In 2021, considering our themes of diversity and social justice, we made a special effort to invite mentors with experience in that work. It was, frankly, not difficult to do, as our field has such a rich array of scholars interested in equity and justice. And while there is no doubt a dearth of faculty of color nationally in all fields, we did benefit by both our colleagues of color’s insights and those of allies who know how crucial this work is. The list of mentors and their methods of research below also helped students to find appropriate individuals to help them move their research forward—something noted in many of the comments.
Whitney Jordan Adams, Clemson University
Research Focus and Methods: First-year writing, rhetorical theory, anti-racist pedagogy, ELL, WAC, CXC
Whitney Jordan Adams earned her PhD in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design from Clemson University. At Clemson, Dr. Adams was the assistant director of the writing center and helped to create the Visual Information Design Center, where both students and faculty can go for assistance with visual presentations, visual rhetoric, and graphic design. Currently, she is the Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at Berry College in Rome, GA. She studies the rhetorical construction of white supremacy, focusing on the Alt-Right, Accelerationism, and the rise in white nationalism. Additionally, she studies how symbols reproduce ideology connected to resentment rhetoric. Her courses focus on issues related to race, community activism, anti-racist pedagogy, and the rise in misinformation and the digital divide. You can listen to Dr. Adams discuss her research and activism on a recent episode of the Big Rhetorical Podcast, where she is interviewed by Charles Woods. Here is the link if you would like to listen: https://anchor.fm/the-big-rhetorical/episodes/Episode-68-Dr--Whitney-Jordan-Adams-Emerging-Scholar-Series-euo44r
Dr. Adams has traveled to over 30 countries through her work and research, and she has taught at major universities abroad including the Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China and the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Versailles, France. She believes everyone has the ability to be a rhetor and use the power of rhetoric for positive change.
Rebecca Babcock, University of Texas Permian Basin
Research Focus and Methods: Writing centers, metaresearch, linguistics, disability studies, social aspects of writing (writing groups, getting feedback, collaborative writing etc.
Hi. My name is Rebecca Day Babcock and I am the director of undergraduate research on my campus, the University of Texas Permian Basin. I have my BA in English Literature, my MA in Bilingual Education, and my PhD in English with a concentration in Composition and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. On campus I teach courses in writing and linguistics to freshmen through graduate students. I have mentored undergraduate researchers in projects such as “Rhetorical and Linguistic Aspects of Online Inflammatory Speech”, “Folk-Linguistic Perspectives of Oil Industry Personnel and Their Families” and “The Use of Emojis in Professional Communication.” My latest book is Boom or Bust: Life, Narrative, and Culture from the West Texas Oil Patch edited with Sheena Stief and Kristen Figgins. I am also interested in writing centers, disability, and metaresearch, which is research about research. I was on the Access team for the Naylor Report with Alexandria Lockett and Alexis Hart.
Hannah Bellwoar, Juniata College
Research Focus and Methods: Qualitative research, multimodal research, creative representation, feminist research methods
The majority of my research has employed qualitative research methods such as semi-structured interviews, surveys, observations, and text collection to explore a variety of topics including everyday literacies of medicine and health, technical writing in knitting patterns, narrative and identity in video games, and the collaboration, research, and writing practices of faculty and undergraduate students as they compose and publish together. I am particularly drawn to feminist research methodologies and notions of reciprocity between researchers and research participants, through which I am constantly asking myself, how can my research and work with my research participants benefit them at the same time it benefits me and the academic community? A recent example of this is in my current research project on co-mentoring undergraduate design and writing research projects. Out of this research, I’ve also been exploring how undergraduate researchers co-mentor each other.
Gabriel Cutrufello, York College of Pennsylvania
Research Focus and Methods: Technical or scientific writing and rhetoric of science
Dr. Gabriel Cutrufello studies the ways in which visuals (charts, graphs, sketches, photographs, etc) are used in scientific argument. He is particularly interested in the history of how these practices were enacted in engineering and science graduate training in the United States. His research looks at archives of student writing in the science and engineering to analyze the ways in which they integrated visuals with their writing.
