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2019/2020 Fellowship Awardees


The Center for Equality and Social Justice (CESJ) is pleased to announce its May 2019 – May 2020 Award Winners for their undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and team funding. These awards and fellowships were awarded to support policy-relevant and community-engaged research and scholarship. In total, CESJ awarded one team research grant ($4,400), three undergraduate research grants ($4,000 each), four graduate student research fellowships ($5,000), three faculty research grants ($5,000), and one competitive year-long Graduate Fellowship.


Award winners will speak about their work at CESJ’s Advocacy and Engagement Lunches fall 2019 and spring 2020. See below for awardee biographies and project descriptions:


Team Fellowship:

Dr. Kenneth Tyler, Falynn Thompson, Karen Guettler, Candice Davis, and Jennifer Burris: P.O.W.E.R is an acronym that identifies Whiteness, White privilege, and White racism as central themes in the lives of Black and White people with their primary facilitators being Oppression and Exclusion. Led by Dr. Kenneth Tyler, the P.O.W.E.R. team consists of doctoral students in the department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology (EDP) that are interested in examining the salience and impact of whiteness on University of Kentucky and other college students across the country. Falynn Thompson will develop and validate a scale on whiteness with a sample of UK preservice teacher-education students. Karen Guettler will interview Black UK undergraduates to learn how they identify and experience whiteness. Candice Davis will examine institutional whiteness and its impact on the academic outcomes and psychological well-being among UK students of color. Jennifer Burris will examine White privilege awareness among Black UK undergraduates and how this stressor may influence their academic functioning.

Undergrad Research Fellowships:

Chelsea Bass, and mentors Samuel Bruun and Dr. Rachel Farr: Chelsea is a third-year student majoring in Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Her goal is to pursue a PhD in developmental psychology, conducting research on children and adolescents with chronic illnesses. Working in the Families, Adoption, and Diversity (FAD) Lab, Chelsea’s project will explore how LGBTQ identity influences the way youth express themselves through their clothing, and what relationships this presentation shares with other outcomes, such as gender congruence (i.e., the degree to which one feels comfortable with their gender identity and presentation) and psychological well-being. Collecting such data through focus group interviews with local LGBTQ teenagers will provide important insights about the challenges and benefits for LGBTQ youth in expressing their identities. The results may uncover factors that facilitate ideal presentation among LGBTQ youth, and in turn, support their positive mental health (i.e., lower depression and anxiety).

Leigha Cameron, and mentor Dr. Allison Gibson: To identify gaps and unmet needs of residents in the city of Lexington, Kentucky, UK College of Social Work student Leigha Cameron will be conducting research on housing inequality and its relation to chronic illness. In the study, “Exploring the Relationship of Chronic Illness and Housing Affordability”, Cameron will survey adults 18 and older on their representation of health and housing differences across various socioeconomic backgrounds and strive to examine housing inequity. Housing inequality refers to unequal access to housing that is safe, healthy, and connected to the resources that everyone needs: jobs that pay living wages, safe and reliable transportation, and high-quality health care. Following data analysis, findings and recommendations will be shared with the Kentucky Housing Corporation to assist in informing policy and programming in the context of chronic illness and housing affordability.

Evelyn González-Lozano and Calisse Burand, working with mentor Dr. Rachel Farr in the Families, Adoption, and Diversity (FAD) lab in Psychology, will investigate the experiences of birth family members in contact with adoptive families (who completed private domestic infant adoptions in the United States). Using survey and interview data from nearly 80 birth relatives in the U.S., Evelyn and Calisse will examine perceptions of contact and reasons for choosing the adoptive parents. The results may inform empirically-driven policy and inclusive adoption and child welfare practice. Evelyn is a senior Psychology and Spanish major and will complete an honors thesis in the FAD lab this year. She plans to pursue a PhD in Psychology, conducting research with LGBTQ populations. Calisse is a junior Psychology and Chemistry major who has enjoyed diverse research experiences in the FAD lab and the Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University-Pueblo.





Graduate Research Fellowships:

William Fischer is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology department at the University of Kentucky—a first-generation college student, and 1.5 generation Filipinx-American immigrant. His research explores how macro-level structures, such as colonization, influence micro-level phenomena, such as self-concepts or deviance. He investigates the myriad ways that internalized oppression exists, interacts, and manifests. Internalized oppression exists in many marginalized groups; this can cause negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes. More specifically, he seeks to understand how the various types of internalized oppression, such as ethnic, racial, colonial, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, influence our actions. Not only this, but how these multiple forms interact with each other to further cause or mitigate our behaviors such as academic performance, deviance, social interactions, to name a few.

