announcements on the SCRA listserv in late winter regarding this opportunity.

SCRA Research Council Reaching Out at the Biennial

Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University

At the Biennial Conference Research Council members reached out to provide other opportunities for community psychology researchers and to connect with others in SCRA. Jack Tebes organized a session on “Navigating the Promotion and Tenure Process”. Participants discussed this critical process with roundtable members from the Research Council. Nicole Allen, Fabricio Balcazar, Dina Birman, Andrew Case and Lauren Cattaneo offered their insights. Following up on a suggestion from Yolanda Balcazar, Chris Keys and Nicole Allen organized a session on “Competing Effectively for Grant Support”. Carl Hill from the National Institute of Aging, Roey Ahram from the Spencer Foundation and Shabnam Javdani from NYU shared their cogent perspectives on seeking external funding from federal and foundation sources. Each of these sessions will be the basis for TCP pieces on these two topics. Third, Fabricio Balcazar took part in formal mentoring efforts with a focus on sustaining mentoring beyond the Biennial. The Council held an open meeting and discussed ideas for new programs and initiatives. Finally, Chris Keys took part in the Council of Education preconference planning retreat, and Noelle Hurd will be the liaison between the two Councils. Presently, the Council is considering the ideas raised for new directions and looks forward to some fresh initiatives to provide further support for the research programs of SCRA members in the not-too-distant future. If you would like to be in touch regarding the Research Council and our work, please contact me at

Advice from the SCRA Research Council Grant Making Workshop

Written by Nicole E. Allen, University of Illinois

The SCRA Research Council had a number of fora at the 2019 Biennial Conference to support the professional development and success of junior scholars in our field. One such session focused on pursuing and securing grants. We had three speakers. Two spoke from the funder side and one from the grant recipient side: Carl Hill from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Roey Ahram from the Spencer Foundation; and Shabnam Javdani an Associate Professor from New York University. All panelists shared pearls of wisdom and provided attendees with great food for thought regarding the grantmaking process. Here is a brief summary of what they shared, collectively.

  1. Talk with at least a few program officers in different funding programs. Talking with program officers gives you an idea of where your idea fits, particularly within large funding entities like the NIH. Dr. Hill emphasized that you need not take all the advice from program officers as you share your preliminary ideas, but that this process will guide the development of your research project and help you find the right funding mechanism and source.

  2. Find the resources available to develop your grantmaking skills. For example, Dr. Hill mentioned the Butler-Williams Scholar’s program for early career scholars. As part of this program one spends a week at the NIA and participates in the scientific review process. This provides broad exposure to the types of scientific questions being posed and reviewed by the NIA.

  3. Find mentors and senior collaborators. Dr. Hill emphasized collaboration with other scholars and seeking the support and guidance of mentors to identify funding sources and to pursue them. Including senior collaborators may strengthen your application and you can consult with your department chair regarding the ways in which this will be viewed in the promotion and tenure process.

  4. Make your case! Dr. Ahram said to make the strongest case you can for your project and to answer the question, “Why should we care?” He emphasized that you have to “dig deeper” to make this case. All the topics proposed to the funder are worthy and interesting. What is it about your proposed work that is particularly important and will advance your field of study?

  5. Ensure that your methods are adequate and appropriate to your questions. Make sure you do not have a mismatch between what you have proposed and how you propose to study it. A grand idea without a method to match is likely to fall flat.

  6. Keep in mind that generalists may be reviewing your proposal. This may vary from funder to funder but ensure that you are writing in an accessible way that is not mired in jargon that only field insiders will understand. The proposal has to be at once specific enough to push the field forward, but accessible enough so that generalists can appreciate and evaluate the contribution.

  7. Create alignment throughout your proposal. There is limited space to make your case so be sure that all sections are clearly tied into one another. The reader should be able to clearly follow your specific aims, research questions, and the proposed methods to address each.

  8. Look for a variety of funding opportunities. Dr. Javdani shared that one of her first grants was from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as part of a systematic evaluation of youth programming. This was a smaller grant but is somewhat easier (relatively speaking) to get then a grant through NIH, for example. 

  9. Be in the know about grant cycles and requests for proposals (RFPs). Sign up for regular email alerts from potential funders. For example, you can subscribe here to receive notices about forthcoming funding opportunities from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ):

  10. Get familiar with the different types of awards that are possible. Within NIH, for example, there are R01, R03, R21…and different types of K awards. The Spencer Foundation has different funding mechanisms including field-initiated awards for specific research projects, but also a million dollar Lyle Spencer Research Awards to Transform Education for rigorous, high quality and ambitious projects that advance the Foundation’s mission.

  11. Make the search for grants a weekly activity built into your standing appointments. Rather than wait for the summer or breaks or when there is time, create a regular habit of reviewing and seeking grant opportunities.

  12. Cultivate relationships with community partners in advance of grant seeking. The pursuit of the grant sometimes follows naturally from the formation of the partnership. 

  13. Be aware of sub-awardee opportunities including, for example, a minority supplement (NIH) or early career opportunities. 

  14. Be persistent and methodical! When you are rejected the first time, incorporate feedback and apply again (when permitted). 

  15. “You can’t get funded if you don’t apply!” Seek support and go for it!

We appreciated all our panelists for their insights and wish you all the best as you pursue funding to support your important research!