Doug Downs, Montana State University
Research Focus and Methods Composition pedagogy, "civil" discourse in public spheres, digital rhetorics, journalism / science journalism, rhetorical theory
I use discourse analysis and mix-methods qualitative research to explore how professionals and students in various disciplines, especially STEM-related, understand writing, reading, rhetoric, and language. My research asks how people (students, various professionals, people participating in public policy discourse) understand what they're doing when they write or read or argue, and how their understanding / conceptions of those activities shape the ways they actually do them. E.g. what do people think is "good" writing or "good" argument in various sciences, or in public policy debate? I've also studied writing and reading pedagogies a lot -- what are better and worse ways to teach writing and reading in college? How can we teach in ways that shape students' conceptions of writing, reading, and argument to better align with how researchers in our field understand these, and thus help students be more confident in these activities and have better experiences with them?
Andrea Efthymiou, Hofstra University
Research Focus and Methods: Tutoring, complicating academic discourse and SAE, self-sponsored writing
My research interests broadly attempt to see the connections between writing and our lives. Within higher education, I'm interested in understanding how writing center consultants perceive the value of their work in the writing center, particularly as related to things that happen outside of session (like facilitating workshops or attending conferences). I also research self-sponsored writing to better understand the kinds of writing people do in their lives outside of work and school.
Laura Feibush, Juniata College
Research Focus and Methods: FYC, composition, rhetoric, multimodal projects, sonic/podcasting rhetorics, digital pedagogy, listening, online learning environments
Laura Feibush is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Juniata College, where she teaches courses in public and professional writing, writing across media, and first-year composition. Her research and writing focus on the power of listening.
Jenn Fishman, Marquette University
Research Focus and Methods: College writing, formal writing instruction, extra- and co-curricular writing education, community listening, interview-based research
Jenn Fishman (Associate Professor of English at Marquette University) is a teacher and researcher, writer and editor, writing administrator, and mentor, and many of her projects are collaborative. Currently, she is working with an undergraduate co-editor on a 9/11 reader, and she is working with writing studies colleagues on edited collections about two different subjects: longitudinal research and community listening. Through the classroom and the writing center, she is also mentoring undergraduate researchers interested in everything from college students' identities as writers to teacher education and professional development in elementary, junior high, and high school. To learn more, look for her in CCC, College English, Community Literacy Journal, and Peitho as well as The Naylor Report on Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies.
William FitzGerald, Rutgers University
Research Focus and Methods: First year writing, assessment, rhetorical analysis, style studies, media, religious language
I study religious language, especially prayer, in private and public settings using methods of rhetorical analysis of texts. I also study research itself as a subject with a focus on how to design teaching and learning experiences that enable students to successfully design and execute projects based on primary (e.g., fieldwork, archives) and secondary (e.g., library). Finally, I am interested in argument in civic affairs and in the roles of understanding and empathy in seeking (or rejecting) common ground with those with whom we agree and disagree.
Nidhi Gandhi, Hofstra University
Research Focus and Methods: First-year writing, tutoring, public advocacy, social action, SAE (and student's rights to their own language)
My primary interests are in Students Rights to Their Own Language, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Center, and First-Year writing. In my junior year of college, I conducted an empirical study where I surveyed students and professors and interviewed faculty on their perceptions and preconceived notions of Standard Academic English across disciplines. As a student myself, I observed that students and professors had vastly different views on what they expected from written assignments across disciplines and I wanted to know what they were and how to best communicate those notions and expectations.
Alexis Hart, Allegheny College
Research Focus and Methods: Writing centers, first-year writing, student veterans, community-engaged writing
I have focused much of my research in the last decade on how writing classes, writing centers, and writing practices in general impact student veterans’ transitions to higher education. My co-researcher, Roger Thompson, and I have administered surveys, conducted interviews, done archival research, collected samples of living veterans’ professional and academic writing, and read lots of other scholars’ research. Roger’s and my co-written book Writing Programs, Veterans Studies, and the Post-9/11 University: A Field Guide was published in 2020 and our work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Composition Forum, and Pedagogy, as well as other journals and edited collections. We have presented at several conferences, as well, including CCCC’s, Veterans in Society, and the Council of College and Military Educators. Along with other members of the CCCC’s Standing Group on Writing with Current, Former, and Future Members of the Military, I have participated in local outreach programs. In addition to my research on student veterans, I have published work on women in the military, writing with XML, ePortfolios, and writing centers. I am currently a participant in Elon’s Writing Beyond the University Research Seminar.
