Francis Student Research Fellowship

a shutterstock photo of a statue of St Francis on a horse in front of a church


The Francis Student Research Fellowship honors the patron saint of the animals and of ecology, St. Francis of Assisi, and his namesake Pope Francis who, through Laudato Si', encourages us to Care for Our Common Home, to consider the inextricable link between environmental and social sustainability and “to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”.

We are grateful to Jeanie and Tom Robinson for their generous support of this student research fellowship.

(Pictured: The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi)


2023 - 2024 Recipient

Photo of Angela Su.The 2023 - 2024 Francis Student Research Fellowship is Angela Su, who is a part of the College of Nursing. The title of her research is: "Examining Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Strategies and Their Impact on Measures of Social Sustainability."

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education is a pillar of public health education in the United States, and has been used to mobilize SRH knowledge to promote sexual and reproductive well-being. SRH education includes discussions of hormonal changes of puberty, safe-sex practices, pregnancy prevention, and other related topics which allow people to be informed on how to manage changes during their reproductive years. Despite these potential benefits, SRH education has been critiqued for exposing children to sex too early and promoting anti-religious values. These critiques have led to inconsistent methods of education ranging from a comprehensive SRH model to a more minimal abstinence-focused model. This wide range of education models has led to inequitable access to public health knowledge and safe methods of care. In her research, Angela will explore how comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education versus abstinence-focused education impacts measures of social sustainability in the United States,? Angela seeks to analyze whether comprehensive SRH education leads to an increase in SRH health outcomes, as well as an increase in social sustainability of the United States public health system. In public health nursing, social sustainability refers to how public health education and interventions are impacting the well-being of the population that is being targeted. Analysis of different methods of education can lead to more equitable access to knowledge and care based on current evidence and relevant to current public health concerns. 

Watch Angel's CEJS Fellowship Research Introduction Video.

2022 - 2023 Recipient

The 2022-2023 Francis Student Research Fellowship recipient is Annie Dwyer, who is pursuing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (’24). Annie’s research will focus on “Climate Change, Mental Health, and New Directions for Justice-Oriented Crisis Counseling.” Her project aims to explore the phenomenon of ecoanxiety and climate grief through localized case studies in the Pacific Northwest. Further, she’ll seek to formulate and evaluate some of the psychological supports and therapeutic interventions that may be required, namely, trauma-informed, culturally sensitive crisis response protocols that are specific to climate-related natural disasters and other experiences of loss connected to climate change. A literature review will focus upon the productive intersections between scholarly conversations in ecopsychology, climate psychology, disaster mental health, and the environmental humanities. Annie will also conduct qualitative research with 6-9 members of 3-4 frontline communities in the Pacific Northwest to learn more about the psychological and sociological impacts of climate-related natural disasters. Finally, Annie will develop a conceptual model for trauma-informed, culturally sensitive crisis response specific to climate-related natural disasters. At stake in this research project is the recognition that marginalized populations are often disproportionately impacted by climate change, and that supporting human mental health in the context of climate change will greatly contribute to our ability to “stay with the trouble,” to borrow Donna Haraway’s phrase. Human resilience in the face of climate change will matter—not only for humans, but also for other species. Cultivating human capacities to cope with devastating impacts of climate change is critical to the task of pursuing climate justice.

Watch Annie's CEJS Fellowship Research Introduction video and read her mid-term report here.

A headshot of Annie Dwyer

2021-2022 Recipient

Headshot of  Breann Kniffen The 2021-2022 Francis Student Research Fellowship recipient is Breann Kniffen ('23) who is a Cell and Molecular Biology student. With more than 4,000 bee species living in North America, there are still many unknowns and little information regarding the distribution, abundance, and health of native bees. As the global decline in insect populations continues to decrease, so does the loss of pollinator insects such as native bees. The loss of these crucially important insect pollinators threatens global food security, erodes ecosystem resilience, and more. Breann’s native beekeeping and research project aims to gain better insight into the diversity and abundance of native bee species in WA state, increase native bee awareness to the public, and increase native bee abundance on SU campus by testing if bee housing structures increase native bee survival rates.

Read Breann's mid-term report, her final report and watch her final presentation.

2020-2021 Recipient

a headshot of Myron

The 2020-2021 Francis Student Research Fellowship recipient is Myron Joel Bañez ('21) who is double majoring in Economics and Public Affairs with a specialization in Urban Planning. Myron will be mentored by Dr. Tanya Hayes, professor of environmental studies. Myron's research will explore the following: 

"Ethnic enclaves are neighborhoods that were created out of redlining. For many immigrant communities, enclaves are multipurpose as they provide a space for political, social, and economic empowerment. However, these spaces are influenced and shaped by the diaspora narrative and needs of a community. The Filipino diaspora in particular paints a complex image of the development, recognition, and utilization of Filipinotown.

This study examines the role of the built environment to urban Filipino-American spaces and community development in Seattle. Research and literature has helped identify three key findings 1) the approaches to Filipino urban space utilization 2) the sociological approaches to the utilization of ethnic enclaves 3) the role of entrepreneurship and an ethnic economy.

Based on the findings, this study stresses the importance of understanding the Filipino diaspora narrative when assessing ethnic enclaves as it conveys why and how space is utilized, or lack thereof.

Ultimately, Filipinotowns, are both social and physical manifestations. When questioned on the legality of a Filipinotown due to the lack of real estate, it is vital for communities and cities to understand that social space is equally important to an enclave’s physical existence. The phrase “Seattle Filipinotown Exists” embodies both qualities and the significance of acknowledging history and the potential that the present built environment has for the future." Myron's faculty mentor will be Dr. Tanya Hayes, Professor at the Institute of Public Service and Director of the Environmental Studies program.

Read Myron's final report and watch his final presentation.