Shawna Vican named new director of UD ADVANCE

Posted on August 10, 2016 at: 1:02 pm

2015 publicity photo of Shawna Vican, senior research analyst in the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (IRE). - (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)

Shawna Vican, senior research analyst in the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness has been named director of UD ADVANCE.  Photo by Evan Krape.

As a sociologist who studies organizational transformation, Shawna Vican understands how the complexities and complications of change impact an institution. Beginning Aug. 15, she will put her expertise to the test as the director of the University of Delaware ADVANCE Institute (UD ADVANCE).

Vican replaces Emily Bonistall Postel, who accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

Supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), UD ADVANCE focuses on diversifying and strengthening the University’s faculty. Specifically, the institute seeks to develop new ways to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty, particularly women of color.

“Shawna has been an important member of the UD ADVANCE team as a senior research analyst, and her skills and experience make her a natural choice to lead the organization as director,” said Provost Domenic Grasso.

“Her research in adoption and implementation of new employment practices and corporate social behaviors will greatly benefit UD ADVANCE and its mission,” Grasso said.

As director, Vican will have a variety of responsibilities, including managing the $3.3 million budget, ensuring NSF grant compliance, coordinating the institute’s programs and initiatives and supervising support staff.

Vican said she feels the position is a perfect opportunity for her to make a direct impact on the environment for women faculty on campus.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of the University’s effort to transform itself with respect to the climate for women faculty. We have a new University president, we are making inroads in the recruitment and retention of women across campus, and we are conducting meaningful research and training on the issues related to faculty advancement,” said Vican.

In the near term, UD ADVANCE is preparing for a site review visit by NSF which will be held in the spring of 2017. But the long-term goals are to increase the representation of women especially among the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty, to enhance the climate for women faculty and for faculty who are under represented in their departments, and to ensure that the University implements the programs and initiatives developed as a result of NSF’s support on a permanent basis.

The faculty responsible for securing the grant are confident Vican can help them achieve that goal.

Pam Cook, who is the principal investigator (PI) on the grant and Unidel Professor of Mathematical Sciences, has confidence in Vican’s abilities.

“Shawna brings a tremendous set of experiences both as a researcher and a member of the ADVANCE team,” Cook said. “She has been heavily involved with our efforts, particularly our research including the faculty climate survey, and we are looking forward to continuing the relationship we have had with her as she helps lead the institute into the future.”

The intent of the grant is to transform the institution towards a more welcoming environment for faculty and then to enable the University to adopt the accomplishments of UD ADVANCE on a permanent basis. Vican is confident that the institute will achieve those goals.

“We are two years into our five-year NSF grant. My goal is to make sure that the programs, initiatives and objectives of UD ADVANCE are institutionalized by the end of the grant period,” Vican said. “More broadly, I look forward to working with faculty and other stakeholders across campus to foster diversity and equity at UD.”

About Shawna Vican

Vican received her doctorate in sociology from Harvard University and was previously a research fellow at Catalyst Inc. Across her research, Vican seeks to understand how organizational practices, managerial behavior, and workplace culture shape individual career outcomes as well as broader patterns of labor market inequality.

Her research combines quantitative and qualitative methods across a variety of empirical settings, including diversity management departments at Fortune 500 firms and STEM disciplines in academia.

Coral reef researcher uses mini-grant to attend conference in Hawaii

Posted on March 15, 2016 at: 9:37 am

Applicatiobutterflyfishcoralns for mini grants due April 1

A new study by the University of Delaware’s Danielle Dixson and Rohan Brooker has shown that butterflyfishes avoid coral that has come in contact with seaweed.

The paper, which appeared in the Nature publication Scientific Reports, is the first to critically evaluate the impact coral-seaweed interactions will have on coral associated reef fishes, a key component of coral reef resilience.

“Butterflyfish are kind of like the canary in the coal mine,” said Dixson, an assistant professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy, which is housed in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

“When problems start to happen, they will be hit first because of their strong reliance on coral for food and shelter, so understanding their ecology is important before reefs become too degraded or just aren’t there.”

Co-authors on the paper include UD post-doctoral fellow Brooker, the paper’s lead author, and Simon Brandl from Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre and James Cook University in Australia.

Dixson is a recipient of a UD ADVANCE mini-grant which may be used to fund travel to professional workshops, leadership programs, or faculty-development programs (click here for examples). Mini-grants also may be given to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)/social science departments or groups of faculty wishing to initiate innovative mentoring or networking activities for women faculty.

Dixson is using the mini-grant to support her attendance at 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Hawaii from June 19-24, 2016.

UD ADVANCE is currently accepting applications for mini-grants. The application deadline is April 1.

So, where does Dixson go from here?