Tyler Kibbey is a graduate student in the University of Kentucky’s linguistics department and received his Bachelor’s in Linguistics from the University of Tennessee. He is also an affiliate and fellow of the 2019 Linguistics Institute at UC Davis, the founder and co-convener of the Linguistic Society of America’s Special Interest Group on LGBTQ+ Issues in Linguistics, and a recipient of the Tennessee LGBT+ College Conference’s Academic Excellence Award for advancing LGBTQ+ issues in academia. His research project includes a survey of sermons in Kentucky LGBTQ+ affirming Christian churches and an analysis of religious metaphors that structure resistance to anti-LGBTQ+ ideologies and systems of violence. In this historical moment, his project seeks to mitigate these systems of violence through the critical application of linguistic methodology. Programmatically, this project is based on theoretical work in cognitive linguistics, the cognitive science of religion, and phenomenology. 
Casey Vazquez spent four years in foster care and is passionate about giving back to this community. She is a second-year PhD student in Developmental Psychology, working in the Families, Adoption, and Diversity (FAD) lab and advised by Dr. Rachel Farr. This lab focuses on adoption, diverse family systems, and LGBTQ+ issues broadly. Casey is currently exploring birth relatives’ experiences of contact with adoptive families—a subsample of which are headed by lesbian and gay couples. Another line of work she is beginning will explore stereotypes of foster youth and associated developmental outcomes. Both lines of work hold important implications for adoption and foster care policy, can create unique opportunities for collaborations with community agencies, and ultimately help service these underrepresented groups. She aims to continue using her own experiences in foster care, as well as knowledge gained from developmental research to help inform key stakeholders in the child welfare system.
Amalia Galdona Broche is originally from Santa Clara, Cuba. She earned a BFA and a BA in Art with concentrations in Sculpture and Art History at Jacksonville University, Florida. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA in Art Studio at the University of Kentucky, where she is a graduate teaching assistant. Her work explores the invisible labor done by women throughout history in the form of domestic tasks. This summer, she will participate in a residency at The Studios at MASS MoCA to continue a body of work that explores gender, race and class biases through textiles and fiber arts, as well as conversations with the community. It is her goal to create an installation that will explore, but also question, notions of identity using found, discarded and repurposed materials with a history of their own. By projecting and externalizing those stories, she hopes to empower people to continue a conversation of inclusion.


Faculty Research Fellowships:

Diane N. Loeffler holds both a PhD and MSW in Social Work. Dr. Loeffler is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Social Work. Her teaching and research interests both focus on issues of equity and social justice. A passion for community development work, specifically around warm, safe, dry, and affordable housing in rural communities has been a career-long research interest. This project, an evaluation of the Appalachian HEAT Squad, will look at access to and utilization of energy audits in three counties in Eastern Kentucky.
Carol Mason, professor and chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, will translate her scholarship on reproductive justice into the collaborative work of bringing to Kentucky a conference for students and community advocates. Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice was founded in 2011 in Oklahoma as a way to inspire and be inspired by people living in places apparently deemed too conservative for national organizations to provide substantial outreach. Mason is coordinating with organizations such as National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Kentucky Health Justice Network, Civil Liberties and Public Policy, and University of Oklahoma to bring Take Root to the bluegrass state. Reproductive justice is an important concept first articulated by women of color in the 1990s; it recognizes the full spectrum of choices and structural inequalities that must be addressed to ensure that all people are free to reproduce when, where, and with whom they want in environments that are economically sustainable and healthy.

Kathryn Engle: Dr. Kathryn Engle is the Associate Director of the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Engle completed her PhD in Sociology at UK and holds an MA in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University. Dr. Engle is active in local food systems initiatives in southeastern Kentucky and serves on the board of the Lend-A-Hand Center in Walker, Kentucky.

Located in southeastern Kentucky, Corbin was the site of a race riot in 1919 in which the majority of the African American population was expelled from the town. A coalition of organizations and individuals has formed to recognize, address, and commemorate what happened 100 years ago and promote racial justice in southeastern Kentucky. This CESJ Mini-Grant will support research, community engagement, educational programming, and events, facilitating spaces for conversations about race in the community. More information is available at

CESJ Graduate Fellow:

Mikaela Feroli is a Ph.D. candidate in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Kentucky. Her dissertation research centers the voices, experiences, and narratives of parents who are transgender. Her project aims to challenge the various systems that privilege certain social categories and oppress others through parenthood. Mikaela’s other research interests include critical motherhood studies, feminist geographies, and affect. Her published work includes the book chapter “A Deeper Cut: Enlightened Sexism and Grey’s Anatomy” in the edited collection Smart Chicks on Screen: Representing Women’s Intellect in Film and Television. She has been a Teaching Assistant for the Gender and Women’s Studies Department for the past three years. As a transplant to Lexington from Massachusetts, Mikaela enjoys being involved in the local LGBTQ community by volunteering with the Pride Community Services Organization.