Announcing the 2023-24 Freedman Faculty Fellows

photos of freedman fellows 2023-24

The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Kelvin Smith Library has announced the recipients of the 2023–24 Freedman faculty fellows. The annual fellowship program supports the advancement of digital scholarship research projects from Case Western Reserve University faculty. The fellowship aids researchers in integrating digital tools and technology into their work across multiple disciplines to support learning and advance scholastic discoveries.

The 2023-24 Freedman Faculty Fellows program is generously funded by the Freedman Fellows Endowment, established by Samuel B. and Marian K. Freedman.

This year’s Case Western Reserve University faculty recipients are:

George Blake
A lecturer with the Department of English, Blake studies music and urban life. He has published articles in Popular Music, Ethnomusicology, and Journal of the Society for American Music. His current research explores how musical genres intersect with ideas about place. He also hosts a podcast highlighting local performers and teaches musical histories of Cleveland neighborhoods. Blake has received funding for his work from the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship and the University of California, Santa Barbara Center for Black Studies Research. He writes community journalism at The Land.

Blake’s project seeks to inventory and examine the different ways that lead poisoning in Cleveland has been covered by the news media, with particular attention to the rhetorical and visual strategies used in public writing about such a complex and elusive issue. The damage caused by lead occurs over a long period of time, requires testing, and does not easily conform to the 5 W's structure of typical journalism. However, recent innovations in mapping technologies and data-driven strategies are providing journalists with new tools to convey the problem of lead. Journalists at online publications like Reuters and Vox have created national lead maps, while researchers at Columbia University's The American Lead Map Collaboratory have created a crowd-sourced open-online map. Similarly, Case Western Reserve University's own Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development has explored the possibilities of mapping lead locally in ways that have impacted recent lead legislation. Likewise, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing are providing tools for Citizen Science Research around lead poisoning. By analyzing new approaches alongside old ones in covering lead poisoning in Cleveland, this project seeks to clarify persistent issues of missing data, gaps between research and public awareness, and the challenge of connecting different silos working on the same problem.

Jacqueline Curtis
Jacqueline Curtis, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is a spatial epidemiologist, utilizing geospatial technologies to discover geographic patterns that shape our health. She specializes in collaboration with partners in clinical medicine and public health to translate this research into improved patient-centered care for all people. Currently, Curtis is focused on a variety of commonly stigmatized conditions that impact the health of girls and women. Curtis is passionate about improving healthcare for people with dyslexia— and across the spectrum of neurodiversity—through her research, teaching and service.

Curtis’ project is titled SEEN Kids: Spatial Epidemiology for Excellence in Neurodiverse Kids. SEEN Kids is an interactive webmapping engine that raises awareness and enables research into the geographic patterns of dyslexia prevalence, outcomes and access to supportive resources across the United States. While dyslexia is the starting point for this project, it will be built to expand into the many dimensions of neurodiversity that shape the health of children and their families.

Scott Moore
Scott Emory Moore, PhD, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, FAAN is an assistant professor in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. Moore’s program of research examines dynamics among sex, gender and biological, psychosocial and systems factors and their influences on health outcomes among marginalized populations including those living with HIV. Moore incorporates multi-level and integrative analytic approaches to improve the understanding of the impacts that systems, community, interpersonal and individual-level factors have on aging, health outcomes and well-being among marginalized adults. Moore has research expertise in quantitative and mixed methods, decision-making, ethics and clinical and interventional experience working with a range of underserved populations: people living with HIV, sexual and gender minorities, rural and urban populations.

Moore's community-partnered participatory project will support the co-adaptation and co-development of an established digital health story co-development protocol to support the creation of healthcare provider training resources to address a major need for improved preparedness of healthcare workers to provide high-quality, inclusive care for sexual and gender diverse (SGD; e.g. lesbian, gay, transgender) individuals. The project will also begin evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the protocol for use within the SGD community. 

Yukiko Onitsuka
Yukiko N. Onitsuka, EdD, has taught on Japanese language and culture, manga (Japanese graphic novels), and SAGES writing, and led a study abroad program in Kyoto, Japan. She has a B.A. in English with a concentration in language studies from San Francisco State University and an MA and EdD in literacy and second language studies/ TESOL from the University of Cincinnati. She wrote her Doctoral dissertation on Teachers’ Language Choices and Functions in Japanese as a Foreign Language Classroom Instruction. Onitsuka’s research interests are foreign language acquisition, sociolinguistics and teacher education and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) education in Japan. More recently, she has been working on manga studies and its use in foreign language education.

