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Community Engagement Academy

The Community Engagement Academy (CEA) is an interdisciplinary professional development program designed for new UTK faculty (0-3 years), postdocs, and graduate students who want to learn the foundations of community engagement and engaged scholarship and apply knowledge to research and practice. CEA provides background literature, facilitated discussion, mentoring, and presentations designed to increase their knowledge and enhance their practice of community engaged scholarship throughout Knoxville and East Tennessee by creating new partnerships and/or building upon existing ones.

Emerging engagement scholars will participate in seminars, with optional opportunities for engagement available through the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach (OCEO) initiatives. OCEO is committed to the principles of equity, shared governance, reciprocity, and mutual decision-making. Seminars are co-led by UTK faculty, staff, community partners, and national experts.

It is our expectation that CEA scholars will participate fully during the program. Please review the schedule to ensure that you do not have any schedule conflicts before you apply.

Session 1: Tuesday, September 20, 5:00–7:00 PM 

Session 2: Tuesday, September 27, 5:00–7:00 PM

Session 3: Tuesday, October 4, 5:00–7:00 PM

Session 4: Tuesday, October 11, 5:00–7:00 PM

Session 5: Tuesday, October 18, 5:00–7:00 PM

Session 6: Tuesday, October 25, 5:00–7:00 PM

Apply Here

Congratulations to our 2022 Fall Cohort! 

Phoebe Tran

Assistant Professor, Public Health

Research interest focuses on determining whether secondary cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention disparities exist between US rural and urban residents in the Southeastern US.

Ji Youn Yoo

Assistant Professor, Nursing

Research interests focus on how alterations of the gut microbial compositions and diversity (called gut dysbiosis) affect the host immune dysregulation, leading to critical adverse health outcomes.

Dominque Bulgin

Assistant Professor, Nursing

Research interest involves health promotion in Black communities experiencing chronic illnesses through
strategies for disease self-management.


Anujit Sarkar

Assistant Professor, Nursing

Research interests include exploring the interaction between oral and gut microbes and its implications on human health.


Jessie Tanner

Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research interests revolve around the evolution of communication in acoustically communicating animals, especially treefrogs. 


Jun Ai

Assistant Professor, Child & Family Studies

Research interests focus on providing equitable and high-quality early care and education for all children and their families, especially those from nondominant communities.


Christopher Rogers

PhD candidate, Sociology

Research interests are focused on inadequate medical care, misdiagnoses, and lack of high-quality medical care for Black patients in the hospital setting as material representations of racism.

Kimberly Hill

PhD candidate, Higher Education Administration

Director, Project Excellence

Research interests include examining the benefits of pre-college access programs and retention of underrepresented students at higher education institutions.

Quannah Washington

PhD Student, Higher education administration

Coordinator, Office of Community Engagement and Outreach

Research interests will explore how adverse childhood experiences (ACES) affect educational outcomes in Black Americans.

Camren Murray

PhD Student, History

Research interests revolve around working with juniors and seniors at Austin East High School as they apply to post-secondary institutions (i.e. 4 year, 2 year, and vocational).

Isis Fukai

PhD Student, Energy Science and Engineering

Research interests include strategies for effective communication in scientific research related to energy, environmental, and natural resource sustainability. 

Yetunde Fadipe

Master’s Student, Public Health Nutrition

Research interests focus on community-based interventions to increase access to healthy foods for vulnerable populations.

Jill Malolepszy

PhD Student, Higher Education Administration
Associate Director, Office of Equity and Diversity

Research interests center on the role of restorative justice as a practice in higher education in preventing and responding to harm.

Shalini Yerukala

Research Specialist III
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Research interests revolve around creating sustainable, eco-friendly management strategies for plant diseases, and outreach to farmers.

Janine Al-Aseer

Clinical Assistant Professor, Theory & Practice in Teacher Education

Director, University Assisted Community Schools

My research centers community voices around equitable access to high-quality education and providing holistic services to children and their families.

Temitayo Abayomi

PhD Student, Nutrition

My research explores the behavioural aspects of infant and young child nutrition and the development of interventions to positively modify those behaviours across the socio-ecological gradient, especially amongst vulnerable populations.

Jalen Blue

PhD Student, School of Communication Studies

My research interests include organizational communication, leadership, and DEI within the context of higher education.

DeLisa Hawkes

Assistant Professor, Africana Studies and English

I study literary depictions of the relationships between Black and Indigenous peoples in nineteenth- to twenty-first-century African American literature.

Morgan Fleming

PhD Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I aspire to leverage my research examining the impacts of climate change on salamanders to inspire students’ connection with the ecology of Appalachia and initiate conversations about practical conservation strategies for rural communities.

Joy Jenkins

Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Electronic Media

My research explores changing roles, routines, and practices in newsrooms with a particular focus on local media.

Miranda Rutan

PhD Student, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences

My research centers critical care and communities of care within formal and informal learning settings through a critical feminist lens.

Kelly Sauskojus

PhD Student, English

I’m a graduate student in the rhetoric, writing & linguistics division of the English department. I’m interested in how place, race & religion affect the writing that takes place at some of the community gardens I work at in East Knoxville.

Jennifer Smith

Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

My research interest is investigating the cardiovascular disease risk factors in informal community caregivers caring for ill relatives.

Mary Terry

PhD Student, Theory & Practice in Teacher Education

I am researching the functions of racial identity and belonging in educational contexts.


Jillian Walton

PhD Student, Microbiology

My community engagement interests revolve around creating a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable community within the Knoxville area.


Kristen Wyckoff

Lecturer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

My current outreach efforts focus on assisting and providing training to small water and wastewater utilities in Appalachian areas of Tennessee. I am also actively participating in efforts in LGBTQIA topics.

Corey Day Entomology & Plant Pathology
Kimberly Mitchell Architecture
Jeremy Kanter Child and Family Studies
Rebekah Hermann Industrial Engineering
Jessica Jones Haslam College of Business
Kertesha Riley Counselor Education
LaTrice Wright Psychology
Kristen Ravi College of Social Work
Kiley Compton Educational Pyschology &  Counseling
Joseph Winberry Communication and Information Sciences
Paula Lazarim Counselor Education
Micheala DiPillo Psychology
Laura Knight Industrial Engineering