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”. (Pictured: The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi)

2021-2022 Recipient

Headshot of  Breann Kniffen The 2020-2021 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.

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.

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