Onitsuka’s project explores the readability of manga (a.k.a., Japanese graphic novels). Much like American comic books, they have a reputation for being of little social or educational value, specifically as functional reading material. However, nowadays in Japan, we can find more commercial advertisements, instructional texts, textbooks and educational books accompanied by manga-type visual cues and/or published in a manga style. Though we can speculate several reasons as to why they actively incorporate manga-style visual aids, one of the plausible factors is its accessibility to a mass audience due to its readability, the quality of being legible or decipherable. The field of Japanese language learning is not an exception. Many teachers and proficient speakers recommend manga reading as an authentic, functional and effective learning tool. Although their recommendations seem to have some tendency as to which books are good for beginners and which ones are more for advanced learners, that is solely based on their learning and teaching experience, not supported by rigid data assessment. In this study, therefore, Onitsuka would like to assess the randomly chosen five volumes of 20 manga titles in terms of text readability and visual/art literacy. 

Alp Sehirlioglu
Alp Sehirlioglu, PhD is an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University. He received Bachelor of Science degree in Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. He furthered his studies, obtaining a Master of Science in Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University in Alfred, New York, and later, a Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. Dr. Sehirlioglu's research is primarily centered around the intricate realm of interfaces, encompassing both interfacial control of bulk materials and two-dimensional behaviors. His wide-ranging research pursuits coalesce around the domain of oxide-based functional ceramics. Notably, he holds the distinction of being a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and serves as the Editor of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. Furthermore, he is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has actively contributed to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at IEEE-UFFC as its first chair.
Dr. Sehirlioglu's accomplishments and accolades include the receipt of the prestigious NSF CAREER Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award, and the Young Alumnus Award from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has also been recognized with the Case School of Engineering Research Award and the Charles F. Lucks Award by the International Thermal Conductivity Conference, Inc., in addition to twice being honored
with NASA Special Achievement Team Awards. Beyond his scholarly pursuits, he has ventured into the dynamic realm of Mixed Reality (MR), actively engaging in its use and study as a cutting-edge pedagogical tool for the last seven years.

Sehirlioglu's project focuses on the concept of symmetry, which spans from the subatomic level to the fundamental principles of mechanics. His team has developed an app designed to facilitate simultaneous usage by multiple human participants who support and collaborate with one another in building their understanding of the role of symmetry in physics. The app is already in place, as is the underlying theory. This project seeks to gather pilot data on the individual and interactive gestures produced by undergraduate students while utilizing a HoloLens app to learn the concept of 3D symmetry. Understanding 3D symmetry is essential for engineers, as it enables them to predict the material properties that often display anisotropic behavior, meaning they depend on the crystal structure's direction and atomic arrangements. Incorporating 3D teaching through mixed reality (MR) stimulates the use of gestures, as learners attempt to externalize mental processes into physical space and direct each other's attention. In this study, we aim to explore the individual gestures produced by students as they interact with the HoloLens app, as well as the interactive gestures they employ towards their peers to direct attention and facilitate learning. The primary objective in this pilot study is to develop coding systems that allow us to comprehend individual and interactive gestures in the context of symmetry and their correlation with the learning process.

Xia Wu
Xia Wu, PhD, is a lecturer in the English Department. She has earned her Master's Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and PhD in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Rochester. Her primary research interest is international students' academic socialization experience in U.S. higher education. Recently, Wu's research interests have expanded to exploring the role of instructional talk in first-year writing class and writing program curriculum reform. 

As the leading source of international students in the U.S, Chinese international students are portrayed negatively. These stereotypes homogenize Chinese international students and inhibit the possibility of learning and understanding between cultures. These stereotypes often lead to tensions between Chinese international students and the local community, which could be detrimental to students’ learning experiences in general. To stop perpetuating these stereotypes and create a healthy, inclusive campus climate, we need to create opportunities to help Chinese international students and the local community develop mutual understanding. This project aims to facilitate the mutual understanding between Chinese international students and the local community at Case Western Reserve University. In this project, we will interview some Chinese international students, their peers (both native-English speakers and international students from other countries), and some faculty members, asking them to share their responses/reactions to the stereotypes of Chinese students mentioned in the literature. We will record these interviews on video and edit them into a one-hour-long documentary.