Doctoral Research Associates

An essential part of fulfilling the mission of the Transformation Project is supporting the vibrant and innovative ideas, research, and scholarship produced by doctoral students. To assist in the development and dissemination of their scholarship, the Transformation Project offers competitive opportunities for financial assistance to fund ongoing research projects, help students gain new training and skills for their research, and support conference attendance.

 In the past several years, Transformation Project support has enabled our doctoral students to attend and present research at national and international academic conferences, such as the National Communication Association, International Communication Association, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication, Aspen Engaged, and others. Additionally, others have been supported in ongoing training that directly supports their research (e.g., ASU’s “Mindful Leadership” seminar, the international “Being a Leader” course, Lego Serious Play, etc.).

Our doctoral students are conducting transformative research across all paradigms and theoretical approaches in the Communication discipline. Our students also use a variety of research methodologies, including autoethnographic, performance, qualitative, participatory, quantitative, critical, rhetorical, and mixed methods.

Below you’ll find current Transformation Project associates discussing the impact and support of the Transformation Project in their scholarly journey.   

Lucy Niess

The Transformation Project has allowed me to pursue creative research projects and travel to conferences for networking and knowledge growth. I was able to travel to California to collect ethnographic data on sexual consent from an annual event as well as present that research to international conferences. Beyond the financial support I have received, the Transformation Project hosts a wealth of scholars who jump at the chance at helping one another. I have attended the two writing retreats (thus far) and several Walk and Talk hiking meetings that the Transformation Project has hosted and established working relationships. The initiative embodies community all for the sake of growth in every aspect of the human experience. Being a member of the Transformation Project has been a major highlight during my time in the program. I felt welcomed and supported from the members of the community and collaboration was both offered and encouraged. I was able to participate in research projects with the faculty members and built relationships that helped progress my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Transformation Project and the support and community it has provided me over the years.

Conferences and Support
Financial support for research projects (2018); International Communication Association (2020)

Kyle Hanners

The Transformation Project has been a central element in my time at the Hugh Downs School. Overall, this initiative has fostered a community of support that has allowed me to collaborate with others in meaningful ways. My first research project was a direct result of the brainstorming and collaboration that emerged within this community. Additionally, I was able to gain firsthand experience in developing two events for the Transformation Project which allowed me to learn about departmental logistics, further my professional skills, and support the department and community in meaningful ways. Altogether, this group has been an essential resource for building community and creating spaces for worthwhile collaborations.

I owe much of my success in the program to the Transformation Project. Because of the Jeanne Lind Herberger fellowship award, I was able to fully fund my current research on LEGO Serious Play, which includes facilitation certification training and various teaching supplies. Without this award, I would be unable to continue this research and pursue my commitment to bringing meaningful play into teaching and learning environments. Altogether, the Transformation Project has provided fantastic financial and social support which has opened up spaces for me to pursue my passions.

Conferences and Support
Jeanne Lind Herberger Fellowship; LEGO Serious Play Facilitation Training (2020)

Rebecca Leach

The Transformation Project has been a cornerstone of my doctoral experience at Hugh Downs. I have received generous support and guidance from faculty mentors and doctoral colleagues in the Transformation Project. It is inspiring to be part of a community of like-minded scholars who are driven to positively transform society and promote equitable forms of organizing. I have seen firsthand how collaborations and innovative research projects are born in Transformation Project spaces, such as the Conversation Symposium, writing retreats, book clubs, and Walk and Talks. Members of the Transformation Project regularly challenge each other to grow as scholars, teachers, and agents of change. Thanks to these conversations, I have had the opportunity to work with exceptional scholars to dig deeply and research topics such as organizational justice, emotional labor, organizational flourishing, health occupations, and social support. The Transformation Project has also supported my ongoing research on organizational compassion and resilience, which is now the focus of my dissertation. I know that the mentorships and friendships I have made within the Transformation Project will continue to inspire me for years to come. 

Conferences and Support
Jeanne Lind Herberger Fellowship (2020); Financial support for research (2020)

Laura Martinez

Being a part of the Transformation Project has been a strong guide and inspiration for my dissertation work. I have been able to apply a lens of transformation to the research context I am investigating and analyzing the complexities of my context with an eye toward how existing protocols can be improved and well, transformed. Being a part of this collaborative has made me feel like I can do research and apply work that has a purpose, will reach my intended audiences, and can enact change for improvement. I truly have the Transformation Project to thank for many of the opportunities I have received throughout my PhD program, as well as the close relationships I have formed with faculty and peers and especially with my two co-advisors, Dr. Sarah Tracy and Dr. Alaina Zanin. For example, the Transformation Project gave me the opportunity to be a part of a research team led by Dr. Zanin that looked at gender disparities in youth sports and Dr. Tracy has invited me to collaborate on multiple book chapters. I've also been able to participate in numerous activities that have provided service to the department and helped to organize events founded on the principles of the Transformation Project, such as the Symposium we held in October 2019.

I received a seed grant in the 2019-2020 academic year from the Transformation Project to attend the ICA conference in Australia and present our work on gender disparities in youth sports. Unfortunately, that conference was held virtually because of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the seed grant funds I received will now be put toward my dissertation research and aid with data collection and analysis! This project, inspired in part by my involvement in the Transformation Project, seeks to transform toxic socialization practices in athletic and performance-based contexts as a way of intervention.

Conferences and Support
International Communication Association; Financial support for research (2020/2021)

Marco Dehnert

The Transformation Project has supported me in many different ways, starting in my first semester as a doctoral student at the Hugh Downs School. In addition to a vibrant community of engaged scholars and students, The Transformation Project has supported my research and professional development efforts in a variety of ways. I have received seed grant funding for several projects related to transformation. For instance, one project focused on the role of failure and risk-taking for our understanding of teaching and expertise in teaching (currently under review in a journal). Another research project focuses on international students’ experiences with Customs and Border protection (submitted to a conference and still ongoing). Additionally, The Transformation Project enabled me to attend the Rhetoric Society of America 9th Biennial Summer Institute in 2021, allowing me to not only connect with leading scholars in my specific areas of interest but also to dive deeper into the research topics I am invested in by sharing (virtual) space and time with like-minded scholars and practitioners. I am more than grateful for having been welcomed into The Transformation Project’s supportive group of creative scholars from the first day of my doctoral program. Not only am I forging close professional relationships with scholars inside and beyond my department, but I also enjoy the motivation and inspiration for cultivating innovative, committed, and transformative research and scholarship catalyzed by this community.

Conferences and Support
Financial support for research projects; Rhetoric Society of America 9th Biennial Summer Institute (2021)

Florencia Durón

Transformation Project helped me fund a podcast. This podcast is an artistic project that combines personal narrative and live music. Art can transform people, and it is so refreshing that Transformation Project — a research collaborative — is willing to support art! Being part of the Transformation Project means that I’m part of a group of creative and smart individuals who believe in me, recognize the joys and the messiness of life, and genuinely care about people.

Conferences and Support
Financial support for podcast creation (2021)