2020-21 Graduate College Fellows focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, inclusive practices and academic and research integrity

The more time I spend in the Graduate College, the more impressed I am with the depth and variety of intellectual resources we have at our disposal, especially among our amazing graduate faculty. If I had any doubts about that, I had only to look at the stunning array of proposals we received last spring for our Graduate College Fellows competition.

As a kind of faculty-in-residence, this program solicits individuals and teams of faculty to help the Graduate College advance key initiatives that improve graduate curricula across the university. 

Last year’s Graduate College Fellows, University & Regents and Presidents Professor Sally Kitch and W. P. Carey Clinical Assistant Professor John Wisneski, collaborated to create the first comprehensive model for a new cross-campus experience: Interdisciplinary Solutions for Social Impact (ISSI). Rooted in team-taught, project-based learning, ISSI will support interdisciplinary laboratories that bring together faculty and graduate students exploring complex social problems. The first labs will launch in Spring of 2021 and focus on the theme “Impacting Inequality.” A number of ASU faculty members are participating in the 2020-21 lab. 

2020-21 Graduate College Fellows

The 2020-21 Fellows are currently deep into the planning of their projects and are working in three key areas: interdisciplinary collaboration in graduate education; inclusive practices across the graduate curricula; and ensuring the highest standards of research and academic integrity in every discipline.   

Interdisciplinary collaboration 

Focusing on the topic of Interdisciplinary Collaboration is Liz Lerman (Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts) and Beckett Sterner (School of Life Sciences). 

Framing their project through the “wicked problem” of biodiversity loss, Lerman and Sterner will provide creative and constructive resources for students to explore transdisciplinary solutions to urgent societal problems. 

As a transdisciplinary artist in the field of dance performance, Lerman is an exemplar of what innovation looks like at ASU. A recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Genius Grant and the first Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Lerman’s work explores questions such as, “Can I make data personal?; Is audience in art the same as audience in science?; and How can artists contribute to the world?” Her “Atlas of Creativity Tools” and “Critical Response Process” has been utilized by artists and educators both nationally and internationally to enhance learning and deepen dialogue between artists and their communities.  

A philosopher interested in the life sciences, Sterner focuses on “pluralism in the information age through an emphasis on the social dimension of mathematical formalization.” This focus has brought him unique teaching and research opportunities that bridge history, the philosophy of science and the natural sciences together while integrating ethics and societal context into the curriculum. 

Inclusive practices

Social Psychologist Delia Saenz (Psychology) has long been a force for nurturing inter-group alliance and understanding in her research, teaching and administrative roles at ASU. Her research has looked at tokenism, faculty women of color in the academy, and ethnic identity development and acculturation for Latino youth. Her teaching has focused on stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, gender disparities, group dynamics, diversity in contemporary society, and the social dynamics of inclusion.

Professor Saenz’s Inclusive Practices fellowship project will be to design an “evidence-based, integrated platform, using both face-to-face and online modalities for training graduate students across disciplines to:

  1. Understand the value to their field of engaging inclusive practice;

  2. Learn capacity-building skills related to inclusive practice that can be applied during their graduate training, and well into their future careers; and

  3. Begin to develop diversity, equity, and inclusion resources that they can benefit from directly and also can benefit their specific disciplinary program, and their field.”

Once in place, the new platform will be flexible to accommodate evolving understandings, technologies and approaches. 

Academic and research integrity

Fellow Kristy Holtfreter (Criminology and Criminal Justice) will be tackling the challenge of Academic and Research Integrity for all graduate students by helping to scale up the resources currently available.  

To deepen the experience, Professor Holtfreter is piloting a 3-credit graduate seminar covering topics like best practices in research collaborations, financial responsibility in grants, presentation of research findings, and public communication. The seminar will form the basis of a multi-faceted academic integrity curriculum for which the Graduate College will seek support in developing. 

Prepared for anything

With the help of our Fellows, we have a chance to show prospective employers that ASU’s graduate students have the experience, breadth and depth of knowledge needed in today’s workplace. Not only do students know their disciplines, they know how to work collaboratively and with the highest standards of integrity, and with attention to inclusive practice along the way.


Tamara Underiner

Associate Dean, 
Graduate Academic Affairs