Oldest UA Fellows Program Offers Faculty a Distraction-Free Semester

Oldest UA Fellows Program Offers Faculty a Distraction-Free Semester

By Amy WilliamsUniversity Communications
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The research conducted by several former faculty fellows resulted in published books. (Graphic by Robert Varady)
The research conducted by several former faculty fellows resulted in published books. (Graphic by Robert Varady)

Imagine taking a whole semester to focus solely on what you're passionate about whether it be health, politics, sociology or law. Faculty have the opportunity to do just that with the Udall Center Fellows Program.

The program, which is supported by the Office of Research, Discovery and Innovation, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Udall Center, affords faculty the time to work on personal research with the intent of producing and submitting a proposal for external funds in support of research and discovery and relating to public policy by the end of the fellowship.

"We're promoting an interdisciplinary approach to public policy, identifying researchers from any and all disciplines," said Robert Varady, research professor of environmental policy and interim director of the Udall Center, which specializes in public policy research related to environmental policy and indigenous nations policy.

The fellows program, envisioned as a way to reward faculty for doing research, began in 1990. Varady worked with Helen Ingram, then director of the Udall Center, to rally deans and department heads behind the idea of allowing faculty to engage in the program. Since then, 140 faculty members representing about 40 departments and units have been Udall Center fellows.

After the first year, Varady found that public policy research related to more than just political science, as some might have assumed. In fact, over the years, the largest number of fellows have been from areas in the School of Sociology, he said.

The program gives professors the time and freedom to pursue their research, said Sallie Marston, a professor in the School of Geography and Development who has been a Udall fellow twice.

"The experience has been fantastic. What the Udall Center does is it affords you freedom from all of the little things that stop you from getting work done," Marston said. "It gives you all the time you need to think, to talk with colleagues, to write and to produce something."

She was able to write two proposals and start a new project during her fellowships.

"This is a wonderful opportunity and one that's special because you get to be on campus without having all of the distractions that campus will impose on you," Marston said.

Other fellows' projects have addressed topics related to geography, agriculture, law, sociology, geosciences, physics and other areas.

One of the projects initiated by a Udall fellow examined violence against journalists in northern Mexico. Celeste González de Bustamante, associate professor of journalism, was able to finish her research, publish articles and apply for more funding during her time as a fellow.

During a participant's time, the Udall Center coordinates seminars to connect fellows with other faculty who might be able to help them with their research. Fellows also work alongside Research Development Services at RDI in each step of applying for external funding.

Applications for the 2017-18 academic year are now being accepted.

The fellowship is open to tenured, tenure-track or continuing/continuing-eligible faculty members. The deadline for applications is April 14.

For more information, visit the Udall Center website or email Robert Varady at rvarady@email.arizona.edu.

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