2018 Early Career Research Award (ECRA)

Bernie Daigle, Jr., Biological Sciences

Bernie Daigle, Jr.Bernie J. Daigle, Jr., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Computer Science at The University of Memphis. He received his B.S. in Biology from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Genetics from Stanford University, and he conducted postdoctoral research in the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

His research interests include computational modeling and analysis of stochastic biochemical systems, as well as the development of bioinformatics methods for identifying disease biomarkers from genome-scale data. Via collaborations with experimental and computational researchers, Dr. Daigle's research lends itself to translational applications, including studies of insulin resistance, stroke, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He is currently participating in a collaborative project with the Department of Defense-funded Systems Biology of PTSD Consortium to identify diagnostic blood-based molecular biomarkers for PTSD.



Susan Elswick, Social Work

Susan ElswickSusan Elswick obtained her Master of Social Work at University of Tennessee in 2006 and her Doctor of Education in Instructional and Curriculum leadership with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Memphis in 2011. Served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work Memphis Campus from 2008-current. Served as a clinical assistant professor at the University Of Memphis Department Of Social Work Memphis from 2012-2015. She served as assistant professor and BA Program Director from 2015-current at the University of Memphis Department of Social Work.

Dr. Susan Elswick has taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses in her time as a professor. She has taught over thirty sections of master's level courses in the areas of human behavior in the social environment, field education/ field seminar, social work practice with children and families, and school social work. She has also taught 8 sections of undergraduate content and curriculum in intro to social work, school social work, and social response to the human need. She has served as field liaison and field instructor for both graduate and undergraduate students since 2008.

Dr. Susan Elswick has over 15 years of clinical mental health experience that includes community mental health, case management, residential programming, ABA-based programming, school-based programming, parent coaching, integrated behavioral health, infant mental health, and home-based services. Dr. Elswick is the CEO/ Founder of Behavior Services of the MidSouth LLC. Her research interests include assessment and intervention for children with both academic and behavioral difficulties, the use of Response to Intervention in multiple settings, improving outcomes for students through effective teacher training and supports, the use of evidence-based interventions and services to correct maladaptive behaviors in order to improve outcomes for children and families, the use of expressive art therapies/ experiential therapies in the field of social work practice, and the use of informatics and technology in the field of social work.

Dr. Elswick is the author of fifteen peer reviewed journal publications, two monographed books, and served as the editor for one book publication. She also has over thirty referred conference presentations. She has received more than $1 million in internal and external grants to date. She was also awarded the NASW-TN West Branch Social Worker of the Year in 2017, and was awarded the prestigious Gary Lee Shaffer Award for Academic Contributions to the Field of School Social Work by the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) in 2018. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a school social work faculty member.


Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson, Philosophy

Verena Erlenbusch-AndersonVerena Erlenbusch-Anderson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Verena is a critical theorist whose work is primarily focused on terrorism and political violence. She is also interested in philosophical methodology and has written about diversity and inclusion in academia.

Verena is the author of Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Terror, Empire (Columbia University Press, 2018), which offers an empirically grounded and philosophically rigorous examination of what we do when we name something terrorism. Drawing on archives of the French Revolution, late-imperial Russia, colonized Algeria, and post-9/11 U.S. policy, she shows that terrorism is a historically constituted composite concept that is overlaid by a multiplicity of meanings and uses. Its main function is to articulate contextually specific and variable forms of enmity that allow for the establishment of pervasive networks of power aimed at the protection and defense of the social body.

Verena is currently at work on two projects. The first examines ameliorative concepts of terrorism in discourses that are typically discounted by theorists as non- or pre-conceptual, such as descriptions of lynching or characterizations of misogynist violence as terrorism. The second project is a genealogy of political theory that maps historically variable conceptions of normativity and the concrete forms of political theorizing they make possible.


Idia Thurston, Psychology

Idia ThurstonIdia Thurston, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Memphis. She is also an adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She received her doctorate from University of South Florida and postdoctoral training from Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Idia directs the CHANGE (Challenging Health disparities in Adolescents and Nurturing Global Empowerment) research lab - https://changelabmemphis.wixsite.com/uofm, where she leads a team of undergraduate and graduate scientists/clinicians in conducting health equity research. Her research program is framed by an academic feminist lens to explore how intersectional identities of race, gender, class, and sexuality influence health and well-being. Idia prioritizes collaborations with community partners to promote health equity and cultural humility in Memphis and beyond. She disseminates her health promotion initiatives to all stakeholders with over 30 peer-reviewed articles focused on HIV, Obesity, mental health, and the training of underrepresented minorities. Idia has received numerous grants and awards, including from the National Institutes of Health and The Obesity Society. She is driven to influence the next generation of scholars via holistic mentoring and was recently elected to the board of Division 54 of the American Psychological Association as the Member-at-Large for Student-Trainee Development.

Idia is driven to develop culturally-responsive measures and interventions that will reduce stigma and increase resilience in children, adolescents, and families. She is currently working on an NIH-funded project, PaTH Kids, which explores adverse experiences of mothers and resilience in their children, as well as the SOAR study, which is funded by the UofM External Funding Stimulus, and examines stress and resilience in adolescents with large bodies.


Thomas Watson, Computer Sciences

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013, then had a postdoctoral position at the University of Toronto before joining the University of Memphis.

His research in computational complexity is about explaining the fundamental limitations of computation under resource constraints, and identifying the boundary between what can and cannot be solved by efficient computational processes.

Dr. Watson's publications have received numerous accolades, including invitations to special journal issues, a Best Student Paper Award, and invited presentations at various workshops and conferences. His research has been supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and an NSF CRII grant.