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Professor Award to Help with Research

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Photo Courtesy of Roanoke College

Article Written By Paige Stewart

Dr. Elizabeth Ackley of the Health and Human Performance Department truly demonstrates what it means to care for all aspects of oneself in the quest for maximum health.

Ackley was recently named the recipient of the Brian H. Thorn- hill Professorship, an award which she hopes will better assist both her teaching and research endeavors over its span of the next ve years. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the award, she says, is given to a pro- fessor who is actively engaged in teaching as well as research, main- taining a focus on student success at all times. Award recipients receive funding for student research assis- tants who join their teams over the summer. In addition, recipients are granted two course releases annual- ly to allow extra time to tackle their projects.

The Thornhill Award was a great achievement not only for Ackley but also for the entire HHP department. As a large portion of applicants and chosen recipients come from the natural sciences, Ackley says she is excited to be the rst professor in the HHP depart- ment to be recognized. She wants the academic community to know that comprehensive and impactful research can be conducted across all disciplines, including Health and Human Performance. In fact, this eld poses some of the most rele- vant and engaging questions that impact all other areas of study. In her research projects, Ackley makes it a point to involve students from all of these disciplines for the best outcomes.

Dr. Ackley is currently busy with multiple community enhance- ment projects that involve a broad scope of topics. She is working to recruit the student participants for those projects from here at Roa- noke College. She hopes to piece together a strong, dynamic group that excels in a broad range of areas.

 

One of her projects, The Ro- anoke Valley Community Healthy Living Index, uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to iden- tify the most concentrated cases of obesity in various local neigh- borhoods and alert government agencies. Ackley also works with the Cities Invest Health Initiative, which aims to improve accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods. For this project, she is looking to incor- porate Roanoke College students from the Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Mathematics, HHP, and Communications Studies programs.

“We highly value undergrad- uate research experiences,” says Ackley. “There is no way this work will be done without an army of students engaging in research.”

Ackley notes that one of the challenges ahead concerns reach- ing out to the needy members of the community. She says that many of them express mistrust towards their fellow citizens who are trying to help them. However, just like her teaching philosophy is centered around her students, her service projects are centered around those they aim to assist. “We are advo- cates, and we don’t bulldoze their ideas,” Ackley says.

“Get involved in research ear- ly,” Ackley says. “Do it even if it’s not related to what you want to do. You will gain new perspectives that will only help you along the way.