Maria Isela Maier, University of Texas at El Paso
Research Focus and Methods: Examining multilingual students' communicative practices in first year writing courses
My dissertation is a qualitative study that uses ethnographic research methods to examine the translanguaging practices of bilingual students in first-year composition at a university along the U.S.-Mexico border. Specifically, I observe how and why bilingual students employ translanguaging practices, as they are encouraged or invited by their instructors, in contexts where English Standard Language policies exist. The results of this qualitative project demonstrate bilingual students’ use of translation as part of their translanguaging practices, as well as a tool that uncovers students’ writing processes which also demonstrates their language negotiation. Furthermore, the students’ translanguaging practices reveal the rhetorical use of language and bilinguals’ agentic role. Findings also show that there are firmly established ideologies that prevent bilingual students from realizing the benefits of translanguaging. Understanding bilingual students’ translanguaging practices can aid in remapping institutional policies and pedagogical practices and move in a positive direction toward adopting more inclusive approaches.
Jay Jordan, University of Utah
Research Focus and Methods: Second Language Writing, translingual composition, WAC, international education, composition theory
I am a specialist in second language writing, translingual composition, and international education. I have published articles in a range of journals and other venues in composition, rhetoric, and applied linguistics. I am author of Redesigning Composition for Multilingual Realities and co-editor of several collections. And I am author of a forthcoming book on WAC at a transnational university.
David Kelly, Jr., University of Baltimore
Research Focus and Methods: first year writing, tutoring, public advocacy, social action, code meshing
David Kelly, Jr. is a graduate of the Negotiations and Conflict Management master’s program at the University of Baltimore. David started as a volunteer in the Writing Center at UBalt in the fall of 2017. He discovered intersectionalities between conflict management theories and scholarship, and writing center studies. Focusing on writing as a conflict in systems and institutions of higher education, David works to transform students’ relationships with writing through: advocating writer autonomy; collaboration and; development of rhetorical awareness, genre expectation, and audience identification.
David works as the Writing Services Coordinator and Director of the Writing Center. In these capacities respectively, David trains and supports development of writing center staff so that they are more equipped engage students autonomy, agency, lived experiences through the performance of disciplinary writing; and oversees writing fellows program to collaborate with faculty through providing embedded support in writing intensive courses.
Inspired by his work with students, David presented original research at the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association (MAWCA) conference (2019);Towson Conference for Academic Libraries (TCAL)(2020); and was the keynote speaker at MAWCA 2020 summer mini conference on antiracist pedagogy.
Elaine MacDougall, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Research Focus and Methods: Centering student voice in first-year composition, writing center studies/tutoring, anti-racism in higher education and writing assessment, trauma-informed writing practices, mindfulness and writing
Elaine MacDougall is a Lecturer in the English department and Director of the Writing Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She is currently a doctoral student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program at UMBC with research interests in mindfulness and writing studies, embodiment pedagogy, tutor and student self-efficacy and advocacy, and anit-racist pedagogy in the writing center and writing classroom using frameworks from critical race theory and feminist theory, especially Black feminism. Elaine is still studying and figuring out various methods in her research, but she is drawn to ethnography and discourse analysis. Additionally, her background as a yoga instructor has influenced her practices in the writing classroom and made her more aware of the importance of being present with and listening to her students. Elaine is excited to continue growing from and learning about positionality as a white female in her roles as a writing center director, instructor, colleague, and student.
