BOONE, N.C. — The Appalachian State University Community had a virtual front row seat to a wide-ranging selection of faculty research and creative activity through the second annual Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian event, Sept. 14–18.
The weeklong celebration featured the work of nearly 50 faculty members, with presentations ranging from digital posters and oral presentations, to virtual performances and digital art pieces. The event culminated with an awards presentation in which two faculty members were honored with the Chancellor’s and Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.
Dr. Curtis Ryan, professor of political science in the Department of Government and Justice Studies, received the Chancellor’s Award, and Dr. Alecia Jackson, professor of educational research in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, received the Provost’s Award. A committee of faculty members representing each academic college and University Libraries selected the recipients for their superior achievement in their fields.
Elevating international perspectives
“Dr. Ryan uses his global insights and research of the Middle East to encourage the curiosity of our students and inform the work of government officials,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “His research has broad impacts on our understanding of the past, present and future of the Middle East, and we are fortunate to have his contributions as a faculty member.”
Of the Chancellor’s Award, Ryan said, “I really appreciate having my scholarship recognized by my university in this way. It feels like bringing my research and scholarship back home. I’m honored and grateful.”
Ryan joined the Department of Government in Justice Studies in 2002. His areas of interest and expertise include international relations and foreign policy; international and regional security; comparative politics; Middle East politics; and inter-Arab relations and alliance politics.
Ryan has written extensively on these subjects, including authoring three books. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies and was twice named a Peace Scholar by the United States Institute of Peace.
The selection committee said they were “impressed with his scholarship, but more importantly with how he has taken his work outside of the academy; how his scholarship has moved from theory into action; and the international impact of his scholarship.”
One of Ryan’s references said he travels to Washington, D.C., multiple times a year to brief U.S. State Department officials and military leaders on crises in the Middle East. While researching his most recent book, “Jordan and the Arab Uprisings,” Ryan met with King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein, Queen Rania al-Abdullah and many other Jordanian leaders — both in government and opposition — in order to write a book conveying a comprehensive and accurate picture of Jordan’s policies, problems and prospects.
Regarding his field research, Ryan said, “There are times when it is very difficult. There are times when it can even be dangerous. But I absolutely love being ‘on the ground’ and engaging in deep field research in the Middle East. I think that my work and experience in the field shows up not just in research, scholarship and publications, but also in what I can bring to the classroom.”
On campus, he has mentored at least two Honors College undergraduate theses, both as first reader, in the last four years.
Rethinking qualitative research
“Dr. Jackson is reimagining how we approach data analysis and interpretation — both of which are critically important in today’s world,” App State Interim Provost Heather Norris said. “Through her innovative research and her individualized mentorship of our students, she is inspiring the next generation of researchers right here on our campus and around the world.”
Jackson — who joined the faculty in App State’s Reich College of Education in 2003 and is an affiliated faculty member in the university’s gender, women’s and sexuality studies program — is internationally recognized for her advancements in the field of qualitative research.
Jackson said her scholarly work carries “methodological significance in that it spans the fields of education, anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, discourse studies and gender studies.” She co-authored “Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data across Multiple Perspectives,” which has become one of the authoritative texts in the field of data analysis and interpretation in post-qualitative research.
Jackson’s award references said she is “in the vanguard of those inventing new educational and social science inquiry for the next generation of researchers,” and “she sets a very high standard for her work and challenges pedestrian work with pedagogical acumen.”
She is also well known for her work with App State students, having closely mentored more than 40 graduate students in doctoral dissertation and master’s thesis work. She is a two-time recipient of the Appalachian State University School/College Excellence in Teaching Award — conferred by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, having won the award in 2010 and 2019, and she was also awarded the Reich College of Education’s Outstanding Mentoring Award in 2019.
“I am thrilled to be selected for this award, and am grateful for colleagues who recognize and value nontraditional, creative, transdisciplinary scholarship in the social sciences,” Jackson said.
Highlighting faculty research and creative activity
The event showcased the research of App State faculty members, with topics ranging from COVID-19 and nursing home care, to greenhouse energy consumption and collaborative performance in the African tradition.
“This event provides a platform for our faculty to share their scholarly and creative work with their colleagues and also students from across campus,” said Dr. Ece Karatan, App State’s vice provost for research. “It’s an opportunity for all of us to expand our knowledge, experience scholarly and creative endeavors entirely different from our own, and be inspired.”
Each day of the weeklong showcase featured real-time oral presentations, held virtually. The event website offers recorded versions of these presentations, as well as digital posters, a digital art piece and a prerecorded performance, all of which may be viewed at any time.
Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian was planned by the Office of Research, University Libraries, the Office of Student Research and the Center for Academic Excellence.
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About the Office of Research
Appalachian State University’s Office of Research provides support for the research, creative, and scholarly endeavors of Appalachian faculty, staff and students. The office consists of four units: Grants Resources and Services, Sponsored Programs, Research Design and Analysis, and Research Protections. The Office of Research also collaborates with the university’s Special Funds Accounting on the fiscal management of awarded projects. Learn more at https://research.appstate.edu.
About student research at Appalachian
Appalachian State University encourages faculty-mentored student research, which provides students with the opportunity to work side by side with faculty on meaningful research or creative endeavors. These projects often result in presentations, performances or exhibitions at regional, national and international conferences and events. Students who engage in research are able to apply knowledge from the classroom into real-world experiences and learn how to problem-solve, effectively communicate and analyze complex issues. Appalachian’s Office of Student Research (OSR) was established in 2005 to expand the opportunities necessary for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in research and creative activities at Appalachian. Learn more at https://osr.appstate.edu.
About University Libraries
University Libraries at Appalachian State University contributes to the campus mission of learning, teaching, advancing knowledge, engagement and effectiveness. Belk Library and Information Commons along with the Nicholas Erneston Music Library provide academic resources for all students and faculty. Within the library, students and faculty find group and quiet study spaces, the Digital Media Studio, the inspire lab, the Idea Factory, digital devices to check out, and special collections such as the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection and Instructional Materials Center. Learn more at https://library.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian State University offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls more than 2,000 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.