CHS Leavell Faculty Fellows Adjust Strategies Amid Pandemic
With the start of a new academic year in full swing, the College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) second cohort of Leavell Faculty Fellows have made definitive plans as to how they will revise their work plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and a learning environment entirely different from their predecessors.
In 2019, the CHS Dean’s Office developed the Charles H. and Shirley T. Leavell Endowed Chair Faculty Fellowships, which are designed to advance the mission of CHS in the context of high-impact educational practices. The annual fellowships are funded directly through the endowed chair position, currently held by Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, dean of CHS. The 2019 fellows included
Faculty Fellow in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Dr. Carolina Valencia; Faculty Fellow in Community Engagement: Dr. Dahlia Castillo; Faculty Fellow in Interprofessional Education: Dr. Celia Pechak; Faculty Fellow in Applied and Translational Research: Dr. Alvaro Gurovich; and Faculty Fellow in Global Engagement: Dr. Maria Duarte.
This year’s fellows, including Elizabeth Camacho, Lecturer in Clinical Laboratory Science, Dr. Patricia Lara, Clinical Associate Professor of Speech Language Pathology, Dr. Thenral Mangadu, Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences, and Dr. Emre Umucu, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling, will focus on initiating requests for proposals (RFPs) under each fellowship category. The competitive RFP process will ultimately provide seed funding for CHS faculty members’ scholarly work in the areas of the fellowships, in addition to their own proposed activities. Given the changing educational climate, each of the fellows has adjusted their strategies to accommodate virtual learning and community engagement activities.
Dr. Pat Lara, faculty fellow in Interprofessional Education, said her goal is to convert the experiences of UTEP’s IPE (interprofessional education) community of practice from a face-to-face format into a virtual format.
“This is difficult because we have 500 or more participants including students from PT, SLP, OT, Public Health, MSW, Rehab Counseling, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and medicine from TTHSC,” she said. “But we did not want to stop doing these events because feedback from previous students and events has been very positive.” Lara said the IPE community would also package IPE materials with the UTEP and CHS logos for others to use.
Dr. Emre Umucu, faculty fellow in Applied and Translational Research, said he is looking into the possibility of converting his own proposed “College of Health Sciences Research Day” initiative into a virtual format as well, where interdisciplinary research in health and education will be featured. Umucu plans to collect data from faculty to identify factors motivating or decreasing desire to conduct research.
“I would like to encourage faculty to be collaborative and creative, and to identify opportunities that will ultimately yield high impact research projects,” he said. “I also hope to build meaningful relationships between senior and junior faculty to improve faculty communication, motivation, and success in research.”
Dr. Thenral Mangadu, faculty fellow in Global Engagement, will focus on advancing CHS and UTEP’s mission and goals for global engagement, with a specific focus on global health. Mangadu’s research program is based in public health. As director of the Minority AIDS Research Center (MARC), she plans to build upon the Center’s global and local partnerships and work on interdisciplinary global engagement strategies for students, staff, community partners, and faculty.
Mangadu sees the current global pandemic as an opportunity to redefine what efficiency, effectiveness, and impact in global engagement truly means.
“My action plan for the fellowship includes constantly examining the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic related situational factors to make sure we re-strategize as needed to achieve planned outcomes. Technology and Interdisciplinary Innovation are components we will focus on in a regionally relevant manner,” she said.
At the local community level, Elizabeth Camacho, faculty fellow in Community Engagement, is also revisiting her strategy to ensure her work plan continues.
“Initially, the plan was to go out to the community and perform testing on people that had had the COVID-19, but that might not be possible,” she said. “Instead, I will be creating public service announcements such as videos and flyers on COVID-19, especially pertaining to how testing is performed, the significance of testing and what the results mean.”
Camacho added that despite the present circumstances, “It is so important for us to involve the community, as community engagement is part of the College of Health Sciences’ mission. CHS and UTEP could not exist without our El Paso community.”