Two professors from the Department of Allied Health Sciences, Drs. Vicki Mercer and Adam Jacks, have graduated from the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program, an initiative started by the Carolina Center for Public Service.
The Faculty Engaged Scholars program, established in 2007, is designed to advance faculty involvement in engaged scholarship. In 2013, an endowment honoring former chancellor H. Holden Thorp was established to support the program. During the two-year program, scholars learn about and pursue community engagement through scholarly endeavors. Since its inception, 53 faculty members have been selected, who represent more than 20 departments.
Jacks, an associate professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, is a speech-language pathologist who studies the impact of stroke and other neurological diseases on communication. His work focuses on identifying predictors of life participation in community-dwelling stroke and brain injury survivors with impaired communication, such as aphasia. His Faculty Engaged Scholars project focused on providing language assessments to people with aphasia in the community with no access to treatment, as well as to those who attend communication groups at Triangle Aphasia Project Unlimited (TAP), a Cary-based nonprofit. Jacks’ project built relationships with speech-language pathologists in the community.
“My participation in the program provided me with a new perspective on the relationship between scholars and stakeholders,” Jacks said, “I am grateful for this program and the interactions with other scholars striving for excellence in community-based research.”
Mercer, an associate professor in the Division of Physical Therapy, focused on improving balance and preventing falls in older adults and individuals with neurological disorders. For her project, she expanded her work with the Community Health and Mobility Partnership (CHAMP) program. The program, developed by Mercer in 2009, works with community partners from senior centers, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, and community colleges. Through CHAMP, interdisciplinary teams of health care providers work with older adults at senior centers and other community sites to improve their balance and muscle strength and decrease their risk of falls.
“I have learned a great deal as a Faculty Engaged Scholar,” Mercer said. “Through first-hand experiences with other community-based initiatives and interactions with other scholars, I’ve gained a much better understanding of how to build infrastructure and public relations networks to increase support for a project.”
Jacks and Mercer join four additional Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar alumni from the department, including Drs. Betsy Crais and Linda Watson from the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and Dr. Karen Erickson, director for the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies. Dr. Antoine Bailliard, with the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, joined the program fall 2016.