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Seattle University


Scholarly Summer

Written by Mike Thee
September 27, 2010

Tanya Hayes, assistant professor of environmental studies, traveled to the East Andes of Colombia to study how farmers there are balancing the need to earn a living with environmental conservation. Doug Latch, assistant professor of chemistry, hit the laboratory to continue his research on the behavior of pollutants.

Hayes and Latch are two of the 15 faculty members who received support from the Summer Faculty Fellows program, which is awarded annually by the Provost’s Office.

The program recognizes each faculty recipient as “a scholar, researcher or artist and provides them with concentrated time to delve into their work at a level that is difficult when they are also teaching courses,” says Associate Provost Jacquelyn Miller. “This uninterrupted time then allows faculty to produce new data and ideas that will contribute to her or his discipline’s knowledge base or aesthetic discourse.”  

Examining sustainable farming

In her research Hayes is examining the practice of encouraging Colombian farmers to adopt environmentally friendly practices through direct incentives and contingent contracts called Payment for Environmental Services (PES).  The Summer Faculty Fellowship allowed her to spend six weeks in Colombia and hire a research assistant who helped her interview local farmers. 

She says her research shows that the incentives have been “very successful in gaining initial interest and adoption of sustainable pasture management practices.” She also identified two possible pitfalls: the economic viability of the program, as perceived by the farmers, and “the potential negative impacts of direct incentives and contingent contracts on empowerment, innovation and adaptive management.” 

Revealing the secret life of pollutants

Meanwhile, Latch worked with students to study pollutants “that have been shown to impact the sexual development of aquatic organisms downstream from wastewater treatment plant outfalls.” Support from the Summer Faculty Fellowship  allowed him to mentor four students who received summer stipends from the Research Corporation and the Murdock Charitable Trust.  

They learned that most of the pollutants they studied were susceptible to solar degradation, “but that not all of the degradation products are necessarily benign,” Latch says. 

He adds that “The Summer Faculty Fellows program is a great way to promote scholarship at Seattle University. It has allowed me to work closely in the laboratory with my undergraduate student collaborators while advancing my own scholarship.”

An array of university support for research

The fellows program, as Miller points out, is one of many initiatives by which the university supports faculty in their scholarship support. Others, she says, include:  

  • Office of Research Services and Sponsored Project (Sue Jackels, Director)
  • Office of Foundation and Corporate Relations (Jane Spalding, Director)
  • Junior Faculty Professional Development Grant (Provost’s Office)
  • Tenured Faculty Sabbatical programs (Provost’s Office)
  • Endowed Mission Fund (Office of Mission and Ministry)
  • Institutional Review Board (Bruce Koch, Chair)
  • Center for the Study of Justice in Society (Gail Lasprogata, Director)
  • CETL Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Writer’s Retreat (Therese Huston, Director)
  • Wismer Professorship for Gender and Diversity (Awarded through Miller’s office) 

“Additionally,” Miller notes, “the colleges and schools have a number of endowed chairs that provide funding and time for faculty scholarly work as well as funding for school and college research fellowships and grants. Also, some provide work study students to help faculty with scholarly endeavors. We also license with bibliographic database vendors, including Endnote and RefWork to help faculty keep control over their scholarly research literature.” 

Finally, “None of this,” she says, “includes the services provided by the campus libraries and the Office of Information Technology.”