Mike Mattison, Wittenberg University
Research Focus and Methods: Writing centers (peer to peer tutoring), writing across the curriculum, first-year writing
At Wittenberg University, I serve as an Associate Provost, Professor of English, and as Director of the Writing Center. Most of my research work revolves around writing centers and the conversations that happen between tutors and writers. A lot of the data I use are transcripts of those conversations, and my co-researchers and I often count and categorize the types of comments made during writing sessions. Previously, I have collaborated with undergraduate researchers on questions about email sessions—which comments elicit the most revision from writers—and on how experience helps a tutor initiate “topic episodes” in a session. More recently, we have begun looking at questions of self-efficacy for tutors—how confident do they feel about tutoring, and how might that level of confidence change during a training class or during time spent in a writing center.
Jessie Moore, Elon University
Research Focus and Methods: Professional writing, first-year writing, writing lives of college students and alumni, social action
Jessie L. Moore, PhD, studies engaged learning practices (e.g., undergraduate research, study abroad, learning communities), the writing lives of college students and professionals, and writing transfer (i.e., how writers adapt prior writing knowledge and experiences to successfully complete new writing tasks). Her research routinely uses mixed methods, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
Timothy Oleksiak, University of Massachusetts Boston
Research Focus and Methods: I am interested in mentoring queer feminist writing pedagogies, case study research and design, and rhetorical analysis
I teach rhetoric and composition with a focus on queer feminist rhetorics. More specifically, I study queer rhetorical listening and transformational rhetoric (as opposed to rhetorics of persuasion). I am grounding this theoretical approach to writing through a series of studies on student-to-student peer review in the writing classroom. As such, I am interested in transforming pedagogical theory into pedagogical practice mainly through case study research.
Kim Peck, York College of PA
Research Focus and Methods: Writing center/ tutoring or online writing instruction
My research focuses on student, tutor, and instructor experiences and interaction in online environments like online writing classes or tutoring sessions. I use methods including interviewing and qualitative coding analysis as well as discourse analysis of interactions in class or tutoring sessions.
Brooke Schreiber, Baruch College
Research Focus and Methods: Second language writing (ELL), digital writing (social media)
Brooke R. Schreiber teaches in the English department at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. Her research focuses on best practices for teaching non-native English speakers to write in English, on the varieties of English spoken around the world and how those varieties are discriminated against in English language teaching, and on how multilingual people mix languages in their writing. Her publications include a case study of a multilingual student’s digital writing; studies interviewing students about their responses to communicating with speakers of other varieties of English; studies of writing pedagogy in countries outside the United States; and studies of how international researchers and participants position themselves in research interviews.
Jessi Thomsen, Florida State University
Research Focus and Methods: reflection in writing; decoloniality; new materialisms/posthumanities; history of text technologies/textual studies
Jessi Thomsen is a PhD candidate (graduating Summer 2021) in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University. Her dissertation “Alternative Cartographies: Reflection(s) for the Complexities of Writing and Sustainability” looks at reflection in writing and living as a practice that materializes in different ways for different people. She has presented at several conferences on mentoring in writing programs and on implementing strategies for teaching writing as social activism. Her work on student engagement in composition classrooms and teaching comics has appeared in English Journal and TETYC. She appreciates her golden retrievers, who supervise all of her research endeavors, including current projects on reflection, mentoring, new materialisms, decoloniality, and sustainability.
Muffy Walter, Washburn University
Research Focus and Methods: First-Year Writing, work connecting to disability studies, and advocacy writing
My research has included locations from the New York State Museum in Albany, NY to the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO. I have researched, written, and published about a nineteenth-century insane asylum patient newsletter, a psychiatric history museum’s exhibits, gender identity in writing centers, teaching student advocacy writing in my classes, and women’s memoirs about living with mental illness. My current research project focuses on first-year writing students’ growth in critical thinking through teaching linguistic justice. Research subjects in my work are most often texts with authors no longer living; however, I began doing research on current student writing with my last publication, a co-authored book chapter, and with my new project on linguistic justice.
Mike Zerbe, York College of Pennsylvania
Research Focus and Methods: First-Year Writing, ELL, rhetorics/literacies of science and medicine
My research explores the intersections of scientific/medical rhetoric and literacy. Scientific and medical discourse is a dominant rhetoric in Western culture, though it is under assault with respect to issues such as vaccines and climate change. Even so, understanding how this dominant rhetoric works and can be used is an important social justice issue.