College of Arts and Sciences Accolades 2006
Early Career Research Award, 2006

During each academic year, the College of Arts and Sciences bestows up to three awards to faculty members who are in the early stages of developing their research programs. We call these the Early Career Research Awards. In recognition of their achievements, each recipient receives $250.00 toward research expenses, a plaque, and recognition at our August faculty meeting.

Three faculty members will receive the ECRA for 2006:

Dr. Melissa Checker, Department of Anthropology;

Dr. Leigh Anne Duck, Department of English;

Dr. Arleen Hill, Department of Earth Sciences

Dr. Melissa Checker

Dr. Melissa CheckerDr. Checker joined the Department of Anthropology faculty in 2002, having completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at New York University that year. Nominated by Department Chair Dr. Ruthbeth Finerman, Dr. Checker describes her research as being "fundamentally and emphatically rooted in the principles of engaged and applied scholarship….I conducted 14 months of intensive fieldwork in Augusta, Georgia…My findings demonstrate the primacy of changing racial experiences and cultural histories in defining and understanding political issues such a racial justice and environmentalism as well as democracy itself."

A prominent professor of anthropology has described Melissa Checker as “a meticulous researcher, a dedicated activist, a skilled and sensitive ethnographer, and a moving, graceful, and accessible writer." The environmental justice movement has been the focus of (1) a book she co-authored entitled Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power, and Public Life, published by Columbia University Press in 2004 and (2) a book that she authored entitled Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism, and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town published by New York University in 2005. Polluted Promises is further described as a "very rare ethnography" due to its "historical depth textured lived experiences, and breadth of scope."

Dr. Leigh Anne Duck

Dr. Leigh Anne DuckAfter completing her Ph.D. in English and American Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2000, Dr. Duck joined the faculty in the Department of English that year. Nominated by Dr. Stephen Tabachnick, Chair of the Department of English, Dr. Duck describes her research in this way: "At its core, my research examines how twentieth-century literary works stage models of identity and investigates their social and political implications…. This focus requires substantial interdisciplinary reading, leading me to engage with scholarship in anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, and well as psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory."

A leading scholar of English describes Leigh Anne as having "achieved an extraordinary record of scholarship…and demonstrated that she is among the top younger critics of modern Southern literature." In addition to cutting-edge articles on Zora Neale Hurston and V.S. Naipaul, Dr. Duck has written a book entitled The Nation's Region: Southern Modernism, Segregation, and U.S. Nationalism scheduled for publication this month by the University of Georgia Press. It is already receiving rave comments. Another prominent professor of English describes this manuscript as an "excellent, path-breaking work." The Nation's Region is depicted further as a "first-rate book" and one that "elegantly formulates a vexing and sprawling set of problems about the persistence of Southern identity."

Dr. Arleen Hill

Dr. Arleen HillDr. Hill received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of South Carolina in 2002 and joined the faculty of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Memphis in 2003. Nominated by both Dr. Mervin Bartholomew, Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences, and Dr. Roy Van Arsdale, Professor in Earth Sciences, Dr. Hill describes her research in this way: "As a geographer studying the interaction between physical and human systems, my research initiatives relate to the study of environmental hazards. Specifically, my work seeks to quantify hazards, risk, and vulnerability, and to insure that theoretical and applied research results are effectively communicated to decision-makers and residents."

One of her colleagues notes her "rapid involvement with the Mid-America Earthquake Center (MACE) of which the Center for Earthquake Research and Information/University of Memphis is a core member…. [and commends] Arleen's research capabilities in not only assessing risk but communicating risk and vulnerability to policy makers and the public…" A prominent Professor of Geography observes that Dr. Hills "publications have made significant contributions to literature in geographic hazards research; her success in grant writing has positioned her for funds to continue her research agenda…"

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Last Updated: 11/12/13