She and Brooker plan to dive deeper into the chemistry of the coral-seaweed interaction to explore whether seaweed affects the coral’s nutrition, taste or something else they haven’t considered. They are also curious about whether coral-seaweed interactions affect a fish’s ability to chemically camouflage itself against predators.

“We know animals hunt with chemistry, so it makes sense that they would hide themselves with chemistry, too,” Dixson said. “Chemical camouflage is an emerging field with potential for helping us better understand how organisms interact and predator-prey dynamics. I think UD can be a leader in this field.”

This work was supported in part with funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Photo courtesy of João Paulo Krajewski, Lab de Biogeografia e Macroecologia Marinha, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina and Wildlife

2015 National NSF ADVANCE Conference

Posted on June 19, 2015 at: 7:10 pm

by Heather Doty, UD ADVANCE co-PI, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

UD ADVANCEThe UD ADVANCE team had a great time in Baltimore at the 2015 ADVANCE Program Workshop earlier this month. The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) hosts this conference annually for the NSF ADVANCE community to network and share experiences, research results, and effective practices. This year the workshop was held jointly with the NSF program on Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE).

This was our first meeting as an ADVANCE-IT university. As new grantees, the four PIs attended an informative meeting with our NSF program officer, who answered questions about business aspects of our grant as well as the role that NSF plays in helping ADVANCE institutions succeed with respect to their goals.

We gave two presentations at the meeting, both on the faculty climate survey that we conducted during the spring 2014 semester. Our poster presentation focused on climate survey results on formal faculty mentoring that pointed toward the effectiveness of prior work we carried out under a small ADVANCE PAID grant between 2008-2013. Check out our poster here. Additionally, co-PI Robin Andreasen was a panelist in a session about climate surveys. She talked about our experiences designing and implementing the survey and ways that we use survey results to work toward our goals. Check out the presentation here.

Best of all, we met a lot of interesting, energetic people with great ideas to share from their ADVANCE programs. It was especially nice to introduce UD ADVANCE Director Emily Bonistall Postel to the ADVANCE community. Emily made a lot of great contacts in person and through Twitter. We look forward to connecting and collaborating with national ADVANCE colleagues throughout the year.

Mentoring Workshop

Posted on April 29, 2015 at: 9:12 am

by Emily Bonistall Postel, UD ADVANCE Institute Director

On April 17, UD ADVANCE hosted Dr. Cris Cullinan, a national expert on equity and inclusion, to give a workshop for faculty entitled “Identifying Critical Issues and Best Practices for Mentoring Diverse Faculty.” We were pleased to welcome faculty from all across UD, including the Lewes campus.

The workshop had an emphasis on mentoring faculty of color. Some of the topics that Dr. Cullinan covered included research on implicit bias, strategies for effective mentoring, presumptions attached to group membership, stereotype threat, and impostor syndrome. Small-group discussions centered around case studies that Dr. Cullinan customized for UD. Through hands-on activities, faculty had the opportunity to think about how they might advise colleagues who were mentoring diverse faculty.

Dr. Cullinan provided workshop attendees with a comprehensive resource manual full of useful examples, case studies, and references. The workshop ended with a networking lunch that offered attendees the opportunity for further discussion among themselves and with Dr. Cullinan. The workshop was a great way to bring together people from different disciplines and departments all with a common interest in promoting diversity at UD.

The UD ADVANCE team thanks everyone who attended the workshop. We look forward to follow-up discussions on how to enact some of Dr. Cullinan’s suggestions here at UD.

Welcome, Emily!

Posted on March 17, 2015 at: 11:23 am

by Robin Andreasen, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, UD ADVANCE Research Director

The UD ADVANCE leadership team is pleased to welcome Emily Bonistall Postel as our new director. Perfect is a word to be used carefully, but I think it’s appropriate to say that Emily is the perfect person to serve as UD-ADVANCE director.

Emily brings key skills that derive from her background as a sociologist and gender scholar. She will be participating in various aspects of our social science research program.

She has great insights into issues that are central to UD-ADVANCE initiatives, and her qualitative and quantitative skills will enhance our institutional data reporting to faculty and administrators.

Read More…

Mini-Grants Available

Posted on February 19, 2015 at: 8:56 am

by Heather Doty, UD ADVANCE Faculty Associate to the Provost & Assistant Professor

We’re looking for a few good women … and men.

Actually, we’re looking for faculty and teams of faculty in NSF‐supported departments for initiatives that support the objectives of UD ADVANCE—to diversify and strengthen our University’s faculty.

Read More…

This Way Up

Posted on December 5, 2014 at: 1:34 pm

Welcome to This Way Up, the tagline for the UD ADVANCE Program and the title of our blog.

We chose the tagline because, while we still have much to accomplish in terms of achieving equity for all women and especially women of color, we want to focus on the positive.

ADVANCE is the way up, not only for women but for everyone. Read More…